Black Swan Arts / Events / Sat 16 Sep to Sat 14 Oct 2017 (1 month)

Gladys Paulus – Hinterland

Gladys Paulus – Hinterland

Black Swan Arts in Frome is hosting a new exhibition of work by Somerset-based textile artist Gladys Paulus inspired by themes of loss, grief and remembrance.
Ancestral healing costumes form the basis of “Hinterland”, through which the artist explores issues of family and remembrance, identity and belonging, war and displacement, gender and race. The costumes are made from a variety of materials but primarily hand-felted wool. Gladys is well-known for her striking felted animal masks and sculptures which have featured in fashion shoots, films, music videos and commercials.
The ancestral healing costumes tell the story of her father’s side of the family. Gladys was born into a Dutch-Indonesian family and raised in the Netherlands. She studied fine art in Utrecht before moving to the UK in 1995. The work is the result of a journey with loss, but is also a gesture of remembrance, a way to honour her ancestors and heal some deep ancestral trauma.
She says: “Throughout my life, I have known that certain events in my family’s history were barely spoken of, or were ‘forbidden’ territory altogether, yet they seemed to hold considerable power.” The psychological effects of these unspoken events shaped the lives of her father’s forebears in the former Dutch East Indies (the colonial predecessor to present day Indonesia) and have left an indelible mark on subsequent generations. Though the particulars of these stories are unique to Gladys’s family, similar untold and unresolved stories can be found in most families.
“Hinterland” refers to an area lying beyond what is visible or known. Gladys explains that the work is about accessing that unknown territory: “It is my way of making visible the unspoken, to shine a little light of compassion on generations of silent suffering in the kindest way I can, and to put this suffering in its wider historical and cultural context.” It is also a way of breaking the cycle of suffering and keeping the stories alive so they are not lost.
Each piece in the exhibition has been made laboriously by hand over a period of weeks and months from a mixture of materials, but hand felted wool is the binding factor. She says: “Felt is associated with warmth, protection and comfort, yet it is organic in nature and as much subject to the ravages of time as we are. Wool’s capacity for holding shape is due to its ability to ‘remember’; as the felt shrinks and dries, the shape is stored in the fibres. In this way, the felt is an outward manifestation of my own journey of remembrance.” Textiles, and textile art, tends to be a feminine domain, and so Gladys follows in the footsteps of many generations of women who have cut, stitched, sewn and darned to keep their families clothed, safe and protected.
Preview evening: Friday 15 September, 6–8pm.

For more information visit

Event Location

Black Swan Arts

2 Bridge Street, Frome BA11 1BB
BA11 1BB

Telephone: 01373 473 980

Event Details