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5 Needle, 5 Wire

5 Needle, 5 Wire

Curated by Wendy Elia and Roxana Halls
Preview: Friday 5th August, 6-9pm. Panel discussion between Tamsin Hong, curator, Tate, and exhibiting artists from 6-7pm. Free, all welcome.
5 Aug till 21 Aug 2022
Main Gallery

Adelaide Damoah
Wendy Elia
Roxana Halls
Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf
Marie-Anne Mancio


Guest artists:
Annie Attridge
Alannah Currie
Carmen and Luisa
Vicki DaSilva
Sarah Maple
Farrah Riley Gray
Fiona Robinson
Tina True
Julie Umerle
Jessica Voorsanger
Chloe Wing

Thames-Side Studios sits on the site of the old Siemens factory in an area with a history of factory workers, engineers, and makers. InFems’ exhibition takes its name from the five needle telegraph system, patented in 1837 at the start of the Victorian era. Designed by Charles Wheatstone, this diamond-shaped open dial was alphabetical, with five needles worked by five different wires that could be manipulated to point to the required letter. If the name for this innovation was prosaic, it is rich in associations.

5 is a key number in so many systems. Religions - Five Pillars of Islam, five-faced Shiva, the Hindu god, Christ’s Five Sacred Wounds, the Five Books of Moses, five sacred Sikh symbols; the five elements of the Ancient Greeks - earth, water, air, fire, and spirit; the five virtues in Chinese philosophy - generosity, kindness, gravity, sincerity, and earnestness, and so on.

Needle recalls the domestic sphere. Stitching, a history of women making samplers or quilts, a pulling together. Sometimes that sewing was subversive. The sampler of nineteenth-century needle-worker Lorina Bulwer, imprisoned in the lunatic ward at Great Yarmouth Workhouse, reads “I have wasted ten years in this damnation hell fire tramp den of old women old hags”. Needle as verb. Women who needle, who won’t let something go.

Sharp women…

5 InFems

Wire A tangle of wires buried underground, transmitting messages, unseen communications beneath our feet. Like secret languages that travel and evolve: African braids to Egyptian braids to Ancient Greek braids; Polari, the C18th code of vagrants, itinerant performers, sailors, and travellers, adopted and altered

5 Needle, 5 Wire. Where there’s communication, there’s the potential for miscommunication. For women to be silenced. The system could only hold 20 letters. C, J, Q, U and X were left out. What was garbled, or left unsaid?

The exhibition features works across media by Infems Collective artists Adelaide Damoah, Wendy Elia, Roxana Halls, Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf, Marie-Anne Mancio alongside guest artists including Annie Attridge, Alannah Currie, Carmen and Luisa, Vicki DaSilva, Sarah Maple, Farrah Riley Gray, Fiona Robinson, Tina True, Julie Umerle, Jessica Voorsanger and Chloe Wing.

For more information on Infems go to www.infems.com


Thames-Side Studios Gallery
Thames-Side Studios
Harrington Way, Warspite Road
Royal Borough of Greenwich
London SE18 5NR.

Thames-Side Studios Gallery open Thursday-Sunday 12-5pm during exhibitions and by appointment. For general Thames-Side Studios Gallery enquiries please email [email protected]

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