Now, we are not one to believe in labels, and many textile artists should really just call them artists on many occasions. But after over a decade of working with denim, the Textile art world over the last few years are starting to take note of Ian's work using denim. It's a textile after all.
He may not stitch, sew and they are no quilts. However many of the skills are the same and with viewing them, many in textile art have been amazed by his skills in manipulating the layers of fabric to become almost photo-realistic pieces.
Over the last number of years Ian has been invited to show in many contexts in the fiber and textile art genres and after initially declining to focus on his gallery shows, he also found himself saying
'I want more people to see the real work'
So, the seeds were sewn and with some persuasion, over the years, he agreed to a number of shows. Many which attract tens of thousands of people. And not one to ever do anything by halves, he put on a show, one with installations and some of his best work (often loaned back by clients)
First up was Quilt en Sud in Biarritz in the south of France with the one of the organisers, Christine Lacroix being the driving influence to his appearance. We cannot thank her enough for her organising (we tested her a little) as well as the rest of the team who were so warm, kind and friendly. For Ian it was great to meet so many people who work with Textiles to see his work, and to get so many amazing comments. It was also good to meet and make friends with other artists, like Sheila Frampton Cooper, Françoise Tellier-Loumagne, Francine Flattard and Claudia Pfeil
It was also a great way to travel with the work with Biarritz and the surrounding area a beautiful place to visit. The event was packed with many talented and committed people and filled with volunteers that did the event proud.
In the September Ian was an invited featured artist at Le Carrefour Européen du Patchwork in Alsace, France. For its 24th event Ian impressed the Twenty Thousand plus crowd with his work all made in denim. It was a great event and one where the booth was consistently full of people, taking pictures and trying to get autographs and selfies with Ian.
Showing in one part the My Beautiful Launderette installation where people could interact and walk into it. The other part hosted part of Behind Closed Doors the emotionally charged body of work first shown in London at the end of 2016. Most viewers were more interested in the construction of the works and with so many people at the stand the emotional aspect was sometimes lost. That said, the poem on the wall, by Ian's sister, Fiona, drew a large response and many tears.
The event spanned four days and the first three Ian's area had consistently at least three or four dozen people in, sometimes up to a hundred. On the last day, it was a bit quieter with only a dozen people in at one time and it was intriguing how many more comments were given about the content of the work, not just the style and technique. Many commented how they saw themselves in the work.
Ian was housed in an area with fellow artists Mirjam Pet-Jacobs - the award winning Dutch artist who like Ian is interested in how people communicate and interact. This museum standard show was a highlight for Ian to see. Alongside Mirjam's show was the work curated by Nancy Crow with by the Dairy Barn from Ohio. This internationally acclaimed artist is noted to be one of the leading figures of the quilt art movement of the 70's and 80's. SAQA was next to Ian and they had developed this exhibition in collaboration with the Stratford Perth Museum, Stratford, Ontario, Canada and featured many Canadian artists. A handful of which captured Ian's eye. The team there were great to be next to. We wish Lisa Walton all the success in her role as the new president and to carry on this organisations great work.
And last but certainly not least, was Ian's old friend Luke Haynes who have known one another for several years. Luke is a superstar in the quilting world and had reached out to Ian as far back as 2011 and they have been friends since. It was great to see so many of his works all in one place. He had collaborated with some other artists on these pieces. With the impact Luke and Ian had on the event it was hard for people to be not drawn in to their gender.
It was also great for Ian to meet some people who had followed his work for several years. This included people like journalists Alie Dijk, Astrid Franchet and Katell Renon who have written about Ian several times before. The interesting thing however is how they all saw the work differently to how they had done before. This is great to get so many people to see the work in real life.
Ian didn't get chance to really get out of the booth to see anything else, but did manage to see Andrée Leblanc's work who he was deeply impressed with and Paula Nadelstern's quilts inspired by the bilateral symmetry of kaleidoscopic images. Léa Stansal quirky work brought many smiles while he was sad not to get to see Willy Doreleijers's show, The Tentmakers of Cairo and his friends Val Holmes among others..
For Ian, not used to showing in this context it was strange for his gender to be brought up. It's only since showing with other textile artists has it. Now in hindsight, in this world we now see it is easier for males to stand out, but really we think that the work should stand for itself, regardless of gender or any other factor.
The only positive to this he takes from this, is that he hopes young children, and boys can see what can be achieved.
Quilt en Sud stood out by its friendly army of volunteers while at Carrefour it really felt like an event the whole region got behind with the event taking over many venues over many of the towns and one that the media got behind.
After two successful trips to France, it sets up Ian nicely to show again in the Textile world again during Quilt Week in Paducah, Kentucky next April as the guest artist. One of the highlight events of the year in the industry. You can read about Ian in the latest edition of American Quilter.
April 18 – 21, 2018 • Wed.–Fri., 9am–6pm, Sat., 9am–4pm
Schroeder Expo Center • 415 Park Avenue, Paducah, KY 42001
But before then two stops in the USA, with New York Denim Days coming up this weekend and Miami Basel Week in December. Watch out for more information.
And will you see Ian quilt or sew in future? Maybe so.