I decided it was time. All the elements were coming together, at least in the head. The vision was nearly there. Time to get to grips with more than the visual again.
England is a very lived in landscape. It wears the past up front, it has been altered, adapted, scarred, as needs and fashion dictated. This isn’t the romantic wilderness but a work place.
I have spoken before of tenuous thoughts of how to combine the different strands of my work, the flat work and the historical costume, of how they should entwine, and this may be the most successful attempt so far.
I want this to be made of parts, remnants and fragments of things, a landscape of layers and ghosts, of things half seen, half understood.
It is worked over a found piece of crewel work, a chair back. The style has roots in the Jacobean designs, even the idea of a chair back or antimacassar is an old one ( They were to protect the furniture from the late Georgian’s hair oil!) Some will be unpicked leaving holes to mark the pattern. Some will be exposed, some painted into the background.
On top of this are the usual lines and divisions of a landscape, but these are muted in colour and are worked across with text from an 1840 publication. I had thought of using text from the Domesday book, but it seemed contrived, this will take more plotting.
The text is also worked across the next layer- a miniature lawn frock coat split in 2 and laid out along the lines of the landscape. Did make a pig’s ear of doing this – it began with experimenting with writing the text in pen and then washing it out. Fairly safe? It wasn’t . Across the collar and on to the front I had written ‘moors’ but when the coat was washed the collar was opened out. It left me with a collar that quite clearly says ‘moo’. The ‘rs’ on the front had been erased.
The coats are stitched in place and now I am building up more, vintage lace and more strips of lawn. This is only the beginning. The coats dominate too much at the moment but the plan is to work the crewel design back on top, maybe even do some hand work. The cotton lawn is easy to pull and fray or dye, so is open to creative vandalism. I think is definitely going to be made to suffer, it is too ‘nice’ and clean and pretty and delicate and even prissy.
What this will be like next week…. who knows?
General reminders – work is still on show at Art in the Mill, Knaresborough, and in shop windows in York as part of the Micklegate Art Trail.
If you fancy having a go at any these techniques ( not writing ‘moo’ but freehand/motion stitching, etc) have a look on the workshops tab on the website, or just email me for the latest newsletter.