Hayes Lane Market

There is always a slight air of anxiety about the people who come to Hayes Lane Market, as if they are not quite sure what is going on or what they should do there. Either embarrassed at watching painters at work, or not quite sure if they ought to be there or not – is it a market, a studio or exhibition space: the territory is not marked out clearly for them.

The InFormal show by Goldsmiths’ postgraduate textile students similarly, looks at textiles through a disparate range of media, including photography, installation, video and sculpture that makes orientating oneself around the space a challenge, although perhaps not as much as usual, since being under the umbrella term of ‘art’ can be comforting.

Having said that, division has always posed an ontological problem for art: there is no real consensus as to what separates the art object from everyday objects or what art really is even though a lot of people seem happy to do and accept an awful lot of stuff in its name.

In this case Textiles is used as a conceptual reference point and takes an interesting turn on the Modernist concerns with thinking through materials. Textiles has always to my mind had a comfortable relationship with its materiality that other media, like painting, photography and film all strive for. However, the sensuousness and directness of touch associated with its making has tended to reinforce the medium in terms of cosy traditions of the domestic interior and craft. So by linking other media to the idea of textiles instead of concentrating on its material quality this exhibition reveals textiles’ divisible nature. Emi Arai’s screen for example, while seeming to have a nostalgic relationship to Japanese screen embroidery, weaves thread, plastics and photography together bringing old traditions of craft and newer production techniques in line with each other. Jolan Bogdan, takes a sympathetic look at the alienating conditions of mass media culture: the hoody lad wants to become something and belong but is left slumped in armchairs and heaps of apathy. Tristan JS Scutt’s Trappy-Tris health plan also comments on the digestibility of media images and how they can shape identity in a disturbingly humorous array of portrait photographs and dietary paraphernalia. Other works that reveal textiles’ versatility include Fumi Kato’s Video which takes on the broader relationship between the fragile naked body and catastrophic environmental events while Dr Polly Fibre’s performance shows some interconnections and a circularity in making by manipulating sewing machines to create rhythms, shadows and fabric documents.

Installation also plays an important role in the examination of how the body interacts with interior spaces in Eleanor Lawlor’s work and while it may have proved a struggle to try and see the connection to textiles in this case I couldn’t help feel in the end that her ‘Interior games’ could also have made a good title for the show.