artists register

Michelle Abbott


Burst 2

Burst 2

Watercolour, pencil, collage and sulky threads on watercolour paper
36cm x 36cm

Statement

Since graduating I have been a practising artist primarily based in Brighton where I have been a studio member at Phoenix Art Space Brighton for over 20 years.

I have exhibited regularly in independent group and solo shows in London, Brighton and Edinburgh, completed over 20 private commissions, participated in the Brighton Art Fair twice and The Other Art Fair London in 2012. I have also curated outreach exhibitions with the Phoenix Gallery and local cafes to promote Phoenix artists and their work.

Until 2009 I was primarily an abstract painter; however, whilst developing a new body of work which questioned human connections, chance meetings and digital interactions, I felt that paint was the wrong medium and I started using threads as a drawing medium on paper to literally tie connections together. Threads are now my primary medium and I have produced several series’ of works on paper and canvas incorporating non-objective subject matter and abstracted text.

In my connections series I investigate the paths and patterns of timelines, existence and connections with others amidst the chaos of 7 billion. Is our life a continuous flow of chance meetings, or is all directed from our own decisions; or are we simply at the mercy of a greater puppeteer. By plotting an axis of existence, almost as a ship would plot its course, I am creating patterns of life. I chart the randomness, the closeness, the continuity of connections to others and thread together the new and the old, layers of history and times gone by which are still relevant to the the now. Symbols, numerology, layers and codes of life events are charted and visually brought together using mixed media and cottons to sew the maps of time into a fixed formulaic graph of life.

More recently my disconnections series has questioned the distance between humans – whether it be via choice, circumstance or event – the pandemic has led to many disconnections from life, people and our own wants/needs and the notion of distance has created a new way of existing

Raw is a series of works that challenges the conception of drawing by only using threads as markers, as form, as colour on a variety of scales and materials. Specifically non-objective, these works play with colour and form and change with various light modes as the silk threads reflect their environment.

In 2011 my paternal family tree was traced back to 1815, all rooted in the East End of London around Bethnal Green and Shoreditch – the weavers and tailors’ quarters of that time. Looking back at my lineage there are generations of tailors, silk winders and haberdashers – I knew nothing of this when I started working with threads. In 2013 I was invited to show a series of these works in a medical centre in Bethnal Green, in conjunction with the Whitechapel Gallery, and an independent gallery in Shoreditch – it felt like something of a homecoming.

Fast forward to February 2022 – I’m honoured to receive an Arts Council DYCP award to further investigate my lineage and the practice of Victorian tailors -researching the lives, fashions, materials and influences of that period and incorporating my findings into new ways of working with threads which I will be experimenting with over the coming months. You can follow this project this project on Instagram at:-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biography

1972Born in South London
1990 - 1991Epsom School of Art and Design
1991 - 1996University of Edinburgh & Edinburgh College of Art - MA Fine Art