Sunday, November 02, 2014

Questions 3 and 4

Why do I create what I do?
Because I always have to be making something.  I need to be doing something with my hands, and I need to be doing something that needs planning, problem-solving, creating with my mind and eye as well as my hands - and provides me with a visualisation of where I am.
Grasp (2007)
I am fundamentally a story teller, and so the image I create can be seen as an illustration of an idea.  It is a means of expressing what I think and how I feel about what is going on.
Waiting (2008)
I use fabric because it suits my hands, it is clean, can be picked up and put down, can travel with me, ....  I also use fabric because it is historically an expression of a woman's life - or at least the feminine in life, and that is important to how I define myself.  I also use fabric because it is flat without being flat, it hangs in an alive way, it catches the light, it looks warm, it looks reassuring even if what it depicts is not.

How does my creating process work?
A great deal of how the image comes about is a mystery to me.  My subconscious spins straw into gold. The quilt below was one image which presented itself to me when I was looking through my photographs of Avebury - a place I love, to which I have returned many times, and the history of which intrigues me.  A henge is a prehistoric structure which could loosely be described as a large circular ditch with an accompanying mound, and this with the stones at Avebury imbue me with a feeling of the significance of the human hand on the landscape, and at the same time the insignificance of the individual human. 
Henge horizon (2010)
My subconscious imagination having presented me with the image, I tried to analyse it after I had made the quilt: the two horizons are a means of recording both the round and the revisiting/time passing.  The man with his bicycle was a fluke in my photograph, but it captured a time which could be said to be nearer the present, but leaning back, so to speak.  The head is made of stone (I used a photograph of one of the standing stones) is vaguely classical, and perhaps self important.  I also hope that I have captured some of the mystical ambience, and left hanging questions.  That is an example of how my creating process often works.
Another example, below, is my reaction to various news items about political prisoners, while I too at that time was feeling an emotional prisoner of sorts.
Game (2007)
I do not use a sketchbook, but I keep digital files of my photographs, and of other digitised work such as traditional prints, scribbled drawings of the sea, pastels, scans of leaves or other objects.  I also draw people - either from life as blind drawing (as above) which I then scan, or straight on the computer in digital form from my imagination, sometimes helped with details drawn from photographs rather than life.  These are ingredients, and I cook them together digitally in different recipes - often reusing different combinations of the ingredients.
Although I do not use a sketchbook, I do use notebooks to write down various ideas for 'meals' which pop into my head.  My memory is dumping more and more these days, so if I don't write things down they disappear.  I am adding more process notes now too as I leave gaps between stages of digital development - again, it's memory becoming alarmingly more sieve-like.
The red room: Recognition (2008)
I do a lot of digital drawing, collaging, and other manipulation before the image is ready for printing onto fabric.  Once that is done I then enjoy choosing the colours of threads, and mostly use Stef Francis' space dyed cotton or silk.  And while I am stitching I am also thinking - not least about projects in the pipelines past, current, and future.


  1. I really enjoyed reading all your answers to the questions. You are very articulate in both words and images, Olga - I admire that.

    I must say I love 'Henge Horizon" very much, partly because it's Avebury of course but also the prominent head is stunning. Seems a very diifferent piece from your other work, all very lovely work. I only wish I could see and feel it in person.

  2. I'm so glad you chose to participate in this, don't know why I didn't ask you myself when I was looking for people to tag. Smart to break it up over several posts as these questions usually can't be answered in a few sentences. I've been following your blog for a long time, so some of this was familiar, some had been forgotten. But even so, there were new thoughts to consider as well. As much as we end up sharing on our blogs, there are always bits and pieces that never make it there unless someone asks.

  3. Thank you both.

    Marja-Leena, I must say that Henge horizon is one of my especial favourites too - perhaps because it came from the place itself, rather than just my feelings. It is frustrating, isn't it that we can be afforded glimpses of so much online which in some ways makes us feel the loss of not experiencing them fully.

    Sheila, with acquaintances we learn about them from snippets, repeats, and sometimes long conversations, so I guess that is happening in our blogs over time.

  4. I enjoyed reading this and it gave me insights into the way you think and practice. Henge Horizon is one of your designs I have not seen before, and one that I like a lot - partly because I too love and am fascinated by Avebury and because I think that you have captured the mystical ambience and yet left hanging questions, so, your aim was fulfilled I feel. I like the contrast of the stone head with the countryside and the cyclist might be a fluke but is an important element in the whole of the composition.

    I feel that knowing your designs quite well by now, I now need to see them in the flesh so to speak, as the fabric and the threads will add a completely different dimension to the work, one that I am not familiar with. Hopefully next time you're exhibiting I might be able to go and see your work.

  5. Thank you Eirene. If you are going to be in Athens next May, ... Athens Ohio that is! I will have a quilt in the Quilt National exhibition.

  6. Haha! Unfortunately, not likely to be in Ohio next May, I'll just have to wait for another chance. But, well done, you must be pleased.

  7. Olga - so many thanks for this post. I have been feeling guilty that the I'd not commented till now. I've been so busy with family and with an exhibition and felt I wanted to leave it until I could do it justice.
    I echo so whole-heartedly your reasons for doing what you do. The always needing to have hand full and occupied, the practically of the process (it can be done anywhere, any time and in small snippets) were part of what attracted me to stitching when I first retired. To that, I'd add the feeling of the cloth in my hand and the ease of developing the stitch as I work.
    I love the picture you paint of your subconscious spinning straw into gold. For me, there is always a leap somewhere in all the playing I do. What provokes the change from play ideas to work I pursue is always hard to pin point.

  8. Margaret, thank you for inviting me to the blog hop. It was a timely exercise for me.

  9. Hello Olga ~ Thank you for letting me know that you had decided to answer the questions. Doing so through multiple posts is a great idea (for both writer & reader!). Your work is very unique, and I'm happy to have found your blog...and also to be seeing the answers to the questions on my first visit, as it helps to better understand & appreciate it...

  10. Thank you Lisa. Perhaps the blog hopping answers should be available all the time for newcomers to have a much better introduction than the blog summary 'about me'.