Two women artists who have inspired one another present their work side by side at Gallery 286 this month. Textile artist – and sometime guitarist – Libby Lawrie has been a muse and model to Sophy Dury for more than ten years, visiting her studio once a week. With their concurrent exhibitions: ‘Re-make/Re-model: new & unfinished textiles’ (by Lawrie), and ‘Sculptures’ (by Dury), the connections between their work, as friends, makers, and as women, are revealed.

Dury’s sculptures and reliefs, for example, move from depictions of Libby, her own muse, to other women who have influenced her more broadly, and to the idea of the female muse in general, recreating Federico Fellini’s ‘faces’, referencing photographs the Italian director kept, sent to him by women who wanted to star in his films. Set against textile backgrounds that recall domestic interiors, wallpapers, curtains, carpets or gardens, Dury’s sculptures also touch on the idea that a muse can be at home, as much as on screen, or in a photograph.

From ‘Re-Make / Re-Model: New and Unfinished Textiles’, by Libby Lawrie

Textiles also connect Dury’s three-dimensional works to Lawrie’s. A series of abstract, tribalesque fabric pieces, created using a combination of digital and handwoven techniques – some of which can be worn, and some of which are still in progress – give an insight into the artist’s fluid, improvisational way of working. Perhaps the reason why over the years she has worked on diverse commissions in film and music, producing work with prolific musicians such as David Bowie, Bryan Ferry and Paul McCartney.

Conventionally considered ‘women’s work’, Lawrie’s designs do not address feminine archetypes in the way Dury’s portraits do, but her sensual shapes, curves and patterns, Lawrie explains, are informed in part by the body, as well as architecture and nature, and music. Playing with colour-coding and form, they refuse to settle for being one thing – feminine or masculine, colour or monochrome, contemporary or ancient.

Though abstract next to Dury’s figurative works, there is a shared appreciation of free forms and an exuberant, rebellious aesthetic between the two bodies of work – and a poignant exploration of what it means to create, and to be a woman.