I thought I had finished Project One but after visiting the Entangled Exhibition at the Turner Contemporary and receiving my Assessment Results on the same day I felt compelled to do ‘just one more’ sample.
I had been playing with the idea of lashing sticks together at angles, briefly exploring how I could attach small slices of plastic tubing with stitch. I felt that this investigation was leading backwards to joining curves rather than discovering anything new, so I decided to move on.
However, returning to my desk, full of enthusiasm at the scope of Entangled, I was greeted by the above samples. My immediate and almost subconscious response was to poke brightly coloured drinking straws (brought at Ikea on the way home) into the tubing.
The straws looked more impressive when they were full length and the thread colours in no way relate to the colours of the straws but in its way this ‘sample’ reflected how I felt about Entangled. I just had this feeling that ‘Entangled’ made the impossible, possible and the implausible, likely. There is a sense of fun about the exhibition; whereas I constantly ask myself “why”, the artists seemed to be saying “why not?”
One of the first pieces in the exhibit was a large ceramic crab covered in the sort of crochet that I would normally associate with my Great Grandmother. Looking at this first piece by Joana Vasconcelos I wasn’t entirely convinced that I liked it but later on saw a second piece by her: a lizard that seemed to have a second skin. I ‘m not sure if it was the colour of the crochet cotton of the second piece or the lively shape of the ceramic lizard beneath but it seemed to work better in my opinion. The red crab is covered with white yarn, which is quite a stark contrast. The green lizard has an analogous blue yarn which feels more sympathetic. The ‘second skin’ is quite convincing, it reminded me of when my puppy was small and her skin was slightly too big for her frame, you could see her hard muscles clearly defined beneath her soft coat.
I found this soft covering of a hard object really interesting, particularly because the object that has been wrapped is still so clearly defined (in contrast to a Juditth Scott wrapping for example). I also liked that the crochet appeared in quite a traditional pattern, like the lace doilies my Grandmother made, sometimes I think we are so keen to reinvent a technique we forget how beautiful its history can be.
I went into the garden and noticed a large blue ceramic sphere, could the straws project from the surface? – “why not!”
I produced a really random net of crochet to join pieces of tubing to represent a doily, the photograph below shows how I envisaged the straws protruding from the surface:
Excuse Fingers! I had to hold the straws in position to get an idea of what it would look like:
Now I know it would work, if it were stretched out taut, I’m actually less inclined to finish it. I think it was one of those things I just ‘had to do’, I’m glad that I did because it seems to me that it was an appropriate response to my ATV Feedback that suggests I need to develop my work by addressing the scale of my samples and by broadening my awareness of contemporary practitioners.
I think the simple chaining is actually quite effective and think the inclusion of the straws could be potentially successful. I can’t imagine having the time to create something as intricate as Vasconcelos so to finish this post I sought out one of Great-Grandma’s doilies (discovered when researching Archive pieces for ATV Part 1) and one of my own made to replicate her style and placed them over the sphere.
Photographing the crochet over the sphere really reinforced how I felt about Vasconcelos’ work. I can’t imagine ever being able to use or display either piece in my home- the ‘fashion’ has had it’s day. The lady who owns the yarn shop near me had made a similar doily to my own and mounted hers inside a hula hoop, a great idea but I still wouldn’t want it in my house. What Vasconcelos has done is allowed is combined traditional with modern and come up with something rather exceptional.