Mark Milnes

detail of work by Mark Milnes in response to Bradford College Textile Archive collections

"I found the archive equal parts fascinating and bewildering in its scope and breadth, and struggled to select a single image from amongst the pages of the wonderful volumes of designs and samples contained therein. So, with several pieces from the collection in mind (Vint and Gilling drawings from the 1780s; Denholme Velvets from 1857; student work from the 1890s; Hind Robinson designs from 1919) I’ll be returning to an unfinished series of ‘Weave’ pieces of my own to create both paintings and sculptures in response to these amazing collections of work.

What really struck me when I first saw all of this work in the archive was its similarity to early abstract art. 

Through my various studies, my work is steeped in the history of abstraction and its emergence in the early 20th century, and I was surprised at the striking resemblance of some of these designs to celebrated abstract paintings and sculptures. Some of these designs were created over 100 years before abstraction itself began to be recognised as a significant movement within the visual arts … which is quite breathtaking (though, of course, the purpose and intent of the designer/artist has to be considered).  I think of images by Max Bill and others related to Bauhaus explorations; Mary Martin’s sequential, systematic reliefs; Carl Andre’s minimalist chequerboard floor sculptures; and much more - and will be aiming to reflect some or all of this in the pieces I create."