Tag Archive | words

Landscape.

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.WHERN K WELL

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.

P1170577It 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.

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Silk Mill Dress

Or …..And this was Sunday… or A story of a miniature Georgian dress.

Want to work from this ,

An account of John Lombe’s silk-mill at Derby, 1791, from Wm Hutton’s History of Derby.

“….The raw silk is brought in hanks, or skaines, called slips, and would take five or sixdays in winding off, though kept moving ten hours a day…... The workman’s care is chiefly to unite,by a knot, a thread that breaks; to take out the burs and uneven parts, ……. The threads are continually breaking; and to tye them ‘is principally the business of children whose fingers are nimble. The machine continually turns a round bobbin, or small block of wood, whichdraws the thread from the slip, while expanded upon a swift suspended upon a centre. The moment the thread breaks, the swift stops. One person commands from twenty to sixty threads. If many cease, at the same time, to turn, it amounts to a fault, and is succeeded by punishment. From the fineness of the materials, the ravelled state of the slips and bobbins, and the imprudence of children, much waste is made, which is another motive of correction; and when correction is often inflicted, it steels the breast of the inflictor.”

Wanted to base  it on an extant silk garment from the era, or a contemporary portrait. Settled on this – drawn up by Janet Arnold, so I had shapes to work from, the dress is in the Manchester collection.

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That  was 9am, it is now late afternoon. It is not quite finished, but my hands hurt so a rest is required. Did the text on the new machine (yet to be named)- a bit ambitious but well…. but all the rest is hand sewn. Haven’t managed to include all the text, but the gist is there, in various degrees of control and legibility.  The shoulder band will define the dress more clearly but I think the collar will change to something more like the LACMA redingote below ( really wanted to do this one all along, bigger scale required though, it is all in the buttons).ma-8195-WEBThis one might be love. “Midsomer Murders” has just come on,  time to vegetate until I get over it!

Update – went back to sewing to get over Midsomer.  Put in the shoulders and finished the bodice front off. Just the collar and then all the usual  dithering about getting the feel right –  ephemeral, used,, ghosting – a bit like an incomplete memory  or an echo. Certainly not squeaky new and toothpaste white!

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Don’t forget York Open Studios is on next month. The next Stitchy Day is April 5th – if you fancy having a go at the freehand thing- check the frantextiles  facebook page for details or email.

Inspector’s coat

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Focus this week has been words and dress again. Thinking and presenting is happening on the landscape side as well as workshops, but that is creative background noise. In the foreground is a mini short frock coat and waistcoat.

I was reading around the early  Factory Acts but found the texts dry and eye watering in just about every respect, so went back to writing on clothing.

 

 

The combining of primary sources with items of dress seems right. Both seem to become more, that little bit of context adds a bit life to the understanding of both. I like the idea of using simple fabric, of ‘ghosting’ the garments rather than finishing them. This isn’t about making replicas or fancy dress. That they are only part there, that what is seen and read is incomplete and only part of the whole narrative feels appropriate.  This of course leads to many mini crises, how much HAS to be done, how much is choice, how much can be undone?

I have hand sewn these, there is no seam or hem finishing or linings, but why not? I could print these documents onto fabric and cut the garments out of that and make them up like good little article of clothing. Why not machine sew?  The text is machined…. and does it matter that the words can be very hard to read? Nope, try reading any hand written document!P1060491

Some of the reasoning I think I understand, it is a touch Romanticism, a touch pragmatic, and very contradictory, of course. I want to take time, to have to sit and think, I want to share not preach or shout, I want it to be as unfinished as I am, and as the original people were in these documents. I have seen a tiny part of them, their world continued without me.  I don’t want this to be subtext driven or a historical crusade.

 

 

In part, this is trying to get below the headlines only approach, behind the obsession with dates and facts which was  my own education. I like history but not museums, nor increasingly, history books, so this is my response. This is personal, it is not meant to be deeply meaningful or massively insightful.

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Glad I have that out of my head, it can live on ‘paper’ and not clutter me up. In celebration I have just wandered up to the local shop for treats, and managed to do that with one leg of my jeans peppered with needles and pins…..not much changes.

 

 

Words’ End.

And this is the mini jacket – all dry and  quite solid now. The cotton lawn has worked extremely well – it is fine  but came with quite a firm finish so it sewed well, but this washed out to leave a soft more fluid fabric ( before I glued it into rigidity of course). The only problem is finding where I got it from and getting more of the same quality! The jacket is  almost too nice, it is impersonal – the complete opposite to the initial concept. Hmmm….. pondering required.

 

 

As a sort of spin off from this  project  the landscapes  are going all dangly  and flimsy.

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I am working on muslin  in  2m x 50cm lengths. These will be hung  horizontal with one or two banner trees hanging vertically. This is a vague plan. I have toyed with this for a long time, but now it seems to be happening.  I have one main panel with a  skeleton of a landscape in grey  quickly mapped out, and a second in half tones with  a scatter of  bare elder trees.   These are propped across a pair of builder’s trestles at present,  taking up half the work room  so access is entertaining ( under the table route was favourite yesterday).

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This is very much the start, there are many elements to play with – fabric density, stitch style, colour and density, content and composition, and then hanging.

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I like the muted effects when  this  is back lit.  In the sun this morning, the darker back layer is casting  delicate shadows on the front panel.  The straight stitch areas are much harder and more defined than the zigzag lines.  The shadows are an unexpected bonus. It is like a misty/foggy morning when everything is in soft silhouette and fades a way to nothingness. The layers reversed are far too harsh.  If this degree of subtlety  can be achieved  with 2 sketched and incomplete layers  just think what could be achieved with some careful thought and planning.  At the moment I am intending to work some more dtails on the front panel and block in more on the main panel in the half tone thread.  There are the vertical hanging pieces to be  attempted as well. Should they be dominant foreground features, between the panels or behind?  The muslin is up for attack as well. By taking out weft threads  it should become more cobwebby and reveal more of the layers behind.

 

I have no idea if this will work. It may be a grower, taking time and many nibblings before it takes on its mature form, or end up in the bin.

999

999Well, it has been and gone. I have never officially ‘pop upped’ before. It suited me.  I have so many more plans and intentions of how to develop these ideas, met up with such a range of different artists of all kinds, and even enjoyed getting soooooo cooooold. ( note to self – semi derelict buildings may be lacking on the heating side.)

It went up in a couple of hours – great step ladder! and long may staple guns rule! The chair was in the room and seemed quite fitting to include it – we had done an awful lot of sitting by the bedside. Over the few days more and more words were added, some were heartfelt and very touching, others more left field (including a quotation from Einstein). I felt that this the beginning of a process not the conclusion  but  the responses were very positive, I ended up sharing experiences and hugs with several.

A huge thanks to all concerned, the Phils and Skippko, the other exhibitors and everyone else who knows me……

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Some recent neighbours

 

Hello, hello, hello.

999And this week’s colour experiment…….isn’t.

I put forward a very skimpy proposal for a textile based installation in a local venue – and they went and accepted it. So this week has been monster sewing, dying, unpicking.  Did I say they allowed 1 week’s notice? And 2 days to get it up?

Is there a cake and coffee big enough to help with this?

The idea was in response to spending a chunk of the Summer at my father’s bedside in hospital.

We were sat by a deeply unconscious man, talking to him. And he is also deaf, but we were talking to him. We were not sure if he even recognised us for a long while, he was unconscious, he was deaf, he would retain no memory of this time, but we spoke to him.

For me the words were like touch, a means of contact. Their sense was unimportant, we were making a link between us. I wanted to fold the words around him, to tuck them into his bedclothes, hide them in his pockets. There were words just to say ‘we are here with you’, words to soothe when he was in pain or agitated, words to stimulate memory or to engage in his outside life. Most were quiet, small, and everyday; we are not a family for melodrama. They became worn through repetition but this made them softer, more familiar, warmer.

He is home now, well on the way to recovery, and these words are fading away into the mass of words that pass us by each day. Yet for a time these were our  way of reaching out, our defence, our protection and our way of trying to hold together.

For the installation the idea was to write the words on strips of fabric and then to do as I had wished before, to tie them, tuck them and wrap them around his night clothes. Some are small, quiet and private, others more public, bolder, bigger and more open, so the scale and style will reflect this, some will be blank so that others can add into it. No grand idea, not even  new and shiny, but it is something I have wanted to do….

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A Beginning – but a long way o go….

My ideal would be to have the words and lose the  mannequin but I haven’t worked out how to do that yet. I had toyed with the notion of borrowing a hospital bed but the logistics of moving one were fairly extreme at such short notice.

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There are now 3 of the 5metre strips drying out there.

Never Mind. It will be what it can be,  I won’t know until I am in the space.

The next few days may well be far too interesting. I have frozen ready meals in stock, phone number of the local take-away, reels of thread, lengths of fabric, loads of pins, staples and a lot of fishing line……hope it is enough.

The word that always worked as our father came back to us, that always got responses and smiles was the most simple – Hello.