Cathedral exhibition has mother and child theme

Madonna%20and%20child%20IVA series of remarkable textile portraits brings the Christmas story of the Mother and Child to Derby Cathedral this month.

The three dimensional portraits by Aran Illingworth are created in layered stitched fabric with recycled materials used for the clothing and the backgrounds.

A recurring theme to her work has been women and children in their social situation, particularly in predicaments associated with poverty.

She says they are intended to serve as an appeal on the subjects’ behalf and also an indictment of social conditions that still persist in many parts of the developing world.

Aran, who lives in Cambridgeshire exhibited at the Beetroot Tree, in Draycott, last year and it is there that the curator of the cathedral’s art exhibitions, Geoffrey Robson, discovered her work.

Aran, who exhibits widely in the UK and the USA, says she is thrilled to have been invited to exhibit at the cathedral for Christmas.

“My work is a visual narrative intended to convey a certain emotion and which focuses on subjects carrying a specific message and meaning,” she said.

“I have always been fascinated both with textiles and with creating realistic images, and in my art I set out to combine these two sources of inspiration by using fabric instead of paint to create a portrait.”

Her subjects are from photographs that she has taken or which have been given to her by a professional photographer.

“I am inspired by Asia and motivated by my empathy with the personal journey of the disadvantaged women and children who are my subjects, and by the intention to draw attention to the dire social conditions which persist in Asia even now. I also take inspiration from the colour and vibrancy of the Indian subjects of my work.”

Aran, who has a First Class Honours Degree in Applied Arts from the University of Hertfordshire, was formerly a nurse and decided to take up art later in life.

She says she decided to do a BTec in art and design followed by the degree so she could fulfil her dream of working with textiles.

Her exhibition at the cathedral will continue until January 31, and will be open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm. The exhibition will be closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

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