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Damask / Everything Put Together

Art historians speculate that the original damask patterns stem from the Tang Dynasty in China, circa 300 BCE. As the popularity of the Silk Road grew, damask silk weaving became a sought-after luxury item and established itself as one of the five basic weaving techniques in the Middle Ages and Byzantine periods. Merchants in Damascus brought the fabric to Europe for the first time in the 11th century; from where it became known by its distinctive name. Following the route Marco Polo established, it was traded in the textile markets of Venice before exportation across Europe. Damask is incredibly versatile, making it a favourite among designers. The formalized representations of the natural world work beautifully as curtains or drapes, furniture upholstery, wallpaper, tablecloths, and napkins, and it was used extensively throughout wealthy houses and institutions in Venice over six centuries.

When I moved back to Venice in 2020, I felt the need to locate myself quickly within the fabric of the city by using some motifs that were redolent of place and steeped in history. I chose a particular damask pattern and one of the iron grill designs seen on many ground-floor windows. This period was about re-establishing a professional arts practice after a twelve-year period in the UK working principally as a creative director and lecturer. So, I worked quickly, spontaneously, roughly and without recourse to specific details. In comparison with Damask textiles, these paintings are unrefined, but I hope the resulting images transmit something of that initial burst of energy and spirit I felt when trying to find my feet again. The title “Everything Put Together” comes from a Paul Simon song which goes on to say “Sooner or later falls apart”… I wanted to explore the concept of a new idea arriving, becoming formalized and then established, before disintegrating into half-remembered histories.