British artist Patricia Millns celebrates women in the region
Having spent three decades of her life in the Middle East, 62-year-old British artist Patricia Millns has become a loyal advocate of the region’s culture. But it’s the strong connection she feels with Middle Eastern women that has become the subject of her current exhibition at Tashkeel. Entitled ‘Emra’a Adornment’ (meaning ‘women adornment’), the exhibition continues until Friday January 18 and features traditional items of Middle Eastern female clothing that Millns says are more than just beautiful items worn by women.
‘The installations are objects of adornment, yet they transcend decoration – as interactive artworks they become carriers of the concept,’ explains Millns of her artworks. ‘Clothing becomes a vehicle of identity at a theoretical level.’
The textile works on display include stitched clothing and paper, steel mesh and found objects. Millns says the textile aspect is vital to the body of work, as it acts as a metaphor for the domestic arts. ‘The najab [face covering] installation that forms a large part of the exhibition becomes a reflection and a representation. It covers and protects, but is a symbol of existence,’ she explains. Here, she takes us through her stand-out pieces.
The lowdown Exhibition: ‘Emra'a Adornment', until January 18 at Tashkeel, Nad Al Sheba 1 (04 336 3313). Artist: Patricia Millns. Price of works: On request.
‘This installation contains 35 white najabs, or face coverings. I used white for simplicity and calmness – the najabs are suspended to appear fixed and united. I extended the straps to complete the feeling of lightness, but also the theme of being secure. These form the concept of passive embellishment, interacting with the wearer’s body, her everyday life and her interaction with others.’
‘This is based on the stitched collars of adornment, and the words are repeated, just as stitches are. The text features written definitions of beauty. The hand-made paper beads refer to an old cultural tradition of beading on clothing, but contain modern fashion references.’
‘I collect, manipulate and reorder objects that seem to have no outward intrinsic value. Things are discarded and I turn them into an adornment object to beautify and amuse. I collect from everywhere and everyone!’
'I have a huge collection of objects that relate to the body, clothing and adornment. The text on these beads relates to taking care of oneself in terms of health, exercise, pregnancy and stress relief. In deconstruction they form a simple, understated message. I’ve created many objects using hidden messages to say things in a private way. I like the fact that the viewer has to participate by close observation and deciphering the hidden words. I like to foster a relationship between the maker and the viewer or the wearer.’