The Kick-About #79 ‘Sheila Hicks’

Our last Kick-About was a celebration of three year’s worth of mucking about with materials, making, inventing, re-imagining and re-purposing. As a result, I suspect some of us have spaces in our homes beginning to pile high with ad-hoc accretions of creative stuff. In terms of scale, none of us may quite have reached the heights of this week’s prompt, the giant textile installations of Sheila Hicks, though one of us is certainly pushing it…

Jan Blake

“I have no idea why i have never seen the work of Sheila Hicks before and other women artists of this particular era!  What a great discovery. Striking and powerful. Having worked myself within vast architectural spaces and in theatre, I felt a kinship with her idea, attention to spaces and love of masses of colour. I like to see through the colours and the mixing of the layers in relationship to one another as they move, held within a skeletal structure in architectural space. I have been collecting these netting pieces that hold fruit and vegetables and the metal tags that are wound round the end that have been waiting in the wings for an opportunity. Their restriction of colour bothered me at first and yet it was a release to see what i could make with them.  They are bouncy and can be twisted into rather wonderful shapes that brought me back to something more organic and lively. Playing with the results on the computer to find new colours was fun if a little bit frustrating as my tech knowledge is rather limited! I was intrigued though about how the overall texture looked more like a tapestry. More food for thought!

Kerfe Roig

“It’s always harder for me to figure out what to do for a textile artist prompt.  I know and like the work of Sheila Hicks, and especially admire how she has never become stuck in one way of working.  I opened a page in a book I have of her work at random to a commission she did for a NYC Wine Bar that consisted of roughly embroidered circles – they look stuffed, but I decided to paint a mandala and then embroider the entire surface.  My colors are brighter than hers, and my stitching is less irregular, but I think the feeling of it is the same.  Start stitching and see what happens. /

Charly Skilling

“Looking at images of Sheila Hicks’ work, I was struck again by how liquid textiles can appear, and it was with that in mind I started hanging bits of yarn from a garden plant support. I became totally absorbed in the task and consequently spent far, far longer on it than originally intended, but I am quite pleased with the way it turned out.”

Vanessa Clegg

“I recently heard the origins of May Day (around “Mayday”), as in the nautical context, and it was one of those ‘Of course! Why didn’t I know that?’ moments. Anyway, as we’re in May, I decided to combine that with very basic weaving and sort of create a vague story… at least, in my head, as I was re-reading Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, so the darker fairy tales were ‘woven’ in. The other is improvised!”

James Randall

“Being the slacker that I am I didn’t find a great deal on the web about Sheila Hicks so I settled on savouring the online visuals and contemplating the art of weaving. Having little in the way of craft skills, I took to the computer for some photo weaving. My idea was to take one pixel wide samples from a thousand photos and as they would be both landscape and portrait oriented combine them into a roughly square image resembling woven fabric. To make them a bit softer looking, I used the warp filter on each strand. I thought I would end up with a soft greyish mass – which I did, but when you zoom in you do get fibres of colour so I think the only way to see it properly is as a high resolution printout. I feel happy to have looked at all the photos – a bit of a self-portrait in a way.”

Phil Gomm

“I was very drawn to Hick’s fabric marshmallow-y boulders but knew right away I didn’t have the resources or the space to emulate the scale of Hick’s installations. But I did have at my disposal a large bag of crimped, shredded cardboard used for packing out parcels and I wondered if I could work with it in such a way as to produce some Hicks-inspired forms, while maintaining some of the material’s frizzy, explosive qualities. I flattened out some fine mesh bags onto a table, and on top of that, layered the shredded cardboard, and then dolloped some quick-drying filler onto the cardboard, before gathering the bag up around the mixture and tying the whole thing off like an improbable dumpling and setting it aside to dry. When I unpeeled the bag, I was left with these unravelled sculptural forms, which I then photographed against some solid colour in another nod to Sheila Hicks. Lots of fun at the arts and crafts table this week!”

Phil Cooper

“After seeing this prompt a couple of weeks ago, I went and looked up Sheila Hicks’ work online. I would love to see it in person to get the full impact of those huge shapes and the wonderful colour. The pieces I was particularly drawn to were the ones that seemed to be flowing down from the gallery ceilings, they look alive.  For my response, I’ve drifted rather a long way from Sheila Hicks’s joyful and exuberant big shapes and drawn something distinctly malevolent-looking over a photo of an interior space I found in a magazine. I think in artspeak terms one could say the black things are ‘disrupting the space’. It looks more like a horror film than a soft sculpture, oh dear!” / /

Graeme Daly

“After having to buy a new washing machine, I kept some of the styrofoam that came in the packaging. Call me a hoarder all you like, but I knew I could make something out of the grooves and shapes warped into the styrofoam mirroring the details of the machine. So I spray painted the styrofoam black and bought a bag of colourful cotton pom-pom balls to design the set of this miniature Hicks installation then lit it ablaze with some dramatic lighting and documented the process. Things took a more sci-fi, macabre turn when I decided to use some red gels.”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Marion Raper

“It amazes me how Sheila Hicks could have so much time and patience to make her huge fabric sculptures. After looking at her work I embarked on making some giant size Suffolk Puffs.  This takes up quite a lot of material so I decided instead of fastening them together I would just place them at random to make pleasing patterns. In some cases I added some denim strips to finish the design.  It is the sort of thing that has infinite possibilities if you had the resources and I rather enjoyed just playing around.”

Francesca Maxwell

“I knew very little about Sheila Hicks and it was quite inspiring to look at her work and read about her life. Colours, texture and layering, what more can I ask?  So here is my output, an image made by multilayered glass, my default material after inks.  Although it is not soft and warm in the way of Sheila’s choice of textile, it is still very tactile.”

And for our next adventure together, the architectural preoccupations of Charles Sheeler (1883 – 1965). Have fun!

8 thoughts on “The Kick-About #79 ‘Sheila Hicks’

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