Radical Craft and Itinerant Quilters

Living in a smallish town in mid Wales, it’s not every day I get inspired by exhibitions! We do have an Arts Centre with two galleries that curate often interesting shows but they are on for some time so I can feel culturally starved once I’ve seen whatever is on.

However I recently went to visit the ‘Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making” exhibition at Aberystwyth Arts Centre which really blew me away. It is rare that I visit an exhibition that I find so inspiring I want to keep going again and again. I took some students on my second visit.

I drew drawings and made notes and even bought the catalogue!


What I found so inspiring about this show was how I noticed nd it was focussed on artists who work intuitively with their process and don’t necessarily know what their outcome is going to be. Interestingly I found their work so powerful and inspiring, like really the most well curated and inspiring exhibition I’ve been to in a long time!

So as I heard myself say these words to my students, something clicked for me- that I need to work intuitively too and trust my own process….trust it will lead me down the right path.

And then yesterday I heard that Ceredigion Museum were hosting Two Itinerant Quilters so I whisked my daughter and I off wearing one of my most loved and oldest dresses to be ‘mended’. IT was a really fun experience, it felt great to take part in something, to offer a piece up to a quilt and to have my dress ‘up cycled’ at the same time.

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I thought it timely since I am due to work on Research Point 1 and begin to consider artists and designers who work with the theme of mending, re-using and recycling.

Both the exhibition and the quilters have made me think about this even more. Using and re-using materials, using what is around you. The effects that you gain when you leave some of your making to chance, to working with what appears before you.

 

 

 

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Research Point 1: Notes on Wabi Sabi

I have known of the Wabi Sabi concept previously, but was glad to be reminded of it.

Wabi: Freedom from attachment / Subtle / Profundity / Simple / Humble

Sabi: Austere / Sublimity / Asymmetry / Weathered

Wabi-Sabi: Simplicity / Tranquility / Naturalness / Grace

This quote,  “wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all,”

and from the same site:

Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on this planet—that our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay, and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time.

Robyn Griggs-Lawrence, Wabi-Sabi: The Art of Imperfection

I find these notions life affirming, and helpful not only in creative making, but approaching living in general. It makes me think of not fighting against something. To live with surrender, it eases the need to assert/prove oneself. It is about accepting things, and realising that true beauty comes from the ability to recognise the beauty, the good everywhere.

Leonard Koren discusses the relationship between Wabi-Sabi and the notion of beauty, “the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly…that beauty is a dynamic event”.

This concept of ageing, that that beauty is not static and cannot be found in something not changing.

Sabi things carry the burden of their years with dignity and grace: the chilly mottled surface of an oxidized silver bowl, the yielding gray of weathered wood, the elegant withering of a bereft autumn bough. An old car left in a field to rust, as it transforms from an eyesore into a part of the landscape, could be considered America’s contribution to the evolution of sabi. An abandoned barn, as it collapses in on itself, holds this mystique.

http://nobleharbor.com/tea/chado/WhatIsWabi-Sabi.htm

On reading this, I immediately took my camera and ran out to my garden, and behind my own sheds there is a field, in which there is that type of abandoned barn, collapsing in on itself. I look at it everyday as I park my car near it, and am always drawn to it, never really knowing why. Apart from maybe, thinking, when is it going to fall? Or will it do so, so slowly that I won’t even notice? Photographing it today, I noticed how much more it has crumbled and fallen since i originally moved here. And yet I see it every day? So I didn’t notice.

Wabi-Sabi seems to be about the art of balance. Of noticing how far you can go, or how little you can have, or  how ruined, how old, how minimal, how unfinished, how incomplete. It seems to be about having a peaceful relationship with time. With anything that is dynamic actually. So, relationships and creating come into this too.

Sources:

http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/wabi-sabi.aspx

http://nobleharbor.com/tea/chado/WhatIsWabi-Sabi.htm

http://www.touchingstone.com/Wabi_Sabi.html