Had a look at Marion’s final PhD exhibition today.
In the dark of the gallery photographs line the walls, each individually lit. The photos are all presented in landscape orientation roughly 60×80 cm but some much wider and comprised of more than one image spliced together. The content is fairly nondescript bushland with text beneath the photograph to indicate a personal connection, in the form of distance from the artist’s home. The photos have evocative titles that add emotion without being too prescriptive. I enjoyed this exhibition, but I was struck by something I hadn’t understood before. As I walked around I could sense the fragility of the loose paper hanging against the wall. I felt tense as though the rich pigment would speak to me with a siren call, resulting in me touching the work or brushing up against it and causing damage. Unfortunately this hampered my immersion in the work. I realised that this fragility was not something I want in my work. I am happy that fabric works have a resilience that not only withstands, but encourages, touch. I want to embrace the haptic qualities to add another dimension of sense to the appreciation of my work.
Resilience could be a keyword? Fits with the values and physical attributes of my work.
Mutable Terrains: a photographic exploration of bushland close to home.
This practice-led project re-explores a fragment of land a few steps from home south of nipaluna/Hobart. Bush comprises most of the valley which runs down to the river and formed part of the range of the muwinina people who were displaced by colonial farmers in the 1800s. The project had its genesis in a four-decade relationship with this place, which has been fundamental in establishing my connection to land and forming my Tasmanian identity. One of the aims of the research was to explore how a white, locally-born artist can find a connection with and a sense of belonging in this landscape and an authentic and respectful means of representing it.
Mutable Terrains: a photographic exploration of bushland close to home. This practice-led project re-explores a fragment of land a few steps from home south of nipaluna/Hobart. Bush comprises most of the valley which runs down to the river and formed part of the range of the muwinina people who were displaced by colonial farmers in the 1800s. The project had its genesis in a four-decade relationship with this place, which has been fundamental in establishing my connection to land and forming my Tasmanian identity. One of the aims of the research was to explore how a white, locally-born artist can find a connection with and a sense of belonging in this landscape and an authentic and respectful means of representing it.
Aimee Selby (ed) 2009, Art and Text, Black Dog Publishing, London
This book documents the inclusion of text in art through the twentieth century with a number of writings and many examples of artists that use text in their work. The book highlights the various ways text can be used, as concept with no regard for aesthetics, for activism, as a sign interpreted in context, and where the meaning is hidden and open to multiple interpretations. The book has helped me distil my reason for using text in my work. I would like to suggest my meaning in language as well as form, and have them interacting with each other to enhance the clarity of my work. I am looking to increase the accessibility of my work, but not at the expense of aesthetics. This book has also introduced me to a work by Tom Phillips that includes text and which I will also discuss.
Another quilt idea that stems partially from the combination of appliqué and piecing in the quilts of Agusta Agusson.
The idea is an olive green circle, some with letters using solarfast, appliqué on to a red brown background square and pieced together.
The colours come from mixing red and green in different proportions. A reference to Dan’s colour blindness and the number of circles is the number of weeks before we knew definitely he wasn’t ok and he stopped looking at us with love. Probably not as clear cut as it sounds but that was definitely when things started to go pear shaped.
The letters wouldn’t be as white as that because I will overexpose with a mask on to calico so they are more beige. If they are too contrasty I can paint them in with tea or solarfast.
I plan to overdye red commercial fabric with a touch of green for the squares and green commercial fabric with a touch of red for the non solarfast circles.
It looks a bit like those word searching things in the paper so I will probably make the circles proportionally larger in the squares.
I have to say that the smaller circles and bigger quilt looks better. I would be happy to put in the effort to do a small circle block for every day of Dan’s first two and a half years which would be even a bit bigger than the above. I’m not sure what to do about the writing though. If the blocks were only two inch blocks could I solarfast the writing on in brown with green writing in the squares without a circle, or do the writing in a circle pattern like the above but not bother appliqueing it because it would be a bit small to do that. The other thing I could do is just replace the blocks with strips of writing. Might try mocking that up. Or some other alternative – possibly written along above the half circles – too crowded I think. I have to say I like the version without visible text better.
This is a mockup in actual size. The lower circles are meant to be semicircles. The blocks are 2 inch blocks and the plan is to use 880 circle blocks and then 6 text blocks and another more than 200 semicircle blocks. This will make a large landscape quilt roughly 76 in wide and 58 in high. So what is above is a small segment that contains the text. I’m hoping that keeping the text contained to a small area will let it merge into the quilt and be less dominant whilst still readable.
Napoleoni L 2020, The Power of Knitting, Tarcher Perigee Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, New York
This book is an interesting mix of autobiography of a difficult time in the author’s life, knitting metaphors for life, knitting patterns and anecdotes about the role knitting has played in the author’s life and in the lives of those around her. Although it reads like a novel, her claims around the power of knitting are nonetheless referenced in a bibliography and notes at the end of the book. The author makes reference to how the tenacity of a knitter can be equally applied to approaching difficulties in life, and how knitting can be used as a long standing quiet and peaceful activism. Of particular interest to me is her mention of the community of knitting, how knitting reminds us there are others around us that share the same difficulties, and benefit from the physical and metaphorical comfort supplied by knitting. The author discusses the healing and calming nature of knitting that can ground one in the now and soothe the stress of everyday life. I extrapolate these thoughts to also be relevant to my quilting, another craft, that to my mind, carries with it similar emotional weight.
Relief or support in mental distress or affliction; consolation, solace, soothing
Again the Oxford English Dictionary definition that most suits me.
In my work I use the word comfort to suggest both an easing or soothing of psychic distress. It is not used in the sense of making one completely comfortable, but is rather a small pulling back from pain that brings with it a modicum of relief. A secondary use within my work, is that of comfort as a physical manifestation, in particular warmth, such as may be obtained from a quilt, or as some may call it, a comforter.
As I read more I see that quilts carry lots of meaning intrinsic to both their textile nature and their function as quilts. They are bound to emotive occasions, marriage, birth, death. Given as a form of comfort at a still birth (see the Jill Fisher entry in Why We Quilt. Could also probably follow this up with programs to reference. ) They are intimate objects designed to lie on the bed or be wrapped around the body. Often they have cloth associated with memory sewn into them. They are associated with a lot of time and effort in their construction and are given in love or care. They are resilient and washable and have the ability to be repaired, but also they also ultimately disintegrate and return to the earth without polluting it. Heavy with meaning even without further imagery. Stories of family are woven into the construction.
I’m not sure if quilt would be considered a keyword.
Quilt – A bed covering consisting of two joined pieces of fabric enclosing a layer of soft material (such as wool, cotton, or down) which acts as padding or insulation.
This is the Oxford English Dictionary definition for the noun quilt that best approximates what I mean by a quilt. But a quilt is so much more than this. It is an aesthetic object that has been created with careful craftmanship over many hours, to provide warmth and comfort to another. It is often associated with important life events from birth to death. Quilts may be weighty with meaning by the incorporation of textiles from other memory laden sources, or may themselves become the holder of memories by retaining the trace of the bodies they have covered. They are a resilient object that can transcend generations, but will ultimately degrade and return to the earth. A quilt is both a familiar and a precious object that has value far above a simple bed covering.
I saw a more recent quilt by this artist on the SAQA page of facebook, which made me think I might be interested in her work.
This is a medium size, portrait orientation quilt with black and white areas and coloured areas. It consists of circular areas and natural leaf motifs. The fabric used appears to have been printed, possibly using actual foliage as a resist. The work is divided vertically at one third from the left and a blue semicircle extends from this. Three circular motifs in the right of the work are in orange and there is some patches of green and yellow in the top left. The motifs appear to have been collaged on a pieced background. The surface is heavily textured due to quilting and the stitching holding the collaged motifs down. Now raw edges are visible and the work looks neatly finished because of this.
Leaf prints and circles speak of the natural world in both close up view and seen from a distance. Taking the colour out of the leaf prints suggests a damage or destruction, and given the statement, is likely to represent burning. The blue semicircle is also suggested by the statement to be the world. The rich tactile surface and pattern soften the coldness of the black and white areas. The combination of piecing and machine applique without raw edge is something I could consider taking into my work, as it allows for more free placement of motifs whilst at the same time keeping unsettling raw edges covered.
This artist does work commenting on damage done to the earth by humans. She has a background in painting and lays out her handprinted fabric to use for collage. She does gel pad printing which means she must be using an acrylic type paint which I don’t like to use. I hope to have my work remain biodegradable. I would like to to introduce some hand dyed fabric with organic patterning so I can use some of my own fabric and some commercially printed fabric.
Knauer, T 2019, Why We Quilt : Contemporary Makers Speak Out about the Power of Art, Activism, Community, and Creativity, Storey Publishing, LLC, North Adams, p 114 Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [24 May 2021].
This large quilt has a dark background with irregular square blocks on point(presented as a diamond), in green, with the downward edge in white. Overlying the blocks there is a fine dark grid of stitch, the quilting, holding the layers together. This quilt doesn’t read as a traditional quilt but contains within it all the elements of historical quilting – piecing, layering and quilting. The arrangement of the green blocks reads as a downward motion with their white leading edge and the dark quilting overlying this acts to suggest grid like barrier. I find it difficult to know if the artist intended a specific reading of this quilt but I nonetheless find the aesthetics of this quilt pleasurable to experience. The colours and irregular shapes suggest an organic environment and the quilting seems to extend from the background over the blocks to better meld the work as one. I hope that I can combine a degree of abstract symbolism and text, to create a work with similar aesthetics, but with enhanced underlying meaning.
And I found her commenting directly on this quilt on instagram. @pieladyquilts
Apparently she does make quilts that are saying something or transmitting a feeling but there is not statement to help me interpret this quilt. Nonetheless seems like she does make quilts that have at least personal meaning. Her entry in Why We Quilt talks about making quilts for still borns after having a still born baby herself. Again does reinforce the weight of quilts in life.
References PALASSIO, C 2021, ‘My pandemic quilt’, Chatelaine, vol. 94, no. 1, pp. 66–68, viewed 23 May 2021, <https://login.ezproxy.utas.edu.au/login? url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f6h&AN=147655663&site=eds-live End of citation–>
This short article describes the author’s history with quilts, from the comfort she found in playing with quilts as a child, through to learning to quilt and subsequently marking important human events with the making of quilts. She describes the connection she felt with her ancestral quilt makers, and the ongoing connection with current family, that the making of quilts brings to her life. Finally she describes the soothing, and even healing, that the slow construction of a quilt during the early months of the 2020 pandemic, was able to achieve. The author reinforces my feelings about quilts and her ideas of comfort, connection and even healing, being found within quilts, are features I would like to highlight within my work.
Martin Rak Photography (Facebook). Viewed 23 May 2021
I’m not sure how to reference this. The link I used was the above and it linked to a Facebook page of that name but it doesn’t seem to have copied as a link. Maybe I can find the URL on the computer.
This is a photograph showing a tiny white building in a field of green. The image is largely shades of green with trees surrounding the house and appearance of wavy lines behind the building. At first glance the dynamic background suggested a surreal green storm but on closer inspection I can see these wavy lines are likely crop lines in a field. The monochrome green of this photo really enhances the rich textural look of the surface, and the simplicity of the photo leaves plenty of room for enjoying the formal element of colour. An image like this reminds me of how important colour is to me and how evocative textured colour can be. I seem to have moved away from this in my work and I want to return.
Saturated colour should be a non negotiable in my work I think. I looked at my Dads big family tree quilt I made for him 16 years ago and realised what a good job I had done. I want to bring that level of workmanship to my current work
Possibly I can overdye commercially printed fabric to unify colour as well as dyeing my own fabric