“Family is intrinsic to my creativity,” says Ismail Zaidy about his photographic practice that’s grounded in color, emotion, and various aspects of Moroccan culture. In many of his conceptual images, Zaidy’s brother and sister serve as models positioned among swathes of pastel fabrics or balancing between taught ropes. Shot against the sandy backdrops of windswept deserts, each photograph amplifies movement and an interplay between light and shadow.
Pairing with the abstract and minimal aesthetic, Zaidy uses simple editing tools and only the camera on a Samsung Galaxy S5. He draws on his passion for color through silks, cotton, and other textiles that evoke the imagery of his upbringing. “When I was a kid, I used to live in a modest area in Marrakech where I was watching the way the women would wear their fabrics, hike and djellaba out on the streets. These women are still a huge inspiration for me today,” he says.
Although the involvement of Zaidy’s siblings began out of necessity when others weren’t available, they continue to offer direction and insight into the concepts, which the 23-year-old photographer explains:
I’m trying to shine a light on certain subjects. A lack of communication, distance between siblings and their parents, and family estrangement are problems that affect many but are rarely talked about. I am trying to treat this issue throughout my work in a poetic way, showing that family is one of the most valuable gifts in our lives.
Share this story
Although Lucy Sparrow is adept at treating scrapes and bouts of indigestion, her medical specialty lies in helping folks suffering from heart disease, IBS, and various illnesses caused by fiber deficiencies. The U.K.-based artist set up shop with The Bourdon Street Chemist, a fully-stocked, woolen pharmacy that’ll open its doors on January 18, 2021, at London’s Lyndsey Ingram. Over-the-counter medications like plush bottles of Pepto Bismol, Tums, and aspirin line the shelves alongside creams and luxury fragrances.
Sparrow’s medical practice, though, expands beyond the drug store with an entire surgical unit for more severe injuries and illnesses in her studio. The retro, tile-lined room is outfitted with traditional operation equipment and a woolen cadaver with compact organs, a skeleton, and even a bleeding heart.
Similar to her previous undertakings that filled bodegas and supermarkets with household goods, Sparrow hand-stitched the entirety of The Bourdon Street Chemist with painstaking precision, not only ensuring a variety of pharmaceuticals are available but also inscribing each tablet and bottle with fabric-paint labels. The artist established this new medical unit after converting a decommissioned ambulance into a “National Felt Service” vehicle and performing a live-felt-surgery at Miami Art Week in 2018.
Anyone who’s binged on Sparrow’s felt potato chips or wooly Sour Patch Kids can pick up a similarly fibrous remedy from the white-coat wearing artist, who stations herself in the large-scale installation. “There is something so intensely intimate in sharing your personal—and often embarrassing—ailments with a stranger. But because that stranger is wearing a white coat you feel safe and trust them with secrets you wouldn’t tell your best friend,” the artist says.
Share this story
Considering the possibilities of non-gendered motherhood, Toronto-born artist Tau Lewis stitches together oversized characters and floral tendrils that occupy a lavish fictional world. Textured swatches of fabric transform stark gallery space into pastel gardens and the idyllic universe of the “T. A. U. B. I. S.,” or the bulging-eyed creature with a protruding tongue shown above. Teeming with themes of compassion, joy, and freedom, the sprawling works evoke birth and the warmth of a womb filled with light.
Part of the collection titled Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls—which closed last week at Toronto’s Cooper Cole—Lewis’s installations imagine an environment centered around abundance, which she explains:
Mutable and devoid of gender, they transmute into blossoms. Every blossom embodies a soul who is alive and listening. T.A.U.B.I.S. blossoms grow year-round, uni-wide, even in most harsh weather and on most hostile planets. The T.A.U.B.I.S communicate and collect intel through these blossoms.
A self-taught artist based in Brooklyn, Lewis hand-dyes vintage curtains, bed sheets, blankets, towels, and clothing that she sews into quilts and looming sculptural figures. Her body of work generally explores multiple facets of trauma and the ways manual labor can provide healing. From the textiles gathered throughout Toronto, New York, and her family’s home in Negril, Jamaica, Lewis patches together representations of community members and ancestors. “The transformative act of repurposing these materials recalls practices of resourcefulness in diasporic contexts; upcycling is a recuperative act that reclaims both agency and memory,” she says in a statement.
Share this story
Leeds-based artist Mister Finch (previously) thrifts scraps of brocades and cottons to shape into fantastical creatures that are both whimsical and slightly unnerving. His recent pieces include a series of oversized spiders that the artist photographs suspended from the ceiling or scaling his workshop wall. “The past few years my work has become more sculpture-based with my creatures pretty much all stood up and attached to bases.” Finch writes. “I love the way this looks and enables me to dress and humanize them, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Although the ongoing pandemic has stifled the artist’s foraging of fabrics and other materials in recent months, Finch notes that he’s been pulling textiles from his home stash and occasionally visiting fairs and markets. He’s also been scaling down his sculptures so that they’re easier to handle without assistance.
Finch published two books filled with his fairytale-style sculptures and settings in recent years—and currently is working on a third—which you can purchase in his shop along with cards and totes. Dive further into his eccentric projects on Instagram.
Share this story
Through dreamy photographs, multi-disciplinary artist Mono Giraud accentuates the feathered fronds of wheat stalks and paper’s smooth curves. Based in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Giraud consistently strives for simplicity and a focus on humble items in her practice that spans design, photography, and fine art. “I’m interested in the conjunction of energy between objects and people, like in a dance,” she shares with Colossal.
Evoking sprawling sculptures, Giraud’s garments are often neutral-toned to maintain the integrity of the original material. Dresses flow down into pools of fabric that then form wrinkly backdrops, spools of twine are arranged to mimic a sash and headdress, and a woven basket pocked with straw perches on a subject’s head.
Giraud manages an atelier and shop in the Argentinian capital, where she sells many of the goods used in her photographs. Despite working across mediums, she describes her practice as cohesive and as a search “to express my personal views and emotions of the soul.” The artist expands on the idea:
My work is about living the process. And this process has to be healthy, the energy is renewed instead of running out… and simplicity must be felt in each step. I go across the process to finally get to discovery. The travel is about feeling, touching, smelling, breathing, and crossing boundaries. I focus on the journey more than to reach a goal or arrive (at) a destination.
Share this story
Along with a comb and shuttle, textile artists crafting “tsumekaki hon tsuzure ori,” the intricate and durable brocades that are part of Japanese traditions, employ the jagged tips of their fingernails. Common in the Shiga prefecture, the ancient technique utilizes the weaver’s grooved nails to guide the threads down the loom, ensuring they’re placed tightly together. The “tsuzure ori,” or tapestry weave, has roots in the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573), while this specific method has been in Japan for at least 1,000 years, according to Kiyohara Seiji, a representative of Kiyohara Textile Co., Ltd.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.