Welcome to my new blog. I hope that you will travel with me this year as I take some time to think about my work.
I’ve been sewing and drawing for most of my life, and I tentatively think of myself as an artist. However, I am often troubled by the fact that I find it difficult to explain what makes me an artist, and I am equally bad at talking about what I make. I figured that part of the answer might be to spend a year (this very one!) thinking about my work, and consciously analysing and reflecting on what I do and why I do it. I’ve decided to work on a theme this year – something I don’t often do – and also to work on a series – again, something I don’t often do. I’m hoping that by the end of the year I will know myself and my art much better, and I’m hoping to share some of that process with you.
So – my theme is ‘memory’; the act of remembering. The word ‘remember’ is Old French in origin – Latin ‘re’ + ‘memor’, to bring back to mind. I want to spend the year working by hand – slow cloth – respecting the materials and allowing them to remember too. I am mindful of the fact that the stuff we call fabric was once alive, either rooted in an animal’s skin, or growing in the earth, or protecting a caterpillar – and I want to give the fabric the opportunity to remember its former existence. I love my sewing machine, but I want to really feel connected to the work and to the materials, and the only way to do this is to work it slowly and by hand.
I’ve been looking forward to starting this blog, and had intended to do so yesterday, but I ended up having nothing to show for the day. I spent the whole day getting out bits of fabric and sketches and putting them all away again. I couldn’t see what I wanted to do with any of it, despite already having an idea, and I was disappointed and frustrated. This morning I got up knowing where to start. Today I can see that yesterday it wasn’t happening, and that it will happen in its own time and at its own pace, and I will have to adjust my own pace to accommodate it. That’s the slowness and part of the process, and I’m glad. I’m glad it’s going to take time, and I’m glad I can slow down to listen and to feel.
So, finally – and please be assured, not all my blog posts will be this long! – here is the work I have started today. It measures about 15″ square. On the bottom is a piece of hand-dyed grey muslin, which is covered by a black and white printed chiffon, and the top layer is a vintage embroidered cotton lawn. The round piece is a vintage cotton dressing table mat.
And here it is in the frame: