Margo Selby: Carré Series 2022 Handwoven stretched lampas panels; made on a 32 shaft Leclerc Weavebird loom; Tencel, cotton and silk, stretched and framed in painted wood; Each 121.5 cm x 112.5 cm.
This series, Carré, begun in 2022, is my ‘ode to the square’ – the primary woven form – and to my modernist heritage. Modernism, in this case, is built upon classicism and bears a huge debt to the work of the Old Masters. An infinite number of variations can be found as the composition oscillates between dynamism and symmetry. It is an abstract colour study of full chroma and desaturation. The modular pattern of intersecting vertical and horizontals recalls the iconography of the constructivist art movement – Josef and Anni Albers, his colour studies, and her weaving – but the use of geometry as an armature for a composition recalls the Renaissance – Poussin, Piero etc.
There are many theoretical approaches in Renaissance painting that I find relevant to my work; the two keys links being mathematics and colour. The mathematical connection is around the division of a plane, reflecting upon the Golden Section and Fibonacci Sequence, exploring an organised consistent approach to composition. The link with colour is through chiaroscuro – light and dark – all my work explores contrast in this way. My understanding of Bauhaus teacher Itten’s use of the Renaissance term chiaroscuro is to mean not just light versus dark, but all types of formal opposition – including colour, form and texture – and this is my understanding of my practice – the maximising of visual contrast.
The Old Masters worked very much as I do, in large communal studio workshops, making visual objects for cultural walls, be they private or public commissions, often transitioning from art into industry. I have never made a work for a chapel – but I’d like to. Craftsmanship was paramount to the Old Masters – and they were always keen to use innovative methods and materials to increase the scale and impact of their work. They too craved colour, resonance and monumentality. This work is handwoven on a 32 shaft Leclerc Weavebird loom, in yarns of different fibres. There are thousands of individual strands of yarn in a work, each one hand placed and positioned. This is a significant connection between my practice and that of the Renaissance masters and mistresses; my practice has a strong emphasis on craftsmanship and I embrace commissions for industry and public space as well as exploring my own personal practice.