Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Tuesday 22nd August: Chris Ofili "Weaving Magic" at The National Gallery

It was when I first returned from Trinidad Carnival that I started seeing press about this show and couldn't believe I didn't know Chris Ofili lives and works on the island! The YBA relocated to Trinidad in 2005 and has been inspired by the country's culture in his work ever since. It's a particularly exciting discovery for me as some of his recent pieces are based on the "Jab Jab" Blue Devil character from Carnival! Those oil paintings have now moved on and morphed into this latest piece which is a handwoven tapestry Commissioned by the Clothworkers’ Company (a livery company in the City of London).  Here you can see the original sketches and watercolour that have been translated into looped stitches with the bleeding water-mark spots particularly beautiful.  This story continues his interest in the classical mythology, stories, magic, and colour of the Trinidadian landscape.  The title of the tapestry "A Caged Bird's Song" relates to the tradition of underground songbird competitions with his own contemporary twist of mixing in a portrait of legendary footballer Mario Balotelli.
The labour of love took two-three years to weave and is epic in proportion, with the triptych filling the Sunley Room of the National Gallery.  It's the final week of the "Weaving Magic" show which falls on the build-up to Notting Hill Carnival this weekend and Trinidad Independence Day on the 31st.  If you haven't had a chance to see it yet, I whole heartedly recommend a journey to the museum for a very moving magic piece indeed.

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