Venue
Nottingham Trent
Location
East Midlands

Hidden in the white walls at the heart of the Bonnington Building, Nottingham, Caroline Black’s delicate weaves of white cotton hang, motionless. Intricately sewn, these small silhouettes blend into the unwavering white wall from which they are suspended, dissolving into the background, becoming unseen to the busy passer by. Only noticed when the draft from a nearby door causes them to dance, what are these beautiful, but secret objects?

Upon closer viewing, I see what can only be described as elaborate spiders’ webs, sewn around coils of fine, crisp paper. White walls, white thread, white frame. White must surely be symbolic? These intricate pieces of craftwork, so light-handedly hidden, are perhaps a sign of purity? The delicate nature in which they sway in the breeze holds an air of innocence, as their unstained bodies disappear like ghosts into an untouched wall. It takes subtle breeze for them to become slightly animated, as if alive, yet when hanging silently, they appear suspended in time, waiting for their purity to be tarnished.

Meanwhile, their crafty, hand-sewn appearance holds a note of feminine identity – perhaps their ghost-like figures are a reflection of the past? Their faint forms disappear into the background behind, just like feminine identity drawn from needlework dies, falling into history.

So, holding symbolism relating to purity, and femininity, whilst being ghost-like and disguised in appearance, what does Black intend us to see? She provides us with themes, yet makes it difficult for us to see the themes placed in front of us. She hands us ideas, but makes it hard for us to notice them – surely a deliberate choice? This beautifully crafted work suggests to me that the artist wants us to notice how disguised purity and feminism can be. In the past existed the idea of a woman being pure and delicate, but now, these expectations must be searched for. This understated hanging sculpture is a reflection of a ghostly past; a faint reminder of the historic values of women; a suggestion of the delicate death of feminine traditions.


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