10 February- 8 March 2012
Ruskin Gallery, Working Men's College, 44 Crowndale Rd, London, NW1 1TR
The work used fragments of patterns from Ruskin lace in white linen thread on the white wall of the Ruskin Gallery, which also acts as the College restaurant. The aim was to introduce a sense of John Ruskin, who was a supporter of the College, in a liminal way. Small thread sculptures in clear plastic cups were also created and placed discreetly. The Working Men's College is the the oldest surviving adult education institute in Europe, with a rich history of bringing education to the less privileged.
Curator Erica Shiozaki wrote:
Ruskin Gallery at Working Men’s College is pleased to announce the upcoming solo exhibition of WMC alumnus Neil Stoker. Amongst many other things, Stoker’s practice involves a series of drawings done by linen thread, and by using this medium, he often prompts questions about how one can create a single line or a piece of drawing that is not confined to graphite on paper.
On this occasion Ruskin Gallery commissioned the artist to produce a site-specific installation on the wall as well as small-scale interventions within Working Men’s College. Whilst his white linen work appears as a direct influence from John Ruskin and the Ruskin lace pattern, his smaller intervention works are often hidden, insignificant or barely perceptible. Yet the sense of quiet discovery is very much at the heart of his practice, as is the ephemeral and subtle qualities inherent in the use of thread.
Stoker’s commitment in utilising thread as his material to draw also highlights many branches of inquisitions, including a discussion that touches upon femininity (seamstress) or masculinity (tailors). Another reference that maybe visited is around craft (embroidery/sewing), contemporary art, and the assigned hierarchy between the two. In attempting to reconfigure these boundaries, Stoker also imagines himself to be bridging the “chaotic and the ordered, the formal and the decorative, the hidden and the exposed, the spontaneous and the premeditated (2012).”