Bethie Helliwell Portfolio

Howard Gardens Gallery- Material Matters Exhibition

Thursday 21st October 2010

Exhibiting Artists:

Brett Alexander          Catherine Bebout        Keireine Canavan Ainsley Hillard

Philippa Lawrence Laura Thomas             Cathy Treadaway        Helen Watkins

We visited Howard Gardens Gallery today as our textiles lecturers have their work in the current exhibition- Material Matters. They all said they liked the title of the exhibition because within all their works the medium was very important.

Keireine Canavan

This textile piece is made from Camel Hair, which is very precious. We were told in Keireine’s talk about her work that female camels are more valuable. This piece was made in response to Al Sadu Weaving in Kuwait. Keireine has spent many years researching this and has created her own weaving on a floor loom and by hand spinning in the same style and it took her 10 long days work. All the tassels at the bottom are different styles as each tribe in the desert used a different technique. Shells have been added because these are very precious when found in the desert, as it used to be sea. The different colours you see here have different symbolic meanings. Red for blood to show the harshness of live in the desert, red can also symbolise the heat of the sun. Orange reflects of everything, because of the bright sun everything has an orange tone to it. The green is used very little this is to symbolise flora and fauna which rare in the desert.

Philippa Lawrence

Philippa has been wrapping trees since 2003 and it is what she is most known for in the art world. She is influenced by ‘Christo and Shonlaud’ due to their work with revealing through concealing. She wraps dead trees in ‘Cotton Drill’ which is like men’s over all’s. She says that cutting the bandages off is often really interesting especially red colours; this is because the cloth on the outside fades in sunlight and the cloth underneath stays bright. I am really inspired by these works. The colours she uses for each tree are both symbolic and aesthetic and are chosen for particular trees.

Helen Watkins


Helen’s background is in printed textiles and natural dyes. These pieces are meditation mats made of silk and dyed in turmeric. Meditation is “The art of awareness”. The shape of the cushion has been redesigned for western people, from the original rounded floor cushion and mat. To make this redesigned cushion you have to follow the pattern designed by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche a Buddhist who moved to Oxford. Helen dyed the satin with turmeric due to Buddhist monks dyeing their ropes with it, Saffron was saved for very important people. Helen Watkins explained that these works were very personal to her and is completely separate from her job as our lecturer partly due to the fact that her son is a Buddhist.

This entry was published on October 27, 2010 at 11:30 pm and is filed under BA(hons) Textile Art 1st Year, Cardiff, Exhibitions. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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