After so much exploration of hand stitch I was keen to get back to my sewing machine. Oddly the next artist’s work I looked at is worked by hand. I found Elisa D’Arrigo’s paper, cloth and thread sculptures appealed to my developing aesthetic taste, containing many of the elements I find attractive: quiet, modular and repetitive.
Working in my sketchbook I identified the link between deconstruction and reconstruction, likening D’Arrigo to other artists whose work I admire that follows these principles. I am struck that even Patchwork and Quilting (something I did before OCA even became a possibility) features this process- you take a perfectly good piece of fabric, cut it up and reassemble it into something else (Kintsugi at work again?) I am left wondering if years of creating quilts has impacted on my work making it rather flat?
Indeed when I attempted my own cloth/paper/thread ‘construction’ on the sewing machine, the result was just as two-dimensional as a quilt:
I had lost the undulation: the opportunity to bounce light and create shadow. Checking the dimensions of D’Arrigo, I find some are between 4-7″ deep. Is this where I am going wrong? (with tutor having identified “The three dimensional, spatial samples were the ones which excited me the most”)
What I do find promising, however, is that this sample is reversible. So although it is flat it is at least interesting from another angle:
Actually, the colour of the reverse is perhaps more appealing than the front? It is softer since the colours are muted. This de-saturation has occurred because of the materials I used to construct the piece. In keeping with Viktor and Rolf’s repurposing of archive fabrics I selected some of the Gelli Plate Prints I made just after Christmas and recycled them.
- Image Left: Printed onto calico. First pull. Consciously assembled for pattern. Thread colour which competes for attention.
- Image Right: Printed onto paper. Ghost print. Serendipitous assembly. Neutral thread colour.
It was at this moment I received my Tutor Feedback. My initial response was to draw the sample directly into my sketchbook, not on paper to be stuck in.
The drawings helped to solidify my understanding of what I had made and to make a connection once more to A L’Infini but also a fresh connection to work I had seen by Susan Stockwell. It seems a theme of mapping and arterial road ways seems to be developing.
In response to the making/drawing/remaking cycle, I made another sample. This one is still in its infancy:
The sample follows the path of the threads, removing the material to be joined entirely (thinking Meredith Woolnough again). I have two main issues with it:
- Flatness: The sample was once more flat and lifeless, I tried to overcome this by crumpling it. This has resulted in some of the tissue papers coming apart: a deterioration which is actually really exciting.
- Colour: I wasn’t happy with the colour to begin with and thought rubbing oil pastel over the surface would rectify this, I don’t think it helped:
Now I need to decide what to do. I would like to preserve the crumples to produce a more permanent sculptural form- but if I add more glue I think it will collapse on itself because of the ‘wetness’ . I also want to adjust the colour slightly – but adding paint will create the same problem.
As I consider what to do, I am wondering whether to start again, with another sample? Not a repetition, I just want to ‘borrow’ the shape- to recreate in in different materials with a different system of joins (thinking Pippa Andrews).
As always the decision is clouded by time constraints: Do I do the above, following this line of thought? Or do I move onto Exercise 2? I am considering Rebecca Fairley’s recent post The Question of Development which struck a chord with me. -I have decided that the development of the sample above would lead to a more cohesive body of work BUT it is at a stage where I could conceivably pick up where I left off, if I wanted to. Time to move on!