Ptolemy Mann – Thresholds

Ptolemy Mann


Findlay Galleries is pleased to present the exhibition Thresholds by Contemporary British artist Ptolemy Mann. Heavily influenced by Abstract Expressionism and architecture, Mann’s unique and time consuming approach to hand-dyed, large-scale woven artworks and abstract paintings express a deep sense of craftsmanship, emotion and precision through an abstract narrative. Mann has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions internationally; lectures regularly throughout the UK and abroad, writes for the magazine Selvedge, curates and has received three grants from the Arts Council of England. Findlay Galleries welcomes Ptolemy Mann to our stable of Contemporary artists and looks forward to representing her works exclusively in the United States.

Artist Statement for Exhibition


“Since 1992, I have been exploring abstraction through hand dyed and woven works stretched, canvas like, over a frame. Monumental fields of colour undulating through a vast spectrum that, at first glance, appear painted. In many ways these works are ‘paintings’ but as a weaver I am able to control the moment that pigment is applied to the cloth. Unlike a traditional painter, I am able to apply the pigment before the cloth is constructed rather than applying the colour afterwards, to an industrially woven, bought canvas. The restrictive nature of the technique has meant I can only make work along the straight line the loom allows, and the process is extraordinarily slow and methodical. The taught surface maintained during construction is continued by stretching the finished cloth to create an exquisite and refined surface. 

For the first time these woven artworks are being shown in conjunction with a new body of work consisting of paintings on paper and canvas. After twenty five years of thinking about painting I have been able to finally visualise my ideas through paint as opposed to dye. 

I have often felt that the act of dyeing thread is deeply related to the act of painting. When I’m in the dye lab it involves an almost spontaneous gestural movement; working quickly to saturate the white thread with colour and, much like watercolour painting, once the colour is on the thread, its permanent. The aim is to capture the same immediacy and energy generated in the dye lab as intuitive, colour-saturated paintings, while exploring the relationship between transparency and opacity. Inevitably the language of warp and weft penetrates this work too: bands of vertical and horizontal colour intersect whilst suspended above floating colourfields. To go a step further, I use Arches paper (French, hand pressed watercolour paper) which is made from 100% cotton fiber. One could argue that these watercolour paintings are also inherently ‘textile’. For a long time, I’ve been interested in two specific things: accidental colour and unconscious colour. It transpires that these two ideas; when filtered through the act of painting, reveal a surprising vivacity and capture a dynamic colourful moment. I have been generating these new paintings whenever (and wherever) I can, using the act of painting as a personal meditative process. In complete contrast to the exquisite slowness of the woven artworks these pieces are large scale punches of spontaneous, emotional colour.

The synergy between the woven works and the paintings is striking – despite being opposites in their making process they share a surprising energy and connect to each other completely. Both techniques project light through colour and are steeped with intuitive colour theory investigations. It is the interaction between colours that makes this work sing; alongside complex tonality and saturation.” 

  – Ptolemy Mann, 2022

James MuldoonPtolemy Mann – Thresholds