Having started this new blog a year ago in order to sort myself out, I seem still to be faced with a messy situation. Perhaps this is how my practice is going to work; but I think I shall try to impose/develop more coherence at least to find some kind of pattern(s).
Progress on 2016’s projects: printed wholecloth – Distant dancers, Finding the edge, and Juggler, red
I completed Distant dancers (184 x 131cm, above) in time to enter it for Quilt National ’17, but it did not pass muster. This piece has been several years in gestation and development. The figure on the right started life in around 2006, cut out of stiff paper in Reminder (below): what I called a brodage (essentially the same as a collage, but the only joining element being stitch rather than glue) – incidentally a form to which I would like to return*.
The figure remained in my bodies file – at the back of my mind – until I had been tremendously impressed with the work of sculptor Thomas Houseago. The image above formed itself when I was thinking about moving forward from the past – how the distinctive cultural activities which marked folks’ origins can fade so fast. The thought was a general one, but also linked to my own childhood experience of national dances in Greece and in Scotland. So the figure was developed, the dancers added, and the seemingly empty space behind the hand was filled with three rows of stitching repeating the dancers. These can only be seen in close observation – but I think the composition still works when they are invisible.
When I started working on the piece in early 2015 there was a call for entries to the Textile Museum’s exhibition Stories of Migration (catalogue can be seen here), and I thought that at last I could possibly be working on something fitting for a theme. Unfortunately my hand progress was slow, and in any case having seen the accepted work, I do not think Distant dancers would have been appropriate. (I console myself in such situations with the thought that at least I’ve saved the cost of transport!)
*One of the threads tangled before me leads to brodages. It is a form which I did not explore sufficiently to become any good, and I often think about a return. Given that I at present work mostly with time-consuming hand stitch I think that I would/will have to drop something to revisit that particular form. Even if it not for that purpose, however, I am wondering if large printed wholecloth work might have run its course. Although I enjoyed the making, Distant dancers took a long time to stitch, and the way my mind works it’s running ahead with more ideas and desires which I’ve increasingly less time to pursue. Especially now also that the arthritis in my fingers is slowing me down.
One of the problems I’ve had with trying to enter my work for quilt exhibitions is that my shapes don’t conform, such as with Finding the edge (45 x 84cm above). This is a piece which I like tremendously – but it is far from a conventional shape. I did enter it for QN’17, and my lack of expectation was fulfilled.
Only started towards the end of 2016 is Juggler, red – yes, yet another juggler with that same old figure!, which is still being stitched. I’m enjoying the warm redness of it during the winter evenings.