The Alchemy Experiment
157 Byres Road, G12 8TS
Friday 17th June 19.00-22.00
Tickets available here
Monday - Saturday 9.00-18.00
Soul In The Thread
Soul in the Thread: Codes Past and Present, invites you on a visual odyssey into the history of women’s struggle and creative expression in the face of adversity.
Using embroidery as a tool for storytelling, Soul in the Thread echoes the carpet weavers, who, to this day, are overwhelmingly women who use motifs to express their deepest desires, wishes, and burdens, in often exploitative work conditions.
It is also a radical stance against a fully digital, crypto-capitalist art market driven by investments rather than substance.
“ Using threads as modes of expression and even historical record is not a new concept. The Quipu, also known as Inca knots or strings were used as a form of writing and record-keeping. The Bayeux Tapestry in the Western world is one of the most recognised, almost comic-book-like narrative tapestries in the world. And the stunning Pazyryk rug found in Siberia, a trace of the Scythe civilisation (also known for its Amazon warriors), preserved to this day thanks to the harsh cold climate of the region, with its deep vibrant colours and detailed animals and soldiers, bears witness to the fact that the history of tapestry stretches even further back than 500 BCE.
The laborious and time-consuming art of weaving is still, in some places, exclusively practiced by women, even though men are often involved in the sale of the final product, thus keeping much of the earnings too. Nevertheless, it can sometimes be a safe space for women where they often sit as duos or trios at the loom, depending on the size of the carpet commissioned, and talk about their lives, their troubles, their desires, hopes and dreams. It’s also a breeding ground for gossip and banter; a zone where men aren’t allowed, and are not trying to get in either.
For this exhibition, I stepped out of my comfort zone as a twenty-first-century artist often working with digital media, and chose the age-old form of embroidery to communicate my message. I wanted to create a handmade tapestry of women’s history, a history of labour, violence and resilience, stretching from 30.000 BCE to today, and beyond.
As a Turkish artist, I grew up surrounded by traditional kilims and carpets of various styles. Often, when we were younger and our minds were more susceptible to obsessions of westernisation, we would dismiss that aesthetic in favour of sleeker, trendier designs, seeing the handmade rugs full of traditional motifs as folkloric and somewhat outmoded.
But as a child, I would spend hours examining all the different animals on on Uzbek kilim in our house, which didn’t have the austere colours and all too geometrical, inexpressive motifs that seemed depressing to me on some carpets. I’d create stories in my head, wondering what animals they really were. Lions? Peacocks? Snakes? Stags? What was the story behind those motifs? Were they symbols? Parts of myths?
Now, I realise how much this strictly-woman-made art form, which is slowly dying out with the advent of machine rugs and their seldom soulful designs, matters as a form of storytelling and cultural preservation.
I wanted to pay homage to women of all backgrounds who weaved their hopes and dreams into motifs as they dealt with perpetually oppressive societies, by combining a traditional and ornamental medium with a more contemporary outlook. In this piece, you will find ordinary women alongside goddesses, intellectuals and artists alongside rulers and workers; the good along with the bad and the ugly. You will witness wars, plagues, crimes against humanity and fights for civil rights and social justice. All through the lens of the contemporary artists of that era and the symbols and images they chose. ” -Nisan
Nisan Yetkin is an Istanbul-based multimedia artist working primarily in the field of animation, blending traditional methods with digital art. Her work often has a political undertone, dealing with emotionally charged subjects. She is the co-director and animator of ‘I don't want to call it home’ (Edinburgh Film festival, 2018) and the animator of ‘Spit It Out’ (BBC Scotland, 2019), ‘Declan' (Traverse Theatre, 2020), and ‘Quelle Trapeze’ (Mull Theatre, 2021), among other works.
Poetry Night at the Alchemy Experiment:
Join us for a night of poetry and spoken word.
Surrounded by the exclusive new exhibition 'Soul in the Thread' by Turkish artist Nisan Yetkin, discover a line up of all female and non-binary poets exploring themes of the ‘feminine’ and the female experience pulling from their lived experiences.
8.30pm - 10pm, 17th June
18+ | Content: Murder, Death, Racism, Addiction, substance abuse, Sexual violence, Domestic violence, Queerphobia, Sexism, Eating Disorders
Wheelchair accessible for the poetry night but not for the exhibition. Toilets are non wheelchair accessible.
Book your ticket here.