Friday, 13 April 2018

Exhibition tour of Ingela Ihrman's 'We Thrive' by Mhairi Abbas

DJCAD Textile Design Graduate Resident Mhairi Abbas reflects on the exhibition tour she co-lead with Cooper Gallery for current DJCAD Textile Design students.

We Thrive
, is a fascinating exhibition of work by Ingela Ihrman at Cooper Gallery. Ihrman is a Swedish contemporary artist with a background in Textile Design. Using her basis in textiles Ihrman has produced a tactile experience, playing with scale and bringing in humour in unexpected ways. Some of the pieces bring a sense of tranquillity while others have a laugh out loud awkwardness.

This exhibition includes performance, physical installations and video, creating a truly immersive experience. I recently co-lead a tour and discussion around the gallery with the aim of helping Textile Design students engage with the show, expand their horizons and to explore how it could inform their own work.

The tour was in two parts, firstly exploring the exhibition as a whole and getting a feel for the artwork, followed by an informal group discussion. The group of fifteen 2nd year Textile Design students were keen to investigate the space, this was the first time any of the students had visited the Cooper Gallery. It was great to see them exploring the space and hearing what they thought of the exhibition.
Textile Design students in workshop devised by Mhairi Abbas. Photo by Mhairi Abbas.
As the artist has a background in Textile Design, it is great to see the work cover unusual ground and utilise a range of mediums. The work by Ingela Ihrman is a charming mix of humour and thought-provoking insight into our relationship with the natural world. The artist also uses materials to great effect, using both organic and manmade items to create her range of work. The students were asked to look at how the artist had applied unusual materials as well as considering how the work was constructed. This was of great interest to the students who are encouraged to use a wide variety of materials in their own textiles practice.

The fascinating thing about Ihrman’s work is that it is only when you look closely that the objects give up the secrets of how they are constructed. The attention to detail in the work is beautiful and the way the artist has chosen to keep elements of the original materials in view gives a sense of honesty and artistry to the work as well as hinting at the creative process.

The group of students had time to experience the exhibition as well as discovering what the Cooper Gallery has to offer. The work is thought provoking and inspired a great discussion from the group. This helped them to expand their horizons in terms of a textile practice, consider a range of mediums and see an artist use and display textiles within their work in a gallery setting.

Ingela Ihrman We Thrive took place at Cooper Gallery between March and April 2018. Find out more about the exhibition here.