Main elements that I would like to include are fabric as substrate, cyanotype and solarfast as medium via alternative photography, quilts as presentation format. So that just leaves topic – small personal stories or details.
Reasons for fabric – comfort, intimate, suitable for small personal narratives, accessible, resilient
Reasons for cyanotype/solarfast – ability to transfer detail to fabric. Direct marking process that nonetheless also incorporates serendipity. Has the ability to transform the everyday and also be manipulated by interaction with everyday materials.
Topic – Small personal stories or details – sometimes painful – evoke emotion but also recognition in the viewer and through this a connection.
Quilt as presentation – Accessible and both symbolic of comfort and capable of providing physical comfort. Also with a long history of narrative and insight into details of life. Resilient and flexible in that it can be enjoyed in a number of scenarios – as functional object as well as art.
At this stage I would like to keep options open to be considered for Research (Studio) stream.
I would be happy with a placement within Printmaking or Drawing but would probably lean towards Printmaking. I would also be involving Photography but I did not go through to third year with Photography.
Outline of Project:
My intention is to create a body of work in quilt format. This work would give insights into personal stories and details using the media of light sensitive dyes and alternative photography techniques on the substrate of fabric. I will expand on previous work with photograms of objects and intimate pinhole photographs, to create works that are intended to connect with the viewer on an emotive, visceral level. They will reveal small personal stories or intimate details of life and my hope is that this will create a feeling of connection and recognition for the viewer.
For this project I will continue my experimentation with alternative photographic techniques and their application to printing imagery on fabric. I will use objects to make direct photograms on fabric or photograms on photographic paper which is then transferred to fabric using the intermediary of a transparency. Similarly I am interested in pinhole photography and the transfer of this imagery to fabric. Both of these techniques are quite direct processes in that they apply only light to a surface over time without a lens, and in this way create an image more directly related to the environment both temporally and physically.
Finally the work will be assembled in quilt format, to increase accessibility, intimacy and a tactile dimension to the work. There is also the option here to add further mark making in the form of stitch.
I am hoping that this project will define and focus work I have been doing with textiles over the last few years. I am interested in the personal in regard to quilts and would like to investigate means of making connection with the viewer, in that there is recognition of their own stories in mine. Working in this way around personal stories also links well with my interest in the power of artistic work to heal. A lot of my personal themes are sad in a small way, but the creation process itself is meditative and soothing. My plan to use cyanotype flows first from the search for permanent dye that could be used to print imagery on fabric in a resilient and detailed way. I have since discovered that there are multiple additional ways that cyanotype images can be manipulated on the fabric to further infuse meaning into the work. Using fabric as my substrate has been a long term goal, in keeping with my initial motivation towards art education which was to learn to print on fabric to use in quilts, when I enrolled in TasTafe in 2013. Quilts remain a medium that evokes comfort and intimacy, but are also very resilient, tactile, and even functional if desired.
These works are roughly chronological since 2018 and I hope show some evolution towards the type of work I plan for Honours and the elements I would like to include.
Quilt companions: Presenting quilts as art but also acknowledging the extra tactile dimension and history. Using quilts to connect and say something personal.
Thomas Knauer, Joseph Cunningham, Casey York.
Alternative photography companions: Using more direct methods to use the light around us to produce imagery over time. Experimenting with ways of creating hands-on personal imagery.
Mike Ware, Ellie Young,
Thematic companions: Personal and intimate glimpses of another’s life. Emotive.
Don’t have anyone for this yet, but I guess really I should be looking for artists bringing all three together
Quilt and alternative photography: Sandra Sider
My project draws on elements of the techniques of quilting and of alternative photography and thematically is associated with the everyday, memory, emotion and the personal with a view to evoking feelings of recognition and connection in the viewer.
I have been drawn back to the quilt format by the work of Thomas Knauer, who has written a book ‘Why we Quilt: Contemporary Makers Speak Out”. His work does not relate to mine thematically, in that he creates quilts often with a political message. He does however move the quilt off the bed, and more into the art sphere, whilst still using traditional and more contemporary quilting techniques. Others in this book such as Joe Cunningham and Casey York, are also using quilting as their medium to create art, that they relate back to elements in art history. These artists seek to convey meaning through quilts and evoke feelings through work that moves beyond a decorative design.
Reference: Knauer T 2019, Why We Quilt, Storey Publishing, USA
Alternative photography :
Both Mike Ware and Christopher James have worked extensively with alternative photographic processes and explored the chemistry of cyanotype in depth. I would like to look at just the one little corner that encompasses cyanotype and Solarfast printing on fabric and research this in depth in relation to different effects that can be achieved with the basic chemicals and their interactions with other domestic chemicals. Lots of information to help and inspire me can be found in Christopher James’ book – The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes.
Reference: James C 2016, The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes, Cengage Learning, Boston,MA, USA
Pinholes and photograms:
Eric Renner has produced evocative and exciting pinhole photographs in many cases using found materials or domestic objects to make his cameras. Sadly he has died this year but thankfully his work lives on in his book, ‘Pinhole Photography: Rediscovering a Historic Technique.
Reference: Renner E 1995, Pinhole Photography: Rediscovering a Historic Technique, Focal Press, Newton, MA, USA
Justin Quinnell’s photograph created on a paper negative in a tin can over 6 months has stayed with me in its simplicity and sense of time passing. He continues to push the envelope of pinhole photography and provide ongoing inspiration in pinhole image making.
As far as the thematic of small personal and emotive stories that evoke recognition and connection, I am struggling a bit with this to find artists with this context.
Studio Art Quilt Associates is a global organisation for the promotion of art quilts, of which I am a member. There are many artists as members here that I can work alongside to create evocative quilts with meaning
Similarly OzQuilt Network is an Australian art quilting group to which I belong. Artists like Neroli Henderson are raising the profile of quilting as art and creating evocative works.
Penny Gold’s Self-portrait Year 2: Beneath the Surface, shown at QuiltCon in 2015, is an example of the type of emotive work I seek. My work would not be as purely conceptual as this, and not as intensely emotive but my recognition in this work, of the need to confess and the muddying of your identity with your child’s, connects me to the artist and resonates with me and the type of work I would like to create.
Sandra Sider is bringing cyanotype and quilts together in her ongoing work.
Sandra’s work is the closest in technique and medium to mine although differs thematically.
I feel the context for my work most firmly sits in the realm of the art quilter. I am aware that there is a leaning towards taking a feminist perspective when presenting fabric and stitch works but this is not my interest. Quilts also have a history of political messaging but this too is not what I would be looking at including.
My works will be attempting to convey emotive and personal stories and I feel that the quilt medium with its history of protection and solace, is the one most appropriate for this work.