Weaving a spell in a fairytale forest that hangs by a thread


Weaver has made several astonishing sculptures with a similar logic, inverting the erectile stance of the structure through the folded fabric of the material, sometimes devising mesh or even a column made from egg shells or an imitation of a lift door as a curtain.

Another paradox  Weaver explores is the surface of a painting. In scintillating works such as 2009’s  Mirage, she uses needlework of astonishing accuracy to run horizontal threads in serial rank, so perfectly that it seems like a computerised raster. The hand-embroidery reminds us that the surface on which so many pictures are painted is a textile that hangs, even though its tautness suggests an abstract plane in accord with the wall.

Weaver loves the way gravity acts upon organic things stuck to a vertical surface. In 2011, she hung fine discs of Japanese Kozo paper to resemble fur or overlapping scales. The intricate patterns activate the sheet with a breathing animal presence or like crops that sway in the wind, “the micro flurries of matter coming apart and floating freely in space, conjuring up epic and infinitesimal sensations of instability, mutability and unrest”, as the curator Melissa Keys writes.

The organic pulse of nature has intrigued the artist since early days, as with her gorgeous Jellyfish of 1991, where she added beads to an embroidered organza collar, also attached to paper, to launch the image of the toxic sea creature in full squish. The decorative traditions of European textile lose their ornamental pomp and are returned to the primordial.

In Between appearances, I feel that I’ve entered a fairytale. Many of Weaver’s works are environmental, proposing a world in a red forest or creatures in pelt that could match some grand fashion statement on the runway. But as with all fairytales, there’s a catch. The artist has a magic wand but it only casts its spell on half the works.

Between Appearances: the art of Louise Weaver, Buxton Contemporary

Between Appearances: the art of Louise Weaver, Buxton ContemporaryCredit:Christian Capurro

The pieces that hang from the ceiling are enchanting, imaginative and poetic. But the pieces that stand up on a plinth deflect the magic influence of her wand. They’re well made and ambitious in references; but their contact with the floor seems to cancel their enchantment.

Weaver’s sorcery works effectively with suspended pieces because they achieve monumentality while riddled with paradoxes in the behaviour of the medium. In the standing works, the materials cannot go through their tensile stretchy actions and seem inert. To generate interest, the works take on artificial allegorical messages, mostly unconvincing.

To me, Weaver is a sculptor, not an installation artist. Her best works are unique objects, either flat on the wall or suspended in glorious ambiguity. The plinth or platform for Weaver is a tombstone. She is an artist of things that drop and sway; and her works needs air beneath them to cast their magic spell on us.