My brief is to explore the manipulation of a print from a flat surface into a relief or sculptural form. I have identified pleating, origami and nets as possible means of manipulation.
Reviewing my use of Pleating
Pleating was one of the exercises that I began MMT with, I don’t think I really appreciated the process a the time. Looking back at my sketchbook, I note that I became very distracted by the instructional diagrams, enjoying their regularity as if they were patterns in their own right.
This was a natural development from ATV, where through Agnes Martin, I learned to appreciate uniformity and structure as a means of making sense of the chaos that surrounds us.
I actually recall thinking at the time that the pleating exercise didn’t really do me any favours; it brought out the very controlling part of my personality that often rears its head when I am anxious (a state Martin knew well). I have spent the rest of MMT in pursuit of irregularity and imperfection, learning to relinquish control and how to incorporate play into my practise.
My application of the process in Part 4 was more successful in exploring the rhythmic patterns of pleating. I stopped agonising over measurements and folded spontaneously, the results became much less static. I became interested in how printing could be used to record folds, which mirrored an earlier investigation into how wrapping could be used to remember the essence of an object.
I brought a wonderful book about pleating by Paul Jackson¹ and instantly realised the scope of possibilities. Jackson uses ‘pleat’ to encompass
“a furl, corrugation, ruff, drape, crimp, plait, gather, ruck, tuck, dart, ruche or wrinkle, or even plisse, smocking, shirring or gauging.” ¹ P8
This suggests that pleating is so prevalent in making (across many disciplines, eg, fashion, architecture, design) that we almost cease to consciously notice it. Often what draws attention to a pleat is an area highlighted by light or shadow. I paused to once more consider Anne Kyyro Quinn’s smocked wall hangings and soft furnishings. (SEPERATE POST???)
In Jackson’s description a pleat can be:
“straight or curved, sharp or soft, geometric or organic. It can create a two-dimensional surface or a three dimensional form; it can be made once, or made as an endless repeat. It can be flexible or rigid, decorative or functional, made from one piece or fabricated from many pieces, and made from one material or from a combination of materials.” ¹ P9
Quite a list! As well as being overawed at the vast range of choices that stood before me, I was excited at the number of dichotomies that pleating can represent. The relationships between opposites fascinates me. I find the fact that one state can only exist because of the presence or absence of another quite irresistible. (For example: we can only feel joy because we understand pain.) Will I choose to celebrate one property through the absence of the other? -Will the form be geometric with no organic properties at all? Or will the properties be explored in combination with each other? -Could a flexible fabric made rigid?
Just as I was set to begin, the introduction to the first chapter stopped me in my tracks…
“You are very strongly advised to refrain from diving deep into the book to make something spectacular and instead spend time in this chapter learning the basics of dividing paper…… So curb your enthusiasm and take the time you need to learn…Every minute you spent in this seemingly unglamorous chapter will enable you to fold and create for unlimited hours afterwards.” ¹ P22
This was exactly the point I was making about Sloppy Craft and Inter/Post Disciplinarity! I don’t have time to master pleating as a process; Jackson has 30 years experience. How can I learn the skill, in order to de/re-skill in a short time period? Or does the fact I never mastered the skill mean my work will be Sloppy by default? Or worse still, am I an amateur to be marginalised even further because although my work looks Sloppy but I didn’t intend it to? ARGH!
I decided the most sensible approach was indeed to begin at the beginning, but from there to pick my own way through the exercises in the book. After all, I am not looking to master any one of the processes covered by Jackson’s definition of pleating. I am not looking for the minimalist elegance of one of the examples he includes. I am searching for a means to manipulate my prints in such a way that they take on a new form. In a sense it would be easier if I knew what it was I looking for but then I would be in danger of preconceiving the outcome!
There was only one way forward… start making and stop thinking!
¹JACKSON, P. Complete Pleats. Pleating Techniques for Fashion, Architecture and Design. (2015) LAURENCE KING PUBLISHING.