Hilary, Lynn and Alison travelled through the storms to Machynlleth yesterday to hear Sue Hiley Harris talk about her work, and to see her installation "Ancestor Bags" at MOMAWales. Fortunately most of the flood water has subsided in North Wales, but the river was almost up to the top of the arches of the bridge just outside Machynlleth. Generally, it is still very wet and there is standing water on most of the roads. However, the exhibition and the talk were well worth the journey.
Sue weaves in three dimensions, producing uniquely sculptural work underpinned by a strong conceptual sense. "Ancestor Bags" investigates her own family history with its' roots in the UK and in Australia: the installation comprises a series of suspended woven pieces turning slowly in the air & casting complex shadows on the gallery walls. Each piece represents an individual ancestor with encoded biographical information woven into the texture of the fabric. Sue talked in fascinating detail about her work and her research into the family history, and explained the mathematically-derived code hidden within each piece. As in all the best art, this code enhances the work but the exhibition can be enjoyed without understanding how to decipher the hidden messages. The exhibition is both intensely personal to the artist and immediately accessible to the audience. A real success, and we enjoyed the experience very much. The exhibition continues until the end of the week, after which it will travel to Australia, and possibly also to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford - well worth a visit.
The lecture took place in the very grand Tabernacl (Chapel) which gives the gallery its' other name. Unfortunately the gallery "café" didn't sell food of any description apart from a couple of small cakes and some shortbread. Rather a shame, as we were intending to treat ourselves to a nice lunch out!