This is an abstract from a masters exigesis by Sue Jackson.
ABSTRACT Exploring the Interface negotiates the boundaries between the often‐disparate practices of art and craft. The interface, as the point of interplay between these practices, is offered as a metaphor for the negotiation of the physical and psychical boundaries of self. This project asks how these practices can be navigated and if the interface can signify the spaces of one’s emotional and corporeal identities. It also questions how the maternal relationship and feminine and domestic archetypes contribute to the construction of gender. The project aims to extend the traditional use of domestic craft while honouring the semiotic potential of its feminine associations. I endeavour to create an expressive device from mute craft materials and techniques using the language of the object and the poetics of metaphor. I seek to evoke memory and the senses by activating the gallery space in a series of narrative dramas that play out inside domestic constructs. My artwork takes the form of a series of installations using various materials ranging from those traditionally associated with domestic craft to more ephemeral organic matter. Handcrafted objects reside with ready‐mades while garments and domestic artefacts nestle amongst furniture. The project commenced with an investigation of various hierarchies pertaining to gender and practice. An exploration of traditional craft materials and techniques led to innovative approaches and a consideration of the maternal legacies of the craft tradition. The amassing of craft materials and objects suggested a wealth of memories, histories and untold narratives. The expressive potential of the craft object was explored and what emerged was the performative function of the artwork as a means of activating senses, memory and space. Artists who extend craft beyond traditional application, including Judy Chicago, Fiona Hall, Freddie Robins, Anne Farren and Dave Cole, have influenced experimentation with the expressive potential of materials and techniques. The maternal relationship is explored through the work of Barbara Hanrahan, Lindsay Obermeyer and Kay Lawrence. Artworks by Anne Wilson, Jana Sterbak and Magdelena Abakanowicz inform body‐specific work that focuses on corporeal elements of gender. Mnemonic artworks by Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin, Magdalena Bors and Doris Salcedo provide a reference for memory, narrative and domestic based installations. Exploring the Interface focuses on negotiating various boundaries as a metaphor for the construction and deconstruction of ideas of self. The work takes up a symbolic position swaying between the physical and psychical spaces of subjectivity. Inner and outer domains manifest in narrative constructs that inspire and are inspired by memory and lived experience.
I have been looking for a website or recent work by Sue Jackson and couldn’t find anything much to follow this up with.
This publication explores the parallel between the interface of art and craft and the interface of physical and psychic. It’s not really what I was after but I am really looking for some idea about the question I can pose for my honours and also other artists that may be working in the area of quilts as fine art. I’ll probably look up some of the crafty artists she mentions 🙂
Once I know the question I’ll be able to focus on writing up the proposal. I guess what I want to do is make a body of work that is quilts. My criteria really is that I would like to make articles that eventually have the potential to get used up. But I also want to make work that is read as art. Basically I want them to be able to be repurposed as a household article once their time being revered on the wall is done. :). It also gives me something to do with all my art that fails to be recognised as worthy of exhibition. I have my entry in the art quilt show as a bathmat on the floor and I love it. Second year print project quilt is being used as an ironing mat. Lots of my quilts get used as tablecloths and rugs in front of the tv or extra warmth at night. But I’m not content with that. I would like to make artworks that are visual and appreciated as art and not combined with function initially. Function is my way of recycling art. Because let’s face it. There is a lot of art in the world and unless we start making it a bit ephemeral it will visually choke us. That is already happening with all the visual imagery that bombards us everyday.
So maybe my question should be ‘what is the extent and nature of the barriers to quilts being viewed as art, and exploring the artists pushing against those barriers’. The question sounds a bit clunky but maybe it’s a start.
Sue de Vanny didn’t get in to the Archibald with her mixed media painting. Not sure that it really is a quilt but I have written to ask her and see if she has tried to enter any quilts in art prizes.
Viewed 19 September 2020
Reference above looks a bit dodgy so I’ll tell you this is a screen shot from Sue De Vanny’s Post to Studio Art Quilt Associates facebook page. It is detail of her portrait of quilter Jenny Bowker.
Ann Murray. “In the Fray: Making and Meaning in Jenny Bowker’s Memorial Quilt After the Last Sky“. H-ART. Revista de historia, teoría y crítica de arte, no. 7 (2020): 53-68. https://doi.org/10.25025/hart07.2020.04
This article discusses the formal elements of the imagery and piecing of the quilt and how they have been used to reference various aspects of the incident but also throwing back to some middle eastern history with the patterning.
Some of the points mentioned included using a number of triangles in the background to show the numbers of people killed and using florals in the flames referencing memorial. There is also discussion around how the scale of a quilt can be much increased compared to the usual scale of a photo, and how it reaches a different audience in a more intimate setting compared to an online photograph. It brings this imagery back into view long after it’s been lost to the ether as a digital photo.
So it is discussing this as art, and indicating how it can be analysed using formal elements similar to any art work.
I’ve tried to research recent Jenny Bowker work other than this but she doesn’t seem to have added anything to her website since this. This work was well received but still only exhibited in quilt exhibitions, as far as I can see.
Personally I’m familiar with this quilt and may have even seen it in person, but until today I hadn’t looked closely. I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought it was a footballer and usually quickly dismissed it as a pictorial quilt, which I tend to shy away from. Of course now understanding the background makes me look at it differently.
How can this article relate to my possibly Honours project?
I would like to do an honours project about the current place of the quilt in the contemporary art world and whether that is changing.
To that end I would be making quilt work that considered formal elements to create meaning as in an art work, as well as aesthetic considerations.
To that end my “companions” would be artists using the quilt as their medium, but presenting their work as art.
I would look for artists with fine art academic training or at least approaching their work with this type of mindset, who are presenting their work outside of dedicated quilt shows. Could be difficult. I know Sue de Vanny entered a quilt in this year’s Archibald but not sure if it got in.Just checked and finalists announced on Sept 17. I really hope it does. I don’t think Jenny Bowker’s quilt has been presented except in quilt shows.
My work would involve presenting a body of work of quilts that fit with my idea of art – formal elements, meaning, ideas, message, connection, emotive, aesthetically pleasurable.
Medium and size: Work is rendered in fabric and thread, as for a traditional quilt and is of a size that could have been used in a cot or for a child.
Colour: the colours used are similar to the pastel colours often used in a traditional cot quilt but they are slightly more intense and the background yellow is quite a sickly biological green yellow rather than lemon yellow, which introduces the work as mildly unsettling even at first glance.
Line: Fifteen figures appear to move across the quilt, initially read from left to right but this is then disrupted by the alternating direction of the figures, the selection of a different background for two of the figures and the absence of a figure at all in the bottom right corner. In this way the traditional geometry and repetition of a quilt is further subverted but still retains neat regimented arrangement which belies the horror and chaos of the content being suggested.
Atmospheric elements (movement light space): Neat regimented arrangement belies the horror and chaos of what is being represented
Shape and form: The soft curves and simple shapes of the figures suggest childhood innocence and the layering of patterned and plain fabrics give further soft form to the figures. The machine gun is inserted into this as a white silhouette with sharp edges and no suggestion of three dimensional form. This serves to highlight the contrast between the child like figure and the straight edges of the gun. A white silhouette suggests absence to me and is perhaps indicating that it needs to be removed from the image.
The final empty yellow block also reinforces the idea of absence going forward into the future, but in this case may be commenting of the absence of the child and loss of childhood.
Space/picture plane: All figures are presented on the one picture plane, but have space around them. Isolated figures repeated across the work, referencing repeated but separate events.
Texture: Texture is visible as a soft work due to the medium and further relief is developed by the use of quilting lines. In this case the lines encase each figure in its own cage like structure best seen on the darker background. It is a tight and somewhat hard looking quilting pattern that removes some of the traditional quilt softness and is a bit reminiscent of a target centered on the child figure.
Whilst at first glance this looks like a quilt made for a child, on closer inspection it reveals itself to be unsettling but effective comment on the loss of children in the US to gun violence and gun accidents. It encourages the viewer to engage, to look deeper and most importantly to feel, and this is why I think this is a good painting.
Below is a hand out sent by Yvette to help with this task.
Strategies used in analysis and evaluation of artworks
An examination of the image in front of you that discusses formal elements (such as colour, line shape), materials and medium, technical qualities as well as subject matter.
Be objective. Try not to use words such as “beautiful” or “ugly” that identify a subjective opinion.
An assessment of atmospheric elements of the work (i.e. movement, light, space).
Examines how the work is organized as a complete composition. How is the work constructed or planned (i.e. placement of elements within the pictorialplane, directional forces)?
Identifies some of the similarities throughout the work (i.e. repetition of line, colour, shape etc)
Identifies some of the points of emphasis in the work (i.e., use of scale, pictorial space, movement, use of colour).
Identifies the relationships between the subject matter and formal elements
Addresses the visual information that the artist presented in terms of content
Describes how the work makes you think or feel:
Describes the expressive qualities you find in the work.
Describes any feelings, emotions or attitudes that may arise when viewing the work.
Does the work remind you of other things you have experienced (i.e., analogy or metaphor)?
Does the work use symbolic elements?
Does the work respond to a specific social or political issue or event?
*All statements made here should be supported by visual clues and evidence found within the image.
Judgment or Evaluation
Presents your opinion of the work’s successes or failures
Addresses how effectively the image projects or communicates the artist’s intention
Addresses whether you like or dislike the work
Address other issues such as originality, contemporary relevance and social context.
*All statements made here should be supported by visual clues and evidence found within the image.
This is a fabric and thread work, nearly one metre square, that is comprising of 16 square panels arranged and joined in a square and then further contained within a thin border. The individual panels show a stylised child-like figure rendered in patches of patterned or plain coloured fabric. This figure is shown carrying the white silhouette of a gun pointing away from the child. The child is shown in all but the last panel which is left blank in the background yellow colour. The figures are arranged in rows of four, first facing in one direction and then the other. All but two of the backgrounds are yellow with the substitution of a blue and a pink background for the remaining two. Quilting lines in an echo type pattern centred on each panel is visible overlying the panels. The figures are all the same in shape and hang in space centrally in each panel essentially on a flat picture plane. The only slight depth is created by the overlaying of fabrics in the figure.
As a functional quilt, this work could be considered cot size or of a size suitable for a child, immediately referencing childhood.
The colours used are mostly primary but fall somewhat on the pastel side in tone. The fabric patterns are cheerful floral or other repeating patterns. The background yellow however has a slightly biological green hue to it as opposed to sunny yellow. This colour serves to unsettle and insert an element of anxiety into the work.
Fifteen child-like figures move across the work, initially read from left to right but then disrupted by alternating direction at the end of a row. This repetition is further undermined by the use of a different background for two of the figures and the absence of a figure at all in the bottom right corner. In this way the traditional geometry and repetition of a quilt is somewhat subverted. The work however, still retains an neat regimented arrangement, while belies the chaos of the content the artist is referencing.
Soft simple shapes and curves suggest childhood innocence and the layering of patterned and plain fabrics give slight form to the body of the child. The gun, however, is represented as a silhouette in white suggesting absence or perhaps that it needs to be removed. It is not given form or detail possibly to highlight that it is out of place.
The final empty yellow panel also reinforces the idea of absence going forward into the future, but in this case may be commenting of the absence of the child and loss of childhood.
The figures are all presented on the one picture plane and each figure is isolated on its own panel with no points of connection or interaction between them. The arrangement suggests both isolation and repetition of the isolated event.
The work is visibly constructed of fabric and hence reads as soft but some relief is developed by the use of quilting lines. Lines encase each figure in its own cage-like structure best seen on the darker background. It is a tight and somewhat hard looking quilting pattern that removes part of the traditional quilt softness and is reminiscent of a target centred on the child figure.
At first glance this appears like a traditional baby quilt, but this initial impression is then undermined by the presence of a gun. The use of many traditional quilt elements and the modification of a traditional quilt pattern serves to highlight the contrasting elements of softness and protection with the frightening concept of a gun in the hands of a child.
I am conflicted appreciating the formal elements of attractive colour and pattern but at the same time facing the terrifying message of the work. I feel a desire to get in there and remove the gun from the image to restore its beauty and peace.
I know from reading about the work, that it is responding to the deaths of children in the US from gun violence or accidents. I think this meaning is accessible from the work without this knowledge. The violent content viewed in the context of what is normally regarded as a gentle type medium, speaks clearly to the horror of the mix of guns and children.
I think this work is very successful at disquieting the viewer and conveying a message made more powerful by the contrast with a lot of other works in this medium. It is a work that conveys a message first and foremost. I don’t find it aesthetically pleasing, and I find myself having a desire to see it without the gun, in order to feel the pleasure I can obtain when I look at some artworks. It is a work that is relevant to the social and political environment in the US where it was made.
The work encourages the viewer to engage, to look deeper and most importantly to feel, and therefore I think it is a good painting.
I’m spending a lot of time looking for a work to use for my ‘Good Painting’ presentation. The work of Wen Redmond combines textiles with molding paste and inkaid to print manipulated photos or layered photos on to a substrate. She then further embellishes with stitch and painting to create a layered artwork that is most probably seen as mixed media art but can still fit within the bounds of a quilt. I am attracted to the look of the final work and may well present one of her works for the good painting. But her works are not functional quilts and that takes away from this technique a bit for me. The quilts are not washable, not really because of the photo but because of the addition of medium and varnish over the top that removes the reference to comfort that a quilt has.
So although I have bought her book and the aesthetics appeal, I am not ready to completely disconnect from the potential to use my work as a bed covering or to be able to bury my face in it when I feel the need.
So while I can probably steal some of her ideas of division of the segments and ethereal photography, I don’t think I’ll be using the inkaid and molding paste.
Wen Redmond 2018, Continuing the conversation, 30 x 50 inches
Segawa S 1985, Japanese Quilt Art, Mitsumura Suiko Shoin, Kyoto Japan
The preface to this book written by Setsuko Segawa is a bit clunky because I think it has been translated from Japanese. She talks about quilts being expressive and tactile and holding history in the materials. Using the basics of quilt art to express herself. She doesn’t talk about being an artist as such but she talks like one. She thinks that things can be expressed through quilts that can not be expressed through other art mediums as well.
This photo of a quilt from the book shows repetition and commercial fabric used to create a quilt called nostalgia. Each repetition is subtly different because it is cut from a patterned commercial fabric.
A lot of her quilts are named after feelings and presumably are what she was feeling or what she hoped the viewer would feel. She is heavily reliant on colour as well to convey her meaning.
I can’t find any contemporary information about what she is doing now unfortunately.
National Gallery of Victoria 2003, First Impressions: Contemporary Australian Photograms, Brochure from an exhibition of the above name, Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
This exhibition is made up of works from contemporary photogram artists.
Interesting the brochure states that they use photograms because as a medium it most suits the creative ideas the artists are trying to convey. So rather than using photograms because they like the look of them, they are using photograms because they best suit the works. Have to think about that because I use solarfast mostly because of process related concerns – the ability to cleanly get an image on to fabric – but perhaps you could say I use fabric and quilts as my medium because of the ideas of comfort and security in a hostile world. They are both more emotive and also more accessible than paint or photography. Something to keep in mind when I am writing about my work.
Also something that has come out of “Why We Quilt” a bit – The effectiveness of quilts as an art medium to convey emotion and meaning. To go beyond the craft. Perhaps I can somehow get a question or an exploration for honours out of this. It’s so hard to know what will work. (relevant to honours)
I hadn’t seen this before I did my face photograms but this was the type of thing I envisioned for my self portrait initially. Turned out to be difficult to achieve and certainly not on a 8 x 10 piece of paper. I wonder how many goes she had to achieve this clarity and exposure that also has a third grey tone. That comes from having her face off the paper with the points of contact being completely white and then light getting around the object to create grey. I initially tried to do this in the sun but it simply takes too long to be still on wet solarfast to create this . I did have some success a couple of years ago with cyanotype and I did my whole body and printed on both sides. Then I threw it in the washing machine and bleached the lot inadvertently. Still it was an emotive image that I could return to. Not now though because I have made my decision for the self portrait on this occasion.
Ruth Madison does work about the everyday and homely relatable portraits. Accessible and ordinary but ubiquitous in most people’s lives.
(relevant to photography)
Just had an idea how I might be able to present my idea of windows and foreground for my photography series. Perhaps I could do some photograms of objects in the darkroom and then do a two layered print with solarfast of the photogram and a photo of the view through the window only visible in the white areas of the photogram. Maybe use dense cyanotype for the photogram so I get a good white and then put solarfast in the white area and print the view. I’m not sure that the bleaching effect of solarfast on cyanotype is very strong but it can be overcome with the use of tea if necessary to return it to a dark colour. Or I could photoshop the imagery together first and just use solarfast or cyanotype.
The outside world viewed through the lens of a wine glass, coke bottle, washing powder box, nutribullet, iron, vacuum hose, cushion, hand sanitiser bottle, disinfectant can, hand weight, needs to be something that is smaller than 8 x 10. Could look through my window pictures and see what is in the foreground. There was a washer on one windowsill I know. And my little soft toys, hanging beads or wind chime, Curtains I took down. Can do a small photogram and enlarge if necessary.
From an exhibition called Penumbra. A penumbra is the partially shaded area around an object. It’s a great word. Penelope makes objects by casting using silicone and resin. Then she exposes them to create this type of photograph. I have been thinking about using my sculpture in this way to create imagery using solarfast.
The combination of soft and hard edges created in photograms of 3D objects gives an ethereal presence to the object that is hard to achieve in other ways.
This is one that I have already done using my suspended toilet roll sculpture. Lots of problems with this but in proof of concept. Would work better to do a photogram on photo paper so it can be scanned and contrast increased to get a higher contrast print.
In my work, I create a scaffolding of fabric, piecing, and quilting that allows me to reference many ideas on a single plane. The raw materials are textiles from domestic culture, fashion, family heirlooms, and scavenged prints. I integrate them with fabrics that I have embroidered, stained, dyed, or designed. These materials are pieced together to create the main imagery of the quilt, like a collage. This cloth is then beset with hand stitches, evocative of the slow process involved in construction, and functioning as a layer of ‘drawing’ on the quilts surface.
When composing a quilt I rarely adhere to a set plan, relying instead on improvisation. Remindful of color field painting, I begin my work with a feeling, place, or theme. Looking to reconstruct my world, I employ aerial views, photographic documentation, and artifacts- all the while aware that my goal is far more complex than the visual of a single point in time. The moments I choose to replicate are unique to me, and simultaneously innumerable in the lives of others.
Like so many women before her, my maternal grandmother planned a collaborative quilt to celebrate my birth, and introduced me to the art of quilting. My work continues a family tradition, but congruently incorporates new information from varied quilting traditions, and my multidisciplinary training in art. Often inspired by painters, I feel an artistic connection with Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Mark Bradford, Julie Mehretu, Cy Twombly, Agnes Martin, William Kentridge, El Anatsui, Do Ho Suh, the quilts of Gee’s Bend, and the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi.
Still looking for my “companions” for my honours project. This woman’s practice is quilt making in an art context. And on the side she also does visible mending for money. A great idea.
I think the difference from traditional quilters here is in the statement above. Heidi seems to be approaching her quilt making from a art perspective. She is connecting herself to artists in other disciplines and is putting content into her work via the imagery and the medium in the way of artists. She approaches stitch as a means of drawing and cloth as a means of painting and collaging.
Has written a book called Why we Quilt, that has works from a number of quilt artists and discusses the meaning around these. Thomas Knauer produces quilts with two themes – activism around gun violence in America- and living with his chronic illness.
I’m really struggling with my painting and I realise when I look at his work that I am drawn to the pieced quilt. Something about chopping up the fabric or print and reproducing it in a somehow better form.
I’m trying to find people working with quilts in more of an art context and he may be one of these. Think I’ll get the book because it is recent and has a number of contemporary names in it that may also be people I can look at. In the meantime I’ll go chop up my self portrait prints and rejoin them in some way…..
Just want to document what was discussed when I met with Toby Juliffe in regard to getting started with my Honours proposal.
Want to know their own practice better. What is my practice doing?
Insight into journey of practice – experiment, write, produce.
Aligned to ambition.
Proposal is in four sections and about 1000 words total.
Can decide on research or professional at the end of the first semester.
Outcome for research findings can be exegesis, publication, website, podcasts, exhibition.
Four sections – Summary – what is your question, needs to be pretty narrow, external -politics, social justice, medium related – capacity, integrity
Context – ” companions” in this area
Significance – why do this – now, here? social, aesthetic, medium etc
Outcome – guess this just means final body of work and mode of presenting research.
Needs to contribute a voice to an area.
What is motivating me and why am I doing it.
When I mentioned quilting Toby just through our a type of question – “capacity for quilting as a critical medium for art“. Sounds something like what I might like to do.
Before I was thinking that I would be putting forward something around the depiction of everyday objects but now I am thinking that it will be more about the medium of quilt making and its place in the art world. Or maybe its ability to have a place in the art world. Or maybe what elements are required for it to be taken seriously as art. Got to be careful because these are possibly questions that are too big.
But I am definitely thinking that I don’t want to limit myself to one way of printing on fabric or one theme, but rather limit myself to the production of quilts of various, possibly emotive themes. It really would be a return to my original reason for going to tafe – to learn to print on fabric to use in quilts. Of course since then it has become so much more.
Toby straight off mentioned Tal Fitzpatrick – who is an artist that works with quilts -often collaborative quilts. She calls herself a craftivist and uses quilts as a form of social activism. Not my interest really but someone to look at.
My other thought has been around art and health. Maybe I could research around mental health and quiltmaking in some way. I need to finish the unit on Arts and Health and then I’m also learning about dementia now as part of the Island Project so there is that that could also be incorporated. But that’s a bit off track possibly. Need to find artists working with quilts so I can find some “companions” and see what sort of questions or things they are working through.
Tal Fitzpatrick and Kate Just – covid19quilt on instagram
The digital submitted squares automatically assemble themselves on the instagram feed in a quilt format. So far looks like their are more than 400 submissions. I will need to make a square and submit too.
Reading from left to right these are the artists that have contributed to this tiny segment of the covid19quilt that I have depicted here. I love the juxtaposition of the aggressive sentiment and the delicate embroidery in Fuck this shit.
This is a large scale collaborative project which to some extent resonates with my interest in the benefits to health, especially mental health, around making.
Project Proposal Guidelines from the application guidelines
Reasons for writing a project proposal
Your project proposal:
Gives you an opportunity to think through your project carefully, and clarify and define what you will do during your program of study
Provides you with an outline to guide you through your project
Lets the School know what you are planning to do
Helps the School choose an appropriate supervisor and work space
Developing your proposal
The process includes:
Choosing a topic
Narrowing and focussing your topic
Outlining the key literature and examples of art or design work in the topic area
Deciding on what visual strategies you will use to explore your topic
Your project proposal does not permanently set what you will do. It is a starting point and throughout your course you will probably adjust and change your project.
A suggested format for your project proposal
Please provide your name:
Please indicate your preferred Honours stream – Research (Studio), Research (Theory), Professional (Studio) or Professional (Internship):
Please indicate your preferred studio/media/work placement:
Description: (approximately 250 words):
Provide a brief description of your project, outlining your intentions and proposed outcomes.
Resolution: (approximately 250 words):
Outline the strategies you will employ in the development of your project. In the case of studio-based projects, this should include the practical and/or technical steps required. In the case of internships, this should include a synopsis of skills and vocational outcomes.
Significance: (approximately 250 words):
Explain why this project is of interest to you in personal, social, vocational or artistic terms. Where relevant refer to previous projects that you have engaged in.
Context: (approximately 250 words):
Provide a summary of contextual references for your project. This may include other work in the field that is relevant to your project in terms of idea, theme, style, method or technique.
Should my honours be about this or about quilts. Loving my photograms on fabric currently. That’s all.