Tracey Emin has been celebrated for her artworks that employ embroidery and appliqué to explore issues in her personal life and her status as a female artist. For her iconic work ‘There’s A Lot of Money in Chairs’ she sewed her and her twin brother’s names and the year of her birth onto her grandmother’s armchair, together with the names of places in the USA she had visited with the chair.
The American artist Charles Le Dray works mainly with textiles and meticulously stitches and sews all his work. A surrogate for identity, his untitled miniature suit hangs in a closet underneath original eighteenth-century clothes hooks, while Laura Ford's sculpture ‘Chintz Girl', inspired by the oppressive atmospheres of middle-class lounges, is placed in a dance with the Gino Severini's Futurist masterpiece ‘Danseuse No.5' in the Gallery's collection. Debbie Lawson's textile-covered sculptures bring banal domestic furniture to life: in ‘Secret Garden' a Persian carpet appears to have grown into a floral abundance of flowers constructed from the carpet.
The exhibition features a number of works executed in textiles by artists for whom this is not their usual medium. Gary Hume's ‘Georgie and Orchids' is a wool tapestry with raised embroidery that is based on one of the Water Paintings he showed at the 1999 Venice Biennale. The artist claimed: ‘Tapestry was really good for me because it has very little pictorial depth - things float in space, and nothing recedes; it's all on the same plane - which is how I paint.'
Grayson Perry's wool needlepoint hanging ‘Vote Alan Measles for God' casts Perry's childhood teddy bear and mascot in a form of political banner. Jumping up with Kalashnikov raised and surrounded by explosions, bullets and dollar signs, Measles appears to be a comic parody of the violence and simplicity of the Islamic terrorist world-view.