Laura Wilson – Circling at Darlington Library
December 18, 2023
Laura Wilson: Circling
16 December 2023 - 25 January 2024
Circling is a solo exhibition by artist Laura Wilson. The work is a series of weavings made with linen. They explore how memory is created, stored and translated through the body, learning, movement and labour. Linen is one of the strongest fibres in existence. It resists mildew and bacteria, it is hardwearing and doesn’t easily decompose.
Traditionally skilled people were required to produce it. Over the last two years Laura has been learning how to weave by hand on a table loom mentored by weaver Claire Whelan. She has also been researching the social history of the fabric and its facture.
Laura has researched into her family history, the production and export of linen in Northern Ireland and the history of Linenopolis. (Linenopolis is the name given to her home city of Belfast in the 19th Century when it was at the centre of the world’s linen industry.) Some of her ancestors worked in factories in Portadown and Lisburn in Northern Ireland as weavers, warpers and yarn winders. She explores ways information is passed on from one person to another and between generations, in particular how knowledge can be stored within the body.
Works in this exhibition were developed in parallel with Laura’s changing pregnant body. The largest, 'Winding, then Winding’ (2023), was produced after childbirth and took structure from the cycle of her day caring for her newborn - changing the weaving pattern or weft yarn following nursing or soothing. The linen maps the passage of time as a new parent, growth spurts, cluster feeding and naps. Laura considers that as a counterpoint to the increasing pace of mechanical production and often invisible, outsourced labour of today’s new technologies and unsustainable production of fabrics for fast fashion, as well as the relationship between women’s work and labour.
The exhibition title comes from Laura’s newest work presented here for the first time. 'Circling' (2023) is a weaving made with the artist's mother, who she taught how to weave earlier this year as part of her exhibition at CCA Derry~Londonderry. They wove together on the first day of the exhibition and other weavers from Northern Ireland were invited to contribute to the weaving during the exhibition run. Laura’s mother passed away in Autumn 2023 and Laura has completed the weaving that they started together.
A text by Kerri ní Dochartaigh accompanies the work and is available for visitors to take away, or download from www.laurawilson.me
The exhibition in Darlington Library brings to light Darlington’s rich and fascinating history producing high quality linen. Until the 19th Century linen was one of the most important trades in the town and surrounding villages. The first machine for spinning flax was developed and used in Darlington by John Kendrew and patented in 1787. Pease’s Mill (now demolished) sat at the centre of the town, employing mainly women and children in its early days. Wilson has selected objects and artworks from the Local Studies Archives and Darlington Borough Art Collection and presented them alongside her work. These include the painting Pease’s Mill, Darlington, County Durham by Myles Meehan (1904 – 1974).
Funded by the County Durham Community Foundation’s Dover Prize Fund. Thank you to Durham County Local History Society as copyright holders for granting Darlington Borough Council permission to reproduce The Linen Weavers of Hurworth-on-Tees article by Vera Chapman in this exhibition, and also to the following parties for helping make this exhibition possiblle: Stephen Bunting, Severina Dico-Young, Kerri ní Dochartaigh, Jack Field, Rob Field, Sharon Gollan, Catherine Hemelryk, Ian Rigby, Brendan McMullan, Claire Whelan, Alex Wilson, Creative Darlington, Darlington Cultural Volunteers, Darlington Library Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and all the participating weavers.
SEAMS – Laura Wilson solo show at CCA Derry~Londonderry
March 16, 2023
SEAMS is a solo exhibition by Laura Wilson comprising three installations including a significant new body of work entitled Winding then Winding. Laura is interested in how everyday materials such as bricks, textile, wheat, salt and bread dough transmit historical and embodied knowledge between people over time and place. Laura develops research-led projects, working with specialists and experts to communicate relationships between materiality, memory and tacit knowledge, explored through sculpture, performance, drawings and video. This exhibition is a survey of Laura’s recent works connected by the body, learning, movement and labour.
Winding then Winding (2023) is informed by Laura’s research into her family history, the production and export of linen through the Derry~Londonderry ports and the history of Linenopolis, the name given to her hometown of Belfast in the 19th Century when it was at the centre of the world’s linen industry. This work builds upon previous works investigating how the body learns, adapts, responds to and performs manual work. Over the past 18 months the artist has been learning how to weave linen, whilst researching the social history of the fabric and its facture. One of the strongest fibres in existence, linen traditionally requires skilled people to produce it. The works in the exhibition are inspired by the architecture and physical movement of operating a loom as well as the political and personal histories of linen production. Laura’s ancestors worked in factories in Portadown and Lisburn as weavers, warpers and yarn winders and she explores ways information is passed on from one person to another and between generations, in particular how knowledge can be stored within the body. Developed in parallel with Laura’s changing pregnant body, with the largest works produced post-partum and taking their structure from the cycle of her day caring for her newborn - changing the weaving pattern or weft yarn following nursing or soothing. The linen maps the passage of time as a new parent, growth spurts, cluster feeding and naps. Laura considers that as a counterpoint to the increasing pace of mechanical production and often invisible, outsourced labour of today’s new technologies and unsustainable production of fabrics for fast fashion as well as the relationship between women’s work and labour.
Laura’s table loom forms part of the installation and she will weave alongside her mother, whom she is teaching to weave, on the first day of the exhibition. Throughout the run of the exhibition weavers are invited to contribute to a collective weaving on the loom.
Showing alongside this work is Deepening (2020) a video commissioned by New Geographies and Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery and To The Wind’s Teeth (2021) commissioned by the Landmark Trust.
Deepening is presented alongside costumes and performance tools from Deep, Deepen, Deepening (2019). This work resulted from Laura’s research into Must Farm, an exceptionally well-preserved Bronze Age settlement (c. 850 BC) at the edge of a working brick quarry near Peterborough. Laura worked closely with archaeologists and brick quarry workers, researching the found objects and questioning labour, trade, everyday life both in the past and now. The film brings together documentation from the performance alongside hand-held footage filmed during her research and additional footage featuring twelve Bronze Age vessels excavated from the Must Farm site.
To the Wind’s Teeth (2021) is a film presented alongside the costumes and performance tools featured. This site-specific work was produced in Llwyn Celyn, situated in the Llanthony Valley at the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Llwyn Celyn is regarded as one of the most remarkable of all surviving late-mediaeval houses in Wales. The house’s adjacent threshing barn inspired Laura, a space where wheat would have been used to thrash and winnow the edible grain from locally harvested wheat, bringing together craft, work and the home.
Supported by a bursary from a-n The Artists Information Company; funded by the County Durham Community Foundation’s Dover Prize Fund, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Derry City & Strabane District Council.
August 31, 2022
IN-SIDE-OUT-SIDE-IN at Site Gallery
23 September-22 December 2022
Launch event: Thursday 22 September 4 - 8pm
IN-SIDE-OUT-SIDE-IN will explore the ways that our bodies encounter and process our environments, looking at digestive systems on a micro and macro level, from the interior of the body to the systems of a city or the ecologies of a landscape. The exhibition and programme is structured around Ladybower, a large-scale sculpture designed by artist Laura Wilson which provides a setting and a provocation for collaboration, as well as hosting works from seven other internationally renowned artists.
Featured artists: Helen Chadwick, Phoebe Collings-James, Charles and Ray Eames, Eva Fàbregas, Shana Moulton, Poppy Nash, Tai Shani and Laura Wilson.
Curated by Site Gallery’s Robyn Haddon and Angelica Sule, and artist Laura Wilson.
Please click here for more information on Site Gallery's website.
I Have Eaten It
January 26, 2022
I Have Eaten It: 1 February - 25 February 2022
Curated by Huma Kabakci and Laura Wilson
Organised by Open Space
Artists: Moza Almatrooshi, Sondos Azzam, Lauren Godfrey, Charles Harrison, Hannah Lees, Raju Rage; Nora Silva, Laura Wilson & Caroline Wong
In Partnership with Refettorio Felix, Flat Time House and RTM.FM
Supported by Arts Council England
Surplus food supply from Felix Project
With Kind Support from Nicoletta Fiorucci Russo and Good Produce Ltd
Curated by Open Space Founding Director Huma Kabakcı and Artist Laura Wilson, I Have Eaten It is a 4-week kitchen takeover at Refettorio Felix, a charity based at St. Cuthbert’s Centre in West London providing creative experiences around food for vulnerable people. Over this period, there will be a tailored weekly meal using seasonal, and local suppliers’ waste food, with recipes or ingredients contributed by 9 international artists.
The evolving menu and culinary experience will be accompanied by a programme of public events including: an artist-led bread making workshop, a public screening and Sound Bites - a series of radio interviews in partnership with RTM.FM, a community radio station run by TACO!. To accompany the project, there will be a fundraising dinner cooked by the renowned chef Ramael Scully. This will also include the sale of artworks by the 9 participating artists, with proceeds going towards Refettorio Felix.
I Have Eaten It explores food politics, production systems and consumption. The project title references the story of artist John Latham’s 1966 ‘happening’, where he invited students to dismember a library copy of Clement Greenberg’s Art and Culture, at the time a tome on how to best make art. Together they chewed up the pages, collecting the remains into a jar which was then distilled with the pure spirit of Art and Culture and returned to the library at Central Saint Martins in lieu of the book. Subsequently, Latham lost his job but the work was bought by MOMA, New York. We are taking this provocative act as a departure point to spark discussion around the social politics of food, excess or the lack of food and food systems through visual arts.
A publication developed with artist and designer Joanna Brinton has been created to accompany the project including a curatorial text by Huma Kabakci and Laura Wilson, along with artists’ contributions, menu inserts, drawings, musings and more.
Workshop: 13 February 2022, 14:00-16:00, Free. Booking required via Eventbrite
Screening: 16 February 2022, 18:30 - 20:30, Free. Booking required via Eventbrite
Fundraiser: 24 February 2022, 19:00 - 23:00, Limited tickets, £110 each. Booking required via Eventbrite
We Have Eaten It talk: 23 March 2022, 18:00 - 19:30, Free online event. Booking required via Eventbrite
September 13, 2021
Super excited to be included in a new book published by Phaidon - The Kitchen Studio with an introduction by Massimo Bottura.
💫 Also incredibly chuffed to have had my recipe The Humbova featured in their sneak peak section on their website of selected recipes. Hammer out Something Sweet (the way an artist would) - click here to read it.
MIMA Kitchen & Garden Artist in Residence
September 1, 2021
Excited to annouce that I am the MIMA Kitchen and Garden artist in residence. Through this I hope to encourage new conversations and connections around the MIMA Kitchen and Garden, opening up opportunities for people to get involved and encourage discussion through events and workshops, and to produce a new artwork as a result of the residency.
Stay tuned for updates!
Dover Prize 2021
May 17, 2021
So happy to announce I have been awarded the Dover Prize 2021 to explore Darlington’s history of producing linen and in parallel with this to research the evolution of Linenopolis, the name given to my hometown of Belfast in the 19th Century when it was at the centre of the world’s linen industry.
Thanks to the County Durham Community Foundation, Creative Darlington and Darlington Council for the opportunity. Please click here for more information.
Awarded Jerwood New Work Fund
August 23, 2019
V&A Friday Late & Great Exhibition Road Festival
June 29, 2019
On Friday 28th June I took part in the Friday Late's programme at the V&A where from 6.30-9.30pm I presented Holding Shift, 2019 a new work for their daylit gallery 64b.
Holding Shift was performed by Elena Akhmetova, Iris Chan and Adam Moore.
Also, across the weekend on
Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th June 11am-5pm I had a Trained on Veda
stall outside the V&A on
Exhibition Road as part of the Great Exhibition Road Festival 2019
Trained on Veda
is featured in the current V&A exhibition, Food: Bigger than the Plate
Saturday 18 May - 20 October 2019 curated by Catherine Flood and May Rosenthal Sloan
With Inordinate Heaviness at Nicoletti Contemporary
June 20, 2019
On Thursday 20th June at 7pm I presented the first live version of my video work With Inordinate Heaviness, 2017 in response to the exhibition As a Butterfly Folded in a Caterpillar that will soon Unfold at Nicoletti Contemporary on Vyner Street.
With Inordinate Heaviness was performed by Kirsty Arnold.
Shapeshifting Dough: V&A blog
June 18, 2019
It was great chatting with May Rosenthal Sloan about my work for the V&A blog......
Belfast-born, London-based artist Laura Wilson has long been fascinated by that most everyday of materials, bread. Her work engages with the complex history and symbolism of bread in our lives and world, as well as getting right up close, examining the physical and scientific properties of dough, especially in relation to the human bodies that create and manipulate it.
Her ongoing project Trained on Veda seeks to push back against the standardisation of industrial bread production and revitalise a historic bread product through a network of bakeries and galleries. It is currently on display in the exhibition FOOD: Bigger than the Plate at the V&A South Kensington, where she will also be performing a new work, Holding Shift at this month’s food-themed Friday Late.
May Rosenthal Sloan: What is Veda bread?
Laura Wilson: I still remember when I had my first slice of Veda. The soft, brown malted bread was toasted and dripping with butter. I was about 11 years old and ate most of the loaf. Veda bread is unique to Northern Ireland and the bread is inextricably linked with the place for me personally. That first taste was the same day I was taken on a visit to Harland and Wolff Dockyard, and saw Belfast’s famous cranes up close.
Click here to read the rest of the interview: https://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/museum-life/shapeshifting-dough-an-interview-with-artist-laura-wilson
Trained on Veda at the V&A
May 17, 2019
I'm excited to share that my project Trained on Veda
is featured in the new V&A exhibition, Food: Bigger than the Plate
open to the public from tomorrow Saturday 18 May. The exhibition is curated by Catherine Flood and May Rosenthal Sloan, and continues until 20 October 2019.
Trained on Veda is a malted loaf and evolving project connecting bakeries and galleries through veda bread. The project was initiated during my residency at Delfina Foundation in 2016, and is developed with TACO, Grand Union, Site Gallery and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.
Veda bread is a dark brown malt loaf which was discovered by a Scot called Robert Graham in 1900. It has a uniquely malted taste, which is easily digestible, full of vitamins and has a long shelf-life (five to seven days). The bread became popular across the UK in the early part of the 20th Century and bakeries selling veda opened in most cities across the UK. Today it is only made in Northern Ireland.
Over the last two years I have been working with Marc Darvell from Darvells bakery
to develop a malted bread inspired by the history of veda. Through a network of galleries and bakeries people are invited to eat the bread, and over the forthcoming year events, exhibitions and workshops present my wider research around labour, regaining lost skills, the link between food
and wellbeing, and passing on knowledge through embodied practice.
Trained on Veda is supported by Arts Council England.
September 1, 2018
Really excited to announce that I have been selected as one of the ten artists to work on a commission for New Geographies.
Working with Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, I will focus on ancient forms of craft through research over the next year with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit working on Must Farm, a 3000 year-old Bronze Age settlement on the edge of a working brick quarry near Peterborough. My project investigates how the body learns, adapts, responds to and performs manual work, and will take the form of a series of events, a film and objects that connect with the region’s historical collections.
The commission is part of New Geographies a major site-responsive visual arts programme across the East of England. In 2017, the public was invited to nominate locations in the region that they found meaningful or interesting to them. Over 270 sites were identified, with ten artists commissioned to highlight some of these places through new site-specific work.
My work responds to the nominated site ‘View from the North Brink across the Fens’ nominated by Edward Humphreys.
April 27, 2018
I am super excited to be included in the Block Universe 2018 programme!
Block Universe, London’s leading international performance art festival is set to launch its fourth edition in May with an expanded 10-day programme of new commissions, UK premieres, talks, screenings and workshops.
From 26 May to 3 June 2018, Block Universe will present work by some of the most innovative UK-based and international artists working in performance art today, including Maria Hassabi, Hanne Lippard, Giselle Stanborough, Nora Turato andLaura Wilson.
The festival features five new commissions by Gery Georgieva, Evan Ifekoya & Victoria Sin, Alex Mirutziu, Last Yearz Interesting Negro / Jamila Johnson-Small and They Are Here, a collaborative practice led by Helen Walker and Harun Morrison.
As in previous years, performances will take place in major institutions and unique venues across London, including Somerset House, British Museum, Royal Academy of Arts and Studio Voltaire. Creating extraordinary opportunities for dialogue between London’s storied institutions and a selection of exceptional performance artists working at the cross-section of contemporary visual art, dance and music, Block Universe positions London at the forefront of international performance art.