You may argue that designing choreography is a bit like weaving a unique tapestry: all the movements created to be performed on stage by a dance troupe could indeed be compared to the colourful threads employed by an artisan to weave a wonderfully varied landscape.
This is the main reason why the project combining a rug designed by British radical and punk visual artist, performer and musician Linder Sterling, commissioned and made by Edinburgh-based Dovecot Studio and performed in a show by the Northern Ballet doesn't seem too far out.
Entitled "Diagrams of Love: Marriage of Eyes" the rug was tufted at Dovecot by Dennis Reinmüller and Kristi Vana with instructions from Master Weaver Jonathan Cleaver.
The rug is actually part of the British Art Show 8 (it is worth remembering that this show only happens once every five years and features a lot of intriguing artists), curated by Anna Colin and Lydia Yee, that opened at Leeds City Art Gallery and is currently touring Edinburgh (until May), before moving to Norwich (June - September 2016) and Southampton (October 2016 until January 2017).
The rug is the "eighth dancer" in Linder's new ballet based on a 1952 essay by surrealist Ithell Colquhoun - "Children of the Mantic Stain". Originally premiered in November, the piece is on tonight in Edinburgh on the weaving floor of Dovecot Tapestry Studio. So for one night the rug will symbolically go back to the place where it was "born".
Linder developed the inspiration for the rug during a residency at Tate St Ives: the piece is characterised by a spiralling shape, so that it can lie flat or be draped in a gallery or museum-like environment or can be reconfigured in a performance and used as a soft stage or donned by the dancers as if it were a cape with special powers.
This is not the first time Linder works on a rug: two years ago the artist developed the "Linderama" piece for Henzel Studio Collaborations, that featured a design based on a photomontage that she created in 1978.
The rug developed for this project features instead a sort of hallucinogenic design characterised by large blue eyes with three-dimensional eyelashes; according to Linder, the design symbolises a vision of a peacock's tail seen while high on acid, while the peculiar shape of the carpet hints at that of a snake, a vision from a feverish dream with the psychedelic powers of mesmerising and frightening the dreamer. The rug also features a glam element: the back of the tufted surface is covered in a shiny gold lame fabric for that added touch of decadent glamour.
In a way the rug produced at Dovecot could be considered as the physical embodiment of a combination of several cultural elements - from Linder's vision to the weavers' art and skills, from Ithell Colquhoun's Surrealist works and techniques to actress Alla Nazimova, whose stage name combined a diminutive of the name Adelaida - Alla - and the surname of Nadezhda Nazimova, the heroine of the Russian novel Children of the Streets (a title evoked in the name of the ballet).
Choreographed by Kenneth Tindall, with music by Maxwell Sterling, "Children of the Mantic Stain" also boasts a connection with modern fashion since the functional sportswear pieces donned by the dancers were designed by Christopher Shannon, a young designer who may help a new generation of people discovering ballet and, in this case, the art of weaving as well.
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