Lynette Yiadom Boakye and the Handweavers Studio

Posted on September 22, 2015

The plan was to go and see this highly recommended exhibition of portraits at the Serpentine on Saturday, then I thought I’d add on a visit to the Handweavers Studio in North London. It’s been a while since I visited this emporium of yummy yarns. So long that it turns out they’ve moved, to close to the Emirates stadium and since Arsenal were at home on Saturday I decided it would be wiser to abandon the studio on Thursday and hit the smoke instead.

First was the Handweavers Studio down Seven Sisters Rd. Ahhh. Heaven. You walk through the door and you’re immediately confronted with colour colour colour and the smell of yarn and wood. My apologies to the staff for all the undignified squeaking, squawking, muted screams and headless chicken type running up and down the aisles. They were wonderfully patient and helpful. There was silk, bamboo, kapok, corn and nettle yarns and tops. Tencel, horsehair, high twist wool, cotton, cotton, cotton, yum! I left with a tactile low profile crocodile wood boat shuttle for my Ashford Knitters loom and some bamboo and silk in a beautiful light grey teal. I’ve used a lot of aquamarine and apatite in my jewellery this year, colours I think lodged in my mind from the colour of the sea at Harlech.

Bamboo and Silk to add to my existing sapphire silk, and blue and silver chenilles.

Bamboo and Silk from the Handweavers Studio to add to my existing collection of sapphire silk, and blue and silver chenilles.

Then to the Serpentine. Quite probably the best exhibition I’ve seen this year. Lynette is a brilliant portrait artist. Paintings of people for the most part leave me fairly unmoved, except some of the more contemporary efforts in the National Portrait Gallery. To stand in a room full of rich mysterious portraits painted in a deep but vibrant oil palette where the subjects were contemporary black men and women without a palm tree, mango tree, wooden shack, market basket, musical instrument, loin cloth, colourful costume or noble expression in sight was truly a joy. I loved the challenge of the direct gaze in some of the paintings, but even more intriguing were those where the subject, heavy lidded, remained looking down or away. I wanted them, willed them to raise their eyes so I could see whether they were the person I imagined them to be. Even more intriguing, none of the subjects are real people and Lynette spends no more than 24 hours on a painting. My favourites? Citrine by the Ounce, Coterie of Questions, Friday 4am, An Education. Google her until you get a chance to see the real thing. Sadly the exhibition at the Serpentine has finished and I’ve no idea when she will be showing again in the UK. No surprise, it turns out she’s a Saaff London girl!

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