Research point 1 – Wabi-Sabi

I had already come across the concept of wabi sabi in the past and feel a strong affinity with it. After I saw this reference in the course material I also purchased Leonard Koren’s two little books and have read them both. I have previously been interested in the idea of entropy – the movement of all matter from order to disorder. I have made art works exploring this and looking for beauty in the complexity that develops on the way to degradation and disorder. Part of the wabi sabi concept includes acceptance of the ephemeral and transient nature of the world, finding the beauty in this transition from order to degradation. Embracing the organic aesthetic that evolves from this process. It is part of the reason I have come to textiles in preference to paper or paint. There is a certain resilience in textiles not found in some other mediums, but this is combined with an ability to manipulate the surface, or let time and nature manipulate the surface, so that trace and serendipitous marks can also be more fully explored. 

Wabi sabi is certainly in evidence in my textile collection – especially in regard to the futon cover, which is a heavily repaired piece of cloth, that is both stained and degraded. It was originally a working textile, providing warmth in a hostile environment, but has subsequently been sold as a collectors work of art. It highlights the boro technique of combining and repairing textiles, that was originally a practical technique, but is now more purposely used to create art textiles. 

After reading Koren’s book I thought that rather than being just a narrow aesthetic, wabi sabi felt more like a way of seeing and a way of living. Not dissimilar to practising mindfulness, where you really see what is in front of you, rather than living too much in your head. Wabi sabi aesthetic also often hints at the passage of time, and brings with it that feeling of pleasurable melancholy that I associate with that. 

Mumu Mike Williams and Robert Fielding exhibition

We were lucky enough to be in Melbourne when an exhibition by Mumu Mike Williams and Robert Fielding was on. These are aboriginal men who currently live and work in the area of Central Australia that we will soon be working in. The works are political works, which is not my preferred option, but the juxtaposition of the mail bag warnings and aboriginal and white history was so appropriate and ironic that it drew me to the works anyway. 

Detail of a work by Mumu Mike Williams, 2017, acrylic paint on canvas mail bag
Robert Fielding has burnt through the thick paper he has used from the bag, creating a wonderful textural surface with a secondary design that is highlighted when it is lit fro the side. I have spoken to Robert in the past and he mentions the layers of meaning, some hidden, that he creates in his work. 

Details of the burn holes in Robert Fielding’s work, 2017, acrylic on paper
Robert Fielding’s work showing the layered imagery, 2017, acrylic on paper

Roanna Wells

http://www.roannawells.co.uk/interpersonal-spatial-arrangements   Viewed 27 July 2017

 

 

RoannaWells.JPG
Obama Inauguration, Washington 2009 Hand stitch on wool 40x40cm (2012) – detail

http://www.roannawells.co.uk/spaces-between   Viewed 27 July 2017

RoannaWells2.JPG
Carried out during a week-long studio residency, this piece is the first in a potentially on going series documenting a specifically personal period of time. Each brush mark represents a minute of a day, with each colour change representing each new day. 18 days were painted in total.
Watercolour on 220gsm cartridge, 250x150cm 2016

Roanna Wells’ works use repetition of a single mark, whether stitched or painted. The layout of the individual stitches are guided, in the first work above, by the position of individuals in a crowd. In the second work the paint marks are used to document the passage of time with each mark representing a minute and each colour a day.

Building up a drawing from a single repetitive mark attracts me and I’m going to try this for my next linear drawing.

Debbie Smyth

http://debbie-smyth.com/shaded-works/  Viewed 25 July 2017

Debbie Smyth

Using the entirely linear medium of thread Debbie creates evocative lined and shaded drawings, often on a very large scale. In the above I’m attracted to the way the silhouette has been built up by repeatedly overlaid lines, creating a complex edge to the silhouette.

Thinking I might try something like this in my drawing.

An interview with Debbie can also be found here:

http://www.textileartist.org/debbie-smyth-inspired-memories-3/  Viewed 25 July 2017

 

Hadley’s Art Prize

This prize was won by Peter Mungkuri. It is a wonderfully simple but complex drawing with ink on paper. I’m especially invested in this as it depicts the local countryside of the APY lands in Northern South Australia where we are going to be working for the next three months.  Peter works out of Iwantja Arts which will be just across the road from the clinic where we will work.

The drawings shows a good sample of the range of marks that are possible with simple media of ink.

image

Curvy and straight, sharp and fuzzy, big and small. All types of marks interact to produce a complex and evocative whole.

image.jpeg

I was asked not to take photos at the exhibition so these images have been taken from the exhibition catalogue.

Copyright Hadley’s Orient Hotel 2017

Textiles as a discipline

My broad definition of textiles is any largely two dimensional material that is soft and can be manipulated and stitched into. I realise this is not as broad as some definitions. In my definition I would consider some papers as suitable for use in a textile context but not  thick cardboard, stiff metal or wood.  These things could be made into what I think of a textile – as in chain maille or wood pulp making rayon – but I think for me it’s something to do with the form the material is presented in. It must be essentially flat or linear, have some degree of drape and flexibility, and often made from smaller parts, essentially fibres or fragments of the material formed into a sheet.

So, for me, asbestos fibres presented in a fire blanket is clearly a textile, whereas asbestos fibres set in concrete sheet is not. And a plank of wood is not a textile but pulped and presented as rayon it certainly is.

Lots of different materials could be made into a textile, but the materials themselves are not a textile to start with.

Plastic, wood, plants, milk and animals can all provide the raw materials but some processing is required before they are a textile.

All textiles have stories behind them. Because they are largely processed to become a textile, they all have the story of how they came to be in the first place. History of the development of that textile, why it exists and how it was first used. Its cultural significance in different parts of the world, and its history of uses through the ages.

Then there is the personal history and story of an individual piece. Who spent time making it and why.  Where it travelled and who it was close to. Who loved it and cared for it and held it close. Who used it to protect them from the elements and wrapped it tight around them. Who used it to comfort the sick or miserable. Who waved it in joy. Who repaired it and passed it on. Some much to love about textiles.

And there is the message from the work itself. Was the maker trying to convey something with the textile. A surrender flag or a protest banner. A clandestine message. A celebration of an event. A record of history.  Textiles can convey and hold so much meaning.

I’m sure I could think of many more examples but I’m eager to get on and work with my textiles so I’ll leave this as a place holder and if I come across visual examples or other ideas I can add them here.