2017 Architecture Family Pack: A Portable Mural

1 Jun — 1 Sep 2017

Katie Schwab is an artist who explores how different hands and voices can come together to respond to issues affecting our daily lives. Katie is interested in the links between Kéré’s Pavilion and traditions of weaving, indigo fabric dyeing and community wall painting in Burkina Faso, where women paint patterns on the sides of houses using symbols and shapes from everyday life.

The 2017 Serpentine Pavilion was designed by Francis Kéré, an architect from Burkina Faso. Kéré says that “people are the basis of every piece of work” and he works with groups to design and build architectural structures. This Pavilion was based on the idea of a tree as a shared meeting place.

The Portable Mural featured a cyanotype print of a woven tapestry with prompts for looking around the Pavilion. The reverse was made of a strip of indigo dyed dust sheet and contains a space for families to create a mural together with the pop-out shapes.

The title was based on a 1965 essay ‘Tapestry’, in which artist and weaver Anni Albers described a woven picture as a ‘portable mural’. A mural is a large image, text or pattern painted on a wall which draws people’s attention to both decoration and important social issues.

Indigo is a natural blue dye made from the leaves of the indigo plant. It also creates the colour blue that you find in jeans. In Burkina Faso, fabric is often woven in plain white strips. Patterns are then made by clamping, tying or stitching the material and dipping it into a vat of indigo dye. Blue indigo cloth is used in different ways by different cultures: sometimes it is worn as work clothing and sometimes it is worn for special occasions.

Katie developed this pack in collaboration with Year 3 students at Gateway Academy, North Westminster, friends and designers Maeve Redmond and Sarah Johnson and the Serpentine Galleries Education team.

Design by Cameron Leadbetter.

Katie Schwab

Katie Schwab’s practice interweaves personal, social, and craft-based histories, often drawing from traditions of living, making and working collectively. Spanning exhibition-making, design commissions, printed resources and workshops, she works across arts, learning and community contexts to explore the ways in which manual and social forms of production can develop within shared spaces.

Schwab graduated from the MFA programme at The Glasgow School of Art in 2015. Recent exhibitions and projects include: Making the Bed, Laying the Table, Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Jerwood Solo Presentations, Jerwood Space, London, Together in a Room, Collective, Edinburgh; Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Backlit, Nottingham and ICA, London; My love is like a red red rose. Art in Scotland from 18th to 21st Century, Musée du Château des ducs de Wurtemberg, Montbéliard; Fresh, British Ceramics Biennial, The Original Spode Factory Site, Stoke-on-Trent and Project Visible, Tate Modern. Katie undertook the 2015 graduate residency at Hospitalfield, Arbroath and is the recipient of the Glasgow Sculpture Studios MFA Graduate Fellowship, 2015-16. Katie Schwab is the recipient of the Nigel Greenwood Art Prize 2016.


Curated by:

Alex Thorp, Curator, Education
Jemma Egan, Assistant Curator, Education


Design by:

Shining Studio


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