Started to think a little bit about how I might realize a final piece. I keep thinking of Tracey Emin's work (above) and the way she records memory and happenings as a quilt. I like the idea of piecing things together to make one bigger piece of work. Recording life experiences interest me but I am not about to visualize them in a literal sense but in a more metaphorical way. I am returning to the notion of making a large piece that could? become a wall hanging with the reference to large quilts as this appropriates the process of making within the home.
I read about 'Soul Cloths' in Ana Araujo's piece 'Repetitive Pattern & the Domestic'. It was the name that really intrigued me as the word 'Soul' has strong associations for me through my love of Soul music. It has been difficult finding anything more about 'Soul Cloths' but it has led me to 'Story Cloths' by Hmong women from Thailand. Made for story telling they were adapted due to their oppressors forbidding them to speak their language! African and African American cultures also used something similar in the way of quilts which had embedded codes sewn into them to communicate 'under the radar' from their oppressors! I love this idea of hidden story telling and messages and wonder if can adapt this idea within my work?
We were recently asked to write a description of our practice in a metaphorical sense. Above is a section of the small piece I wrote. Although it was a difficult exercise to do I did enjoyed writing it and I am really pleased with the description I managed to come up with. I feel this is more relevant than it first appears to me and has some real significance not only in an aesthetic visual form but in the physical act of writing and recording memories down on paper! Above I recreated the first part of the piece using vintage Alphabet stamps; a long process but I love the look the nostalgic feel it portrays. Do I take this forward??? Do I include in my work??? How do I incorporate text???? or do I incorporate memories in another metaphorical form???
Thoughts of how to bring together the materials I have been working with have been going through my mind. A narrative is starting to develop even if it is in a metaphorical sense. Through conversation with my tutor I was drawn to the idea of producing a scroll.....she lent me the above Tibetan? scroll to look at and photograph. Tightly wrapped I unrolled some of it. Beautiful wafer thin hand made paper with unrecognizable writing consisting of many layers, some just left plain, with the materials used to make the paper evident. I do like this idea of a tightly wrapped roll holding memories, happenings and important moments of someone's life...........maybe this is something to consider???
My practice seems to be changing. I am still passionate about the landscape and the materials that nature provides within these spaces but as time moves on and different pressures of life come to challenge you, as an artist you have to adapt. Time and opportunity are my biggest problems. Everything I do or make stems from my childhood, growing up in the country making and playing in the landscape and engaging with the materials nature provided. It was these special moments that engaged my creativity. Exploring these materials and their potential helped me engage with materiality and the world around me. Building dens, dams, climbing trees, roaming the fields, swimming in rivers sparked off adventure, creativity and knowledge. It was an idyllic part of my life and I feel blessed to have had that experience.
I find myself honing in on the physical act of making and the fundamental reasoning behind why this is so important. The sense of texture and touch are strong components. It is the metaphorical reasoning as to why we need to do this and the knock on effect that process has to offer, that I am interested in. Stitch has always been a big feature in my work but I hadn't realized the big significance in it.
'Has the pen and paper dipped so deep in blood as the needle?' Olive Shriener
The above experimental work 'cotton impregnated into handmade paper' was shown in a silent crit today. The feedback was really positive some descriptive responses were; delicate, drawing, texture, fragile which are great responses as this is what I am trying to convey. It has helped me to focus more and taking work further I hope to try to size up this type of work and attempt bigger pieces. I also want to continue to develop the stitch into paper aspect, this process I love to do and has more theoretical and in depth reasoning's than is first evident
I am surprised I find myself so interested in this form of process, although, the way I process and visualize the method is never in a conventional sense. I always push the boundaries of the traditional that is how I practice and research my materials. However reluctantly, I need to examine aspects of women within the home and their role through the process of sewing as this is a core component of why I am doing what I am doing. I have had great influence from my Mum and Grandmother during the 70's and some early '80's growing up with 'making' & 'sewing' going on around me as a child. The sewing machine was always a constant reassuring hum in the background. My Grandma, although never smoked properly (she never inhaled!) used to sit and hand and machine sew with a cigarette in her mouth just letting it burn down. Us kids used to be amazed at how long the trail of ash became before it dropped off the cigarette it just burnt out and was never actually smoked! I also have many fond and comforting memories being fitted for skirts and dresses; pins sticking in me, taking garments off and on all the time to be checked for sizing. I have real tactile and haptic memories of a particular cotton summer dress my mum made for me; the feel of it when freshly washed and ironed on my skin still resonates today............the nostalgia of these memories feed into the work I do today. I need to use these narratives within my work in a sense.
I do own a Singer Futura 2000 (1980's) which I rescued from being thrown away. With it was an instruction booklet dated 1976 which I find pretty amazing. It is evident from this that sewing was a huge part of the structure of the home. The machine itself could be placed anywhere and integrated into family life just as I have experienced. The emphasis was on 'creativity' and 'pleasure' I never experienced sewing to be a pain to do for Mum and Grandma it was always an enjoyable process a process of making and the satisfaction of making it yourself; having a finished product that could be worn. Being and doing as women within the home. There was always an emphasis on make do and mend getting the best from the materials that were found and bringing together surfaces through the art of stitch.
What lies beneath?
I'm constantly brought back to process of stitch; the piercing and joining together of materials. The bringing together of surfaces to create texture and marks.
'Surface is often contrasted with what lies beneath or within, in a series of binary oppositions: surface/depth, surface/structure, surface/core. Such contrasts often suggest, at least in everyday language, that the real value or interest lies in the second half of the pairing, not the super-ficial, but the in-depth- but what might we find if we stop at the surface and consider it in material and metaphorical terms?' (Kelley V)
Yes metaphorically the process of stitch and piercing definitely appropriates much more than the joining together of surfaces; it is a way of leaving a mark, leaving record of the making of something, the conscious awareness and thoughts of the person making the thing. The depth of making and the considered touch of the individuals hand.
(Adamson, G & Kelley, V, Surface Tensions: Surface, Finish, & the Meaning of Objects, 2013,Manchester University Press)
MA Creative Practice