Tina Barton

Pip Culbert at Artspace

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Tina Barton has written a text to accompany Pip Culbert’s exhibition Seams at Artspace (1 July – 27 August 2016). In this she poses five questions; here is the first... 

1. Is a seam the strongest or weakest point in a garment?

I’m no seamstress, I really don’t know. One would think that a thread holding two edges together would bind the fabric and give it extra strength. But then again, it’s so often the case that fabric ends fray and stitches are the first to come undone. I’m thinking of the mending I’ve done; the rare occasions when I use an iron to smooth out creases, feeling my way around the little imperfections I don’t notice when I’m wearing something. Equivocation about the strength or otherwise of a seam is one of the questions Pip Culbert’s sculptures raise. That’s because they are literally all seam; that is, her works are the skeletons of made things, what’s left when all the fabric is cut away. Pinned flat on the wall, drooping or stretched in space, her works are ghostly reminders of what they once were: a row of shirts, a string of pockets, three aprons, an umbrella, a tent, a rucksack, the wavy edge of an awning, the hub-and-spokes of a parachute. These were all useful once, designed to clothe us, keep us warm, hold things, and protect us from the elements. But without the planes of cloth or canvas the seams once held together, they’ve lost their purpose. We see them now at their weakest. Yet these outlines seem definitive: they give the object structure, they are its very architecture; which of course is their strength.

To read the full text visit the Artspace website