Open 26th March-10th April (Saturdays 12-4pm and by appointment)
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Doves and Crossbones is an exhibition by Alistair Woods that reflects on cultural and societal identities. The works make reference to trade union banners and the flags and banners found at football matches, both of which people stand under or behind to help represent and express their identity. The compositions are inspired by abstractly anecdotal marks, found on the street and in urban spaces, that feel functional and charming.
Some of the textile pieces that have influenced the exhibition are highly finished, well painted and stitched, by the likes of renowned trade union banner makers such as George Tutill or football flag maker Pepe Perretta. Others are created by working class people who have created equally interesting representations and messages using the materials and time they have access to. The perfect example of this being spray paint on a bed sheet, which is an approach used by thousands of football fans around the world.
Despite the different approaches to how they are created, a common thread within the trade union banners and football fan flags is the use of symbolism and iconography to express ideas and qualities. This is similar to the use of imagery in renaissance paintings. Common trade union motifs are doves for peace, beehives representing the cooperation of the workforce and red is the colour of courage and labour. Flowers were often used as a symbol of life and growth in renaissance paintings, whilst skulls signify the certainty of mortality. The skull has also been adopted by football fans, on one hand in quite a sinister way, with unfortunate links to the far right but also using the skull with crossbones, as a joyful representation of their desire to live their lives free of rules.
The paintings are created using some traditional materials, but also adopt alternative ways to create marks such as using smoke canisters, lighter burns, and layers of applying, removing and covering spray paint and leather dye. Surfaces are also treated with processes of engraving or embroidering before applying paint. This series of paintings has also incorporated paint made from the iron oxide residue in the local water of coal mining towns in Wales.
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