Updated: Oct 20, 2022
“This practice of drawing on hand-made paper, stitching, knotting, threading, combining, weaving and sorting, reminds me of the lightness of childhood, singing, playing, inventing and thinking.”
Urte Remmert bares her child-like soul in Threads that Bind, presenting a colourful collection of faces drawn from memory, and shaded with embroidery yarns, glass-beads and buttons – “layered explorations of relationships between individuals of all walks of life”.
Along with portraits of family, friends, every day acquaintances, pupils, and teachers, the selection features recollections of chance acquaintances, like that of the little San girl from Ombili, the Ghanaian weaver, or shepherd and fisherman from a village in Greece. Favourite artists, like William Kentridge, and musicians like Beethoven also form part of the set. “For this new exhibition, I have used drawings that I have done as a student and young adult, but also recent sketches and photographs.” The final artworks – “my wall-hangings” – are stitched together from pieces of cloth, lace, jeans, old mielie-bags, “and the beautiful embroidery of both my grandparents”, explains Remmert.
For the artist, “working with small parts, put together to create an image” is not an unfamiliar concept, but links to previous exhibitions in collage, including Stars and Ashes (2019), Amor Mundi (2020), and her prize-winning entry for the Bank Windhoek Triennial in 2021, 'Patchwork People'. This piece forms what Remmert calls the base to her new thought processes, namely, art that highlights the “polyphony of human layers”, and is re-presented in this exhibition as a reminder of how the acts of layering and patchwork can be symbolic for exploring our personal complexities, and interrelations with others. “The colourful threads that I use in my latest art has the same function: Binding people, connecting them, criss-crossing and knotting them together into a web of experience and togetherness.”
In her creative space, Remmert describes her routine as being most productive when alone, “with background music to let my creative juices flow”. But even with melodic stimulation by the likes of Bach, Johnny Clegg and Katie Melua, she admits, “it takes a long time to reach what I want to express”. Part of her artistic practice includes keeping record of thoughts, quotes, sketches, paintings and spontaneous ideas in a logbook, which is entrusted to the audience as part of the final body of work. While these creative diaries grant a very intimate and personal view into the artist’s mind, it simultaneously allows the opportunity for a deeper connection. Remmert notes, “I think creating art in many ways is as if the artist turns herself inside-out to reveal deeper layers of experiences, relationships and connections…”
In closing, she states, “Maya Angelou describes best what I am trying to say”:
We should all know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry. And we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value, no matter what their colours.
Explore Remmert’s rich tapestry of personalities through Threads that Bind, on view at The Project Room from 16 September – 16 October.
Below you will find the catalogue .