How do you make the backing cloth artworks?
Spacecraft studio has one print table used solely for experimentation and print development, which is covered with a ‘backing cloth’. This backing cloth becomes so saturated with print ideas and colour that every couple of months it has to be replaced.
Amongst the build up of accumulated printed ideas chance compositions are discovered and prized by collectors, a section of studio history. Perhaps more than any single piece of artwork produced these backing cloth paintings manage to capture the energy of the studio in full flight.
I feel very lucky to have an early backing cloth painting, it has some traces of your Tiwi Island CWA project and also the historical textile that’s become a kind of signature for Kate Daw. I took it down a couple of years ago for about six weeks but apart from that it’s been a constant that my family have grown up with. Thanks !
Thank you for supporting this kind of work.
The botanical stories are simple but beautifully told. I think they sit well alongside the backing cloth paintings with their complex compositions and palettes.
The backing cloths are three months in the making, and for me alongside the aesthetic considerations and the technical virtuosity they’re perhaps most important as a rare record or biography of the work of the studio.
The paintings are sold direct through spacecraft and remain accessible – remarkable value for work of great integrity, substance and craft.
Yes, those early off the mark who bought backing cloth paintings for $700 ( like you did ) will feel vindicated as demand and recognition gathered strength, lifting the value steadily to $2,500.
The artwork you make as Stewart Russell and the artwork you make under the spacecraft studio banner are very different. Your Stewart Russell projects like the bell and the giant ground painting your working on with Kate Daw, seem to be taking your work away from a gallery setting let alone a residential environment. Does the spacecraft work sort of balance the scales – playful, poetic, colour…
I think design does give me an outlet for colour and enables me to show another side. I think most people my age went to art school because we were good at the traditional practical art skills, drawing, composing a picture, colour… but at art school I stopped that kind of playing around with paint. Creating something to hang on your wall was of no interest at that time.
I know you say art & design are very different spaces for you. I see this design work as an extension of your core art idea, show all the facets, using these different stages to somehow show the whole. Like taking your Felix Gonzalez Torres and Fischli & Weiss side and adding it to your Vivienne Westwood side.
Yes, I think the backing cloth paintings are really quite close to my other work, the idea is as important as the aesthetic. And I think perhaps the enjoyment people got out of the botanical paintings led me to make something that was really beautifully crafted that wasn’t anchored to an idea.
Is that when people started inviting you to be in craft shows.
No I think calling the studio spacecraft kind of attracted some people, like Kevin Murray. And actually when I did shows as part of a programme with a ‘craft’ remit I always made work that explored ideas about production values rather than just exploring some technique or other.
backing cloth artwork commissioned by Gary Emery Studio for Schiavello showrooms.
backing cloth painting – 1400 x 1400
backing cloth painting 1400 x 1400