Mark Corfield-Moore eschews the traditional weaving technique of ikat to explore his dual Thai and British identity
Whereas traditionally the process involves tie-dying an image onto the warp or weft before it is woven, Mark paints directly onto the warp threads instead. The result imbues his works with a transcience; a reflection of his understanding of textiles as inherently nomadic.
- Ruby Boddington
- 24 September 2021
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
“It might sound a bit odd but I think a lot about Angelina Jolie’s wedding dress from 2014,” says London-based artist Mark Corfield-Moore. And he’s right, it does sound odd – until you compare Jolie’s dress, which was covered in embroidered versions of her children’s drawings, with Mark’s beautiful works. There’s a similarity in the aesthetic sensibilities of the two. Mark’s works, although produced through an incredibly time-consuming process, are at their core, based on quick sketches. Having been born in Bangkok to a British father and a Thai mother, he moved to Dorset as a young child and today, he consciously reflects upon and interrogates that diasporic identity through works produced using ikat, a traditional weaving technique. His love of a quick doodle is therefore a way to balance his practice. “Because weaving is so laboured and time-consuming, when it comes to the painting, I only give myself a morning to finalise or draw something out,” he explains. “I enjoy the discrepancy in speeds, between perhaps a naive quick drawing, to then the days/weeks of prepping the loom and weaving.”
While traditionally ikat involves tie-dying an image onto the warp or weft before it is woven, Mark paints directly onto the warp threads instead of “the usual binding and submersion into a dye.” This alteration to the process “allows me to more directly engage with the process, where my drawing and hand are more immediate and evident in what can sometimes be a repetitive or mechanical process,” he tells us. For this reason, Mark describes himself as a painter who incorporates hand weaving, rather than the other way around. He first came to the medium during the final year of his MA at the Royal Academy Schools in London. “During my first day of weaving at a taster course in Peckham, my mum Facetimed and told me that her mother was the weaver in her village,” Mark recalls. “She had all this innate knowledge that we had never talked about such as how buffalo dung can produce a green dye. But she said if this is something I was serious about, I should go back to Thailand and stay with my cousins and learn from the local weavers there.” This ambition came true when Mark won the Jerwood Makers Award in 2019 which funded a career-defining trip.
On what he loves about the process, Mark describes its “blurred or glitchy appearance, or what I like to call a ‘fizzy heat’.” This gives the outcome a feeling of transience, something that is paramount to Mark’s practice which explores the concept of fabrics as nomadic objects; he investigates “the historic use of textiles in the production of rugs and tents, items that are portable and attached to no specific location, my understanding of fabrics and my practice at large is rooted this sense of transience.” Tantamount to this sense of transience is Mark’s exploration of language and its relationship to weaving, one Mark explains is exhaustive but which he didn’t fully grasp until he went back to Thailand. “It became apparent that textiles are meant to be understood and ‘read’,” he says. “Certain motifs are associated with a particular district, and as everything is naturally dyed, certain environments produce particular colours, so even colour can be read as to where and who made a particular fabric.” This is why he incorporates text into his work, so that there are “different modes of viewing and understanding within my paintings.” He also operates a writing practice alongside the more visual side of his work, bringing together everything from Britney Spears to Anni Albers with his own text. “All these disparate parts and stories brought together as whole, where I decide the structure, order and pacing, it’s another form of weaving in itself,” he says.
Mark currently has an exhibition on show at Cob Gallery in London until 9 October titled Neither Here Nor There. It presents a series of artworks, several of which represent Thai spirit houses: “buildings designed to placate spirits dislodged in the course of redevelopment and construction.” These are then presented alongside works depicting celebratory tiered cakes. “I wanted to highlight the spirituality of seemingly banal practices in both cultures,” he explains. Where sweet food is offered within spirit houses, cakes also have a ritualistic element. Everything in Neither Here Nor There, including its title, explores the notion of transience too. So the paintings are accompanied by objects throughout the gallery: food boxes, pallets of bottled water and traditional Thai pillows. These connect to that idea of textiles as fundamentally nomadic but also invite visitors to take temporary respite, “much like the spirits or attendees of the paintings.” Through these disparate avenues, Neither Here Nor There refers to “this state of in-betweens, both in myself and the subjects depicted,” Mark concludes.
GalleryMark Corfield-Moore: Neither Here Nor There (Copyright © Mark Corfield-Moore, 2021)
Mark Corfield-Moore: Neither Here Nor There (Copyright © Mark Corfield-Moore, 2021)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.