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The Congest & The Square: Land, labour and a missing carpet
Fiona Jardine

Pursuing a line of research connected with the manufacture of carpets in the late 19th and early 20th century, Fiona Jardine, as part of the CCA exhibition ambi, has considered the relationship between space, place and labour, selecting objects for display that suggest passage between hand-plaited rush, hand-painted designs on paper and machine woven ‘tapestry’.

Jardine’s online artist talk ‘The Congest & The Square: Land, Labour and a missing carpet’ looks to the political and cultural dynamics that led, in the late 19th century, to the establishment of an enterprise producing hand-knotted carpets in Killybegs, Donegal. This illustrated talk presents Jardine’s archival research for ambi which uncovered traces of a missing carpet – its dimensions and a short, verbal description. She recounts her attempts to rediscover and visualise versions of it. Guesses and tangents inform the process and lead obliquely from a Peranakan Chinese ‘Irish Square’ in Singapore, industrially manufactured in Scotland, to the production of hand-knotted carpets in Donegal at the turn of the 20th century as part of efforts to stimulate economic activity in rural Ireland. In this context, Jardine reviews the relationship between aesthetics and modes of manufacture, considering the role of material and narrative qualities in the construction of place.

The title of the exhibition, ambi, is Punjabi for the pattern known in Scotland as Paisley Pattern. ambi also means ‘both’, allowing for multiple narratives and acknowledging that these works from the archive have diverse origins and appropriations.

This exhibition, a partnership between CCA and GSA, takes works from the textiles, fashion and costume holdings at The Glasgow School of Art Archives & Collections as its starting point. The GSA has specially commissioned four Scotland and UK-based artists and designers Rabiya Choudhry, Fiona Jardine,  Raisa Kabir and Hanneline Visnes. Each responds to specific textiles holdings or the archive in order to track its histories in order to present a new story or work from it.

This talk can be viewed on CCA Annex until the end of the exhibition on Saturday 29 May.

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