You can picture Nick Relph sat at a loom for hours on end, weaving together endless strands of silk and cotton like some medieval artisan. It’s a quizzical image – the young, London-born artist recast as an old-fashioned craftsman. Despite his insistence that these new pieces are purely about finish and surface, Relph’s weavings and photographs pose questions about value and the distinctions between art and craft.
Depicting things such as a gnarled potted plant, spilt water and a ripped bus seat, the seven photographs seem barely composed. The fabrics pieces, on the other hand, are sumptuous. An elegant aesthetic collides with an almost primitive approach in works that echo the forms and colours of minimalist paintings. They’re intensely constructed and filled with knots which create undulating textures to catch the eye.
But what is Relph trying to say by hanging them next to casual photos? That each has the same worth? The contrast between beautiful and ugly feels forced, as if you’re not allowed to like Relph’s weavings just because they’re pretty.