Research Point 1: Artists working with found, recycled, worn or discarded materials

 

For this research point, I did spend some time looking at other artists and designers however my interest went back to Celia Pym, which I put off looking at merely because it seemed like an obvious choice, however I have known of her work vaguely for a while, and then having listened to her interview on Woman’s Hour having been selected as one of the finalists for the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize I decided I was so drawn to her work that I would focus on her.

I like what she has to say about understanding people and how they might live their lives by engaging in more depth with their clothes, the worn ones. Interesting to hear that she has found how people place value on their clothes and often the items they want to have mended are not always the expensive ones it is their favourite item, the one they feel most comfortable in and that they count on. She selects the work based on what people give her, however she stresses in her interview that she is not a ‘recycler’.

This interests me in the way I might select my materials. I have chosen not to buy any new fabrics for this project but to choose from what I have a round me. This is partly a way of keeping myself in check and to help with decision making (see this post where I discuss how a dialogue with my tutor reminds me to keep a limited ‘palette’)

Something about the darning and the way a problem like a hole is solved through delicate stitching is beautiful. Again, this links to theme of Wabi-Sabi.

This influences my decisions with stitch, and how I can relate this to some of the drawings and paper manipulation samples that I am using in particular to inform my final pieces for this assignment.

y interest went back to Celia Pym, which I put off looking at merely because it seemed like an obvious choice, however I have known of her work vaguely for a while, and then having listened to her interview on Woman’s Hour having been selected as one of the finalists for the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize.

I like what she has to say about understanding people and how they might live their lives by engaging in more depth with their clothes, the worn ones. Interesting to hear that she has found how people place value on their clothes and often the items they want to have mended are not always the expensive ones it is their favourite item, the one they feel most comfortable in and that they count on.

This interests me in the way I might select my materials. I have chosen not to buy any new fabrics for this project but to choose from what I have a round me. This is partly a way of keeping myself in check and to help with decision making (see this post where I discuss how a dialogue with my tutor reminds me to keep a limited ‘palette’)

Something about the darning and the way a problem like a hole is solved through delicate stitching is beautiful. Again, this links to theme of Wabi-Sabi,

This influences my decisions with stitch, and how I can relate this to some of the drawings and paper manipulation samples that I am using in particular to inform my final pieces for this assignment.

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Textile Manipulation

Having decided to take a break from my first sample, I wanted to consider how to devise my second piece.
I was conscious that I had until now completed ignored the task request to go about exploring and manipulating different base textiles, using the previous paper manipulation exercise as inspiration.
I seemed to have an aversion to it, a block!
I looked back at my earlier samples and decided to focus on how to create the dynamism, strong marks and lines and torn edges.
One way was to puncture the fabric like I had done with paper.
I tried various different types from muslin to linen to thicker upholstery cotton with a machine needle to pierce holes- but nothing showed up.
I used some scissors to slash and cut denim and the upholstery fabric and played around with sewing and mending the cuts I had made.
I quite liked the idea of used denim, and how this material has big strong and playful qualities which is what I want to focus on.



I used discharge too, which didn't work at all on the denim but did in the other fabric.
I am finding that the cuts and slashes have created 'movement', which is something I would like to achieve.

The discharge needs a bit more experimentation, possibly on another material as I think it does create a playful quality but needs some refinement.
I like how it looks on an earlier black cotton sample I made where I have also experimented with some different stitches and threads/yarns:

I also experimented with folding, and have begun by creating pleats on muslin:

Also pinching and tucking:

I feel like all these ideas and processes need a lot more working out and experimentation and yet I am on a strict time/deadline!
Part of the challenges with the art process is deciding what to let go of and what to focus on, understanding that I won't be able to do everything!

Continuing Placed and Spaced

What also came up was a strategy that would help my way of working – where I have many ideas but often get caught up in not managing to realise them, is to decide on a certain restriction for myself when approaching the final section of Part 2.

Either based around the choice of source image (s), or colour palette, yarn, or material. Imposing a limitation will give me a better structure from which to work around.

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These are the three images I chose to inspire me. I wrote post its with what qualities each one had that made me select them:

Flower collage: dynamic, sharp, contrast, soft, delicate, fragile, strong

Detail collage of blanket: colour palette, torn edges, lines

Square watercolour drawing: playful, movement, little marks.

Since I had already begun on the dynamic collage, following the discussion with my tutor I decided to get even more focussed on the aspect that interested and excited me the most- the red detail.

I experimented a lot with different pink and red coloured threads and used free motion stitch and dissolvable fabric, Muslim and organza.

I felt these fabrics best replicated the delicacy and fragility of the piece that I wanted to capture.

Beginning Assignment 2: Placed and Spaced

Although the handbook talks about planning this stage, maybe drawing and looking back  at previous samples etc, I really had the urge to get on and make, get some of my ideas out of the way.

I knew I was interesting in pursuing making a response to one of the ‘dynamic’ flower collages. I also looked at some of my paper samples and stitches to guide my mark making. I was particularly interested in exploring the line and the random, red part of the vase:

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I find that my planning happens more in the making, I have to physically try things out and experience them first hand in order to decide whether the idea is worth pursuing.

I brought this up in the online video call I had with my tutor. Many of my concerns about my process are fears of not doing  the tasks properly or in the right order, not finishing what I’ve started. My tutor was so helpful and suggested making my samples smaller if needed, or to accept the space around the sample. There is a question that arises here (and will continue to rear up): what is overworked and what is underworked?

With that in mind I didn’t spend too much time working out a base material. I knew I wanted to capture a fragile dynamism (oxymoron?) that the collage communicated. I chose a very thin muslin and wadding and referring back to my earlier paper stitch samples used a simple embroidery stitch for the brown ‘bark’. The red part I found using all sorts of yarns and cottons and wool in a much more random way.

I began to introduce a green wool I had dyed last year, to follow more of the collage but as soon as I put it in I felt it didn’t work. I took it straight out again. It affected the focus of the work – too much going on. This was my first real action in realising the strengths of limiting one’s palette.

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What also came up was a strategy that would help my way of working – where I have many ideas but often get caught up in not managing to realise them, is to decide on a certain restriction for myself when approaching the final section of Part 2.

Either based around the choice of source image (s), or colour palette, yarn, or material. Imposing a limitation will give me a better structure from which to work around.

 

 

 

 

Larger Samples

 

Having looked back through my drawings, as the task requested, I chose two different pieces to work from: a large ink drawing and a small etching on an inky background.

I thought one was interesting because of the different opacities I had gained – using the ink in a number of ways and I was interested to see how how I would translate this into stitch.

 

I prepared my paper by creasing and folding, based on one of my earlier paper manipulation samples. I thought this would achieve some of the dynamic qualities of the piece and create movement. I used a mixture of black threads and wool to create the variety that the depths of marks show on the paper.

The watery diluted geometric shapes in the corner of my drawing I translated by using plain cotton thread and created long line stitches side by side. I think this is the most successful of the stitches/marks I have interpreted.

I noticed with working on this exercise that I did get bored and fed up with working on them. They are not completely finished, but maybe that’s because I felt like I ‘got’ what I needed from them.

I finally decided to honour my unlinear way of working, and despite not having fully completed this task, nor spent much time ‘planning’ the assignment. I nonetheless decided to dive straight in.

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.

 

 

 

Sharing

My approach to this course has not been as dynamic or fast moving as I have wanted it to be. There have been many times when I have considered giving up.

I have been reflecting and wondering and pondering over why it is hat I can’t seem to give my creative making the same value I can give in other areas of my life.

Is it because I’m a fake? Is it because I am ‘going against the grain’, so to speak?

I  am aware that some of this is a vicious cycle: I need to turn up and make, the more I do this the more I’ll put value on what I’m doing and therefore the more I’ll turn up and make, the more inspired I’ll get.

I am finding the making path a lonely one and have come to realise that I crave mentoring and more dialogue around my work. More sharing. The blog is obviously a great platform for some of this to happen. But this sometimes feels like I’m writing and putting it out into space!

So how do I move on from here?

I need to find ways and people to talk to about my work in progress more. By giving it airspace, time and energy, it gives it the value- the nourishment it needs for it to grow….