Saturday, April 19, 2014

Two blue sleeves

It has been a sunny holiday weekend so far, with interesting blues in the skies.  My thoughts have turned to two blue sleeves which I very much admire:
Titian's man with a quilted sleeve (from here) is glorious - that expanse of blue, I'm sure feels just like the silk I am quilting at present.
I am so attracted to Vuillard's women's clothing.  I can feel all those crisp blouses, this (from here) being a bright well ironed cotton, I'm sure.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Blink, and you are missed

Time is interesting.  Listening to the radio the other day I heard the theory that we experience time speeding past when we are older because we are familiar with what we are doing.  Time seems to travel more slowly when we are younger because we are exploring through unfamiliar territory.  And therefore the way to slow down time in later life is to try something new - plunge into the unfamiliar.  Nice idea.
I like to take time.  I like an art or craft magazine for instance to present articles which provoke thought, contemplation beyond what is there on the double page spread.  I am not fond of magazines which dazzle superficially with luscious photographs which sell a kind of blink bling.  Show but no tell.  No time.
I like the way I work because time is taken.  Ideas percolate, drawings show different sides even after the first use in one setting - with time and contemplation they sometimes demand many more settings.  Ideas persist, but are sometimes incomplete until time brings more ingredients - and it often takes time to realise that they are incomplete.  The physical making takes time, stitch by stitch, and now that my hands begin to ache from gradually increasing arthritis, longer is taken.  But I love that I can think, I can listen to the radio, I can even watch some television while stitching.
Changes over time can be delightful, especially in observing the plant world - but we also seem to be drawn to a beauty seen in the gradual disintegration of buildings, paintwork, the fabric of our surroundings ... the quaintness of rust.  The rusting takes time, but our cameras blink at it, just as we blink at our friends and ourselves with our phones. Next!
Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy from here
This week I received a card from a friend who knows of my passion for the work of Georgia O'Keeffe.  This appreciation has lasted over time - from before a time when so many greeting cards of her work were available, and it was wonderful to be brought back to that joy again, to think once more about the quality of that persistent attraction.
We may take time to produce our work, but we makers seem to live in a world of blink, of the fleeting: we decide instantly, subliminal brand recognition rules, and in competitions we are afforded but a glance of time to catch the good opinion of the gatekeepers.  Hey ho.  Time to take out my glorious big Georgia O'Keeffe books again for some savouring.

Monday, April 14, 2014

With added pompoms

This piece has a story, and continues to create its own story.
Patched pastime (56 x 104cm)
Once again you see my juggler.  This version was a drypoint print with chine collé; one of my carborundum experiments.  The chine collé is a sheet of crumpled tissue paper which I had then covered with soft pastel, and I very much enjoy the 'accidents' that take place as the whole goes through the press. 
In this case the tissue has been pulled across the carborundum body, making folds.  I love this effect, and was delighted to see last week at Compton Verney a glorious draped torso by Henry Moore.
Henry Moore: Draped torso, from here
I thought that this juggler would look good stitched, and so sent her away for printing on a sheet of several images.  At the back of my mind I had an idea.
My jugglers and acrobats represent figures of leisure, and I'd been thinking recently about the fall of Rome and wondering how similar our civilisation is to the situation at that time.  I started thinking about the images of acrobats, dancers, and folks enjoying their leisure occur in classical art.
Parallel to those thoughts was my ongoing downsizing: getting rid of life's accumulations (while, of course, with fully appreciated irony I make even more!).  So much has no immediate use, but I'm reluctant simply to throw away.  Into this category fell strips of machine knitted silk yarn.  (I used to design and knit garments - but that's another story.)  I'd been pleased with the patterns which had been inspired by classical sources, and somehow my back burner put everything together.
It all seemed to be combining well, and I was rather pleased.  I thought it would be perfect to enter for the European Art Quilts exhibition this year, but unfortunately the size is just below the minimum perimeter size - 360cm - even with the pompoms.
Ah yes, the pompoms (thank goodness I had held onto the rest of the silk yarn, and the same two yellows are involved here) - well, when the rest was put together, it just obviously needed pompoms!  Seven, to match the juggled balls.  And despite the size disappointment, I really like the result - and how pleased I am to have been able to make use of the knitted silk.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Two completed pieces

My work takes an incalculable time to complete from initial idea to photography.  In the latest batch for photographing are these two, the first of which has been developing for years, and the second came about relatively quickly - in a year.
The piece above, Mixed messages contains elements which I have gathered over decades: much of the lettering and numbers in the left section is from tombs on the floor of Winchester Cathedral - photos taken when I was taking part in an exhibition there in the early 2000s.  Greek lettering in the right section was from photographs taken in a museum in Corfu.  Other elements include one of my childhood patterns for cross stitch, a piece of graffiti on the front door of my cousin's building in Thessaloniki when I was staying there with my mother just after she had her stroke, the For Sale sign on a house that we coveted on the sea shore in Bexhill, and my photo of the poster for the brilliant exhibition Unpopular Culture showing in Bexhill in 2008.
The coming together of all these elements into the initial design for this piece of work began in 2011.  In 2012 the design was complete enough for me to seek permissions from both subject and photographer of the Unpopular Culture image.  Both were granted and I then sent off the file for printing with a batch of other work.  Finally, it's turn came round for stitching and the next queue was awaiting sufficient work to make a decent pile for photography. 
One of the advantages of taking such a time to get to the end is that I really appreciate the piece after so many different viewings at various stages, and in between other work.  I enjoy my work.  (I had hoped to accelerate the making of this piece in order to enter it for a SAQA show, but it was not the right size, so, ... once again....)
One reason why Silkie, waiting was much faster is not only that the concept is simpler, but also I printed it myself onto an A3 sheet of silk prepared for inkjet printing.  The initial scribble pattern was made on a tiny piece of tissue paper (about A6), then scanned and the digital collage with the figure completed.  In this case also the stitching did not take that long (relative to my normal stitching times for individual works.)  It has spent more time in the photography queue.  But its companion piece, Silkies, waiting is indeed still waiting for the stitching to begin, and is also now competing for attention with the designs from this year's scribbles of the Cornish sea.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

A brilliant day out

Yesterday we went to Compton Verney, a country house which has been turned into an 'art destination', housing a permanent collection and excellent temporary exhibitions.  The weather was good, and the exhibition is one which we would not miss, as it involves two of the artists we both have admired for many decades: Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore.  I find that each has indeed influenced my own work more profoundly than I had realised.
It is such a bonus to have so close together two excellent exhibitions about Moore's work, the first being at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford: Francis Bacon/ Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone.  I wrote a post about our visit, and Eirene also wrote a post in A Place called Space.
The grounds of Compton Verney have several examples of Rodin's and Moore's work, and we would have lingered longer had the wind not been so biting as we made our wandering way to the house itself.  I always enjoy the four sphinxes on the bridge across the lake - they of course are neither Rodin nor Moore, but permanent delights.
The first Moore is on the car park side of the lake, and affords a tantalising view across to the other pieces and to the house.
Moore:The arch
Rodin: Cybele - I just love that folded back arm of hers.
Moore: Seated woman
Moore: Three piece sculpture: Vertebrae  with a view to The arch and Rodin's Jean d'Aire, Monumental Nude on the near bank.
We had a lovely light lunch in the restaurant before embarking on the exhibition proper indoors.  Then on to several rooms of sculptures and drawings.  There is also a display containing fascinating objects from the two artists' own collections: examples of classical art, ethnic artefacts, and natural forms such as shells and stones.  It was such a joy to re-encounter familiar pieces, and to find completely new works which took my breath away, such as this bronze by Moore:
Henry Moore: Working Model for Mother and Child: Upright (image from here, although the piece in the exhibition was part of the Henry Moore Foundation's collection).  I was entranced by this piece in particular because to me she looks as if she is singing with her open mouth, and that the 'child' resembles an instrument such as a harp (the right hand being well placed to be pausing from playing such).  I also very much like the marks on the lower body, and the snail-shell-like curves of the dress at the bottom back. 
I love Moore's work for its stillness, and Rodin's for the gestures.  The examples chosen throughout the exhibition are wonderfully complementary and we found the whole a thoroughly enriching experience.
Rodin: Monument to the Burghers of Calais from their normal place near the Houses of Parliament in London.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Parallel lives

There are often times when I need to split myself into several parallel versions - there just is not enough time to do everything I want!  Recently I have been on a great roll as far as designing has been concerned, but completing the design is only part of the picture.  I still have to stitch the piece, and by hand - which is lovely, and is necessary for me ... but takes time.
And with all that I have the temerity to want to read too!  So many books, and magazines, and blogs, ....  Thank goodness I can listen to the radio while stitching.
Here's another design on the drawing board:
Building a boundary
Well, I shouldn't be hanging around here - back to the needle and threads, ... and thoughts of even more designs!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014