Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Walk in the Woods

Memento III, 2016
Twigs, feather, thread, gold paint, red velvet.

As I wrote about in my last blog post, over the past couple of months I have been busy preparing for Carlisle Arts Fair. I've been able to spend some time in my studio making work and I've also had a chance to start playing around with some ideas that have been floating around in my head (and sketchbooks) for a while but which I haven't had chance to develop.


Assemblage, detail

Assemblage, detail

One of these ideas involved working with boxes; more specifically making small pieces of work that could be displayed in boxes. I was thinking about artefacts and museum displays and the idea of making something precious simply by putting it in a box, giving it protection and status. Making some pieces exploring these ideas was going to be one of the first things I did in terms of making work for the fair.

Assemblage, 2016
Wooden box, curated objects

Assemblage, detail

I had already amassed a small collection of boxes, including a wooden box with small compartments and a lid with a clear acetate panel and so I started working with these. I curated a collection of small objects and made some small pieces of tatted lace and a cushion for it to sit on. I included several feathers as well as I wanted the boxes to fit in with the rest of my work.

Reliquary, 2016
Found wood, gold paint, fleece, feather, indigo dyed thread

Reliquary, 2016
Found wood, gold paint, fleece, feather, indigo dyed thread

Reliquary, 2016
Found wood, gold paint, fleece, feather, indigo dyed thread

As often happens, however, things didn't go exactly according to plan. I spent a full day working on my box pieces and at the end of it I felt extremely dissatisfied with everything I'd done. It can be very difficult when you've had an idea in your head for a long time and then when you finally get to try it out it doesn't work quite as you'd hoped.

Collected materials

Work in progress

Found feathers
This left me feeling rather grumpy and as Mr. Stitches was also feeling a bit grumpy we decided the best thing to do was to go for a walk. We're very lucky to live in a very beautiful part of the world and we only have to walk for a few minutes before we're out in the countryside. As we walked and talked I felt my mood lift and new ideas started creeping into my brain. I'd been collecting interesting twigs and on this walk I found some beautiful magpie feathers too and as I was walking I started thinking of new ways of working.

Memento I, 206
Twig, indigo dyed thread and fabric, feather

Memento I, detail

Increasingly I've been interested in incorporating natural materials into my work and place (in the sense of location) has been becoming more important too. I wanted to create some pieces of work that were created from the environment and that continued to explore my interest in birds, feathers and the idea of the bird as representative of the human spirit.  I've also been looking into the folklore of various cultures that see birds (and feathers as representative of birds) as surrogates for the human spirit. The druids, for instance, created cloaks of feathers as they believed this would help them channel the bird spirits which would let them get closer to the sky gods and thus be able to transcend earthly bonds.

Memento II, 2016
Twig, feathers, red velvet

Memento II, detail

When I got back to the studio I started working with the twigs and feathers I'd collected as well as threads that I'd dyed naturally. I began to develop a personal vocabulary using these materials (more of this in another post I think) and I'm really excited about how this work could develop.

Memento III, detail

Memento III, detail

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