Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Free Flowing Work of Peggy Brown

Illustration: Peggy Brown. December Ice.

Peggy Brown approaches textile art from the perspective of a watercolour artist. She produces fine art painting on both paper and fabric and is able to drift between the two mediums without the usual barriers that are often thrown up between textile and fine art painting.

As far as textiles are concerned, Brown applies watercolour paint on to white fabric and then builds up layers of intensity of colour and texture as the mood takes her. These painted fabric pieces are then used within a built up collage composition. She also regularly uses paper within the composition as well as fabric, paper giving a different textural quality to that of the fabric.

 Illustration: Peggy Brown. Another Form.

Interestingly Brown uses the organic and free flowing quality of the watercolour paint to emphasise that very fact, that water is both free and fluid in its seemingly random journey across both fabric and paper. However, she also manages to give this free flowing quality an element of containment. All the pieces shown in this article have at least one area of the composition, sometimes the majority and sometimes a small fraction that features an angular bordered off area. In the piece entitled Echoes for example, it is difficult to judge whether that free flowing element of the watercolour medium, is flowing into the ordered geometric area in order to obliterate it, or in fact retreating in order to make room for a very different element.

Illustration: Peggy Brown. Echoes.

The free form coming up hard against the contained is an interesting and clever concept. To use both the image of the free and seemingly independent organic flow of a natural element like water and the obvious constraints brought about by the use of a human right angle throws up some interesting questions and observations about the world we inhabit. It is this uneasy juxtaposition that now seems to dominate how we see the planet, but is also part of the complexity of our relationship with nature. It is inevitably up to the individual as to how this unlikely relationship between the organic and the artificial construct is interpreted.

Illustration: Peggy Brown. Collaboration II.

By balancing the allure between both the independence that is summed up in the element of free flowing water and the security that can be obtained from self containment, Brown has produced work that reflects who we are, who we want to be, and perhaps who we will never be.

Peggy Browns work, both fine art paintings and textiles, have been seen across the US in various exhibitions. Her work can also be seen in a number of public and corporate institutions including universities, banks, museums and art centres. She also has a comprehensive website with a much wider selection of her work on show. The website can be found here.

All images were used with the kind permission of the artist.

Illustration: Peggy Brown. Winter Water.

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