Review: George Meadows: Stitched Drawings at The Beaney
At the Beaney, The Wellcome Collection’s touring exhibition has Georgie Meadows showcasing her assortment of stitched illustrations. The pieces are inspired by her experiences as a mental health worker with the elderly, illustrating the common struggles of our aging population often afflicted with mental and physical ailments, or simply isolation. Especially with loneliness among the elderly becoming a wider known issue right now, her work aims to “encourage empathy” and “celebrate the courage” of these people.
This sentiment comes through very well. Much in the way we may see and judge others in life, we are greeted by the image, and we are then given a little context about the subject portrayed, realigning our judgements. The descriptions for each piece are worded over simplistically, as if appealing to a child, but perhaps the point is that it makes them accessible.
The pieces are skillfully made freehand with a sewing machine, and the use of thread works really well in creating minimal and delicate forms.
Some of the best moments are when the content and the medium draw together seamlessly. One of these stand-out pieces was a portrait labelled “For all her life Fara had to live through terrible depression and mania”. Mounted on a standalone podium, you can see the work from both sides; on one, the polished embroidered portrait; on the other, excesses of loose threads hanging from the illustration, perhaps showing a frail inner condition. The dual nature of the piece highlights the interior and exterior states expressed in the content, and works sympathetically alter the stigma of age.
Some pieces without context simply convey the unique character of her subjects, and although this exhibition is subtle, the simplicity of the line drawings is powerfully evocative. This is something you should approach with an open mind, but it is a thought provoking experience about an under-exposed issue in our society.
Stitched Drawings will be showing in the Front Room at the Beaney House of Art and until 27 November.