Acclaimed London-based textiles artist Emma Neuberg’s work is the subject of a vibrant new solo exhibition created for The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, a first for the city. The free public exhibition, which kicks off The Gallery’s Textile Design Season, focuses on the role of geometric form, abstraction and pattern and the perceptual and spatial effects of these on fabric, paper and screen.
Emma is a British artist who trained in Printed Textiles at the Royal College of Art, gaining a studio-based PhD in the subject in 2000. Her work explores the language of fine art, textiles and the sequencing of these in digital media.
She is based at Textiles Hub London, which supports traditional textiles making and Makerversity, the “factory-upon-Thames” in Somerset House, where digital technologies are at the forefront of future materials processing, printing and image-making.
The focus of Neuberg’s work is colour, light and resonance dynamics and how these vibrate and interrelate on the two-dimensional surface. Materials are stitched, painted, drawn, printed, stretched and virtual. Each piece informs the next in a continuous cycle of development, progression and meaning.
The combination of new technologies with modernist traditions and intergenerational narratives creates a depth of sonority and story in Neuberg’s work that makes it an exciting and significant chapter in the development of western European traditions and the overlap between fine art and textiles.
The public exhibition runs from Saturday 9 January until Saturday 20 February 2016, (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 10am-1pm, closed Sunday).
Neuberg will also give a free public talk in The Studio Theatre at Plymouth College of Art on Wednesday 27 January from 5:30pm until 6:30pm, where she will give an overview of her practice and the work created for the show. Sharing tips with BA (Hons) Textile Practices and BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design and Surface Pattern and BA (Hons) Fashion students at Plymouth College of Art particularly, Neuberg plans to demystify the design processes behind her art, which commonly bridges fine art and printed textiles.
Speaking of the genesis of her exhibition, Emma said: “Textiles in the UK are usually either presented in a very commercial context, or else as a niche craft.
“Over the years I’ve become increasingly frustrated with this, because I know that my own work falls somewhere between textiles and fine art and it was obvious to me that a lot of my contemporaries also needed their work to be exhibited in a space somewhere between craft and commercial design.
“This was the driving force behind the Geometrics shows that I co-curated with Daisy McMullan. I felt that those shows fulfilled a very real need at the time, but equally it was difficult for me to delve into my own work as fully as I’d like at the same time as collaborating on such a shared vision, so I jumped at the opportunity to create a solo exhibition for The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art. I really want to delve into this curious space between textiles and fine art and give it a bigger public platform.
“Textiles have quite a difficult time in this country and I don’t feel like we have as many high profile textile designers as we should have,” Emma said when asked about the wider context of her work.
“The focus in the UK tends to be on haute couture and commercial fashion, which means that we’re not always concentrating on pushing the boundaries of what textiles can be. An example of this could be seen in the work of Sonia Delaunay. She was one of Europe’s biggest textile designers of the twentieth century, but she died in 1979 and I don’t feel like anybody since has progressed the legacy that she left of the role that textiles can play in fine art.
“She had a retrospective recently at the Tate Modern and it was wonderful to see textiles being displayed in that space as important and relevant cultural items – ideas of modernism being expressed in fabric.
“My own solo show combines the textiles themselves with the designs and drawings behind them, alongside digital representations and animations of the digital patterns. Often with commercial practices like textile design, you don’t get to see the working drawings by the artist, but these images reveal the backdrop and thought process behind the textile pieces. They’re the foundation of my work and essential to the creative process, so I hope that people will take the same pleasure in viewing them that I took in creating them.”
Hannah Jones, exhibition manager at The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, said: “We are really excited to welcome Emma back to The Gallery for a solo exhibition. We first presented Emma’s work in 2010 as part of a group exhibition and have followed her practice with interest since then.
“She takes a really exciting, multi-disciplinary approach to textiles, with a practice that is equally informed by drawing, animation and digital printing.
“The exhibition in The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art presents each aspect of Emma’s practice and her interlinked approach to making, where all elements are in an ongoing conversation with each other, shaping the development of ideas and outcomes.”
Paul Singleton, Principal Lecturer and Programme Leader on the BA (Hons) Textile Design and Surface Pattern programme at Plymouth College of Art, said: “Our students will have the opportunity to meet with textile design professionals such as Emma Neuberg and Timorous Beasties.
“I’m delighted that we have such a high calibre of designers visiting us in Plymouth to talk to our students about their careers and aspirations. I’m also delighted that Emma Neuberg will work with textile design students here on a digital textile design project, encouraging creative uses of our industry standard digital equipment and software.”
Neuberg will lead a Kinetic Surfaces Masterclass at Plymouth College of Art from 10am until 1pm on Friday 29 January 2016, teaching creative practitioners how to create animated geometric patterns that can be uploaded to any electronic device for instant glamour, style and branding.
The masterclass, which will include the use of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to create simple geometric animated gifs, costs £60 and the deadline for booking is 8.30am on Wednesday 20 January 2016.
As part of the Textile Design Season at The Gallery, luxury interior wallpaper, textile and surface design artist Kit Miles will also be giving a free talk in the Studio Theatre at Plymouth College of Art on Wednesday 20 January, discussing his work and the journey of print design – both present and future.
After completing his MA in Textile Design at the Royal College of Art, Kit Miles formed his own studio, steeped in the values of quality, exquisite draughtsmanship and a futuristic, often surprising use of scale, colour and imagery. The Kit Miles Studio has been hailed internationally for designing striking and original fabrics and wallpapers, called ‘vivid’ and ‘ground-breaking’ by critics.
(from a press release)