• Domestic Bliss

      Aycliffe, Margaret (2004)
      “Domestic Bliss” (9 panels 45 x 45cm each, oil, gloss paint and digital print on canvas) were commissioned for the exhibition; “Terrain: Contemporary British Abstraction” which took place in St Petersburg, Russia, 4th – 26th September 2004. Ayliffe sought to continue her exploration of the innate hierarchies applied to media and process in painting and to upset or corrupt the formal language of painting through the social language of the everyday and the decorative. Within each of the 9 panels the same elements occur: the printed stitch, the repeated gestural mark and the hard-edge predetermined pattern. However, the panels are not identical and when configured the logical extension of the elements from one panel to the next is disrupted. The embroiderers’ cross-stitch is created by sewing upon a grid to create a modular form, analogous to that of the digital pixel. The grid is also, as Rosalind Krauss has observed, “emblematic of the modernist ambition within the visual arts”. The grid, then as an underlying structure of embroidery, modernist painting practice and the digitized imagery, became an important element in the work. The piece thus attempted to further democratise the ground and context in which the pixellated, gestural, decorative and repetitive elements might be allowed to butt up together in a constructive rather than oppositional relationship.
    • Equal Opportunities

      Aycliffe, Margaret (2003)
      “Equal Opportunities” (2 panels each 152 x 183cm, oil and gloss paint on canvas) was shown in an exhibition of Manchester-based “abstract painting in the expanded field,” curated by Ben Cook. The curator Ben Cook’s position focused upon thinking like an abstract painter yet rejecting paint and canvas, Ayliffe however remains interested in the actual activity of painting and the language of abstraction colour, space, media and mark. Her challenge was to make work that appears to belong to the idiom of abstract painting while simultaneously developing and deploying methods of construction and image-making that inscribe a sense of difference. Previously Ayliffe made direct reference to the construction of identity as played out in the world of teen magazines, fashion, fabrics and decorative motifs. Here further emphasis was placed upon the performative element of the work. The paintings are a mix of collaged digital images of embroidery, interspersed with hard edge predetermined patterns and repeated gestural marks. Repetitive and mundane tasks are offset against 'chancy' and highly choreographed moments; the handmade is offset against the mechanically reproduced and digitally enhanced, the domestic and decorative against the grand gesture.
    • Kiss, Kiss, Kiss / Democracy

      Aycliffe, Margaret (2003)
      Submitting work to “Sample” & “The Art of the Stitch”, Ayliffe was selected by a panel of artists and museum curators amongst a field of 430 international artists. Ayliffe contributed two paintings “Kiss, Kiss, Kiss” (152 x183cm) and “Democracy” (152 x183cm) (oil, gloss-paint and digiprint on canvas) for the exhibition. Ayliffe’s paintings have previously deployed hand-stitching in both functional and performative roles to signify intense, repetitive labour as a reflection on the historically female pursuits of embroidery, patchwork and the decorative arts. In “Sample”, this is expanded through the development of technical and formal strategies able to question and disrupt the cultural values attached to different types of mark making. For this work Ayliffe created simple cross-stitch embroideries that were photographed, digitally manipulated, then enlarged and printed onto canvas. Digital images were collaged onto the surface and employed alongside hard edge/painted geometric patterns and repeated gestural marks in an attempt to upset normalised, hierarchical readings of media, mark and gesture. The painted gesture is endlessly and exactly repeated while the stitches, enlarged and digitised, take on the characteristics of the painterly gesture.
    • Sex Education Dyptich

      Aycliffe, Margaret (2001)
      Ayliffe explores the historical and contemporary positioning of the feminine through psychoanalysis and visual theory to examine its strategic deployment by contemporary abstract painters. The artists all invoke the other as a subversive influence in rethinking abstraction. Ayliffe questions whether the generalised notion of the other equates to a gender specific identification of the feminine and whether it is possible to disentangle the feminine from generic otherness and postmodern practice.