Gillian Bencke’s work has always involved textiles. Although she began her art practice in the darkrooms of photography, she often came back to textiles to expose her images on.

She loves the way textiles can be manipulated so quickly and each piece of fabric has a different feel and weight. She prefers old materials with an inherent history that can be repurposed and reinterpreted - usually linen, cotton, silk and other natural fibres. Her work has increasingly become about texture, an overload of visual complexity and the introduction of hard materials into the soft sculpture medium.

These sculptures take the form of imagined beasts, they represent parts of animals and humans combined into one form which can mean both power and subjugation.

A recurring visual theme in her current practice is armour and the shapes of breastplates and medals from history; what their practical use was and what they metaphorically symbolise in our modern world. Stitches, beads and other things are used to ‘draw’ and make patterns on each work; she is obsessed with detail and the investment in each slow stitch it takes to reveal the final piece.

Image: Gillian Bencke, I will always be in doubt, 2018, COTA
Materials: Linen, silk, brass, thread, beads, sequins