Maze of Fabrics (June 2017) – ENG

Karina Kaluza
Monika Mysiak
Alex Roberts

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The exchange, pairing experience, working process

April 2016 we were paired together, we started to ‘connect’ via email and Skype. Our starting points were a little clunky, language barriers and digital means of introductions were not initially natural but we enjoyed getting to know each other’s work and searching for overlaps of interests.

Discussing project ideas it become clear that fabric and the ‘materiality of painting’ is something we all share, with Karina and Alex painting upon transparent fabric surfaces, while Monika has made, ‘fabric’ her main conceptual focus for her works. The curiosity to capture the transient nature of our human trace is of equal common importance.

Maze of Fabrics, Ply Gallery, Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre, London, December 2016. Image credit: Paul Abbott.

With these two key interests in mind, Alex shared her curiosities with the sense of community, derived from Katowice’s mining heritage she witnessed. She explained that these geographically located, self-sustaining neighbourhoods, like Nikiszowiec (some derelict, others still in use) seemed to lend a sense of narrative, witnessed histories and collections of personal worlds/memories beyond the similarly laid out front doors; a world of the private and public domesticity, human trace.

We followed this lead, and re-visited Nikiszowiec as a group, including the Historical Museum Katowice, Rymarska Street, Nikiszowiec. This is a former mining community’s public laundry and washhouse for women and children. Our thoughts became anchored from and within this experience.

We meditated on the early mining community’s events, the possible conversations that took place during the daily activities of shared washing and bathing. Along with deliberating our curiosity to investigate an international language of painting. We asked each other how could we engage the viewer? Physically immerse them within our painting works too, in terms of installation? Similar to our shared imagination of billowing laundry hung out on washing lines, the floating fabrics tangibly surround you. We were keen to find a way for the viewer to mentally and bodily enter the ‘conversation’; releasing their own personal associations.

A nucleus for our research project came to light:

  • Mining communities, bathing, domesticity, laundry, public washhouses.
  • Investigating an international language of painting – abstract, sensory, figural and the sliding scales in-between. We are three, female painters, Monika’s work – figural, Karina’s – abstract/sensory, and Alex’s being a sliding scale between both these sensitive approaches.
  • Immersing the viewer, site-specificity, painting installations.
  • Triggering of free associations, personal memories, identities, local customs – Nikiszowiec, Upper Silesia, Katowice, Hornsey, London, UK and wider Europe.

Hence why we decided to make a maze of fabrics which is made up of several works from each of us.

Hornsey’s ‘Intro show’, Ply Gallery, UK gave us an opportunity to trial our first round of research findings, testing a site-specific hanging system for our fabric works: traditional, wooden slated, air drying laundry pullys. The surrounding district has links to former, Victorian bathhouses. Correspondingly we could see how our paintings came together; useful and positive critques, lessons were learnt. Since we have conferred about our gathering of works for our new installation at the Rondo in June, tweaking our hanging systems, chatting about colours, number of works, uniform spacing for the fabrics to drop, float etc.

We have,

continued re-looking at local heritage, ancestry; British-Polish past relationships and our present, common European concerns,

with for us, Monika, Karina, and Alex, fabric being the go-between.

We have been lucky with our ‘connection’, and have found the exchange process a useful and enlightening process to examine our shared interests. We look forward to further developments…

Being part of INDUSTRIADA, the Festival of Monuments of Technology on the 10 June, installing some works at the Historical Museum Katowice, Rymarska Street, Nikiszowiec is just one example. Our grouping is to display some of our paintings (one-two each) within the museum. We aim to drape our pieces over the old, large wooden drying racks, mangles and linen presses. We feel this is an acute matching and appropriate, site-specificway for our working research to be portrayed and involve the viewer; linking us back to the community that initially inspired our exchange conversations.

‘Maze of Fabrics’ by Alex Roberts, Karina Kaluza, and Monika Mysiak. Ply Gallery, Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre, London, December 2016. Image credit: Kelise
The Work

Setting our works together as a painting installation, a maze of fabrics, not entirely washed out and clean, we are investigating a sensory experience of painting. The maze of fabrics includes approximately three to six individual works. These are large format (100/120 x 170/180cm) formed on transparent, fine fabrics that can easily float. Fabrics are embroidered, dyed, painted, ruffled, pulled, bringing to mind not necessarily clean, folded and ironed laundry, but an ambiguous collection of cloths that question is this fabric, a painting, laundry, or a series of drifting associations that inferre the in-between, or allude to something else? Is this the laundry before washing, leaving clear traces of human presence, or the over-washed kind, familiarly loved that holds reminensce of human stains not wishing to be seen?

Mounting the work, the anticipated surface area for the maze is 16-18 sqm with an approximate metre spacing amid the paintings for the viewer to be able to access and meander through. The hanging system comprises fixings from the ceiling and includes using fishing wire, rods, laundry-like slats/local washing, drying constructions allied to Katowice.

Working with the maze project is an on-going interesting challenge, especially as the final effect remains an unknown! We will see our concluding, collective work only when the maze is assembled, and no doubt it will be readjusted again. Nevertheless, the whole process of this project creation and exchange we really value; the works’ final implementation, our artistic discussions, sharing and swapping of knowledge, along with the organisation experience itself.

Bio – Info

Karina Kaluza

Born in 1991. Graduated Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice. An important aspect of my activity is the observation of the relationship between the artist, the work, the recipient and the environment. I treat the image as a visual act, coming out of concrete material forms and entering into relationships with our body, which requires an environment, an active reacting, responding, cooperative environment. In my realizations I try to show the reciprocal relations between the elements mentioned in relation to reality.

Monika Mysiak

Polish artist born in 1986. In 2012, she graduated with honours in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, having previously, two years earlier graduated from the University of Economics in Katowice. Monika lives and works in Chorzów in Poland. Currently she is a doctoral student at Academy of Fine Art in Katowice, wife and mother of two sons. Monika Mysiak uses a presence of fabrics as a main character of her works. She arranges the authentic fabrics in rolls and shapes referring in a subtle way to the feminine body. Her monochromatic pictures are charged with eroticism filtered through the author’s temperament. In her doctoral thesis she interesting in topic of intimacy in culture philosophy, art and social studies.

Alex Roberts

British artist that lives and works between Berlin and the UK. She is an artist who works with paint and translucence; addressing paintings’ surface and spatial depth. Testing the sliding scale of figuration and abstraction, her focus is how we perceive identity and change – encounters.

Roberts completed her MAFA at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, 2015. Recent exhibitions: Choices, The Edge, University of Bath (2015, solo), group shows: Connect: Katowice, The Ply Gallery, Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre, The Room is the Resonator, The Old Police Station, Art Licks Weekend & Deptford X Fringe Festivals, After Projects (2016), Disstemma 7, The Crypt Gallery, London (2015), and being shortlisted for HIX Award 2016, CNB Gallery and Unit London (finalist), The Red Mansion Art Prize, Beijing/London (2016), Contemporary Visions VI, Beers London (2015).

Assimilating Proposals, Maze of Fabrics, 2017. Image credit: Karina Kaluza.