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Sculpture (MA)

Sophie Giller

B. 1992, Norfolk. 

2010-11 Art Foundation, Brighton City College 

2011-14 BA Camberwell College of the Arts, Painting 

2015 Selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 

2016-7 Awarded a yearlong residency Bloomberg New Contemporaries at One Thoresby Street, Nottingham, 2016-17

2021 Gilbert Bayes/RCA Award for sculpture 

Shortlisted Awards: The Sir John Hurt Art Prize (2020), Jerwood Visual Arts Bursary (2017), The Annex Collection Acquisition Award (2017)

Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Sculpture (MA)

Sophie Giller is an artist working mostly with textiles, collecting and working with discarded items—remnants, leftovers, seconds, offcuts—to emphasise process, labour, traditionally ‘feminine’ craft, and the social history of everyday materials.

The artist works intuitively and autobiographically, collecting and reacting to materials she comes across in second-hand shops, workplaces, and homes. Recently, she has been sewing, dyeing and weaving, which involves building, joining, and latticing, enabling these materials to come together and have a new life. 

The previous lives and functions of these textiles give them each a unique personality and character. She’s interested in craft processes and their associations: repetition, healing, the body, class, domesticity, labour, and different contexts of art making and creativity. Her work takes on sculptural, painting-like and site-specific qualities while exploring the space between fine art and craft.



My parents started renting Priory Farm in 1998. The barns were still full of farming equipment that had been sitting there for decades, and the garden was totally overgrown. My parents have renovated the barns slowly over the twenty-three years due to their low income, and always with uncertainty as to when we’ll be asked to move so the landlord’s son can have the property. Things were added, things taken away. Like a patchwork house. My dad’s a piano restorer, and if not now, then when? is installed on his piano workshop in the former stables and hayloft.

Moving back in with my parents during the pandemic allowed me to get back to the heart of my art practice: preserving, mending, fixing, joining things together, looking for the magic in old, discarded, left-behind things, repurposing, making, caring for giving them a new place and context. 

I wanted to make a textile covering for my dad’s workshop to bring soft domestic furnishings outside and to give them power and scale. I dyed and stitched together large bedsheets, pillowcases, clothes, tea towels, tablecloths, and placemats. if not now, then when? stretches out and displays the inside of the home, to explore: the inherited, the social histories of families, identities, areas, communities, bodies, class, and the relationship between art and craft.

if not now, then when? June 2021 With thanks to all the family and friends that helped, espcially my uncle.


Medium:

Direct dyes, reactive dyes, salt, daffodils, black tea, onion skins, cotton & linen bed sheets, duvet covers, tablecloths; rope

Size:

14m x 7m x 5.5m
Who is she, baby grand (left), Who is she, Challen (middle) & Who is she, model O (right)
Who is she, Challen & Who is she, model D
Who is she, model O
Who is she, baby grand & Who is she, Challen
Who is she, baby grand & Who is she, Challen
Who is she, Challen
Who is she, model D

I’ve watched my dad restore pianos since I was a child. Instead of ‘proper’ covers, he would strap my grandma’s old wool and nylon blankets to the pianos to regulate their temperatures and preserve their casework. As an adult, I realised I’d learned to care, preserve, repurpose, and mend things by watching my dad at work.

The blankets looked humorous, humble, and vulnerable with their vintage colour palettes, but had a deep strength in their dense wool and latticed structures. I wanted to bring the blankets, which usually have a secondary role in protecting the pianos, to the forefront. To give the blankets the care and attention I thought they deserved I stitched them together and stretched them around bespoke frames.To make the frames, we made templates out of flexible wood directly from four different sized pianos that my dad had been restoring. The titles of these blankets point to questions around my identity, but at the same time reflect on what these pieces are and where they sit in between sculpture, painting, textiles, and craft. They’re named after the model of piano on which their frames were moulded: two Steinways and two Challens.

Who is she, baby grand (143cm x 129cm), Who is she, model O (150cm x 167cm), Who is she, model D (263cm x 160cm) & Who is she, Challen (347cm x 168cm)

Piano Blanket Series May 2021 With thanks to the photographer Harry Gammer-Flitcroft, and to my dad, uncle, and brother for making the frames for me, and Chris Day for editing photos.

Medium:

Wool & nylon blankets, thread, wood

This three-metre patchwork hangs and slumps baggily over its frame. Bedsheets, pillowcases, clothes, tablecloths and tea towels have been dyed into rich, dark and earthy colours, sewn together and evolved into some kind of puzzle piece. It sits somewhere around expanded painting, including painterly marks and composition, but presents itself through the everyday materials of used home textiles. The work speaks the language of craft and sewing in its process of making, with the scale and presentation of abstract painting.  

The piece also nods more to chance, and the ‘setting up’ of the dye, where pigments and fabrics were boiled together in experimental ways. The work is made from textiles that are close to us at home and in daily contact with the body, dyeing and stitching these fabrics to ask how we can give them a new life in a fine art context.

Baggybody, baggymind April 2021, With thanks to Fitzroy Modern Art for the space & to Chloë Louise Lawrence for photography.

Medium:

Direct dyes, cotton and linen bedsheets, pillowcases, tea towels, tablecloths, thread & wood

Size:

305cm x 240cm x 30cm