The sight, sounds, people and history of renaissance Italy has inspired the latest exhibition at a Laxey art gallery.
Textile artists Maureen Kennaugh and Pat Kelly opened their joint display ’A Florentine Fantasia’ at the Hodgson Loom Gallery on Saturday, with their work featuring a myriad of designs, techniques, subjects and images directly inspired by a trip both artists took to the Italian city of Florence some years ago.
The display shows expert displays of incredibly detailed needlecraft and embroidery from both artists, complete with rich, dazzling colours and stunning, intricate designs.
They have taken inspiration from the rich history and culture of Florence, using the architecture, old and modern fashions and the people themselves to put together this comprehensive study of a fascinating and impossibly romantic city.
Both Maureen and Pat are fiends who met while learning their craft at the Isle of Man College in 1997.
They have often worked together and have also travelled to other European cities, such as Granada, in search of inspiration.
They took their trip in 2019 and, originally, the exhibition was intended to take place in 2020.
However, Maureen said that the resulting delay has enabled both artists to spend more time on their work and add to the finished display.
’I know I shouldn’t really say this about your own exhibition, but I’m really impressed with what we have done,’ said Maureen.
’People have commented on the amount of work we have produced but, when you put the time together, there is nearly two years worth of work here now. That’s quite something.
’Although we both meet every so often, a lot of the work is new to both of us, as much of it is finished in our own space.
’We shared some of the work along the way, but there is an awful lot of work we haven’t seen as we have been working separately.
’I think it looks good.’
Amongst her work, Maureen created portraits of people she observed from the cafes around the majestic Il Duomo.
’I did a lot of people watching,’ said Maureen.
’We would be sitting in a cafe outside the Duomo and it was just so busy.
’I took lots of photographs of people and I focused on some of the more interesting figures.
’I have got piece featuring a priest with a shopping bag and a young girl with a bag with ’subdued.com’ on it. I thought it was a nice contrast, seeing shopping as a new religion, almost.
’Some of my other figures are based on the traditions of renaissance portraits, when they were side on and didn’t have full face portraits. I produced modern women in the same way they would have been portrayed in the renaissance.’
Pat was inspired by the old renaissance techniques of dying fabrics, using heat to burn coloured paint powders onto fabric.
’I was also taken with the external architecture, said Pat.
’I took a lot of photographs of the outside marble work and the geometric shapes. I took all these home and made my own designs from these ideas.
’Of course, we also saw many different styles of Florentine embroidery.
’The clothing that they wore in Renaissance Florence was amazing and we saw the pictures, paintings and colours in the galleries, which was amazing and inspiring.
’Our work always goes very well together, even when we do different techniques.
’Fortunately, Julia, here at the gallery, is a master at hanging work sympathetically and I think, looking at it now, it looks quite stunning.
’It makes me want to go back to Florence again.’
l A Florentine Fantasia is open to view until Saturday, October 9.