2.2; Preserving the Memory of a Wrap

When began 2.2, I had the idea of recording the memory of the wrapped object. Using Christo and Jeanne-Claude as a starting point, I had wrapped two objects, tied them with string, an allowed them to remain in the elements for two weeks.

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The wonderfully rusty candleholders did their bit, transferring their secrets to the surrounding cloth. I admit I did have to step in and help the process along. I found that rainwater alone did not produce strong results, quickly enough. The steel needed the tannins from the tea to work within my time scale.

I continued to find the idea of transferring memory onto cloth really interesting. I think the concept of fabrics retaining memory is a popular one, I found numerous textile artists working in this area. Celia Pym, Cas Holmes, Claire Wellesley-Smith and Sonia Gomes can all be commended for using repurposed cloth in their work as part of a statement about sustainability in our consumer driven society but they gain so much more from the use of old fabrics. This is best summarised by this quote:

“….every centimetre of the surface within my own work bears the trace of my own DNA trapped within the fibres of the cloth.” ¹

So it is not just the collector of old fabrics, nor the original owner who has imprinted their mark on the cloth, part of the maker has been left behind too… I’m sure many of us have experienced the phenomenon of handling a textile and recalling what we were thinking, who we were thinking about, what was playing on the radio as we stitched.

I became rather consumed by this idea, and rather than move onto the next exercise, I just had to have one more shot at this…

The idea continued to strengthen in my mind. Of course the fabric used as wrapping remembers the object it contained. It is acting like a second skin or an article of clothing. Like skinny jeans that remember every time I bend my knees and start to sag until I wash the memory away. Like the dress I wore to my sisters wedding that conjures memories of a wonderful day whenever I touch it. I wonder if Christo and Jeanne-Claude do their work a disservice by destroying the physical evidence? (NB>To be fair they recycle, not destroy)

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When I consider the prints I achieved by doggedly refusing to give up on this idea, I am thrilled. Such a simple action as wrapping objects covered in wet paint has created memories that are intricate and sharp yet smudged and unfocussed within the same piece.

The floral motifs seem to brighten the mood that the sombre colour has created. The effects seemed to have created a pattern that has a sketchy linear arrangement which holds the motifs in place. These prints remind me of a William Morris wallpaper, or perhaps a wood carving. I left wondering if I can develop these patterns into a relief surface, either with embossing or embroidery, without spoiling their simplicity.

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Not all the prints were as crisp. The example below shows a much more abstract version of the memory….exciting. It reminds me of the more serendipitous clean up pieces I make that I often find more appealing than the piece I was working on!

I am seriously looking forward to exploring more printmaking in Part 4!

¹ MILLAR, L. (2012) Embroidery, Memory and Narrative. HAND STITCH PERSPECTIVES. Bloomsbury. P12 Quoting: Maxine BRISTOW.

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