Rhiannon Williams

Critical Cloth

Rhiannon Williams’ work installed in the ARB is part of the Art Language Location festival, taking place in Cambridge from 15 October to 1 November 2015.

Her work is displayed in the foyer of the ARB and on the windows of the ground floor seminar rooms.

Rhiannon Williams is Reader in Textile Culture and Senior Lecturer in History of Design at the University of Derby. Her textile practice comprises construction of a set of patchwork lengths that appropriate text and language in order to make a critique of consumer culture. Her method involves collecting and re-working ephemera extracted from daily life, day in, day out. Newspaper reports, lottery tickets, scratch cards, administrative paperwork, Premium Bond receipts and the pages of a novel – Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu – are cut up and re-presented in hand-stitched lengths. These lengths are unfinished and will continue to extend over time.

Each patchwork entails a highlighting (or mutilation) of language and text that becomes intensified through tessellation within a stitched honeycomb framework. This strategy is one of selection and magnification, framing words, phrases and excerpts in such a way that a critique is suggested to the viewer. The intensity of hand stitching over long periods of time exaggerates the semiotic impact of each ‘snippet’ of text. In some pieces, the systematic recording of language becomes historical in a documentary sense. Money Talks, for example, showcases journalistic language generated during the Credit Crunch and beyond: ‘capitalism in crisis’, ‘recession’, ‘slump’, ‘financial gloom’, and more recently, ‘consumer confidence’, ‘road to recovery’, ‘austerity’ and ‘more cuts to come’.

Money Talks, The Time I’m Taking and Untitled belong to a more expansive body of work entitled Critical Cloth, developed from 2002 onwards.