March 24 – May 24, 2022
Laura Marsh’s oeuvre is woven in the intimacy of a memory, a family history. Seasoned in the craft and industry of the act of sewing – a tradition in her family that spans two generations – Marsh has developed a body of textile work that reflects her here-and-now. Best known for her pennants, with their inimitable visual presence, vibrant colors, trenchant phrases, and textile patterns that activate landscapes of memory, Marsh values textile as language and gesture.
There are plenty of myths and ancestral traditions that marry weaving and speech poetically: in Dogon cosmology, the mouth and vocal cords of the ancestral figure Nommo was a loom from which emerged words and textiles; in other indigenous cultures, weaving encodes knowledge, and rituals around this practice are themselves spaces of empowerment and emotional sublimation; in our own domestic spaces, we have the image of the grandma, gently rocking in an armchair, humming and weaving. Marsh’s works hold within them this culturally deeply-rooted emotional memorabilia, which simultaneously double as gestures of worship and protest.
If someone tells you that you can’t do something and you believe it, they’re right: half of us are held back, is the phrase that triggers the exhibition’s opening dialogue. This phrase features in fragments distributed across a series of three portal-works, which Marsh created in situ in the gallery space, intervening the walls and extending the weave of the works beyond the confines of the purely ‘textile’. Each of these pieces encapsulates life stories, processes and personal transitions. In Marsh’s words: “I’m obsessed with patterns and have been studying them my whole life through drawing and sewing. Knots Hold Intentionality uncovers the patterns which connect us during times of dissonance, strife, and world upheaval. I quote Malala Yousafzai in this installation, reflecting how we cannot collectively succeed with half of humanity being held back.”
Knots hold intentionality is the exhibition’s title and the inspiration behind the gesture of assembling all the pennants produced by Laura in recent years in one big altar. Here, the banners have become votive offerings manifesting faith in change, equality, liberation, phrases redolent of the experience during these times of profound social and personal change. It is time to revisit these pieces through the power of the gestural, which creates a monumental tapestry of phrases and textures that invite the visitor to weave their own narrative.