Thursday, 26 September 2013
Sunday, 22 September 2013
‘Decorated’, by Nigel Cheney
‘Decorated’ is a body of new textile artworks in progress by Nigel Cheney that explores the relationships between commemoration and memory. Inspired by the inscription on the war memorial in his hometown of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England he began to research the short life of his great grandfather Corporal William Holman, who died on 11th April 1917 in Bois-en-Hache, Souchez, France. Like countless other soldiers from many countries who were killed by mortar fire no human remains were found or indeed identifiable and his only legacy is that of the inscriptions on 3 war memorials. His letters home have a formality that speaks of a different time, of values and traditions that are in sharp contrast with today’s social media communications.
An interest in the notion of the collector, of medals, commemoration and memorabilia led to a visual research of military insignia, postmarks, archival information and the visual language used to describe sacrifice, service, identity and authenticity. A life long fascination with embroidery and decoration runs through the work. The exquisite gold work of uniforms and the ornate script of certificates and official records provides a wealth of inspiration.
Cheney’s work is a mixture of textile processes. The end result is a rich, layered surface that makes connections from opposing materials. An image of a 19th century soldier may be juxtaposed with a vintage tablecloth. The colours of ribbons may be reinvented to symbolize struggles and campaigns that fall outside of the prescribed order of medals and regalia. The actual cloth itself often has significance, being a found article that is imbued with other memories and meanings. Imagery is central to Cheney’s work and he uses digital print and contemporary technology to reproduce antique photographs and printed materials. From ration books to discharge papers he uses the visual language of ‘official’ records to subvert and play with our perceptions in an attempt to construct new narratives. His aim is to seduce the audience with a sophisticated aesthetic that belies the contradictions represented by the work itself.