Mark approaches the traditional Thai weaving technique, ikat, with subversion and intrigue. 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 is a reflection of his understanding of textiles as inherently nomadic.
Angelina Jolie’s wedding dress from 2014 was covered in embroideries of her children’s drawing. Corfield-Moore cites this as a reference for his own embroidered work. 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.
Mark grew up in Dorset to a British father and a Thai mother. Ikat is a way for Mark to translate his diasporic identity. His 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 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.
It’s the “blurred or glitchy appearance, or what I like to call a ‘fizzy heat’ element which Mark loves the most. 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.”
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.
(Copyright © Mark Corfield-Moore, 2021)