Tuesday 31 December 2013

Cloths of Gold & Silver? El Anatsui at The Royal Academy 2014

When is a cloth not a cloth, that is the question? Maybe we think of a cloth as something we stitch on. Maybe a cloth is something that feels gentle on the body. Maybe it is something woven, knitted, sculpted, even, of fine materials? In the past, we know that some garments were richly wrought in gold and silver threads. Henry VIII of England famously met Francis I of France on The Field of the Cloth of Gold. Can something made of metal really be counted as cloth? If yes, then look at these wonderful drapes above and below.
They were created by El Anatsui, an artist from Nigeria. His works have clothed some iconic buildings in Venice and elsewhere and in summer 2014 you will be able to see them on the façade of Burlington Academy, London.
El Anatsui, born 1944, was Professor of Sculpture and Departmental Head at the University of Nigeria. His fabulous works are composed of metal, but not exactly precious metal: it is metal that can be found on recycling tips. Anatsui uses anything from chainsaws and welding torches to his intricate and meditative sewing process, he has shaped materials ranging from cassava graters and railway sleepers to driftwood, iron nails and obituary notice printing plates. So are these cloths or not? (My apologies for the delay in this post - we are still experiencing high winds which topple trees and take out our power lines - our energy is up and down like a yo-yo still.)

1 comment:

  1. The Royal Academy is in for a big treat! I have seen lots of this artist's work, both indoors and outdoors. It is remarkable. Photographs only hint at the beauty and power and spirit of these amazing tapestries.

    Wishing you a very Happy New Year. xo