I have been working on this for the last week or so but that is not the whole story – this piece began a long time ago and isn’t over yet.
This area west of Harrogate is a transition zone into the serious hills, the sheep are getting leggier and ruder, lots of dry-stone walls, bits of moorland with bright green pasture, (think back to the Tour de France last year ). There are bleak open spaces 1, forestry plantation land 2, rocky outcrops. And rain 3. Lots of rain. The bottom 2 are from the last visit, bright June day, early fog just lifting.
The 2 sketches are from that day, done in situ and very quickly – the watercolour took more time to dry than to do. Working at speed is a great discipline, no second chances as priorities have to be clear and consistent.
These sketches not the photos were the basis of the textile.
Priorities – sense of distance, – use scale, saturation of colour, density and complexity of stitching.
– the contrasts between the solid mass of the plantation and the openness of the moor – use spaces and densities, line direction, textures.
The making – took so much. This was a fighter. It was redrawn several times – moving the horizon, changing angles, a lot of these lines are still there, faint blue or red chalk lines. As soon as the fabric scraps were pinned on it changed again! Doing the reverse applique with the dark spunbond was a test of nerve, you only know it will work when the excess is cut off – bit late for a change of mind. Removing all that tone changed everything yet again. The trees also took a lot of time. How much stitching should be in each layer, what colours, which directions? The distant trees are the simplest, charcoal over drab coloured fabrics with the top tension tight to pull little points of the lighter bobbin through to break up the flatness a little. Did not count how many layers or colours are in the foreground ones but did use 6 full bobbins to do them. Unpicking was the new hobby but the hatching effect is more effective than expected – it does remind me of a print.
The usual concern is when to stop. There is an immediacy about some of it which is refreshing. These areas also tend to be the awkward, often imprecise, untidy ones, which is not so refreshing. Sacrifice the immediacy for neatness?
This is an odd piece, I think it is a shift, a tipping point. This feels totally happy being art which just happens to be textile, the fights show it isn’t easy. It has a flatter and heavier feel, quite hard, quite stark. I like these ways of working that include adding and reducing in turn to achieve a balance ( always liked Franz Kline’s paintings!), I like the scars from the making process – it is a narrative about how it was made and its changes just as there is in the original landscapes, their histories are worn on the outside.
Rather worried by the sharpness – is it getting too literal?