An upcoming exhibition at The Glasgow School of Art will offer peek into the creative culture of 1980s Glasgow, Instant Whip: The Textiles and Papers of Fraser Taylor 1977–87 Revisited will shine a light on the archive of Fraser Taylor, acquired by The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections when the collection came to GSA in 2014.
A public exhibition, publication and events programme, focused on textile design, will bring together this unique archive with newly commissioned work for the first time and it will explore, in Fraser Taylor’s individual work and as part of 1980s collective The Cloth, recurring links to Glasgow as a place of creativity during the period 1977–87.
The project will focus on work Taylor developed as an undergraduate student at GSA, during the period 1977–81, exploring how this period influenced his work as part of design collective The Cloth up to 1987 and beyond.
The title Instant Whip is borrowed from the title of an independent magazine, published during the 1980s, focused on Scottish music, fashion and art. Exhibiting the newly acquired collection of Taylor’s archive, held at The Glasgow School of Art to public audiences, highlighting Glasgow’s legacy as an important centre of creativity during the 1970s and 1980s.
Uncovering narratives found in the collection, the exhibition will include printed textiles, garments, drawing and painting, photography and personal ephemera. Alongside the display of objects, digital technologies will be employed to present archival objects such as sketchbooks and photographs in fresh ways that can benefit from explorations into scale and animation. Newly commissioned work for the exhibition will respond and reflect upon the presented historic works. This new work will be in textiles, focusing upon its relationship to drawing – working across screen-print, woven and digital methods. A key part of the new work will be a film made in collaboration with Filmmaker Alex James-Aylin and MUA / stylist MV Brown. This will be screened alongside physical works including garments featured in the film.
In 2014 three unmarked boxes were delivered from my storage in London to my studio in Glasgow. Opening the boxes was astonishing and shocking. They contained work that I produced from 1977 – 1987. I thought this work had been lost during one of many moves from one studio to another. It was exhilarating to be confronted with the past and marked the start of a long period of reflection, resulting in grappling with the concept that this work could become the core of a future exhibition. Revisiting this archive allowed me to make connections between my earlier interests and where I am creatively today. At times this was an emotional rollercoaster but the rewards were stirring and led to many reconnections. Ten years later this imagined exhibition will become reality.Fraser Taylor, October 2023
The exhibition is being researched and co-curated by curatorial organisation Panel with The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) textile design researcher Dr Helena Britt and will be presented in partnership with GSA Exhibitions at The Reid Gallery, GSA Archives and Collections and Window on Heritage. An associated public programme will coincide with the exhibition, including a series of workshops developed in partnership with open access screen-printing studio Print Clan which will be announced in 2024. A publication, edited by Panel and Helena Britt is also planned, featuring contributions from Theresa Coburn, Laura Guy, Graham Lister, Mairi MacKenzie and Iain R Webb, with reflections from Gillion Carrara, Robert Hodgens with Fraser Taylor, Gerry Kelly and Morag Ross. The project will build upon Helena Britt’s Leverhulme Trust research fellowship: ‘The Cloth: Exploring Creative Collaboration and Interdisciplinarity, 1977–87’ undertaken during 2019–22.
Instant Whip: The Textiles and Papers of Fraser Taylor 1977–87 Revisited is an exhibition, publication and events programme co-curated by Dr Helena Britt with Panel and presented in partnership with The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections, Reid Gallery at The Glasgow School of Art and Print Clan.
Lucy McEachan, Director, Panel, said,
We are absolutely thrilled to be working with The Glasgow School of Art and Print Clan on this exciting new exhibition and events programme, which will open up Fraser Taylor’s unique archive of textiles and papers to a public audience for the first time. Exploring connections between textiles, art, music fashion, style and subcultural expression through the lens of Glasgow in the 1970s–80s, the exhibition will revisit the archive through an ambitious new body of work by Taylor, one of Scotland’s leading textile designers, inspiring new perspectives on this period in Scotland’s social and design heritage
Helena Britt said,
Collaborating with Fraser Taylor and Panel on Instant Whip is a unique and inspirational opportunity to work with partners, including The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) Archives and Collections and GSA Exhibitions, building on research that I have carried out over the past 10 years. Through Taylor’s work, the exhibition, publication, and event series present, often hidden, insights into textile designing and printing processes to new audiences. Interconnected narratives drawn from many late 1970s and 1980s archive items highlight the significance of Glasgow as a creative city, which impacted Taylor’s time as a student and beyond. It is fascinating to research Taylor’s archive and witness the impact that engaging with the past has and continues to have on his new work
Instant Whip: The Textile and Papers of Fraser Taylor 1977–87 Revisited,16th March – 20th April 2024, The Glasgow School of Art
Launching alongside the exhibition: Celebrating Fraser Taylor as an influential and innovative Scottish designer, V&A Dundee has commissioned Taylor to design a new collection exclusively for V&A Dundee’s online and in-museum shop to coincide with the opening of the exhibition. The capsule fashion and homeware collection will feature Taylor’s 2023 design, Viewing Across originally commissioned to commemorate V&A Dundee’s fifth anniversary. Beginning as a series of observational drawings of the interior and exterior of V&A Dundee and the panoramic views across the River Tay, Viewing Across consists of two layers, one a coloured collage depicting the landscape and the other an abstracted graphic line capturing the multiple geometric patterns embedded across the building. Viewing Across, a collection by Fraser Taylor for V&A Dundee will launch on 15th March 2024.
Fraser Taylor studied Printed Textiles at The Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He co-founded The Cloth, a creative studio focused on contemporary textile design and production. Since 1983 he has developed an interdisciplinary art practice and exhibited internationally, and his collaborative works includes projects with visual artists, designers, and contemporary dance.
As an educator he has lectured at leading fine art and design institutions, and from 2001 until 2017 was a Visiting Artist and Adjunct Full Professor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2017 he was awarded an Honorary Professorship from Glasgow School of Art, University of Glasgow.
Fraser returned to live in Glasgow in 2017. In 2018 he established the collaborative art practice, Two-Step, with artist Beth Shapeero which explores their shared visual language of abstracted gesture. Also, in 2018 Fraser became an ambassador for Print Clan an open access textile studio and in 2019, he purchased a ten-metre textile print table which is installed in their premises on Glasgow’s historic High Street. In 2020 HAXTON was established which revisits methods of making that were prominent in Fraser’s practice in the 70s and 80s, silkscreen printing on fabric and garment construction. What differs now is the inclusion of digital printing.
Fraser is currently the Curator at the Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock, Scotland.
Panel is a curatorial arts organisation led by Catriona Duffy and Lucy McEachan. Based in Glasgow, Panel promotes design in relation to particular histories, archives and collections through exhibitions, events and cultural projects. Their programme engages designers and public audiences and makes connections with practitioners and institutions whose work extends into visual arts, craft and other cultural contexts and frameworks. wearepanel.co.uk
Dr Helena Britt is Programme Leader for Textile Design at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA). Her research intersects historical and contemporary textile design practice and pedagogy using archive and practice-based methods, oral testimony and exhibition curation. Ongoing research examines how designers and design groups act as curators, collectors and archivists, appropriating and reinterpreting design practices, motifs and procedures. Alongside programme leadership, Helena teaches printed textiles at GSA. She is co-editor of the Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice, former chair and current steering group member for the Association of Fashion and Textile Courses (FTC). Helena holds a PhD and PGCert Supervision in Creative Practices from GSA and an MA from the Royal College of Art. As a printed textile designer, she has worked on a freelance and commission basis for various clients.
The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections includes records and artefacts, which relate to the School’s activities since its foundation in 1845. The archives comprise GSA’s institutional records, and a number of collections deposited by former staff, students and related organisations. The collections include examples of art, design and architectural work by GSA alumni and former staff, including a large number of items by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The papers, artworks and materials that form the Fraser Taylor donation represent a significant collection within the archive.
GSA Exhibitions curates an innovative year-round public programme of exhibitions, performance, seminars, talks, off-site projects, publishing initiatives and outreach, that aims to explore the creative, social and educational nature of contemporary practice. Their programme is free admission and offers the public a glimpse of the life and outputs of the art school as well as making exciting links to the rich heritage of The Glasgow School of Art and its collections. GSA Exhibitions is a key public facing part of the art school, working with and alongside the network of arts organisations in the city and beyond. GSA Exhibitions regularly contributes to key events in the city, including Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art.