Giants of the art world collaborate with prisoners for new exhibition

The work produced is to be exhibited at Sotheby’s, with all profits going to Fine Cell Work.

Date
25 February 2020
Reading Time
2 minute read

Ai Weiwei, Idris Khan and Wolfgang Tillmans are just some of the international stars of contemporary art who have worked with stitchers in prisons to create pieces of work for Human Touch.

The stitchers, who have been trained by charity Fine Cell Work, have put into action the plans laid out and devised by an impressive range of participants. The full list of artists is: Ai Weiwei, Idris Khan, Carolina Mazzolari, Annie Morris, Cornelia Parker, Bob and Roberta Smith, Wolfgang Tillmans and Francis Upritchard.

The exhibition is at Sotheby’s in London, and will run from 26 February – 3 March, with items available to buy via an open online auction.

Ai Weiwei’s piece is called Odyssey in Quilting, and continues his work as a political activist, examining the theme of migrant journeys across the globe. It was brought to life by 13 stitchers from 8 different prisons, finishing up as a 200 x 240 cm quilt.

Other items produced include a hand-stitched photograph imagined by Idris Khan, Bob and Roberta Smith’s large scale needlepoint artwork and Carolina Mazzalori’s hand embroidered wool stitched piece called Void.

A great exercise in collaboration, the project has seemingly been beneficial for both sides, with Ai Weiwei particularly pleased about the outcome. ““Finally, you reach the point when I would say it is perfect,” he says. “There is so much language in between, it does not show on the work the communication, trust and understanding of the process and joy of making pieces like this. I think the final resulting piece is a beautiful art work.”

The stitchers, who put in much of the leg work, also enjoyed this unique opportunity: “Being able to be part of this project has been an honour and an achievement for myself,” says stitcher Ben, who worked for 200 hours on five panels of the quilt.

“For this piece of work to be allowed to be stitched by people who have their own battles and struggles truly shows what this piece is about.”

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Idris Khan: Numbers, a hand sewn photograph

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Ai Weiwei: Odyssey in Quilting

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Ai Weiwei: Odyssey in Quilting

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Annie Morris: Hope from A Thin Line

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Annie Morris: Hope from A Thin Line

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Francis Upritchard: The Artists

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Bob and Roberta Smith: Art Makes People Powerful

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Ai Weiwei: Odyssey in Quilting

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About the Author

Charlie Filmer-Court

Charlie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in December 2019. He has previously worked at Monocle 24, and The Times following an MA in International Journalism at City University. If you have any ideas for stories and work to be featured then get in touch.

cfc@itsnicethat.com

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