Katie Schwab, Work Hands 2-4, 2015, Courtesy of the artist

Katie Schwab

b. 1985, London

2013-2015 MFA Fine Art, The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow
2005-2008 BA Fine Art and Contemporary Critical Studies, Goldsmiths College, London

Recent Exhibitions

Solo Shows:
2011 ‘FREEDOM TO! POWER TO!’, LimaZulu, London

Group shows:
2015 ‘The Grind’, Voidoidarchive, Glasgow
2014 ‘Lip, Mouth, Neck, Shoulder, Belly, Foot’, Temporary Agency, New York
2013 ‘Project Visible’, Tate Modern, London
2013 ‘The Palace of Green Porcelain’, Breese Little, London
2012 ‘My (We)’, Jerwood Visual Arts Project Space, London
2010 ‘L’Usine Abandonée’, LimaZulu, London

Awards and Residencies:
2015 RSA John Kinross Scholarship, The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
2015 West Dean College Weaving Bursary, West Dean College, West Dean, West Sussex
2014 The Thomas and Margaret Rodden Trust Scholarship, The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow

Artist’s Statement

Within my practice I am interested in the politics of constructing and inhabiting living space: how the building, designing, furnishing and upkeep of rooms can reveal the values, politics and ethics of the people that live there. I have a particular interest in communal living and working situations, and how an individual voice might be found within the context of a shared living space or workshop: this is explored in my work through reference to 19th, 20th and 21st century domestic design, craft processes and interpersonal relationships.

My recent works have explored the furniture, architecture and home-wares of communities such as the Bauhaus, the Memphis group and the Shakers, who believed in the importance, whether social, religious or political, of design and craft in everyday life. I am interested in how current generations research, rework and rethink these inherited forms and ideals in the present day: I explore these ideas both in relation to my own personal experiences, and to moments from social and political history.

My practice incorporates works that embrace both contemporary technology and traditional craft processes, including HD video, ceramics, hand-woven tapestry and embroidery. These works are often choreographed together in ‘communal’ exhibition spaces, with the juxtaposition of materials, forms and processes creating a pull between past, present and future. My works often have a social dimension to them: evolving through making, speaking and researching with others. I like to acknowledge the voices and the hands of the individuals that help bring the work into being, and in doing so, my practice explores different forms of collaboration, and the skills behind, and values of, manual and affective labour.

My works often emerge from a period of research into a particular maker, workshop, or living space. The ‘Work Hands’ series of embroideries, selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries, draw on the bright colours, improvised rhythmic patterns and abstract shapes of modern textile design. These works were particularly inspired by the embroideries of Sophie Taeuber-Arp, and the wall hangings and tapestries of Bauhaus weavers Gunta Stölzl, Anni Albers and Otti Berger.

The title of the ‘Work Hands’ series of embroideries was taken from a sign in my father’s kitchen that reads ‘Work Hands Entrance’. I asked my father where the sign came from and he said: ‘The sign came from over the door of a workshop in Shoreditch. At least it used to be a workshop. I think it had been gentrified by the time I got the sign.’

The four works in Bloomberg New Contemporaries are part of an ongoing series of embroideries that change shape, form and palette with each new piece. Each work is given a number, and is therefore part of a growing, evolving series. The works are all made from cotton thread stitched through embroidery mesh, and the handmade frames are made from beech.