Please have a look at my CV for a full list of my exhibitions.
*Scroll down for details and images of more exhibitions*
disquiet at Walcot Chapel, Bath with Clare Thatcher, September 18th -23rd
Page 17 with The Embroiderers' Guild at The Fashion and Embroidery Show, NEC Birmingham, March 15th - 18th, part of a touring show (see below)
I’m delighted that I finally got to see my hand knitted, felted piece, The sea, the sea, in situ at Page 17 at The Fashion and Embroidery Show, NEC Birmingham. The exhibition is the result of a call out by The Embroiderers’ Guild for textile art inspired by a book and, as a former Embroiderers’ Guild Scholar, I was invited to submit a piece. It’s a touring exhibition and this is its third iteration. It was on show at The Knitting and Stitching Shows in London and Harrogate in September and October 2017 but sadly I was unable to get to either event. Finally I was able to see it in Birmingham! After this it’s due to be installed at Harborough Museum in Market Harborough from 3rd April to 2nd June 2018 and then at Artrix, Bromsgrove in October 2018.
My felted, handknitted piece, The sea, the sea,
exhibited as part of the Page 17 exhibition
at The Fashion and Embroidery Show, NEC Birmingham
There are over 100 pieces of textile art in the exhibition, showcasing a delightfully diverse selection of stitch techniques and processes. I love the fact that there’s clearly a real mix of experience and skill too. Many established artists, whose names I recognise, are exhibited alongside artists I’ve never heard of. A truly inclusive show! I feel privileged to be a part of it. I’m also very pleased to have seen the full exhibition. It was curated sensitively, by colour, and in an interesting way as a form of salon hang and I enjoyed seeing the interactions between different pieces. I especially loved seeing how my piece was influenced by those around it. I came away inspired to use more hand and machine stitch as mark making in my work again!
The outer, 'blue wall' of the Page 17 exhibition at The Fashion and Embroidery Show,
including The sea, the sea
It interests me, though, as I think my work is the only piece which doesn’t use embroidery of some sort. It’s not surprising really, I suppose, in an exhibition organised by The Embroiderers’ Guild! I chose to knit my submission because the time I had to make it was over the summer, whilst we were away on holiday, so it was perfect. For me, knitting is a big part of relaxation, a stream of consciousness, it’s like breathing, as I have described on my Knitting page and my Blog. It’s very portable so I knit whenever and wherever I can; by the pool, on the beach, in the pub, in the car. It would help me to knit when I fly as well, of course, as I find it very calming and time passes quickly, but sadly knitting's still not allowed on many airlines. I did, of course, check with the curators that knitted work would be acceptable before I started …. For further images, information and reflections about The sea, the sea, which is inspired by Iris Murdoch’s book of the same name, please visit my Knitting page.
Another view of the 'blue wall'.
Many thanks to The Embroiderers’ Guild for this opportunity and to the curators, Alex Messenger and Amanda Smith. For more information about Page 17 at The Knitting and Stitching Shows, please scroll down.
The Embroiderers' Guild stand was busy as a workshop was running;
the stitchers were surrounded by the more of the Page 17 exhibtion.
And here are some more images of The sea, the sea but also of the whole Page 17 exhibition:
1. Page 17, exhibition statement
2. Lou Baker, The sea, the sea, felted hand knitting installed as part of Page 17, The Fashion and Embroidery Show, NEC Birmingham
3. Detail of The sea, the sea
4. The sea, the sea and part of the outer ‘blue wall’ of Page 17
5. Another view of the ‘blue wall’
6. The outer, ‘blue wall’ of Page 17
7-11. More views of the Page 17 exhibition at The Fashion and Embroidery Show, NEC Birmingham
12 & 13. Views of the busy Embroiderers’ Guild stand surrounded by more of the Page 17 exhibition
Intent, Part 1: an online art exhibition with Cultivate Gallery, London, and Organ, curated by Sean Worrall, January 16th 2018 - ongoing
Exhibition statement: 'Intent (part one) – The Intent is for an art show to happen in two parts in two places, the Intent is to have an art show in two parts with both parts happening at the same time. Intent (part one) follows our rather successful Cultivate on-line group show experiments of 2017, Intent (part two) will happen physically via the gallery walls and floors down in that underground basement gallery known as BSMT Space (over on the borders of Hackney in Dalston, London N16), part two will open two days after part one on January 18th 2018, part one is now open…
A screen print of the front page of Intent Part 1: an online exhibition
The intent then is for Cultivate to curate a show in two parts, this is part one, a carefully selected set of images, thirty artists and some intent for the new year, a combination of invitation and an open call, a show curated by Sean Worrall. Here then are the selected pieces, the 140 images of the art, the artists, the colour, the installations, the paintings, the leaves, the dances and the circles, do please run it as a slide show and enjoy it all, find the pieces you like then go explore more from the artists via the links that take you to their websites. You will find each piece numbered and that number corresponds with the notes at the foot of this page where you will find more about each artist as well as links. Intent (part one) then, welcome to the show, art excites, do enjoy….'
A screen print of part of Intent Part I: an online art exhibition
Have a look at Intent Part I: an online art exhibition here.
Artist's statement: 'Lou Baker is intent on her art; she’s obsessive, compulsive. Her processes are labour intensive and repetitive and as important as the product. When she’s making, she very quickly enters a state of meditative timelessness which creates a profound sense of well-being. The psychologist, Csikszentmihalyi, calls this the state of flow; it’s caused by deep concentration, where levels of skill match levels of challenge. It’s also linked to creativity and, ultimately to happiness.
Baker makes public things that are normally private. Exploring personal themes, her work becomes a form of therapy, and then a provocation as it resonates with others.'
Three images of my work are included in this rather unusual art exhibition:
Nobody 1, 2014,
leather, imitation leather, velvet, hair, used clothing, zips; print, stitch
190 x 70 x 70 cm, 5.5kg approx
'Nobody 1 is part of a series of three soft sculptures, Nobodies, hanging from meat hooks and chains, which explore ways that cloth and stitch can evoke the abject in art. The abject is the instinctive feeling of horror ‘to a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between self and other’. Using a series of photo cut-outs from a photo montage book Lou Baker made her son for his 18th birthday, the idea of ‘body, no body, nobody’ was born. Each photo has a distinctive cut-out shape, framed with a memory of a place or time. Baker’s work examines her responses to her only child leaving home and explores ways to communicate the mixture of emotions involved in this transition, in terms of identity and purpose, loss and absence, through the visual language of abjection. What is left behind when someone leaves?'
And two images of Part of me I:
Part of me I, 2017, felted hand knitting,
installed at Synecdoche's Opposing positions exhibition
at Southmead hospital, Bristol with Fresh Arts, July 2017
'Lou Baker makes public things that are normally private. Parts of me is a new series in progress of smaller, hand knitted soft sculptures. Hours of slow, meditative work culminate in a relatively short, unpredictable process of alchemy which dictates the outcome. Felting produces a disquieting change in control, transforming the familiar, comforting, recognisable knitted fabric into something ‘other’, body-like and strange.
Here Part of me I is suspended with strands of red yarn in a locked glass cabinet in a hospital setting…..'
Part of me I, 2017, felted hand knitting, 21 x 20 x 20cm
PRILIC, with Impermanence Dance Theatre, Jacobs Wells Baths, Bristol, December 8th-16th 2017
'PRILIC is an exhibition of dance, painting, sculpture, writing, music, performance, costume, ideas, photography and film. It celebrates the end of a tumultuous year. PRILIC also marks the end of an era for Bristol, with the former Dance Centre, which has been based in the old swimming pool Jacobs Wells Baths, changing hands imminently.
In a climate where the public and private spheres are ever more difficult to disentangle, and what we understand to be collective or owned by 'the individual' is becoming re-defined, often leading to conflict and distress on the personal, domestic and international level. Those who make art, whether overtly or otherwise, are engaged in imaginatively exploring how the human experience is portrayed in society, thus offering a space to reflect upon how the human and society can interact.'
Lou Baker's Multitude at PRILIC, December 2017
Exhibiting artists include:
Andrew Burns Colwill, Jo Bansall, Anna Mazzotta, Emma Caton, Lou Baker, Nick Harvey, Julian Quaye, Mary Rouncefield, John Curtis, J. West, Silent Hobo, Pam Tait, Meg Buick, Theo Kane, Rosanna Morris , Ian Thomson, Doug Francisco, Roseanna Anderson, Matt Webb & Lorenzo Pratti, Daniel Hay-Gordon, Tim Martin, PETER, Ivan Gololobov, Project O, Claudia Palazzo, Frisky, The Greeners, Pink Suits & Josh Ben-Tovim
Entry is free and PRILIC will be open from 10-7 each day (except Sunday 11-4)
Please see the programme for a list of events.
PRILIC is supported by Karen Van Hoey Smith
Read an interview about PRILIC with Josh Ben Tovim
Watch a video of my installation of soft sculptures, Multitude, at PRILIC
Watch a video of Josh Ben Tovim and Roseanna Anderson of Impermanence Dance Theatre responding to my soft sculptures
Read a blog by Gilli AuntieG of the Kane Gallery
See Multitude for more information and images of the installation of 11 of my soft sculptures at PRILIC.
Gallery of images of PRILIC
1. PRILIC timetable of events
2. PRILIC poster
3. PRILIC exhibition statement
4-9. Lou Baker’s Multitude
10. Lou Baker’s Multitude, label on blackboard paint
11-13. Lou Baker’s Multitude
14. The Greeners at PRILIC Opening night, 8.12.17
15, 16. Lou Baker’s Multitude
17. ‘Open’, old swimming pool reception
19,20. Doug Francisco
21. Doug Francisco and Jon Curtis
22. Anna Mazzota
23, 24. PRILIC
25. Lou Baker
26, 27. PRILIC
28. Julian Quayle
29-36. Lou Baker’s Multitude
37. Lou Baker’s Multitude and Pam Tait’s Black boys and white ladies
38. Roseanna Anderson’s dance performance, 15.12.17
39. Film viewing, 15.12.17
40-43.Lou Baker’s Multitude
48-53. PRILIC Opening party, 8.12.17, featuring Impermanence Dance Theatre, Pink Suits and The Greeners
Page 17, with The Embroiderers' Guild, at The Knitting and Stitching Shows, London, October 11th -15th 2017, The Knitting and Stitching Show, Harrogate, November 23rd - 26th 2017 curated by Amanda Smith and Alex Messenger
Lou Baker's The Sea, the sea, 2017, detail, felted hand knitting
‘So what books do you have on your bookshelf? Do you like fiction or fact? Do you warm to a frothy Barbara Cartland romance; grip the edge of your seat with a gritty John Grisham thriller, or lose yourself in a Philippa Gregory history? Whatever you read, the words will form pictures in your head. Now The Embroiderers' Guild is proud to introduce "Page 17" – a specially created exhibition of textile artistry where each piece takes a book as its inspiration. Seen for the first time at Knit & Stitch London, EG has bought together a unique group of artists who bring words to life. This is a unique and exciting display of work, with pieces from well-known textile artists, new names and many members from around the country. By using techniques as diverse as machine and hand stitching, mixed media and felting (to name a few), you will see mischievous monkeys and strutting chickens, mathematical Pi and electrical circuits, Greek tragedy, Jane Austen and Haiku poetry. Using colour and form, design and texture, members have created works which span the contemporary, the literal and the symbolic. Your imagination will be intrigued as it follows the thread across the surface, and marvels at how the combination of cloth and thread is both a medium and metaphor, bringing to life images hidden amongst words. Visit the Embroiderers Guild stand and see if your favourite book is on display.’
My felted hand knitted piece, The sea, the sea is inspired by the book of the same name by Iris Murdoch. I have written more about the processes and outcome here and more general reflections about knitting in my blog post I knit therefore I am.
Here are some images of The sea, the sea as a work in progress, and the final piece:
1. 22.7.17 It begins! Multiple double pointed needles used to knit central wave peaks in the round #ascomplicatedaspossible #knittingastherapy #iknitthereforeiam #streamofconsciousness
2. 24.7.17 It continues….
3. 26.8.17 Photoshoot on Putsborough beach, North Devon. Four weeks of intense knitting later and it’s nearly there….
4. Photoshoot on Putsborough beach, North Devon.
5. Photoshoot on Putsborough beach, North Devon.
6. Photoshoot on Putsborough beach, North Devon.
7. Photoshoot with a gin and tonic
8. 28.8.17 To felt or not to felt? The sea, the sea before felting
9. Detail of The sea, the sea before felting
10. Reverse of The sea, the sea before felting
11. Detail of the reverse before felting
12. 28.8.17 Felting the knitting in the washing machine
13. 28.8.17 The felted piece before I cut off the ends
14. 29.8.17 Mounted on the canvas
15. Detail of The sea, the sea, felted hand knitting
16. Detail of The sea, the sea, showing the sculptural texture
17. Detail of The sea, the sea
18. The sea, the sea in situ at Page 17 exhibition at The Knitting and Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, London
19. Logo for Page 17 exhibition
Lou Baker inside Safety net at Refuge: in search of safety, Fringe Arts Bath, Day 17
'Do you ever stop to examine what makes you feel safe?
This thought-provoking exhibition gets to the heart of what it is that could make any of us seek refuge from harm, from fear, from circumstances beyond our control.
We all share a need to feel safe, and to help those we love feel the same. But in our stressful lives, facing an uncertain future, safety is often just an illusion.
Beginning as a response to the refugee crises of the past few years, this exhibition grew to include not only refuge from war or persecution but aspects which seem much more familiar: refuge from physical harm, illness, homelessness.
We bring together a varied group of artists, each of whom explores the theme in a deeply personal way. Between them they seek to help us understand what it is that gives us our sense of safety, or takes it away. Is refuge a place, a person, a state of mind? What lengths would we go to if this was threatened?
A dramatic exhibition featuring a range of media, from paintings and photography to video poetry, sculpture and stunning installations, it uncovers the humanity in our shared search for that feeling of safety.'
Venue: FaB 2, 94 Walcot Street, BA1 5BG
Open 10am to 6pm - Sat 27 May to Sat 10 June and 10am to 3pm Sun 11 June
Have a look at details and images of my walk-in, participatory installation, Safety net, and how it was transformed over the 17 days of the exhibition.
And here is a gallery of some general images of the Refuge exhibition:
‘Each year in the UK we send around 350,000 tonnes of used clothing to landfill. Seeing as it could be re-used or recycled, this is a tragic waste. If you think about it in economic terms, that’s around £140 million pounds worth of clothing being chucked in the bin. No one would throw money in the bin, so why do we do it with clothes?
The average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothing – yet we never have anything to wear! – and on average, 30% of the clothes in our wardrobes haven’t been worn in the last year. This might be because it doesn’t fit any more or it’s looking a bit bedraggled, but mostly it’ll be perfectly useable.’
Lou Baker's interactive installation, Don't wash your dirty laundry in public,
used clothing, washing line, pegs,
installed in the cafe at 'We need to talk about clothes' exhibition, Hardwick Gallery
The clothes were free for people to take away.
'We need to talk about clothes' was a week long exhibition at Hardwick Gallery, at the University of Gloucester, Cheltenham campus. It was organised by Thread Counts, a collaboration between Hardwick Gallery, Atelier (Stroud) and Fashion Design at the University of Gloucestershire for sustainable textile futures. On Saturday 22nd April, 10.30am-4.30pm, Thread Counts held a Maker’s Day event in the University that included a gallery tour, panel discussion, and maker’s spaces upcycling workshops and demonstrations during which I was invited to talk about my work.
My interactive installation, Don’t wash your dirty laundry in public was installed in the café area of the University and, once again, the clothes were free for people to take away. However, unlike it’s incarnation at Synecdoche's Bodies residency in September 2016, I wasn’t able to be there to set up the installation or to rehang it as the exhibition progressed. Instead, many thanks to Jamilla Ives, one of the fashion technicians, who set it up for me. It looked amazing and was an interesting change in control!
I was delighted that the Selvedge blog featured an article about my work:
Read the Selvedge blog about my work at 'We need to talk about clothes' exhibition, 19.4.17
And here are 3 screen shots of the blog:
One of the other artists in the exhibition, Jane Glennie, also wrote about it in her blog.
Here is a video about the exhibition.
And here's a gallery of images from the exhibition and the Makers’ Day:
1. We need to talk about clothes poster
2-15. Views of my installation Don’t wash your dirty laundry in public in the café area
16, 17. Participants rummaging amongst my clothes
18. View of the exhibition in the main gallery
19. Me talking about my installation during the Makers’ Day, photo Jane Glennie
20-22. Details of some of the other works in the exhibition
23. Jane Glennie, Pressure front
24. Lorna Jewitt, Old hat
25. Katherine Sullivan, Perch
26-28. Crocheting with recycled clothing workshop on the Makers’ Day
29. I was very pleased with my attempts at sculpting with crochet using cut up tshirts!
‘Cultivate presents (in association with Organ) RED, an art exhibition on line. The notion is simple, an online art exhibition, curated and presented online. Twenty four artists selected via an online open call or by invitation, alongside images from previous Cultivate shows, along with other observations (and that red feeling while waiting for the Julie Ruin). Sixty seven images, selected pieces of art or images of art or images from art events or red observations, presented by the ever evolving thing that is Cultivate.
This time we Cultivate on line, sometimes we do it in formal galleries, or in warehouses or at dog shows or under railway bridges or in car parks at the seaside, this time we do it online. A group show featuring the art of 24 selected or invited artists.
Red went live on-line at 6pm (UK time) on Monday 27th February. Presented by Cultivate, in association with Organ and curated by Sean Worrall.’
I was delighted that images of three of my red soft sculptures were selected for this rather unusual exhibition!
Heart of darkness, 2016-present, diptych, hand knitted wool, chains, meat hook,
installed at Synecdoche's Bodies residency, September 2016
Other 5, detail, 2015, leather, zip, hand knitted wool
Window Wanderland, 212 Gallery, Bristol, February 4th- 9th 2017
I was invited to install one part of my large, red, hand knitted soft sculpture, Heart of darkness, as part of the Valentine’s Day window display for a local shop and gallery, Room 212 on Gloucester Road in Bristol. It also coincided with a weekend community event, Window Wanderland, where local residents in Bishopston decorate and illuminate their front windows for the public to view from the street. Some of the local shops and businesses take part as well.
Room 212 has a double bay shop window; for the Window Wanderland weekend my knitting formed the backdrop to one window and in the other there was a sound and video installation by Theadora Ballantyne-Way. It was stunning! I was thrilled, once again, to see how my knitting is site responsive.
One part of Lou Baker's hand knitted Heart of darkness in the window of Room 212
Statement on Room 212’s website:
‘Window Wanderland took place during the weekend of 4th-5th February. This is a wonderfully creative event in our neighbourhood and we enjoyed taking part. Our window display combined thoughts of our community and Valentine’s Day to focus on the Heart – from the anatomical to the symbolic. There was a visual installation by Theadora Ballantyne-Way and a textile sculpture from Lou Baker.’
Artist’s statement for Window Wanderland at Room 212:
‘Lou Baker challenges the stereotypical expectations of knitting in many ways. She blurs the boundary between craft and fine art by adapting and developing established knitting techniques to create sculptural forms which provoke a range of conflicting responses. Her work forges intellectual connections between material, process and concept, exploring meaning by combining the traditional with the surprising. The soft, impermanent nature of yarn, as an unconventional medium in fine art, adds to the meaning it conveys; the hanging knitted form, suspended using tension and gravity,suggests a vulnerability which evokes a bodily resonance with notions of absence and the abject; the language of knitting adds poignancy to her work- ‘tension’, ‘unravelling’, ‘cast off’…
Baker knits compulsively, pushing boundaries in terms of sculptural knitting, creating large-scale, abstract installations. She regards knitting as a physical drawing, the transformation of a linear material into a three-dimensional form. For her, the process of knitting is as important as the product; she gives herself a few rules, makes decisions as she knits and the sculpture develops intuitively. She calls it her ‘stream of consciousness’ knitting.
For Baker, knitting and thinking are inextricably linked. Knitting in private, she quickly enters a state of meditative timelessness which induces deep thought and a profound sense of wellbeing. The psychologist Csikszentmihalyi describes this as the state of flow; it is caused by deep concentration, where levels of skill match levels of challenge. It is often linked to creativity and, ultimately, to happiness. Knitting in public, however, acts as a people magnet, initiating interactions with friends and strangers. Baker regards her knitting as a memory catcher, as she manipulates the knitted line into a net which captures thoughts, memories, emotions and conversations. These in turn become part of the physical piece.
Using knitting, Baker explores the transformation of materials and the sculptural and mark-making potential of stitch; finding her own irregular and unpredictable pattern, her troubling forms create an uneasy tension in aesthetics and examine the possibilities of there being a dark side to the perceived notions of knitting as a gendered, decorative, safe, clean, perfect and private pursuit.’
The Memory of Space, Centrespace Gallery, Bristol, November 25th-30th 2016
Part of Epigram's review of Memory of Space,
'Memory, the self and the conflicts of modernity' by Esther Bancroft
Students and alumni from the Drawing and Applied Arts/Drawing and Print BA programme at UWE present an exhibition of work in response to the idea, ‘Memory of Space – Space of Memory’. They were invited to respond to the title by Jan-Phillip Fruehsorge, an international curator based in Berlin, and Director of Fruehsorge Contemporary Drawing Gallery and The Drawing Hub, Berlin. The exhibition features work in a range of media, and with a range of responses to the provocation; some theoretical, some emotional, some literal.
Check out the full Epigram review of the exhibition here, including an interview about my soft sculpture. Sadly the images are now no longer there.
More of the Epigram review about my work, All the babies I might have had II
Gallery of images from 'The Memory of Space':
1. Screen shot of Epigram’s review of The Memory of Space
2. The Memory of Space poster, artist Richard Webb
3. Lou Baker’s All the babies I might have had II
4.-9. All the babies I might have had II, detail
10. Memory of Space, details of the exhibition
11.-17. The Memory of Space, exhibition images
Unravelling: an exhibition of knitting and crochet art, Bow Arts, Ice House Studios, London IG11 7BT, October 6th -16th 2016
'Unravelling, a collaborative exhibition which showcases the diversity of what is possible using only yarn and the simple tools of needles or hooks.
Lou Baker's hand knitted diptych Heart of darkness installed at Unravelling
Yarn is an unconventional medium in art and can provoke a range of conflicting responses. Its softness brings to mind the comfort of the things we wear closest to our skin, whereas its impermanence can remind us of our mortality. Using knitting and crochet, with their gendered associations with the domestic and the private, adds further meanings to its presence in a gallery.
Everybody’s ‘doing it’- in the living room, on their bed, in the garden, on the bus; we’ve come out of the closet. Now you can spot knitters clicking away in pubs, crocheters crafting their yarn on the tube. Knitting and crochet have become a means of self-expression; they are like brushes for the painter, pen and paper for the author and clay for the sculptor. From the functional to the abstract, from socks to sculptures, it truly is the art of creating something from nothing.
Knitting and crochet break down barriers, bringing together people from different backgrounds, countries and ages. Knitting groups are set up every week in pubs, cafes and shops. A silent revolution has started against mass production, the cheap and cheerful, the unsustainable and the disposable.
Supported by Bow Arts Trust, and coinciding with The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, Wool Week and the British premier of Yarn:The movie, Unravelling will explore how yarn can be transformed using these two highly versatile processes, blurring the boundaries between craft and art.'
Unravelling had a fleeting visit from Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. Watch a video of him giving my Heart of darkness a nod! Also, have a look at Bow Arts' website and many thanks to Jonny Baker for his blog post, at sea - unravelling.
Unravelling: an exhibition of knitting and crochet art.
6th -16th October 2016, Thursday to Sunday 12:00 to 18:00
The artists are:
Karen Jocelyn Mayor
1.Lou Baker's Heart of darkness, 2015 - present, work in progress, hand knitted wool, knitting needles, yarn, meat hook, chain
2. Lou Baker's Nobody 3, 2014, hand knitted wool, knitting needles, yarn
3. Lou Baker's Psychedelic sunset 1/2, 2010, hand knitted felt (Photo by Jonny Baker)
4. Lou Baker's Psychedelic sunset 2/2, 2010, hand knitted felt
5. Lou Baker's All the babies I might have had I, 2011, from inside (Photo by Jonny Baker)
6. All the babies I might have had I, 2011, from outside (Photo by Jonny Baker)
7. General view of Unravelling, Room 1
8. We had a brief visit from Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, and his entourage!
9. Heart of darkness
10. Heart of darkness
11. General view of Unravelling, Room 1
12. Shroud, 2013, hand knitted wool, from inside (Photo by Jonny Baker)
13. Shroud, 2013, hand knitted wool, from outside
14. General view of Unravelling, Room 1
15. General view of Unravelling, Room 2
16. General view of Unravelling, Room 2
17. Lou with Nobody 3
18. Most of The Unravellers
Privy: an exhibition of public and private stuff, featuring Lou Baker, Maura Zukina and Nicola Pearce, at The Edwardian Cloakroom, Bristol, June 22nd to 28th, 2016
Lou Baker's stitched soft sculpture Other 5
installed in one of the toilet cubicles at Privy
1. participating in the knowledge of something private or secret
2. private; assigned to private uses.
3. belonging or pertaining to some particular person
4. secret, concealed, hidden, or secluded.
5. acting or done in secret
Lou Baker, Nicola Pearce and Maura Zukina present an exhibition of public and private stuff. Come on in – it’s a weird and wonderful world.
Gallery of images of Privy:
1. Detail of Lou Baker’s All the baby I might have had II
2. Detail of Lou Baker’s Nobody 5, installed in one of the toilet stall
3. General view of part of Privy, with several of Nicola Pearce’s works
4. Detail of Maura Zukina’s work
5. Maura Zukina
6. Nicola Pearce, writing performance
7. Nicola Pearce, site specific installation of ‘Fragile’ tape
8. General view of part of Privy, including 2 of my soft sculptures, Nobody 1 and Other 4
9. General view of part of Privy, including one of my soft sculptures, Other 4
10. Maura Zukina’s Privy bag
11. Lou Baker’s Other 1
12. Lou Baker’s Other 5
13. Nicola Pearce, found, flattened cans
14. General view of part of Privy, with some of Maura Zukina’s ceramics and metal work and Nicola Pearce’s photo documentation
15. General view of part of Privy, looking through to Lou Baker’s Other 1
16. General view of part of Privy, including 2 of my soft sculptures, Nobody 1 and one part of Heart of darkness
17. Maura Zukina’s Kinky boots
18. Lou Baker, impromptu performance, Wearing the unwearable, Heart of darkness 1 worn by the artist
19. Lou Baker, impromptu performance, Wearing the unwearable, Heart of darkness 1 worn by the artist plus part of Nobody 1
20. Lou Baker’s Nobody 1
21. General view of part of Privy, including 2 of my soft sculptures, Nobody 1 and one part of Heart of darkness
22. General view of part of Privy, including one of my soft sculptures, All the baby I might have had II
23. Maura Zukina’s ceramic fists
Lou Baker's Nobody 1 installed at Cartesian cut?
'The ‘Cartesian Cut?’ revealed and unraveled the boundary of the body. The title of the exhibition relates to the philosopher René Descartes (1596—1650) who made a clear distinction between the mind and body. Contemporary philosopher Karen Barad problematises his boundary, calling it the ‘Cartesian cut’ (2003: 815). Contra-Descartes she offers an understanding of entities not as unique beings but ‘phenomena’ in constant ‘intra-action’ (2003: 815). Inspired by her argument, artworks in the exhibition explored the porous and fluctuating boundary of the body.
Artist Eloise Govier curated the exhibition, she explains “the exhibition offered unique imaginings and interpretations of the workings of bodies. We were open to all mediums but particularly wanted to showcase artworks that offered sensitive and innovative commentaries on the body.”'
For more information have a look at The Cartesian Cut? exhibition catalogue and Eloise Govier's website
‘The abject marks the moment when we separated ourselves from the mother, when we began to recognize a boundary between ‘me’ and other, between ‘me’ and (m)other’ (Kristeva in Felluga, 2011).
Nobody I and All the babies I might have had II are life-sized, soft sculptures, hanging from meat hooks and chains, which use cloth and stitch to evoke the abject. Through them Lou Baker explores the separation between ‘me’ and (m)other, from a mother’s perspective. The feminist critical theorist, Julia Kristeva, also describes the abject as the instinctive feeling of horror ‘to a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between self and other’ (1982).
All the babies I might have had II, 2015,
leather, imitation leather, hand knitted felt, used clothing, zips; stitch, print
installed at Cartesian Cut?, Fringe Arts Bath May - June 2016
Inspired by the discarded, frame-like remains of the photos she had cut up to make a photo montage book for her only son for his 18th birthday, Baker developed the idea of ‘body … no body … nobody’. Sculpted using a selection of skin-like materials and her son’s old clothes, these disturbing body-like forms examine her responses to her only child growing up and leaving home and the impact that has had on her life. They communicate the depth and range of emotions involved in this transition, in terms of identity and purpose, loss and absence, through the visual language of abjection. Memories and the emotions they elicit vary in intensity and clarity; some are public and shared, some are private and hidden. Using zips as a device to visualise the liminal space between that which is revealed and that which is concealed, Baker provides a potentially changeable threshold between her interior and exterior selves which blurs boundaries and adds poignancy to the precarious separation between self and other.
What is left behind when someone leaves?
That Baker chooses to use cloth and knitting in sculpture, with their associations with craft and the feminine, powerfully subverts traditional representations of the body. The soft, impermanent nature of cloth evokes the human form and its mortality, revealing alternative meanings in its folds and surfaces. There are multiple femininities associated with used clothing, recycled imitation leather and human hair linked to dirt and contamination anxiety which also add meaning to her choice of materials. She has researched the ways other artists, especially Christian Boltanski and Louise Bourgeois, use empty second-hand clothing in their work to suggest a physical absence and ultimately, death, the most extreme abjection. By hanging her sculptures, Baker also conveys a sense of vulnerability and ambivalence which contrasts powerfully with the violent intensity of the piercing with meat hooks, and the chains.
Nobody I, 2014, installed at Cartesian Cut? with Nikki Alford's installation of tape
There is a merging of the senses of touch and sight associated with cloth; it can be regarded as an extension of the body, a second skin. Its materiality and skin-like nature provides an alternative range of meanings to the use of clothing in art, operating ‘both through the haptic and the scopic simultaneously’ (Dormor 2008: 240). Each discarded photo has a distinctive cut-out shape, framed with a memory of a place or time. Baker captures these memories, using a range of traditional textile processes,including embroidery, quilting, knitting and flocked printing, amongst others, to create unsettling abstract images, and surfaces which blur the visual / tactile divide. The materiality of clothing can involve the sense of smell too, which can also powerfully evoke memory. Here, some of the clothing has that distinctive second-hand, musty smell and the imitation leather emits its own peculiar odour. This adds to the abjection and increases the immersive experience.
Exploring the transformation of materials and the sculptural and mark-making potential of stitch, Lou Baker creates an uneasy tension in aesthetics by challenging the seemingly benign nature of textile processes and evoking the abject. Individually, the sculptures are alluring yet troubling; as a series they are imposing, an uncanny bodily presence. Baker forges intellectual connections between material, process and concept, underpinning her investigations into the dialogue between personal memories and universal themes as she comes to terms with the separation between self and other.
Dormor, Catherine, 2008, ‘skin: textile: film’ in Textile, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 238-253
Felluga, Dino, 2011a, Modules on Kristeva, Introductory guide to Critical Theory, Available from: http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/psychoanalysis/kristevaabject.html [Accessed 27 September 2013]
Kristeva, Julia, 1982, Powers of Horror, Columbia University Press: New York
Parker, Roszika, 2010, 3rd edition, The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the making of the feminine, London: Tauris
Gallery of images of Cartesian Cut?:
Pattern, Fringe Arts Bath, May 27th to 12th June, 2016, curated by Laura Waite & Nicola Pearce
'In visual terms pattern traditionally infers ideas of decoration - marks, lines, dashes and dots. In practice pattern is usually a set of instructions to be followed. Day to day you find patterns by chance, in behavior; breaths, wakeup times or work routes. This exhibition will explore the boundary of what pattern is - the way patterns are made, produced, found and pulled apart.'
'Knitting is generally regarded as a benign, gendered, functional pursuit, but what happens when the knitter subverts these expectations? Most knitters follow a knitting pattern in order to replicate someone else’s design; a garment, a blanket or an accessory, maybe. What happens when there is no pattern, or rather, when a pattern is established through a pattern of behaviour, or through a stream of consciousness, or when it is led by an unpredictable change in control? And what happens when the knitted piece is abstract, emotive and disturbing?
All the babies I might have had I, 2010,
felted hand knitting,
installed at Pattern, Fringe Arts Bath, May - June 2016
Lou Baker challenges the stereotypical expectations of knitting in many ways. She blurs the boundary between craft and fine art by adapting and developing established knitting techniques to create provocative sculptural forms which evoke an abject response. Her work forges intellectual connections between material, process and concept, exploring meaning by combining the traditional with the surprising. The soft, impermanent nature of yarn, as an unconventional medium in fine art, adds to the meaning it conveys; knitting with unexpected materials such as plastic or metal adds another dimension. Her troubling forms create an uneasy tension in aesthetics and examine the possibilities of there being a dark side to the perceived notions of knitting as a gendered, decorative, safe, clean, perfect and private pursuit. The language of knitting takes on new meanings in a fine art context; ‘tension’, ‘unravelling’, ‘casting off’, ‘blocking’ and ‘spinning a yarn’, amongst others, adds poignancy to her work.
Baker knits compulsively, pushing boundaries in terms of sculptural knitting, creating large-scale, abstract forms. She regards knitting as a physical drawing, the transformation of a linear material into a three-dimensional structure. For her, the process of knitting is as important as the product; she gives herself a few rules, makes decisions as she knits and the sculpture develops intuitively. She calls it her ‘stream of consciousness’ knitting.
General view of Pattern exhibition, including All the babies I might have had I
For Baker, knitting and thinking are inextricably linked. Knitting in private, she quickly enters a state of meditative timelessness which induces deep thought and a profound sense of wellbeing. The psychologist Csikszentmihalyi describes this as the state of flow; it is caused by deep concentration, where levels of skill match levels of challenge. It is often linked to creativity and, ultimately, to happiness. Knitting in public, however, acts as a people magnet, initiating interactions with friends and strangers. Baker regards her knitting as a memory catcher as she manipulates the knitted line, transforming it into a net which captures thoughts, memories, emotions and conversations. These in turn become part of the physical piece.
The process of felting is alchemy; months of slow, meditative work culminate in a relatively quick, unpredictable process which dictates the outcome. This change in control brings a vulnerability to Baker’s work, underpinning her investigations into the dialogue between personal memories and universal themes.
Using knitting, Baker explores the transformation of materials and the sculptural and mark-making potential of stitch; finding her own irregular and unpredictable pattern, she evokes a bodily resonance with notions of absence and the abject.'
I was also asked to write specifically about All the babies I might have had I, the hand knitted, felted sculpture that features in this show. Read more about it in my blog post, All the babies I might have had? and on the Pattern website here.
Gallery of images of All the babies I might have had I at Pattern:
Attraction and repulsion, horror and hilarity; provoking a range of conflicting responses, Lou Baker’s hanging soft sculptures explore individuation, a process which, according to Carl Jung, needs to occur in the second half of life, of finding meaning in life. It is ultimately a preparation for death. Jung talks about balancing our multiple selves with the dark side, or shadow, of ourselves and maintains that failure to acknowledge and accept this shadow can result in fragmentation and associated mental health issues. He also describes the shadow as being the seat of creativity, and creativity is linked to happiness.
Baker’s work challenges stereotypical, gendered expectations of work with textiles in many ways. It blurs the boundary between craft and fine art by using traditional stitch techniques to create subversive sculptural forms which evoke an abject response. Her emotive forms and gestural stitches excavate the possibilities of there being a dark side to the perceived notions of embroidery as a gendered, decorative, safe, clean, perfect and private pursuit.
Baker regards her work as a form of self-portrait, a reflective and emotive response to the ongoing excavations of her dark side; an embodiment of a mid-life crisis. However, there is also a playful aspect to her work. That many people see genitalia is one; sculpting her aging body as an assortment of oddly quilted, saggy body bags is another! ‘They can be whatever you want them to be.’
Baker’s investigations into the transformation of materials and the sculptural and mark-making potential of stitch subvert conventional representations of the body, forging intellectual connections between material, process and concept. She creates an uneasy tension in aesthetics by challenging the seemingly benign nature of traditional textile processes and evoking the abject.
Gallery of images from The Knitting and Stitching Show, Harrogate:
The Embroiderers' Guild Graduate Showcase, The Knitting and Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, London, October 7th-11th, 2015
'Memories and the emotions they elicit vary in intensity and clarity; some are public and shared, some are private and hidden. Exploring the gendering of materials, Lou Baker’s soft sculptures excavate the dark side of stitch, revealing and concealing alternative meanings in their folds and surfaces. She creates an uneasy tension in aesthetics by challenging the seemingly benign nature of traditional textile processes and evoking the abject.
Baker’s investigations into the transformation of materials and the sculptural and mark-making potential of stitch subvert conventional representations of the body, forging intellectual connections between material, process and concept. Using skin-like materials, she considers each stitch as a piercing and stitched drawings as tattoos; other textile techniques she sees as branding and scarification. Through careful consideration of form, colour and complex surfaces, she blurs the boundary between visual and tactile experience and evokes a bodily presence with notions of absence and the abject.’
Many thanks to @paisleypedlar for her blog post about my work at the K&S Show, London, All stitched up at Knit and Stitch
Gallery of images from The Knitting and Stitching Show, London:
The Degree Show, University of the West of England, Bower Ashton Campus, Bristol, June 5th -11th, 2015
Exploring the gendering of cloth and stitch, Lou Baker's soft sculptures reveal and conceal alternative meanings in their folds and surfaces. By transforming skin-like, impermanent materials and investigating the sculptural and mark-making potential of stitch, she subverts traditional representations of the body, forging intellectual connections between material, process and concept.
Through careful consideration of form, colour and complex surfaces, her work blurs the boundary between visual and tactile experience and evokes a bodily presence with notions of absence and the abject.
Gallery of images from The Degree Show:
Symbiosis, Phoenix Cafe, Bristol, April 2015
1. (biology) Interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.
2. A relationship of mutual benefit or dependence.
Opening over Easter weekend, Symbiosis is an exhibition, an exchange of ideas, a meeting point for conversation and beautiful art work. Situated at Phoenix, a creative hub in the heart of Bristol. It is curated by four MA Curating students at UWE and attempts to bring work not usually shown into an environment that benefits both the venue and the artists.’
‘Lou Baker’s knitting is a physical drawing, the transformation of a linear material into a sculptural form. Her soft sculptures challenge the gendered expectations of work with textiles, forging intellectual connections between material, process and concept. The hanging knitted form, suspended using tension and gravity, suggests a vulnerability which evokes a bodily resonance with notions of absence and the abject.
For Baker, the process of knitting is as important as the product. Knitting in private is her ‘stream of consciousness’ knitting - she has no pattern just a few rules, makes decisions as she knits and the form develops intuitively. She very quickly enters a state of meditative timelessness which induces a profound sense of wellbeing. The psychologist Csikszentmihalyi describes this as the state of flow; it is caused by deep concentration, where levels of skill match levels of challenge. It is often linked to creativity and, ultimately, to happiness. Knitting in public, however, acts as a people magnet, initiating interactions with strangers. Baker regards her knitting as a memory catcher, as thoughts, emotions and conversations are knitted into the fabric of the piece.
Felting is alchemy; months of slow, meditative work culminates in an unpredictable process which dictates the outcome. This change in control brings a fragility to her work, underpinning her investigations into the dialogue between personal memories and universal themes.’
Gallery of images from Symbiosis:
Haikus by Isadora Vibes
inspired by Lou Baker’s All The babies I might have had at Symbiosis, April 2015
cell stained cheat
Emergence at Paper Plane Gallery, Bristol, 27th September to 30th October 2014
‘Emergence (the product of a dynamical process)
Eight artists, each one specialising in a different process and medium, have joined together to create an exhibition which offers the viewer an engaging, diverse, multisensory experience. From sculpture to stitch, paint to print, a stimulating combination of both 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional pieces, combining creativity with great artistic skill.’
Gallery of images from Emergence:
Align, an exhibition by Dozen at UWE, Bower Ashton Campus, November 12th – 17th 2012
‘We came together as a group with the common aim of curating a unified exhibition that would highlight the diverse approach we all have as individuals to making work, whilst holding true to a chore theme. The consideration of the space itself and how as a group we would best make use of it to the advantage of the overall aesthetic was a determining factor in approaching the curatorial aspects of this exhibition.
Throughout the group we are dealing with multiple interpretations of alignment, from literal linear mark making, to a connected web of sculptural design to crafted textile lines. We have all approached this show from very different viewpoints, with each artist within the collective seeking to discover and reinvent their notion of what constitutes ‘linear’
The question of what constitutes a drawn line prompted the group to think more about the broader aspects of all things linear, and just how malleable that theme is. Through discussion we realised that however diverse the work within the exhibition, it was possible to play with the idea of ‘line’ and inter-weave a physical presence that would add cohesion to our different approaches. This could be incorporated into individual works or subtly pass them by, adding another dimension as a travel line for the viewer.
We wanted our exhibition to provide enough guidance and instruction to give context to the work without being overbearing. In addition to this we wanted to open up the show to create an inclusive atmosphere by providing space for viewers to leave their thoughts about individual works or the show in general. By the end of the week-long show it will create a physically different impression of the space, and give the audience the opportunity to enter into the nature of the theme by interweaving and aligning their opinions into the curatorial fabric of the exhibition.’
Gallery of images from Align by Dozen: