Heather Belcher is almost certainly the only one who will ever try on the clothes she makes Ėthe felted wall hangings she presents in this exhibition take clothes as their subject, but are far more removed from wearable garments. Yet the very fact, even in play, and in the privacy of the studio, she canít resist the urge to get inside the things she is making, tells us a deal about the status of the finished objects, as well as about he process of their creation.
Felt is a very inclusive material. To some, its lack of formal structure might make it a relatively base or primitive fabric in comparison with woven, stitched or knitted textiles. In Belcherís hands, felt can Ė and does- embrace all of those techniques. And while she is effortlessly integrating them in a rather sophisticated way, the solidity of the felt, its intrinsic simplicity, keeps her grounded. It still speaks with the twang of its folk dialect despite the urbanity of its present surroundings.
The T-shirts and jeans Belcher has made for this show have something of the tribal about them. They are modern archetypes, the uniform of the universal tribe. But while the fate of the real clothes is to be worn and washed to destruction, Belcherís go through the same process in order to preserve them. Ready for anything, but permanently detached, offering their soft, loose forms to the touch, but for ever (now) unwearable, they remind us, forcibly, of the paradoxes of modern living.
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