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Exploring equality through material values

 

My current work seeks to challenge notions of feminine and masculine social norms through an investigation into material values. I work with a combination of metal and textiles, using techniques that are strongly rooted in traditional craft. The ancient skills of metal craft are understood to belong to a historically masculine domain. Meanwhile textiles has long been perceived as a feminine and domestic craft. The materials that belong to these two separate crafts, offer their own inherent characteristics. Textiles are understood to be soft, malleable and light. In contrast, we recognize metal to be strong, resilient and heavy. I am interested in how these material values correspond to the social stereotypes allocated to each craft and how this relates to prevailing notions of the masculine and feminine.

 

My background as a goldsmith and blacksmith, has given me a deep understanding of metal and its properties. I work in particular with forged and pressed metal techniques. More recently, I have become fascinated by the possibilities of colour, form and texture offered by textiles. I have deepened my knowledge of textile techniques, working especially within weaving, machine knitting and threads. I have attempted to express the softness and pliability of fabric into metal and introducing the expression of strength to the textile elements of the work. By subverting the expectations of these materials, I hope to remind the viewer that things are not always as they seem, there is always the possibility of a different outcome, of a change to the rules.

 

Most recently, I have been creating a series of works using plates of steel, which are forged out to soften the metal, giving it the characteristics of fabric. These plates are suspended in various formations, using hundreds of different coloured threads to create clusters of colourful and illusionary installations. The steel plates seem to hover and float effortlessly in the air, supported by bright flashes of colour, which are illuminated by the light source in the room. The result is a strongly sensory experience. The assumption that the weight of the steel should exceed the capacity of the thread, creates a sense of tension. As the viewer walks around the work, the colours change and move, seeming to dance with the light. The delicate nature of the thread defies our expectations, transformed into a pillar of colour, it introduces a sense of fragility to the suspended steel.

 

 

Billy Andersson, 2018