Thursday, 7 August 2014

Home (and the benefits of talking it through)

Nests, 2014

As I keep saying, this year I am focusing on getting back to my own personal artistic practice and developing my work. To this end I have been making more time to spend in my studio and I have been entering competitions and answering calls for entries for quite a range of exhibitions and opportunities.

Nest/sphere drawings

One recent call for submissions that I made a piece of work for was from Gallery 202 for an on-line exhibition entitled 'Home.' (The resulting gallery is really interesting. There is a wide range of responses and media and some of the pieces are great, I'm enjoying working my way through and exploring other people's art works.)  The title seemed to fit well for an idea I've had buzzing round my head for some time based on nests. One of my favourite things to draw when I get stuck are these spiralling, sphere nest like shapes. I've been wanting to create them in various forms for a while and the recent felt making workshops I'd been running had also pushed them to the front of my mind.

The start of the larger nest

Finishing the smaller nest

I did not have much time as I saw the call quite late so I decided to crochet the nests from wool and then felt them. This was a process I wanted to experiment a bit more with anyway so it seemed like an ideal opportunity. The smaller nest is crocheted from a 100% wool yarn whereas the larger one is about 80% wool so it has not created quite such a dense fabric when felted. This allows a little more stitch definition, showing the original process.

Detail before felting

Detail after felting

Small felted nest

My original plan had been to crochet the nests, felt them and then either colour the insides or line them in some way. I would then arrange them, in a suitably artistic fashion of course, and that would form my piece of work. However, when I was speaking to my partner about it he suggested adding sticks. I must confess that my first instinct was to reject his idea out of hand, however, I listened and I began to warm to the idea (after a good argument about WHY I should add sticks.) I went away and experimented with driftwood, twigs and bamboo sticks until I found an arrangement that I thought worked. I liked the way the straight, regular lines of the sticks (which I painted black) contrasted and defined the nests. They made me think of architecture and how spaces define us, make us behave or feel in certain ways; how home suggests safety, softness and warmth (as textiles and particularly felt does) yet the materials that make the home (brick, concrete, tile, timber) are not often associated with these things.

Nests (detail)

Nests (detail)

I also like that it's not something I would ever have come up with myself. Sometimes it can be quite isolating working away on your art (tiny violin) and I think it's good to step outside of your bubble, get some input from others and try something different. It won't always work out but you never know where a conversation might lead.

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