An exhibition at Keynes College, University of Kent, Canterbury
15 September – 15 December 2017
Felted landscapes by Victoria Smith, paintings by Gabrielle Nesfield, prints by Bay Lees, photographs by Oliver Smith
In 1890 my great-grandmother painted a view over the ancestral family coffee estates, which now hangs on our bedroom wall. When I visited India in 2016 I took a trip up Elephant Hill in the Western Ghats to seek out this view. I was unprepared for the intense emotional impact that this would have on me. Our father and his forefathers, who had known this land so intimately, stood alongside us as ghosts in this very particular place, as we looked out over this, their landscape.
This heritage forms the basis of these textile explorations. The process of making the landscape pieces is meditative and physical. The merino fibre comes as a ready-dyed wool roving, soft and lustrous, in a multitude of colours that I overlay in subtle layers, almost like watercolour washes. The felting process causes the fibres to shrink and lock together. Although I am in control of the original placement of the fibres, the way that the colours blend and meld together is always a beautiful surprise.