In the past day or so I followed another quiltmaker’s link to her blog about what she has been making recently – a site I’ve been to a number of times, and left a comment to the effect “I see what you’ve done, but what’s your motivation?” Her response was that she didn’t think people would want to read about why she uses the materials and subject matter she does. I really differ, and though I thought her response a bit vague, with a principal rationale she gave as it being play, I appreciated her answering. Yes, I do like to read about what motivates people; after all, we all have different reasons for doing what we do, and, we could use other ways to express ourselves – painting, ceramics, writing a book or making movies, whatever. The artist in each of us is responding to a unique vision of the world around us. Well that’s my view anyway – and I wrote back to her, in part –
The making, the sewing and assembling, is different for each of us, and leads to distinctive styles – but that is still different from the why behind it. …. For myself, a lot of my work, including my Ebb & Flow quilts, or the works in my Tracks series (galleries on my website) expresses what I see as a major theme in the world about me – that everything is in a process of change as long as your time scale is long enough – and that change over time brings people into and takes them out of our lives; change can affect health, wealth, geographical location, and of course we ourselves change through age and may even change emotionally as we move through time. My vision is explored via abstract arrangements of lines, shapes and textures in fabric and thread; I don’t do anything pictorial/representational. Well my current series is as representational is it might get ….
Then I checked my own blog, and found it is a long time since I wrote about my own motivations!…. and if the above artist or any new reader was checking they might be wondering – so let me say a few words in general about all the textile art I have done –
For more than 30 years my original works have been inspired by landscape structures, processes and resulting patterning of textures. Since childhood I have been fascinated by natural forces and the roles they play in shaping the landscape. I studied geography and geomorphology at university. Since marrying a geologist in the late ’60’s, I’ve found myself living in a variety of different landscapes: coastal and Outback Australia, central western USA, littoral and urban Uruguay, all of which have influenced my work. Regarding Landscape as a metaphor for Life is taking me in new directions.
I am currently exploring a landscape known as The Bungle Bungles or as the Aboriginal people have always called it, Purnululu. It’s a large, deeply eroded sandstone and karst range in the Kimberley region of NW Australia. In almost 20 years of Outback living, much of it up north, I still have not yet been there – but it is one of those iconic places Australians want to go, and I hope to one day. Iconic it may be, but it is also mysterious, and I wanted to use it as the subject of an art quilt competition I was entering at the time. I have become further intrigued with it and there are still several more ways I want to explore how I feel about this huge mass of rocks that stand arising out of plains like a group of sentinels.
While reading of the WA Government’s application document for the Bungle Bungles / Purnululu to go on the World Heritage List, I came across this comment by the writers –
“Religious beliefs, places of spiritual significance, stories and paintings
associating ancestral beings with the landscape, kinship connections and language
identification are all essential to the connection between people and place in Purnululu,
providing traditional owners then, as now, with a guide to living and being.”
This rather convoluted long sentence, and other reading, have really focused my mind on this place, and at the moment I feel it could take me until the end of the year or beyond to exhaust the topic – a bit like a series of paintings on haystacks or waterlily ponds, I guess. While racking my brains for a suitable title, as I normally do I compiled a list of words I associate with my subject, and it includes these :- age-old, timeworn, massif, massive, keeper, emblematic, timeless, seasonal sculpture, silent, presence, overwhelming, mysterious … And some titles I considered were/are Dreamtracks, Sentinels, Ancient Keepers, Guardians. The entry into the art competition that started all this I called ‘Dreamtracks’, and I may continue naming the series this with the addition of 2,3 etc., but I’m not sure if the one I am working on now will really be suited by this title, or not – I’ll wait and see when the quilting’s done.