Working with textiles and locally sourced plant matter, York-based artist Katie West’s immersive installations invite us to reconsider our relationship with the natural environment and each other. In her largest and most ambitious project to-date, We Hold You Close is a song for material intimacy that invites us to interact and engage in a sensory experience.
Gathering and learning from materials and one another is fundamental to West’s practice. In developing the exhibition, West invited friends and family to a natural dyeing workshop at her home on Noongar Ballardong boodja in York. Over two days, the group walked along the bilya collecting plant material. They made dye bundles and immersed them into pots of water on an open fire, to bubble away and become infused with the colour and scent of country. The group shared time around the fire, ate lunch, and drank cups of tea, waiting for the dye pot to do its work.
This collective and collaborative process results in a vibrant installation comprising textile works and soft furnishings carrying the colours and scents of earth, plant, and smoke. Central to the exhibition is a meeting space in which the visitors can make hand-twisted string from repurposed fabric over a cup of tea. Throughout the course of the exhibition, visitors add their handiwork to the gallery walls, creating an ever expanding supportive structure.
Two new video works complement the installation and enveloping the entire exhibition is a soundscape of ambient sounds made in collaboration with composer York-based Simon Charles and featuring string musicians Djuna Lee and Jameson Feakes.
West describes the exhibition as “acknowledging and honouring the influence and nourishment of the collective – our families, friends, ancestors, and country, the others for whom we would not exist without and who need our presence too.”
Curated by Eloise Sweetman.