Nina's Textile Trail

My OCA Textile Tales

Part 4 – Textile Structures – Research Point – MATTHEW HARRIS

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Chose 2 internationally known textile artists whose work you find particularly inspiring.

Describe their work, in terms of materials, scale, colour, technique and imagery

Consider how the artists has used any of the elements listed above to express the concepts behind their work



I have looked at his textile pieces titled Crumb Cloth, Lantern Cloth, Aoyama Window Cloth and Echo and paper works titled, Cartoons for Cloth, ‘Studies after Crumb’, Aoyama Window Notebook, Temple Notebooks, Cartoons for Cloth and Factory Cartoons for Cloth.

Examples of these found on Pinterest are as follows:

Material: cloth, paper, hand stitch, dyeing and cutting.

Scale:   Textiles : Approximately 1m x 1.5m square or a little smaller at approximately 1 metre x .5m

Colour: The works studied seem to start with a neutral putty coloured background and stitch with a combination of black, sepia and grey mark making, presumably in dye. Some pieces have the addition of red, quite bright perhaps Cadmium Red, in Lantern Cloth 2 and a Red ochre-like colour in Lantern Cloth 1. Aoyama uses darker shades, with more black and greater contrast. All have quite a limited palette.

Technique: The fabric, cotton, quite coarse, is heavily worked, it looks old, worn, but has been subjected to many processes. Michael Brennand-Wood’s catalogue essay ‘A quiet sense of the Invasive’ suggests “Cloth is slashed, cut, brushed, stamped, folded, torn, pierced. Needles pierce, stitch, suture, darn, sew, laminate areas of cloth together. Colour is stained, bled, dripped, rubbed, printed, ground into the surface”.

Technique drawing: works though different processes, referencing imagery, using ranges of tools and brushes, makes a variety of marks in a series of long ink drawings, these are then manipulated by pleating, cutting and patching until something interests him. The manipulation breaks up shapes, brings shapes together and interrupts lines, creating a discordant image, incomplete in some areas. He uses this process to bring about a visual jot or jarring.   The whole process produces a fragmented sketch, which he uses as a template to produce the textile piece. (Drawn to Stitch, Gwen Hedley page 116)

Imagery: Abstract, translation of drawn materials onto cloth. In Trace Elements by Paul Harper, he describes “The rhythm of mark making is broken up, they disappear and reappear in reverse. “. There is repetition and the eye “moves restlessly across the surface”. For me the detail is inviting, I can’t help get close to examine the construction. Some elements slightly extend beyond the overall rectangular shape increasing the visual interest.

Consider how he has used the elements listed above to express the concepts behind his work .

In his own words, Matthew Harris aims to create pieces that explore repetition, pattern and the disrupted or dissonant journey of line and image across and through the surface of the cloth.

He seems very disciplined, using a series of processes. His approach in notebooks where he draws, then manipulates the paper by pleating, cutting and patching is repeated when making the textile work, which is pieced, patched and assembled. This has the effect of disrupting the lines and allows exploration of pattern and repetition. His use of a limited palette enhances the elements of repetition and pattern. The coarse cotton used at the outset, takes the dye well and lends itself to his processes, the texture of the looser weave giving a uniformity to the whole.

Bibliography (accessed 12.4.15)

Brennand-Wood, Michael, A quiet sense of the Invasive, Catalogue Essay ( (accessed 12.4.15)

Harper, Paul,  Trace Elements, Catalogue Essay ( (accessed 12.4.15)

Hedley G, (2010), Drawn to Stitch, Batsford



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