Anne Kelly's most recent book is Textile Travels published by Batsford.
There is wonderful quote from Peter Greenaway that starts Chapter 1 of Anne Kelly’s book, Textile Travels:
‘I’ve always been fascinated by maps and cartography. A map tells you where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going – in a sense it’s three tenses in one’.
It’s a fabulous description of the book. It encapsulates Anne’s work and how she manages to capture all of these things in her creative expression of travel. It is a book that looks at how Anne’s life of travel has been poured into a celebration of family, place and time. We have all been forced to think about travel in a different way due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the book encourages the reader to think about places they’ve been and consider their current surroundings in a way that collectively we might not have previously done. Anne guides us in her own travels and creates a series of works both small and large, always innovative, to show us that an affinity to place can take many forms.
What is wonderful about Anne’s work is that she can take the everyday object and transcend its ordinariness to something of beauty and touching. For example, London Collar Case uses a vintage case and is covered with lace and a tourist tea towel and for Anne, has strong reminders of her grandmother who lived in London. It’s such a simple idea and instructions are given on how to create a similar case but the end product is so rich with feeling and history that we can’t help but be drawn to it. You can see similar items such as London Satchel, Tree of Life case and Haberdashery Sewing Box. They are expertly assembled and the treasures inside so thoughtfully selected and stored.
Maps also figure heavily and there are several projects using old maps, by using old tin boxes and maps (usually found in charity shops). These incorporate stitch and there are some beautiful folded books made this way, A Very Big Country and Kent Maps. As Anne layers her textile work with imagery, stitch and her personal response to a subject, so too we see the past and present in the piece. There’s a richness to the raw materials chosen, such as vintage textiles, old papers or drawing, tickets or image transfers but we can understand the history and sentiment of the finished pieces. My favourite detail in Self-Portrait was the text Anne had written about her childhood, one of which reads ‘and when I was a child I was thinking about colour’.
Anne has also included some illustrious artists who have embraced the theme of travel and I particularly loved the inclusion of Richard McVetis’s London Light Abstraction, Julia Tselkova’s knitted mittens, Julian Rowe’s artist books Eden Bridges and Nineveh and Debbie Lyddon’s Sluice Creek Cloths Masts and Halyards.
As we had seen in Anne’s previous book Textile Folk Art, she has an extensive collection of objects and souvenirs from her travels and childhood and it’s wonderful to see how these inspire different works. They have made me nostalgic for the all the collectibles from my childhood and the feelings about time and place that they will evoke (should I ever dare to hunt for them). Themes of childhood, family and home run through the book and at a time where we have been confined to home, hopefully this book has allowed people to embrace those feelings and think more about our place in the world. There is enough in the book for you to want to create your own pieces of history, whether from your own travels, or from what’s outside your door. It is a wonderful read, hugely inspiring and I found this book to be a warm hug of memory, place and where you heart lies.
I also went to the exhibition at the time of Textile Nature’s launch, please see here for the exhibition
I have reviewed some of Anne’s previous books here, so please follow these links:
Textile Folk Art and Textile Nature
I also went to the exhibition at the time of Textile Nature’s launch, please see here for the exhibition.
I would like to thank Batsford for letting me review this book.
Textile Travels by Anne Kelly is published by Batsford. Artworks by Anne Kelly, photographed by Rachel Whiting
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