This tangle of yarn made me think about the inside of my head.
I’d been feeling that my brain had become rather like it – a complicated mass of threads, connecting and interconnecting, impossible to straighten out, to make clear sense of. So many thoughts and ideas, joinings-up, leadings-on, reachings back – an intense whirr. Thank goodness for a dear friend who calmly, skilfully helped me unravel this unruly gathering into words and then onto two sheets of A4 paper – headed ‘the now’ and ‘the future’; together we made some sense of the many commitments, plans, hunches, dreams and wishes.
On a huge hill,
Cragged and steep, Truth stands, and he that will
Reach her, about must and about must go,
And what the hill’s suddenness resists – win so.
And why was the yarn itself on the table in the first place? Having been invited to contribute work to two shows I found myself longing to rifle through my stash and use it in different ways for both pieces: as a detail in the work for Art of Mexico exhibition soon to be coming at the FTM – here’s a peak…
and also as an integral element of the piece for Face Time, an exhibiton of works made to be shown at the Mall Galleries in June and sold for the benefit of the charity The Artroom – here’s another little sneak…part of the fun was space-dying the yarn to give an ikat effect…
While the fabric inks were out I painted some new little silk hankies, 28cm square, available in our shop here. Along with my recent work there are others on display for a few more days at the Fashion and Textile Museum in ‘from start to finish’ – on until the 18th May; then those will be available too. The museum is open late on a Thursday. By the way – my display’s upstairs in the Fashion Studio. If they’re hosting a course in that room when you’re there and it seems to be shut – it’s ok to ask and go in.
At the other end of the scale at The National Gallery is an exhibition of paintings by the master of depicting fabric in art – Paolo Veronese. His magnificent brush brings to life the silks, brocades, velvets, damasks, furs and muslins of renaissance Venice with all the glamour and majesty of those rich, luminous and exquisite textiles. Never mind the sky – slap in the blue – never mind hands – those fingers will have to do – it’s the textiles that come to life in all their significant richness, and in the most extravagant and unlikely compositions too. Though when it comes to portraits none are so touching as his two early and tender paintings of Livia and Iseppo da Porto and their children. Dated 1552 they could be of any time, of any loving family.
Another master of shape and colour – Henri Matisse – was raised among textiles in a family and town of weavers in Northern France. His profound understanding of pattern both as surface and form must have come with his mother’s milk. For many years this little edition of ‘Jazz’ has kept me company: ‘Dessiner avec des ciseaux’ as he writes.
The entire collection of his cut-outs are currently to be seen at the Tate Modern. His last works – the scale, the energy, the purpose – fill me with hope and passion and tears. And so do his words about them, and the little films of him skilfully wielding his huge scissors. All I can say is get a ticket and go and swim in the lagoon of his genius.
I listened to a former prisoner proudly describe his second-to-none sewing skills at a talk given by Tracy Chevalier at Danson House. On the strength of her latest book The Runaway and at an invitation from Fine Cell Work she has both curated an exhibition and commissioned a work for it. ‘What we do in bed’ examines, through the medium of the quilt, five of the things that may happen under the covers – birth, sex, sleep, illness and death. The quilts shown are a collection of old and new pieces.
Taking the theme of sleep the prisoners worked together to make many squares showing their personal stories and responses to the subject; they were then stitched together into a patched quilt. The show made me think again about the exhibition Frayed, which I wrote about here, and the tremendous value of making and doing, of working through, of skilled hands. As one maker put it: ‘all the sorrows and joys of my life are held here.’ I’m hoping to be able to work on a project with Fine Cell Work myself in the near future.
When another friend popped round with a box of some old bits and pieces she’d been keeping by I opened it to find the last scrap of our classic design Cote d’Azure printed on heavy canvas. It just so happened I’d been needing it for another little project – good timing! In the meantime we’ve used a detail from the design as one of the six new cards now available to buy here.
New products are also coming in to WestElm – some rather glamorous cushions join the gang, and a handsome new dhurrie too.
Lastly – there’s still time to book tickets to the workshop and talk I’m giving on May 24th at SITselect. The subject for both is this blog and how I approach it – ‘the world as I see it’. It won’t be about computer technicalities (not my strong point) and I don’t expect workshop participants to necessarily want to be or become bloggers – just to be interested in exploring ways of seeing, looking and recording. Do join me if you can.