Monday, September 1, 2008

Small Torahs, Big Ideas...

Carole Smollan was born and brought up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She cannot remember a time when textiles were not part of her life; her relationship with the touch, smell and colour of cloth began when she was a small child on the floor of her tailor grandfather's cutting room. In her twenties she was the head designer for a leading South African lingerie company before taking up ceramics. For many years she had her own studio in Johannesburg, where she produced large abstract and narrative clay murals. Arriving in London without a kiln, she returned to that primal relationship with cloth and began to make and decorate chuppot, which will themselves be preserved as family heirlooms and passed on through the generations.A small, very moving series within the collection of miniature Torah mantles tells the story of Smollan's own family exodus from Lithuania to South Africa; these objects are artificially aged and stained and incorporate fragments of family travel documents and wedding ketuba (the Jewish marriage agreement), heat transfer-printed photographs and other family memorabilia. The series also bears silent witness to those family members who did not make the exodus and later perished in the Holocaust.Other imagery on the Torah mantles is more traditional – the Tree of Life, the menorah (seven-branched lamp), the Ark of the Covenant and, in Hebrew script, prayers and words spoken at life-cycle ceremonies.They communicate a sense of Jewish identity and Jewish experience in the diaspora, evoking ideas of connectedness – another linking of the metaphorical threads. Yet Smollan's imagery is vital and fresh, a reinterpretation of the ritual iconography.Carole Smollan's miniature Torah mantles are also part of a wider movement in the world of contemporary art textiles, for miniature textiles is a growing genre. In addition to their practicality (they do not require serious resources and are relatively easy to transport and exhibit), they represent a fundamental way of interacting with the world; their scale intrigues and invites closer investigation. Just as we discover unexpected qualities on examining something small and found in nature like a beautiful polished stone or a rare butterfly hovering on a leaf, miniature textiles are perfect vehicles for the exploration of exquisite materials and fine hand work.Ritual textiles are an art of the everyday and the fabrics used to create them an analogue for the degenerative and regenerative processes of life.Carole Smollan's miniature Torah mantles are ritual textiles for the 21st century. They symbolise connectedness and bind the artist to her forebears and to all within the faith.



please let me know WHERe you got this information from
CArole Smollan

DrMom said...

I wrote you at your onetel email address.