Cob Gallery is proud to present a new solo exhibition by Mark Corfield-Moore in which painting, weaving and writing are fused together to illuminate subtle rhymes and resonances of the artist’s diasporic identity: the material and symbolic threads gathered up on the threshold between here and there.
Born in Bangkok and moving to Dorset as a child, Corfield-Moore’s practice combines painting with traditional Thai hand-weaving techniques, which he began studying while at the Royal Academy Schools and later developed further in Northeast Thailand. Based on the ‘ikat’ technique of resist dyeing threads before weaving, the artist’s interpretation of this process involves painting directly onto the warp, or vertical threads; the loom itself then becomes a kind of filter, introducing a distinctive vertical distortion – a blurred or ‘fizzy’ appearance – to the imagery.
‘Neither Here Nor There’ brings together a series of these woven paintings depicting motifs of his dual heritage. Several represent Thai spirit houses: buildings designed to placate spirits dislodged in the course of redevelopment and construction. Interspersed with these works are others depicting traditional tiered cakes familiar from festivities like birthdays or weddings. While the spirit houses are emblazoned with words like ‘red Fanta’, ‘banana’, ‘rice’ and ‘popcorn’ – referring to the offerings made to attract kind spirits understood to have a ‘sweet tooth’ and thereby keep bitter spirits at bay – the cakes are accompanied by words like ‘blessings’, ‘wish’ and ‘song’.
Corfield-Moore’s iconography disrupts the idea of a straightforward cultural comparison by inviting nuanced questions about the underlying relationships between cultures, inhabiting an intimate, subjective space of in-betweenness. Illuminating the spirituality of seemingly banal practices, where cakes often mark key thresholds in life, the artist also tempers potential misreadings of the Thai tradition as merely exoticising. Instead, these works intimate the deeper structural resonances of these motifs: the shared uniformity of the cakes’ and spirit houses’ tiered architectural forms and the mix of the ritualistic and the mundane that they embody, further implied by titles such as ‘Cathedral’ and ‘Shrine’; the cultural significance of food to certain spaces and moments with our everyday lives. At the same time, the glitches and disruptions introduced by the ikat technique point to the instability of mnemonic images, due to unravel at a moment’s notice.
Corfield-Moore’s paintings are arranged alongside food boxes, pallets of bottled water and traditional Thai pillows. Linking up with the artist’s understanding of textiles as essentially nomadic, these items contribute to a sense of provisional domesticity and transience, inviting viewers to congregate or providing temporary respite, much like the spirits or attendees of the paintings. Here they can read and absorb the artist’s accompanying text, an immersive, collagistic essay that combines personal reflections with freely associated thoughts on themes of ritual, culture and consumption.