This little spindle will hang from the cloth book as a representation of the spinning of a dream. It’s made from a bit of kebab stick and a flat bead, with silk thread wrapped around it. The finger is there purely for a sense of scale!
Today there was an interesting question. Wooni asked me why I am making the cloth book. I replied that I am making it in cloth because I have to send the paper version away, back to the organisers of The Sketchbook Project, and I wanted to be able to keep something of it. But that’s not the answer, because I could have just photocopied the original and kept the copy. Then I said that it was a good portfolio sample: a representative example of my work that I could show to anyone who expressed an interest in what I do. I sell or give away most of what I make, and have very little of my work available to anyone who asks to see it. But why do I need to keep it, and why would I need to show it to anyone? Then I wondered whether my ego had got the better of me, and did I really think it was so good that I ought to make the whole thing again in a different medium? And really, what business do I have making anything at all and then showing it to people?
And after I had cleared all that out of the way, I realised that actually it’s a very good question. Why do we make anything? Obviously, if we make a ‘useful’ thing, like a quilt or a bag or a set of placemats, then the thing has a purpose. But a small cloth or any decorative thing – like a cloth book, perhaps – has no function other than to be itself. Some pieces of work exist as an expression of something, or as a form of communication. Some exist purely to give pleasure to someone else: beauty might be perceived in an object and cherished for that reason alone. Maybe I think that my cloth book, as a story, expresses something important enough that it should be out there in the world, existing in its own form – and isn’t that just egotism? ‘Look at me: god-like, I have created this Great Thing.’ Is most art about the artist wanting attention, to be heard, seen and noticed? That’s an uncomfortable truth, I think, for a person who might be described as somewhat shy. Or is it, simply, the seemingly natural human desire to create something beautiful for its own sake and for the pure enjoyment of the process?
Thank you, Wooni, for asking the question.