The Tactile Element exhibition offers a format to survey the textural works in the University of Waikato Art Collection. While textile comprised works make up only a small component of all acquisitions, artworks exploring what we could define as ‘the tactile element’, extend well beyond those made with fibre.
Textile as subject matter, inspiration, study or unconsidered inclusion is prevalent throughout all art mediums. Fabric is unconsciously painted in the clothes of portrait sitters and represented within domestic still life scenes. Folds of cloth are sculpted into a regal bronze bust or evoked in a contemporary ceramic work. Detailed photography can capture the intricate structure and visceral quality of a textural component and modern materials are often used to reinterpret the texture and pattern of customary fibre art. Non-fibre works have been interspersed throughout the display to provoke thought on this tactile element and on the origins and development of some forms of textile art.
When considering textile art, can this tactile element be felt, experienced and explored by more than that which is simply comprised of fibre? And when exploring the work of textile artists, what are the tactile elements that draw each to work or create inspired by this medium?