Mulling things over is all very well but at some point one just has to get on with it to see if it will work.
My chosen lines from Dante appealed because they mention being in the middle of or half way between (depending on translation) the journey of our life. Being lost in a dark wood was how I’d been feeling about this challenge. The straight way was certainly lost! The poem is about a spiritual journey to find God. I’m less interested in this aspect and want to focus on being lost in various ways, whether in the design process, in life or any other interpretation a viewer might bring to the work.
Earlier I’d thought about mini albums, so a book idea was already in my head. The inspiration is a book so I’m going with this idea. Unsure whether this will be zig-zag, diorama, or bound in some way.
Leaving everything so late in the day means I have to think small and reasonably simple. Eventually decided on postcard 6x4 inches, portrait format with a cut out window and to use pelmet Vilene as a base because it could easily be painted, stitched adhered to, burnt as necessary.
An initial idea to use ‘stilts’ as stands and to reference trees was abandoned. Twigs seemed unreliable and my bent BBQ sticks looked too chunky for the chosen size. This meant I could discard the idea of sandwiching them and use just one layer of Vilene.
Burned out/stitched ideas for the ‘window’. I prefer the burned look but maybe not stitched into as top right sample.
I like painted abaca tissue on the Vilene. Took several washes with Brusho to get a dark but not jet black look. Applying it with Bond-a-web preserved the crumples but matt medium ‘ironed’ them out. Faggoting looks to be a good way to join pages up and an opportunity to add beads
Adding text successfully is something I haven’t sorted yet. I’m repeating/muddling the Dante translation to give a ‘groundhog’ kind of idea. Have tried various gold pens and foiling so far. Now I’ve stacked the samples I like the tangled effect of the windows and think book will be better than diorama so the text can be read.
Zig-zag is possibly easier to stitch with fagotting but I like the idea of a spined book being displayed upright in a circle.
Hmmm, which to choose?
Getting started has been difficult despite the various brainstorming sessions which threw up many ideas.
My initial ideas didn’t really fire me up:
The distorted reality between sleeping and waking
Grand old Duke of York – neither up nor down
Winnie the Pooh poem ‘Halfway Down’
Between a rock and a hard place – damned if you do, damned if you don’t
Straddling – foot in both camps/ sitting on the fence
Boundaries, fences, borders, fringes, edges, Cusp- mathematical or symbolic
½ -the line in the middle of the fraction
Song- Half a Sixpence is better than half a farthing…
Half an income – 50% tax
Half chance/evens/between cetain & impossible
So it all went on the back burner!
I subsequently wondered about looking at the word NOW (between past & future) & how it might be played about with graphically.
I was quite excited about mind maps as the place between initial ideas and outcomes in design process. This got as far as thinking about recording stages in a mini album but decided the result would look more like a sketchbook and be difficult to display in a coherent way.
So it all went on the back burner again UNTIL I heard Caroline Bergvall read her ‘48 Dante Variations’.
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
Che la diritta via era smarrita
Hearing these few lines from Dante’s Inferno repeated as 48 different English translations sank in to me and I realised I had a subject at last.
I liked John A Carlyle’s 1844 translation:
IN the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself in a
dark wood; for the straight way was lost.
But how to approach it? On the back burner again.
I'm combining grids of crossword and mediaeval tiles on a 12" square canvas box-frame...
First image is the the paper mock-up, with graded foam-board tiles, then the second image is 'work in progress - the fabric grid with bonded foil letters.
Now I'm attempting the block-wrapping with digi-prints . . .
the tile was seen in Oxford at the Ashmolean Museum.
News and progress from the group