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More Than A Feeling

Jan Macneil and Jess Moughan.

April 14th 2022 – May 23rd 2022.

This exhibition celebrates the power of textiles as a healing agent – not only in the message conveyed by symbolic works but also to the makers.

The two invited artists come towards this topic from very differing life experiences and through very different expressions of textile making.

Jan Macneil is a local Taranaki artist who creates her 3D forms from fibres supported by wire in a knitted process. Vessels are free formed in an emotional catharsis reacting to the colours in the threads selected, often in response to a memory. The memories are formed from losses or experiences – some full of the energy of lost life, some holding the palette of an evocative and healing experience of the physical world. By sitting with memories that are not all gentle or easy, focusing her mind through the physical engagement of rhythmic processes, allowing herself to reach into the subconscious Jan is able to turn traumas into reconciled parts of her life. In the process she creates special vessels, ready to be held by others, to become their focal points. The tactile nature of the vessels is pre-eminent and wonderous. They invite the viewer to reach out, pick up and hold.

Jess Moughan with Altar Cloth.

Jess has found a way of weaving delicate natural fibres together to create statements about her world and her experiences – these have helped with her understanding of changes and new complexities. As well as using the spinning skills she has developed Jess is exploring the somatic or bodily aspects of a traditional handweaving practice to make sense of often confusing situations.

This is manifest in her work Liminality which she writes about:


Liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete.” 

This work is a physical manifestation of my experience becoming a new mother at the beginning of the global pandemic. From afar while looking like a massive undertaking, it is not until you get closer to the work that you can see the intensely dense and small sections of fine warp-faced weaving interspersed with a more balanced weave, specked with fodder. The driftwood hanger is a direct reference to the feeling of drifting, losing the image I had held of myself prior, but not feeling as though I have a new place to call home yet.

Wandering Mind (Insomnia) reveals what we have all experienced at some stage of our lives.

Wandering Mind (Insomnia) Detail. Jess Moughan.

Jess examines connections between the somatic experience of traditional craft, in conjunction with the utilisation of organic material, as modalities of healing. Residing in Aotearoa, New Zealand, she has developed a deep connection to the land where she lives. Through her work with natural materials, she explores the possibility that the repetitive nature of ancestral crafts such as weaving, intrinsically hold the power to heal both the practitioner and viewer of the final work.