Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Glimpse of Norma Starszakowna's Art
Artist's Profile

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Norma Starszakowna was one of twenty-one artists who exhibited in my curated exhibition - ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions. Her ArtCloth - Razing/Raising Walls, Warsaw - was exceptional in terms of technique, conceptualisation and texture on the fabric.

Razing/Raising Walls, Warsaw (Norma Starszakowna) - full view.

A detail of the work was placed on the front cover of the exhibition catalogue.

Razing/Raising Walls, Warsaw (Norma Starszakowna) - detailed view.

Professor Norma Starszakowna, born in central Fife of Polish and Scottish parents, was herself the first Duncan of Jordanstone student to be accepted by the Royal College of Art. Norma Starszakowna graduated in 1966 in printed textiles and printmaking from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee. She then established her own studio.

Norma Starszakowna has played an extensive role in higher education, as lecturer to textiles courses UK and abroad. She was Head of Textiles & Fashion and Chair of Design at the University of Dundee 1984-98, and subsequently Chair of the UK Research Assessment Panel for Art & Design 2001 and Director of Research at the London Institute 1999-2005; Director of Research, Art, Architecture and Design at University of Lincoln 2005-08.

Throughout this period, Norma Starszakowna has produced innovative textiles for a wide range of commercial and public bodies, including Issey Miyake Design Studio, Nuno Co., Tokyo, Shirin Guild Ltd., Scottish Tapestry Co, Aspects, Fitch & Co, Crest Hotel, Antwerp, General Accident Assurance Co, Art in Partnership, The Scottish Parliament and Scottish Arts Council.

Her work has also been exhibited extensively in the UK and abroad, including the V&A Museum; British Crafts Council; Whitworth Art Gallery; The Scottish Gallery and RSA Galleries, Edinburgh; Rosska Museum, Gottenburg; Hammond House Museum, New York; Guizhou Museum, China; The Deutsche Textil Museum, Krefeld, Germany; Kuopio Museum, Finland; GalleryGallery, Kyoto; Sembikiya Gallery, Tokyo; Museo del Tessuto, Prato/Florence; Izmir State Museum of Art; Centro de Artesania e Deseno, Lugo; National Museum of Costume, Madrid and National Textile Museum, Barcelona; The Dutch Textile Museum, Tilburg.

A Glimpse of Norma Starszakowna's Art
Norma Starszakowna has been engaged in the experimental use of new media and processes in the design and construction of both site-specific and fashion-related textiles since 1966. These include the innovative work produced for Issey Miyake 1990-02. Some of this work used a crushed silk substrate and overprinted pigment to create a textile that reflected both Eastern traditions of shibori and a western aesthetic use of screen-print, and effectively initiated print-based textiles in Japan (see ‘Norma Starszakowna: Unceasing Innovation’ by M.Schoeser, Surface Design, pub. Surface Design Association, USA, Summer 2007).

More recently, through her establishment of the Textile Futures Research Unit in 2001, she began to explore the interface of digital and screen printing processes, incorporating digital imagery with heat-reactive media, pigment, glaze and patinations to further develop the tensions between actual and virtual reality. The resultant textiles effectively created a palimpsest of translucent and opaque, three-dimensionally textured layers of imagery and eroded surfaces that may be viewed as part of a physical continuum, occupying a space between nature and culture. The imagery reflects issues of identity and socio-political change within urban environments and in particular, the nature of cultural estrangement, anomie and recuperation of the ‘other’.

There are two books that detail some of her early work[1] and some of her later work[2]. Both books are now out of print and so I shall only present a snapshot of a few images from each of these books for your enjoyment.

Title: Silk Wall (1983) [1].
Techniques and Material: Batik; Silk.
Size: 270 x 910 cm.
Commission by General Accident Insurance Co., Perth, Scotland.

Title: Star Map [2].

Titles (From Left to Right): Voices in the Mother Tongue II; Plaster Wall; Pink Pisa Wall; Acts of Beauty III; Rust Graffiti Wall (2003 - 2004) [2].
Techniques and Materials: Digitally printed silk organza, screen printed with heat-reactive pigment, various print media and oxidation processes.
Size: 54 x 360 cm each.

Title: Voices in the Mother Tongue II, 2003 (detail - 45 cm square) [2].
Techniques and Materials: Silk organza, printed with heat reactive pigment, various print media and metal leaf, cast.

Title: Red Rune Wall (1997) [2].
Techniques and Materials: Cotton satin screen-printed with heat reactive pigment and various media.
Size: 122 x 360 cm.

Title: Red Rune Wall (detail) [2].

Titles from Left to Right: Rice Field; China Sunset; Red Stripe - 1999 [2].
Techniques and Materials: Silk organza, screen-printed with heat-reactive pigment, various print media.
Size: 25 x 360 cm each.

[1] N. Dyrenforth, The Technique of Batik, B.T. Batsford Ltd (London) 1988.
[2] M. Schoeser, Portfolio Collection - Norma Starszakowna (Telos Art Publishing Brighton) 2005.

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