Entwined Matter by Paola Anziché, a solo exhibition marking the culmination of the Loro Piana Residency at Tashkeel Nad Al Sheba- 06 Dec/10 Jan 2023

“Seeing with your hands” is the expression with which I define my artistic practice, where every work, every sculpture, is created by experimenting with different weaving and interweaving techniques.
The preparation for such manual practice involves the collection of texts and images, which in turn leads me to create a sort of archive to feed my research. My interest in the gestural aspects of weaving stems from an intention to reproduce (and reinterpret) the purity of a non-verbal language that has been developed over time and communicated through the action of hands; starting from simple and repetitive movements and generating into infinite variations. Every material is chosen for its precise physical characteristics. These influence both the design process and the creative methods used. In doing so, it is possible to retrace the history, the original context and, in some way, the uniqueness of each fibre.

My site research in Dubai for the Loro Piana Residency at Tashkeel began in early September. I visited many locations related to vernacular architecture including archaeological locations in Al Ain and around Dubai as well as the BIDWA Social Development Programme, a centre in Dibba Al Hisn that safeguards ancient material cultural practices run by Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council.

By carefully observing places and environments, I discovered a wealth of references implicit in them; from the large corals traditionally used as bricks in the buildings of Hamra Village, Ras Al Khaimah (precious fractal geometries) to the varying shades of sand (especially noticeable at sunset) at Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain and the chromatic variations of the sands at Meliha Archaeological Centre and Buhais Geology Park in Sharjah as well as the suggestive ‘crusts’ of sand and salt found in the salt lakes (‘sabhka’ in Arabic) of Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi. Even the scorching sun has become an important element in my process, given its function as a ‘fixing agent’, playing an active role in marrying the spices to fabrics as well as in combination with salt. The works seen in ‘Entwined Matter’ are part of a process of thought and investigation into the ‘hidden’ culture that surrounds Dubai and beyond. By weaving spices and salt into the Loro Piana fibres, I wanted to pay homage to the ancient relationships and trading routes that the United Arab Emirates has always shared with its neighbouring countries – an interwoven culture forged at this crossroads between the East, South and Asia.