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Barbara Schey offers glimpse of world-class fabrics at Timeless Textiles show

COLOUR CASCADE: Experience the richness and skill of Barbara Schey’s amazing body of work at Timeless Textiles.
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Creative Industriesis a continuing topic in Newcastle, with a recently restructured course at the university working out a new focus on teaching music, fine arts and design among other disciplines that have a practical component.

It is good to remember that the visual arts have traditionally been based on moneymaking vocations. In the western world, for a millennium, artists fulfilled commissions for altarpieces, while the romantic concept of the starving painter unable to sell his visionary works to an uncomprehending public is comparatively recent.

This historical context reminds us that the textile arts have long been a strand of industrial creativity, supplying clothing and domestic furnishing, but also involving skilled craftsmanship at the luxury end of the market.

Barbara Schey, at Timeless Textiles until May 6, is a modern master craftswoman. At least half of her radiantly colourful works are wearable jackets, wraps and scarves, while other pieces are more fanciful versions of similar traditional patterns.

Basic kimono designs are based on rectangular segments of cloth, ideally suited to elaborate surface treatments. Three-dimensional sculptural effects can be created by traditional Japanese techniques of resist, folding and tying, adapted and augmented by this visionary artist in dense surface patterning, enhanced by dyes in brilliant colour.

An immense solemn black kimono follows a Japanese model with multiple translucent layers, where metallic gold is tamed and veiled by printed and overdyed wildlife imagery, topped with Arashi Shibori. A red jacket of hand-woven silk from Laos has a rich collar of flowers fabricated from Shibori scraps.

A long scarf is a sculptural surface with a dense grid of raised red, white and black nipples. Another scarf resembles gold astrakhan, a surprising and exotic tour de force.

A great cascade of many metres of rainbow silk is a spectacular exhibition piece. Most of the works in this show are indeed prize-winning exhibition pieces, covering 25 years of Barbara Schey’s distinguished career.Her practice has evolved from weaving and spinning, as increasingly colour has become crucial.

Dyeing silk with the variations she has developed for the Shibori technique are her principal concern. She is a member and mentor of the World Shibori Network.

Her work has appeared in many parts of the world where textiles are valued. She has regularly taught and appeared at symposiums and colloquiums in France, Latin America and many parts of Asia, especially Japan, whose traditions of fabric manipulation she so excitingly extends. She must be counted among ’s most valued international artists.

It is wonderful to see her work in Newcastle and become immersed in her swathes of rhapsodic colour.

Timeless Textiles is still the only specialist gallery in to show what artists have produced who work across this immense and historically important field.

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