Review of finished work to date

Nik is suggesting that I write about all the works I’ve done so far to analyse what is working and what is not. Lots of small testers went first but I’m just going to concentrate on works I took through to completion because they are the ones that are most relevant to assess, in that they look most like what a final work might look like.

Roughly chronological but they were really all done in a flurry around crit time.

I am OK

This is a small quilted work roughly 80 cm x 50 cm. The image is divided in two parts and surrounded by pink floral fabric. On the left is a stitched line drawing of a face lying on its side. On the right is text, the most prominent being three iterations of “I am OK” in stitch and print.

Colour is muted and the dusty pink of the commercially printed fabric blends well with the pink thread and pale pink and brown of the imagery and resonates with a muted despondent mood to the work. The line drawing illustrates an off balance and miserable looking figure clearly at odds with the repeated cries of I am OK on the other side of the image. The texture is visibly soft and raised and the quilted stitch further emphasises the presence of a quilt in the work.

Assessment: The colour of the image works well with the commercial fabric. Suggests that there are commercial prints that will merge in tone with the solarfast printing. Repetition of the phrases which was done because the print one alone looked bad, has actually reflected the text itself and works. Line drawing works in that it is a relaxed free flowing drawing that was easy to do with string, but it is perhaps a bit jarring and is a move away from quilting into stitch painting. I’m probably not planning to stitch imagery alone. The text is the better element in this work. The scale is tester only. I know I want to do bed size. Square format for the imagery works on a technical level because it can be inserted in any direction. It was an accident to put the face on its side but I think it works. So out of this – consider repetitive text. Wonder if I could expand to a full size simply text- I am OK – quilt. Maybe a quilted background and printed or stitched or maybe all three – printed – pieced – stitched. Different sizes on the quilt.

Almost

This is a quilted fabric work composed of green pieced strips and a green photographic image set between the strips to create a work approximately 50 cm x 120 cm. The quilting is longitudinal and mostly straight except where is deviates around the figures in the photograph. The image shows the back of two figures walking along a path and overlapping the bottom of the image and the pieced strips are red embroidered words arranged vertically – almost walking together.

Assessment: This looks like a quilt although the shape goes against this. I don’t think the tall skinny format works. It was designed to reflect the trees in the image but I should have thought more about the text and maybe done the whole thing in a horizontal format where the gap or lack of gap between the figures could have been repeated in the piecing along the quilt rather than above and below. The quality of the photograph in this works. For once you can make out at least the important part of the image. I think this is because of the one directional quilting – it doesn’t seem to interfere with the photographic image as much. Also the image only has a couple of segments that require you to be able to see detail and I’ve further outlined them in stitch. The quilt is quite bright which reflects my love of colour and the nature of my commercially printed fabric stash but it may be a bit bright and possibly not even the right colour for this work. I would like to try quilting blocks that also said – almost walking together – so that if the image doesn’t fill the quilt then the piecing also contains the message which in this it does not. I could piece blocks that started with two strips wide apart and strongly contrasting colours and gradually over the quilt soften then the bring them together. With just the text added maybe. Often I seem to be ditching the photography in my mind although I’m trying so hard not too. But I’d be excited to try that quilt and so often the photography just seems to fail me.

Dad

This is a visibly layered and quilted work with imagery and text collaged across the surface in an irregular way. Complementary red and green dominate the image and there is no clear photograph in this image despite the fact that a red photograph was used and cut out for emphasis. The shapes nonetheless remain a bit ambiguous. The lines are dynamic with quilting lines in all directions and a strong diagonal across the foreground. Again visible texture is formed by quilting lines and there is a range of different styles of text, both printed and stitched. Ragged edges are visible around the edge and to a lesser extent within the work.

I find the look of this work harsh and more immediate. There is nothing in this that suggests a poignancy or regret. Whilst its subject matter is not happy it looks like a more aggressive work with its bold text and clashing colours. Raw edges add to an immediate harsh look and don’t speak of a finished quilt. It has a lot in it to see when you look closely but I think I am after a more emotive moody work overall.

Rough Terrain

This is a square fabric quilt, approximately 120 cm x 120 cm, with a combination of five, almost pastel tone, photographs of my mother walking with her walker. These are arranged going up from right to left on a background divided diagonally into plain black below and patterned blue above. There are also four floral squares beneath the images. Across the top of the quilt is text saying – warning rough terrain ahead – in bold black and red. Quilting adds a dimensional component in the black area with a flatter straight line quilting in the blue.

This quilt is quite basic in appearance. There is not much detail to add complexity and give it a finished look. Admittedly it was done very quickly but leaving the photographs unquilted gives it a beginners look. The pieces are large and child like. The repetition of similar photos was meant to show Mum up against the rough terrain of old age going upwards against the tide of normal left to right reading, but in the crit noone really saw that. To be honest I could probably make this clearer with a single photo and text. The quilt piecing in this is distracting with its bright multicolours and especially the lack of detail in the quilt making process. The photos are clear enough though and enlarged would be even more so. Again though I’m not sure if I really want photos with people in them. For starters they can’t be pinhole really, but also my family are mostly people who do not want their photo taken so there is a certain lack of permission inherent in the use of my photos. Not legally but ? morally.

no reply

This is a larger quilt maybe 140 cm x 120 cm. It has a pale pastel background of commercial fabric that has a vaguely dirty white appearance. This background has been textured all over with quilting and then square, muted colour photographic images have been attached over this background by machine applique over a raw edge. Interspersed between the photographic imagery is a blue and white photogram of a phone with different text on each iteration. The photographs show domestic scenes taken from eye level, and the text on the phone makes reference to trying to contact someone.

The light background suggests age but is not so suggestive of the frustrated and sad and ashamed mood I was going for. Similarly the blue phone was chosen to reflect the blue delivered messages but it stands out in competition with the more muted colours of the photographs. Really the black silent face of the phone would be more suitable. Once again the photographs are difficult to pick out printed on the fabric and without my knowledge I’m not sure you could see what they are. I can just tolerate the ragged edge on the bottom of this one because it is more uneven so looks something other than just unfinished. Perhaps this comes closest to what I was trying to achieve but again needs clearer imagery and the only way I have found to do this with solarfast is with a larger simpler image. Maybe a triptych of three large images phone proportions – getting up in the morning, phone with generic text, going to bed. Left to right. Raw edge applique does look neat enough to satisfy me as a quilt though.

Last Day

Ragged irregular shaped layered fabric work about 130 cm x 130 cm. A mixture of obscure photographic imagery and some commercially printed fabric is haphazardly patched on to a background. In amongst this there is text in association with some imagery. The colours are generally muted greens and browns. Stitch holds this all together whilst at the same time is used for text or to highlight detail in some parts.

Whilst this is a more complex work than the others, I find the overall mood of the quilt to be that of making do, a patchwork of life. I am looking for something quieter and clearer. A feeling of confession, shame and regret around the motherhood. Perhaps not as strong as that but that is what underlies my work. This is too messy and ragged. It is not a quilt that has much of a reference to comfort. I don’t think I want to forgo the clean lines of neat piecing because it speaks of the time, effort and tradition of quilting and perhaps more importantly of the care taken. So from here I have moved on to trying a single simple image and restrained subtle text to see if I can create a more evocative moody work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s