PROFILE

MONA CRAVEN

Is a fine-art textile practitioner, educator and researcher.

Her research focuses on liminal “in-between” space and cultural dislocation associated with cloth. An Indian whitework embroidered christening gown and an indigo resist-print skirt cloth centre the research investigation. Both cloths are rooted in traditional textile techniques.

Mona’s practice interrogates the cloths, interpreting through a drawing, embroidery and printmaking process to create installations and prints. This work emphasises traces, memory and a fragmentation found in “in-between” cultural space.

The ingrained legacy of European colonisation and the experience of living in a postcolonial nation influence the work.

Artist Statement

How does the cloth tell the tale?

Thread and the resistant surface.

The space that I am drawn to work with belongs to a liminal in-between world, between the everyday of cloth that polishes, cleans, covers and toils and the world of memories inhabited by photography, pixels and printed paper. Here I create installations, photographs and prints working with cloth, light and shadow, pencil, paper and thread.

My work is inspired by a love of beauty in battered and worn cloth. The worn imperfection of the used and the hand-me-down white cloth and a bit of blue thread left to clutch onto tightly, become a reminder of home at the southern tip of Africa.

This work examines the worn cloth of the past and present that connects across decades to closely bound, knotted and gnarled migrated bundles, this has become a work of unravelling.

I currently unravel a bundle containing two cloths one white and one blue. Both share colonial and postcolonial histories alike but different. I unpick through a close looking, shifting focus through the process of drawing and stitching the tactile details.

Stitch by stitch through a familiar encounter with cloth, word and paper the possibilities unravel. I tug to pull thread slowly through the resistant, heavy and weighted surfaces. Tearing and puncturing, this resistance work uncovers the labour of different hands.

What thoughts, what lives, what worlds live in such fine stitches and marks that decorate the puckered and dyed surfaces?

How does the cloth tell the tale?

Spatially and materially aware, working at room scale, I transform and craft thread, paper and cloth into textile installations. The light sensitive and opaque qualities of particular materials are integral to the work as are the transitory qualities of cyanotype and indigo dye.

In this work, I translate the unpicked echo’s and shadows revealed through research.

The memories of sunlight washed white cloth mingle with prickly flora and the feel of soil so hot feet burn, this textually complexity I develop into prints.

My work is not about stitching perfection but designed to be evocative and arrest attention. Experimentally led, my stitch-making is a unique embroidery form that fits in-between the stitch that is aiming to be pretty and that which is raw. My stitch aims to be subtle and finely honed, resistant when required, moving off the surface dimensionally to pull the rough edges into focus.

Always striving to connect and cross boundaries between disciplines and dislocation, my decisions are made to evolve and express the stories carried in cloth.

Exhibitions and Residencies
Exhibitions

Dec 2018

Pop-up Exhibition, East Street, Farnham

Sept 2018

Continuum 2, Group Exhibition, London Design Festival, London

Sept 2017

Eleven, Group Exhibition, The Strand Gallery, London

Aug 2017

Postgraduate Exhibition, UCA, Farnham

Sept 2016

Makers at Menier, Group Exhibition, London Design Festival, London

Jun-Dec 2016

Contemporary Narratives, Crafts Study Centre (CSC) and UCA, Farnham

Residencies

May 2017

Artist Demonstration Day, Watts Gallery, Compton

Feb, Apr 2017

Ethel Mairet Response, Ditchling Museum, Ditchling

Publications and Papers
Publications

Sep 2019

Craven, M. (2019) Reflecting a Diaspora: In-between Whitework and Indigo.

In: Textile, Cloth and Culture. Volume 17, 2019 – Issue 4: Textile and Place.

London, Taylor & Francis.

Available here

May 2016

Craven, M. (2016) Skirt Cloth.

In: Contemporary Narratives, School of Crafts and Design project 2015-2016 [Catalogue].

Farnham: Crafts Study Centre and University for the Creative Arts.

Papers

Jun 2019

In-between Whitework and Indigo Resist Cloth.

Fashioning Inclusivity 2019 Symposium: Textiles and Materials strand,

University of the Arts, London

Apr 2019

Reflecting Cultural Dislocation: In-between Whitework and Indigo Resist.

Postcolonialism, Postcommunism and Postmodernism, 2nd International

Interdisciplinary Conference. Gdansk, Poland

July 2018

The artist printed-form: a craft in-between letterforms, exhibition, July 2018 audience and meaning.

Craft and Text conference: Crafts Study Centre and International Textile

Research Centre, UCA, Farnham

Apr 2018

Reflecting a Diaspora: In-Between Whitework and Indigo Resist.

Textile and Place Conference: Politics of Migration, Displacement strand.

Manchester School of Art and the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester

Accepted Abstracts

Jul/Aug 2019

The Absent Presences – In-Between Whitework and Indigo Resist

Nordic Summer University: Summer Symposium Absences and Silences

Circle 7 Artistic Research | Performing Heterotopia. Roosta, Estonia

May 2018

In-Between Whitework and Indigo Resist.

IAFOR, International Conference on Global Studies (GLOBAL2018),

Fearful Futures strand. Barcelona, Spain

Resume

Mona is part-time practice-based PhD candidate at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), Farnham. Working within an art-textile framework, with cloth, postcolonial critique and intersectional considerations her practice crosses media boundaries between the disciplines of digital technology, photography, print and textile media and methods. Mona physically works in ‘in-between’ space to reframe research.

Her practice includes facilitating research-led creative response in the arts, museums and education sector. Mona offers a broad art and design skills-base with a resourceful and thorough approach to tasks. This also draws from a substantive career as a design-director and creative arts teacher.

2015 – 2017

MA Textiles, Post-Graduate School of Crafts and Design (Distinction)

University for the Creative Arts

1981-1986

Post-Graduate Higher Education Diploma, Rhodes University, South Africa

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Rhodes University, South Africa

Fine Art Studies, Port Elizabeth Technikon, South Africa