Working across painting, printing, textile assemblage, collage and weaving, shifting between traditional and digital media, my practice converges times and technologies, to investigate a material presence (and absence) of the past within the present. Through an archive of reproductions, I explore the idea of living in an age of the ‘re’.
The images and processes in my work are linked by my pre-occupation with loss and the ruin in visual culture through the circulation, saturation and degradation of files. The image as a ruin echoes the ecological decline in an age of climate crisis. Over the past decade, I have been screen-printing deliberately low-res images of aftermath from natural disasters. These pictures of destruction are further subjected to a kind of digital entropy through processes of ruination and fragmentation in digital undo, un-painting and un-making.
The textile assemblages combine the remnants from these paintings along with recycled bricolage fabrics, swatches and samples, and screen-prints of flattened 3D scans mapping folded fabrics, torn and re-stitched. Craft processes including crotchet, embroidery and weaving are flat-bed and 3D scanned, enlarged, screen-printed and then worked back into with hand-stitching. The processes traverse at different paces through the various logics of time, from the hand-stitching of an unknown craftsperson to the digital screen, silk-screen, then back to the hand, into a re-assembled analogue/digital artefact, reflecting the contradictions which punctuate our contemporaneity.
Diana Taylor, 2023.
The text below was written by Isabel de Vasconcellos to accompany my solo show Phantom Yarns, curated by Maria Stathi, Art seen Contemporary, Nicosia, (Sep-Oct 2021) and the Cyprus High Commission (March-May 2022).
“Phantom Yarns develops Taylor’s longstanding interest in how we experience and make sense of time in an era of information overload, where abundance and infinite access compete with the urge for order and elucidation. With all material culture at our fingertips, we are more tightly than ever enmeshed in a visual continuum that cuts through the veils of space and temporality. This availability has the effect of intermittently flattening and deepening perspective, leaving us afloat in a world of images, with all its attendant fallout of wonder and disorientation.
Taylor’s practice, encompassing painting, screen-printing, needlework and 3D scanning, imbues the analogue pleasures of touch, layering, tearing and weaving, with the fugitive qualities of the digital realm of abstraction, manipulation and ceaseless mutation. The works in Phantom Yarns explore ideas of what the contemporary is at any one moment, by sampling and appropriating the materials of their time. Taylor uses textiles, Photoshopped images and wire mesh readings variously screen-printed, collaged, painted, woven and embroidered onto large scale fabric assemblages and canvases.
Originally a painter using textiles, print and online images as references in her works, Taylor initially experimented with fabric as a material during a residency at Modern Art Oxford. Curated by Jeremy Deller, Love Is Enough explored the role of craft, industrial processes and mass production in the works of William Morris and Andy Warhol. Reluctant to paint in public, Taylor chose instead to use her mother’s tablecloths and needlework, as well as fabric picked up in charity and craft shops to make fabric assemblages in response to the exhibition. Following this, she began a practice-based PhD at Sheffield Hallam University and in collaboration with the William Morris Gallery in London.
Using archives and existing images, Taylor has always had an interest in sampling and appropriation. She has a shared fascination with Morris into how we make things and how, in turn, things make our world.
Early paintings saw her turning to her Greek Cypriot roots and to the ruins of antiquity, to the beauty of fragments and the part they play in romanticising the past and its readings over time. For Taylor, these broken vestiges also speak to a fascination with how things break down. Alongside them, she began to explore images of the aftermath of natural disasters, deliberately anonymised so as to express a general timelessness of dissolution, and of things falling apart.
In order to nudge the process of disintegration along its way, Taylor puts her images through a mill of digital erosion, deliberately echoing the glitch and the repeated iteration of the pixel as an eroded unit of information, endlessly shared and circulated. For Taylor, ruin acts as a metaphor for the process of making, the compulsion to break down or somehow obstruct, delete and fragment in order ultimately to reconstruct the image. There is an irony in deliberately imbuing decorative textiles – conceived to render the experience of the domestic beautiful and welcoming – with so much “failure”. Diana Taylor’s works scratch the veneer of everyday life to uncover intimations of darker truths.”
Text by Isabel de Vasconcellos, 2021.