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.
My explorations are going everywhere and nowhere very fast. I began with the image of an egg suspended. This is still in my mind. The idea of halfway between life and death, mixed with birth and family.
I recently participated in a course with Alice Kettle (textiles) and Helen Felcey (ceramics). I played with all sorts of materials. I worked with porcelain for the first time and was amazed by its fineness compared to the workaday terracotta and stoneware that I had used at primary school and evening classes. I crocheted with fishing line (inspired by the dress that was in the Whatever floats your boat exhibition). I discovered photographing my work in ways other than trying to get a pure white or black background (which I am usually dissatisfied by) - in situ locations and using light and shadow.
Most helpful for me was the outside perspective given to me by the tutors. They were able to see the common threads running through my work. I am working in a conceptual way and its something to do with containment - when the container becomes the contained.
We'll see what emerges finally ... it may be something related to what you see here, the eggs, or something else entirely.
I have had a few wonderful days emerged in my project.
My idea comes from the Nordic saga about Kraka, who was challenged to by a Viking King to return to him ‘Not dressed but not naked, not in company but not alone, and not fasting but not having eaten’. So she returned wearing a fishing net, with her dog and she had bitten into an onion. I wanted to create a piece which is halfway between fabric and net with an ephemeral feel to it and also using the images from the saga.
I worked on the hanging seriously in February, and it has been more or less dormant since then. But I made a big leap forward in May when I went to North Devon for a few days, I found a piece of wood, weathered and also worn by the sea, that made the perfect hanging frame for the net/piece. This meant I could move forward with construction, sizing it to fit the branch with all its bumps, twists and turns. And then I started stitching, and I have spent the last three days creating the net-effect, which I now feel is complete.
I have reached an interesting stage, I hadn’t anticipated that another layer of colour or stitch would be needed, but looking at it, it clearly does. I am also toying with the idea of adding shells and stones, which were used as weights on fishing nets. So any ideas and comments very welcome.
A quick preview of Sandy's work in progress: 'Cloud Puppy'. Sandy is working on an intricate fused piece that is a development of her earlier small pieces about dragons. This is a quick post as a prelim to Sandy adding more of her own words about her piece - she has been very busy of late. (posted by Jane)
Through the Lock Gates 2013
We spend a lot of time on the canals and I have hundreds of photos of the canals, the locks, the "furniture" around the locks and other items of interest. I really like many of the images I have saved but making them into a quilt has never happened before.
A while ago I painted bleach on some black fabric and it looked just like the wooden gates on many of the locks - so finally, I have made a quilt which is inspired by the canals. The rusted strip represents the gap between the gates, where the water leaks or gushes through.
Black fabric, bleached fabric and rusted fabric. The fabrics have been improvisionally pieced and then quilted by machine. I have managed to dove tail the abstract way I like to work with images that I love.
Looking forward to the exhibition - Chrisse
This is Jane Edmond's work in progress towards Halfway Between. Here's what she says:
"It is inspired by 'Halfway between the gutter and the stars', a song by Fat Boy Slim. I hope this quote doesn't contravene some copyright. I have been working on the gutter, picking up the litter I find on walks with the dog. It will not be a quilt, but applique on hessian. The figure is an outline from a life drawing class. I'm having fun doing it, even though I have got to the stage of hating it!"
Thank you Jane - more photos and comments of your work in progress - please email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The new project for Thames Valley Contemporary Textiles is to be 'Halfway between'. We brainstormed the idea through a range of methods - talking, writing and words, images, paper collage and 3-d collage.
We came up with loads of ideas in a relatively short space of time, and I'm sure there are many more ...
Briefly summarising a few of the responses, some of the themes that could be explored include:
Interpretation as a phrase
Point of view - Specific, precise or vague, ambiguous
Best of both worlds
Compromise by committee
Neither one thing or the other or is it just right?
A stage in a process, a point in a transformation
The missing link
One thing and another
In or out of focus
Light and dark. Near and far. Hot and cold. Earth and air. Adult and child. Young and old. Heaven and hell. Black and white. Thin and fat. Full or empty. Pattern and plain. Science/art. Sunrise/sunset. And many, many more ….
Combinations Pairing of people, or collaboration
Technique Exploration of innovative techniques - hybrid techniques
Physical Location (abstract or specific)
“A human is halfway in size between an atom and the known universe”...
Negative space Spaces in between
Position of something halfway between in a 3-d object
Psychological/spiritual States of being
Awake and asleep. Gutter and the stars.
Fractions. Geographical plates. Molten/solid
Some food for thought ... and in fact food was also one of the ideas sparked by the session - or was it because we were getting near to lunchtime?
On Tuesday the Whatever floats your boat ... exhibition was installed for its final showing at the National Needlework Archive near Newbury. Thanks to Sandy and Mavis who put the show up with me. Some new pieces are on show - including this beautiful embroidery of trees by Marion Robertson, and embroidered books by Annie Hamilton.
News and progress from the group