Together in a Room

The Collective, Until 24th April

Katie Schwab, a Glasgow based artist, has work displayed at the Collective as part of the Satellites Programme. Working for this platform for emerging artists, Schwab’s exhibition Together in a Room is the culmination of research into the politics of design, housing and education.

The small gallery on top of Calton Hill is a temporary home to various artistic objects in the form of a film piece, a tapestry, and a collection of handmade, functional, green stools. The collection forms an overarching installation linked by line, colour, and texture. The most obviously traditional artwork is the embroidered panel of abstract, colourful shapes. The composition has been created with the artist’s grandmother’s sewing manual in mind, as well as being influenced by other female artists and designers that Schwab looks up to. It is playful and enticing.

The film is at first a distraction from the focus of aestheticism that is the embroidery. Sounds of machinery and fragments of speech seem jarring as the viewer strains to see clearly what is a poorly positioned reflective screen. Indeed, at first one is tempted to turn to admire the grand view of Edinburgh and the distant sea that is reflected in the screen instead. This is somewhat disappointing as the film has been created on 16mm film and so should be enjoyed for that.

The film is titled ‘Dedicated to my great teachers’, taking film shots, conversations, and information from Schwab’s grandmother’s memoirs: a visit to St Catherine’s College, Oxford and an interview with potter Madeleine Ladell. The imagery and occasional subtitles are jolty and unnatural in their flow as they loop round on a 10-minute cycle without clear definition of narrative or structure.

However, there are aspects of the film that are in a strange synchronisation with the rest of the room. The lack of narrative responds to the improvised nature of the tapestry; the grating sounds become textural like the woven threads; the indecipherable imagery become abstract colours that reflect this embroidery.

Where at first the exhibition appears underwhelming, the harmony of the exhibition becomes apparent after time passed contemplating on the green stools.

Image Credit: Katie Schwab

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