NADA Miami / 1 - 4 Dec 2021
Christian Newby, Flower-Necklace-Cargo-Net, 2021, Collective, Edinburgh. Photo: Tom Nolan
Patricia Fleming Gallery presents a solo project by US/UK based artist Christian Newby. Our presentation is a large 26ft textile drawing, Flower-Necklace-Cargo-Net, created for his recent solo exhibition at Collective, Edinburgh.
In his practice, Newby harnesses the power of a hand-held industrial carpet-tufting gun to skilfully merge different fibres and colours across a complex web, a technique he calls ‘drawing with carpet’. The process redirects the mass manufacturing function of the industrial tufting gun and instead explores its capacities as an intimate mark-making tool, the equivalent to the pencil, spray can, paintbrush or tattoo needle. Through his method and medium, the work carries an awareness of the anonymity of globalized commercial production and the labour involved, in direct contrast with the skilful mastery equated with the hand and artisanal handicraft. As a result, Newby proposes the industrial textile process as a structural framework for how we encounter and question broader cultural and economic models.
Recurring themes are the traditional rug and textile design motifs found in mass produced carpets such as flowers, birds and shells. Newby deliberately subverts these into abstract organic forms, pictorially contained or trapped by a large net that envelopes the entire surface. Flower-Necklace-Cargo-Net is covered with details offering an intricacy of ideas and wonder, pressed against the physicality of working at this scale. The large net alluding to, amongst other things, our shared experience of enclosure during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Being able to see behind and around the work, we find the front-side’s points of origin, a hectic root system of taut lines made discreetly visible. Newby reminds us of his aims to break down hierarchical thinking around production and manufacturing. He doesn’t shy away from providing us with an insight into every aspect of his making process, explicitly revealing many elements of production that would conventionally be concealed or tidied away before entering the market. Newby gives us raw, irregular edges; rogue fibres, threads knotted, brought together in a precarious scale.
A newspaper which accompanies the work, titled ‘Ornaments and Crimes (An Illuminated Manual for Drawing with Carpet)’, offers a context for the work and includes a new essay by writer Andrew Bourne alongside drawings, writing and scores by Newby, who is also an accomplished drummer.
Christian Newby, Flower-Necklace-Cargo-Net (detail) with Ornaments & Crimes newspaper, 2021, Collective, Edinburgh. Photo: Tom Nolan
Christian Newby, Flower-Necklace-Cargo-Net (front detail), 2021. Photo: Tom Nolan
Christian Newby, Flower-Necklace-Cargo-Net (back detail), 2021. Photo: Tom Nolan
Christian Newby (Virginia Beach, US, born 1979)
Christian Newby’s practice explores the approach to the intersections of creative production through horizontal rather than vertical, or hierarchical models. It seeks to examine and subvert the metrics pertaining to value and skill within fine and applied arts practices. Newby is currently looking at the industrial carpet-tufting gun as a case study in how the roles of artist, artisan and fabricator are determined by terminal belief systems in productivity and commodification. It asks how activities such as drawing and participatory drawing workshops can influence the expectations of how a tool such as that is meant to perform, by redirecting its centre of gravity through free hand and social interactivity.
Christian Newby was born in Virginia Beach, VA, USA and now lives and works in London, UK. He graduated with an MFA from Glasgow School of Art (2009), following his BA (Hons) in Sculpture and Extended Media at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is currently undertaking a PhD at the Contemporary Art Research Centre, Kingston University, London.
Selected exhibitions include: Boredom > Mischief > Fantasy > Radicalism > Fantasy, Collective, Edinburgh (2021); The drum, the chime, the scrape, the splash, the jerk, Patricia Fleming, Glasgow (2021); Brick-Wall-Spider-Web-Post-It-Note, Beers London (2019); Yo Compro Calidad, Matadero, Madrid (2017); Tetracontameron, Space Between, London (2016) and Le Club des Sous l’Eau, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2016). He has been an artist in residence at Academy of Visual Arts, HKBU, Hong Kong (2019); Matadero Madrid El Ranchito exchange with Arthouse Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria (2017); URRA/Gasworks Residency, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2015) and Triangle France Artist in Residence Programme, Marseille (2010). He was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant (2016) as well as the Converse/Dazed & Confused Emerging Artist Award shortlist in association with Whitechapel Gallery (2013). Newby’s work is part of numerous collections including Soho House.
Other work by Christian Newby