Bluecoat Display Centre – Birds of a Feather

bird-feather-100Birds of a Feather
23 January – 27 February 2010

This exhibition brings together 2 artists who are based in the same studios in Bristol, Louise Gardiner’s lively illustrative embroideries and Sophie Woodrow’s curious sculptural ceramics are both created from highly imaginative worlds of creatures and characters. 

Sophie Woodrow was drawn to working with clay from an early age. Born in Bristol in 1979, she graduated in 2001 from Falmouth College of Art with a BA in studio ceramics. Since then she has refined an intricate labour-intensive technique and a highly distinctive visual language. Each piece is hand-built, involving coiling, incising and impressing to create a delicately textured surface.

Her work has been informed by an interest in the Victorians they idolised nature, ‘packaging’ it into highly romanticised, palatable works of art. Our modern-day understanding is very different, so that we now interpret much Victorian art as ‘unnatural’ or kitsch.

Sophie’s sculptures are not visitors from other worlds, but the ‘might-have-beens’ of this world. She seeks to assemble creatures from the strange notions of what we define as ‘nature’ and of each other as people – as ‘other’.

After an art foundation at Manchester Metropolitan University, Louise Gardiner graduated from Goldsmith’s College, London with a Textiles BA (Hons) in 1994 and later in 2001 completed an MA in Illustration back at Manchester Met. Since her move from the North West to her current studio in Bristol Louise has been able to develop larger, more ambitious projects.

‘My work requires a huge amount of dedication, not only because of the intricacy of the medium, but also due to the physical nature of this traditional art form. My work derives from the minestrone memory I have for sights and sounds, saving ideas, memories, looks and laughs. With a huge dose of imagination and a sprinkling of inspirational research, I later I translate these ideas into stitched drawings onto canvas or linen. By adding paint and appliqué I create blocks or washes of rich colour which I then adorn with intricate embroidered patterns and mark-making.

I cross the boundaries between art, illustration and craft creating bespoke illustrations and wall pieces. My work is like me, full of life, a bit daft and over enthusiastic. The most important thing about my embroidered art and illustration is that in a sensitive and soulful stitched way it celebrates life, has a dance and makes people smile.’

Sophie Woodrow


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