Futureland Now and Collected Threads: Textiles and change at the Shipley and Laing

By Ben Miller | 14 September 2012
A photo of a man standing on a sandy sea shore at night holding two circular red flares
Chris Wainwright, Teesside Error© Chris Wainwright
Exhibition Previews: Futureland now – Reflections on the Post-Industrial Landscape, Laing art Gallery, Newcastle, September 15 2012 – January 20 2013; Collected Threads: Textiles from the Shipley Collection, Shipley Art Gallery, Newcastle, September 15 – November 3 2012

When John Kippin and Chris Wainwright originally displayed Futureland, their photographs chronicling social and economic upheaval in the north of England during the 1980s, it turned the Laing into a gallery full of the issues of 1989, from unemployment and state control to regional stereotypes and consumerism.

Perhaps the times are no less incendiary for a revisioning of that concept.

“We are particularly committed to this project,” says Julie Milne, the Chief Curator for Art Galleries and Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives.

“Their work not only has a strong resonance with the Laing’s historical art collection, but also, importantly, it explores the key themes of our times which are relevant both locally and globally. “

Twenty-three years ago, Kippin and Wainwright’s large-scale colour prints were unusual, breaking the conventions of monochrome social documentation.

Their new work, they say, uses the “language of the sublime” in imagining an ambiguous future.

“It builds on earlier images of the north-east and further afield,” suggests Milne.

“The exhibition introduces a new range of challenging and innovative photographs.”

A photo of a length of textile with black and white bar-code style patterns
Mary Restieaux, Ikat Weaving (1990)© Mary Restieaux
Another kind of history is being told at the Shipley, where 35 years of domestic textile practice are observed in works by local artists Amy Emms and Paddy Killer, accompanied by pieces from Kaffe Fasset, West Dean Tapestry Studio and Michael Brennand-Wood.

Milne calls the show a “wonderful” and “very fitting” snapshot of the revered contemporary craft collection held at the Shipley, although visitors are being encouraged to continue the tradition with a range of textile activities during the course of the exhibition.

The most illuminating could be Shipley Lates, an ever-popular late opening which returns on September 28 with workshops on knitting, collage and embroidery, including knitwear customising by artist Tom Van Deijen.

  • Open 10am-5pm (Laing open 2pm-5pm Sunday, Shipley closed Sunday and Monday). Admission free. Tickets for Shipley Lates £5, book online.

    Visit the Shipley and the Laing on Twitter.

More pictures:

A photo of a coastal shore at night with a still sea, dark pebbles and the word beneath
John Kippin, Beneath (2010)© John Kippin
A photo of a square of textile showing circular red and yellow shapes dotted by people
Mary Restieaux, Image Cloned Immaculate, Ikat Weaving (1990)© Mary Restieaux
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