As usual at this time of year I have been looking back, and forward, and I realised I hadn’t posted here for months. I had said I would post a picture of the work that was accepted into the Norwich Shawls exhibition back in October – so here it is. Pattern Study was based on a motif from an exquisite woven shawl (in the museum’s collection) and mounted against an interpretation of the punched cards used to programme a jacquard loom. By a an unplanned coincidence it was hung right next to a shawl from a private collection woven in the exact same design. I was so delighted!
Here too is an image of the 3D piece I was working on – from the same design source.
As I hadn’t posted for so long I asked myself why I thought having a presence on the web was A Good Thing. Several quite convincing answers emerged: keeping potential students up to date with teaching plans, letting groups know what I can offer them, passing on stuff I have found interesting / useful in the hope others find it so too. And there’s the personal challenge of course, that of overcoming my reluctance to put myself and my work ‘out there’ and if I do, to make the posts actually interesting and/or useful.
So I start the new year with the intention of regularly posting here (note the ‘regularly’, not ‘often’!) and with the traditional hope that you all had a good holiday season and that the New Year will be full of whatever you want it to be.
Eszter Bornemisza Deepwater Lights
Steve Jobs quoted Picasso as saying “Good artists copy, great artists steal’. I recently read Will Gompertz Think like an artist and he explains this as a progression: as artists learn their trade they copy the masters to gain skills and then they take (steal) certain techniques or approaches as theirs in developing their own voice. Part of the City and Guilds work is to study contemporary makers and in doing my first assignment I have certainly been ‘copying and learning from’ an artist. I hadn’t expected the challenge involved in producing samples of the techniques and designs to go with my project. Trying to deduce from a relatively small photo online just how a piece has been constructed was the first hurdle. The second came when exploring the new-to-me techniques I thought had been used. Eszter Bornemisza’s recent work I find interesting, complex and beautiful and have been fascinated by it at several recent shows. Her early work, in the late 1990s looks very different in concept, colour and technique. My first sample was based on Deepwater Lights (above) made in 1999; its striking colours and sense of light and movement seem almost by a different artist to the current pieces. But how had she constructed the work? Applique? piecing? with templates? freeform? After poring over the photos on her website I decided to machine piece with the fabric cut to exact pattern pieces to get as close as I could the appearance she created. I have little experience of curved seaming so it took some time to be comfortable with it. Diagrams were drawn, planning the order of joining and giving templates to be cut round. As the work progressed I gained confidence and abandoned the paper patterns, cutting each piece freehand to fit with its partner edge. Choosing fabrics from my limited stash was tricky but I was satisfied with the overall effect. The quilting lines were hard to see in the photos and I was puzzled at first that lines crossing different colour fabrics showed no contrasts. Then I read that Eszter uses transparent threads – a solution and another first for me! A very springy thread (with a mind of its own when being wound on to a bobbin), but the machine handled it well and I like the freedom it gives the viewer to concentrate on the textural aspect of the quilting rather than colour contrasts. As always I was surprised by the difference to the feel of the piece the quilting lines made, they really bring the piecing to life.
A worthwhile, if time-consuming, learning activity. I can see that this form of detailed study will lead to having a better range of skills to interpret my ideas and produce particular effects.