York-based textile artist Ealish Wilson is currently exhibiting her work at the prestigious Sunny Bank Mills Gallery in Farsley, near Leeds.
Ealish is a member of the renowned textile artist collective, the 62 Group, whose new exhibition Tailored runs at Sunny Bank Mills until July 2.
Tailored celebrates textiles and their place in the local community and economy as part of the celebration of 10 years of arts and culture at Sunny Bank Mills.
Ealish commented: “I have been a member of the 62 Group since 2018. This year myself and Dr Claire Barber have taken on the exhibition role for the group and Tailored is our first collaborative curation.
“Sunny Bank Mills, one of the oldest and most famous family-owned textile mills in Yorkshire, is the most wonderful venue for our exhibition. The group’s response to the theme “tailored” is diverse and intriguing and the Mill provides a fabulous backdrop for everyone’s work.
“On a more personal level, I am inspired everyday by colour, texture, and form. Architecture is my primary reference point. I use it for proportion of scale, combinations of materials and shapes. Incredible design, traditional and contemporary, is freely available for inspiration everywhere. I use a technique called smocking to create many of my pieces. Traditionally found on dresses I scale it up to give a sculptural quality to my work.
“I have two works in Tailored. The first is Pin Bone, a digital print on Twill with hand smocking. This work is made up of over 5,000 hand stitches (this is how many stitches it takes to create a suit by hand).
“I was inspired by the Sunny Bank Mills archive, which revealed that Herringbone-woven fabrics historically were designed after looking at the pin bones of a fish. I created a Herringbone print from a photo of pins and hand smocked over 4.5 metres of the cloth to create the work.
“The second is Macro Weave, a digital print on Twill with hand smocking. This piece derived from looking at different weave structures and their formations. I wondered if I could use a different smocking technique to convey a weave, but in a scaled-up version. I chose a lattice smock to create the structure I required; hand stitching and gathering the cloth into the appearance of a weave.
Ealish studied for a BA at Chester College with the incredible textile artist Professor Maxine Bristow who changed how she viewed textiles and making. Her MA is from the Scottish College of Textiles, based at an old mill with extremely knowledgeable technicians.
Jane Kay, Creative Director at Sunny Bank Mills, explained: “We are delighted to welcome back the tremendously talented 62 Group to Sunny Bank Mills. The exceptional work in Tailored explores the multiple meanings of the word itself and what it means to the artists themselves.
“This exhibition is particularly relevant to Sunny Bank as Tailored is a word we most associate with suits – and suits were the most common use of the cloth at the mill. The depth and breadth of textile art as a medium in this exhibition is astonishing.
“Some of the 32 artists exhibiting in the show consider the process of making - the design and weaving of cloth and the pattern, pinning, cutting and sewing of a garment. Other artists take a more narrative and personal approach to the meaning of Tailored. Techniques include stitch, knit, casting, drawing and film, sculpture and installation.”
Hannah Lamb of the 62 Group commented: “We previously exhibited at Sunny Bank Mills with the 62 Group in 2019, with an exhibition entitled Construct. That show came about through a conversation between myself and Jane Kay, whom I've known for a long while. I first exhibited my own work at Sunny Bank in 2015, when the mill was far less developed than it is today.
“I was fascinated by the heritage of the place and its strong connection to the local textile industry. This, of course, makes it an ideal venue for a textile-themed exhibition, which can draw on the themes around textile manufacturing and also the broader Leeds industries around tailoring and garment production.
“However, this exhibition isn't just about heritage and tailoring, it covers some current topics around clothing, identity and also playing on the words and ideas of cutting, piecing and constructing with cloth.”
Hannah added: “As a group, we love exhibiting at Sunny Bank Mills because it's a warm, welcoming and creative place that puts art at the centre. We are really happy to be back at the Gallery this summer with another strong show of fine art textiles.”