‘ANIMALS: for the use of ...’ May/June 1989

Submitted by root on Tue, 05/29/2012 - 11:34

'Animals, for the use of ...' looked at ways in which we treat animals, both in a practical sense and in a more abstract sense. The works exhibited were chosen from established artists and textile students. Works included wall hangings, a 3D tryptich and framed 2D pictures. The techniques employed ranged from batik, embroidery, cut-work, collage, applique and the various arts of quilting, stuffing and wrapping.

The Artists and Their Works:

Animals As Symbols

Sarah Hewitt  (2nd year student at Loughborough College of Art & Design) produced 2 works. Both were created in the style of  'Codices,' a form of ancient pictorial manuscript. They drew their imagery from ancient Mexican/Aztec mythology and religion. 

'From Tlalocan Codices', a quilted and embroided hanging depicting the use of animals as powerful symbols for ourselves. Horizontal wave-like borders represented the double headed serpent, ruler of theunderworld. The two heads, like the Roman god Janus, indicating an all knowing, all-seeing power.  The crow figure stands for earthliness and superiority over the underworld. The bird motif indicates preciousness and the central motif of a bat, taken from an Aztec pectoral ornament represents fertility.



'From Toetihuacan Codices' used imagery connected with the ancient cult of the Jaguar. The god represented at the top and bottom of the hanging is the god that served this cult; warriors supposed it to be half-feline, half-human. The second main panel showed two of the warriors in eternal combat. The centre panel depicted Jaguar warriors wearing masks that were worn both in battle and at sacrificial ceremonies. A black border contained, amongst other images, a conch shell motif from which emerges a creature symbolizing the life-force. Other motifs represent gifts from the inhabitants of the ancient city to the warriors.

Animals As Camouflage; As The Instinctual Side Of Humans

Jane Scheuer   (Leamington Spa)

Her work "Skin Depth" grew out of a number of different but related interests and concerns: 

A fascination with camouflage, which included natural camouflage, hence the animal-skin pattern.      

 An interest in the way humans tended to camouflage themselves  with, amongst other things, make-up and clothes. Hence the idea of a 'second skin' and human skin patterns. 

An aversion to game hunting and the use of animal furs for fashion clothing and our relationship to the animal (instinctual) side of ourselves.


The techniques used to create this work bear out some of the thoughts behind it - "Skin Depth" is natural cotton that has been dyed, bleached and printed.

Animals As A Sacrifice To Beauty

Vicky Trainer (2nd year student at Loughborough College of Art & Design). 

Vicky's work was a wall-hanging whose delicacy belied its fierce message - That we kill to make ourselves beautiful, but do not understand the very beauty we destroy. The work was based on a poem which was reproduced on the wall next to the work. The words themselves are incorporated into the imagery, as a cage enclosing a woman who beautifies herself with the plumage of a peacock. The words fade away at the bottom edge of the work - an optimistic symbol of the disintegration of the cage that confines both bird and woman.                                                                                                                              

Animals As Food

Andrea Foulkes (Walsall, West Midlands) created three embroidered tryptichs based upon her values as a vegetarian.                                                                          


"Naivety to Knowledge" explored the use of animals as food - with the belief that this was an abuse of animals. It also explored attitudes that lead to the separation of human beings from the animal world. The image in the first box of this tryptich is obscured from the viewer. This image grows clearer through the middle to the final box and mirrors our confusion (which hopefully grows less and less) as to the status of humanity and animals on the planet.  Contained in the background are other images that link the animal with the human.

Her works "Trotter Skin" and "Dolls Arm Skin"  were also based on her views of vegetarianism and the status of animals.

Animals As Pets And Companions

Julia O'Leary (Evington, Leicester)

Her 'Merlin' pictures were a result of the drawing together of various strands in Julia's life: a longstanding interest in portraiture; a keen eye for the textural qualities of fabric and thread; the death of an 18 year old cat with no record of its' life apart from "a few pulled threads at the back of the sofa" and the acquisition of Merlin - plus the chance discovery that a particular machine embroidery technique was particularly successful in portraying tabby cat fur.


Julia used machine embroidery in her work, but was influenced by the Impressionist School of Painting in the way she built up the basic areas of colour and tone using tiny scraps of fabric. Free machine embroidery was also used to introduce tonal graduations and textural interest.

And Finally ….

'The Jacket' - a 1940's 'swing-back' beaver fur jacket.