Dark Uncles

The art of embroidery

"A man with no history or a people that has forgotten its past will have no choice but to disappear...". Klaas Rommelaere wrote this quotation from the award-winning Japanese anime director Hayao Miyazaki on the top of his newest project, Dark Uncles. Made completely in elaborated handicraft with needle, thread, wool and yarn, the ten larger-than-life puppets and two dogs move in a procession through an exhibition that also features an avenue with totem poles and a series of embroidered works and tapestries. 

Rommelaere is a remarkable artist in many ways. Born in 1986 and now living and working in Antwerp, he uses traditional crafts that require time and skill and combines them with an open, innovative and creative outlook. In this respect, he fits in perfectly with a museum such as Texture, which presents itself as an open house at the intersection of heritage, craft and innovation. 

All the works in the exhibition are handmade. Since the beginning of his career, Rommelaere has worked with 15 older ladies (the so-called “madames”) who help him with the handicrafts and meet every week in Antwerp, Roeselare and Ingelmunster. For this exhibition, Rommelaere expanded the group of “madames” with textile makers from all over Flanders. About 90 makers responded to the call from the artist and the museum for people to help with embroidery.

In Dark Uncles, Rommelaere searches for his own history. A procession of monumental puppets carrying flags are doubles (dark uncles) of people from his surroundings. The countless details embroiderd on them refer to their personality, to a story, a memory. It is an ode to all the people who influenced him. Along the procession there are pillars. They refer to the foundations of a house as well as to tombstones. From our ancestors we grow, they are the foundation for our future. There are also embroideries and a carpet. These depict scenes from his memories, old and new family photos and portraits of existing and fictional persons.

The exposition Dark Uncles runs at museum Texture from October 3 to January 31, 2021.

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Dark Uncles is part of WONDER, a brand new city festival in Kortrijk. WONDER is the answer to the postponement of the city programme of the Biennale Interieur. Creativity, optimism, design and amazement will be at the centre of a month (15 October - 15 November) in a route that runs along various places in the city of Kortrijk and that aims to inspire residents and visitors in a coronaproof way.