Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Looking Back a Bit …

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

To rediscover this excellent scan of what is my first intentionally made ‘art quilt’ last week was a thrill (the original is a 2×2 transparency, back in the filing cabinet in Perth – remember those?).  This is ‘Ancient Expressions’, so named because I  thought  that would help it be juried into an exhibition,”Expressions in Quilting”, Barrington IL 1989.  Whether it would have made it without that little push, I don’t know, but it did get in and sold from the exhibition.  If anyone knows who has this quilt I’d love to hear where it is.  I was never informed of the buyer, and didn’t think to press for that detail at the time 🙂

Ancient Expressions I,  1988.      114cm x 102cm

This success really focused me on making my own designs in layered textiles; and further, it led to a series which became the Ancient Expressions series (I- XIV)  Each quilt has an element of landscape in the design, and all celebrate the ancients’ connection with their landscapes, expressed in the patterns they painted or carved on those surfaces. Two or three were OMG flops, but on the whole they are still works I’m proud of.

 

Detail of the hands – it’s not a grainy photo, I sprayed paint over ironed-on freezer paper cut-outs of my own hand shapes. But the paint seeped under the edges in places, and my initial reaction was that my experiment failed, as I had been going to embroider using the hands and paint as kind of templates (which on reflection would have been boring probably) but when a fellow embroiderer said  ‘You could put it in a quilt …’ I looked with fresh eyes and realised its potential, made the quilt and went on exploring the potential of this theme in the series, some of which are  pictured below:

 

Left to Right –   #XII                       # I                          #X                        #IX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Left to Right –    #XII                 #XIV                         #VI                         #II

Do Art Quilts Belong in Quilt Shows?

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

People love quilt shows, and flock to them whether in a regional agricultural show or a major city or state gallery.   No matter the source of inspiration or the pattern used, producing any quilt requires a certain amount of creativity and perspiration.  Despite the similarity of tools, many of the processes, and many of the raw materials used to produce all the different kinds of layered textiles, it’s a mistake to assess them as equals in every way.  Carrots and radishes, quilts and art quilts, yes they are alike, but different.

It’s over two decades since quilt show organisers began including art quilt sections in their events.  Years ago when I still belonged to a traditional quilt guild, as a known art quilt maker I felt it was important to participate by entering the guild’s annual show when for the first time it offered an art quilt section in the annual members’ quilt show.  A contemporary quiltmaking subgroup of the guild had formed a couple of years earlier, and there was enthusiastic interest in experimenting with techniques, materials and ideas beyond the range of traditional quiltmaking.  The entry form asked for the inspiration source for the quilt design – so I submitted a photo I’d taken of a ceiling in some caves nearby, and handed over my quilt, La Cueva (spanish for The Cave)  In quilt shows, the quilters expect and usually get some kind of technical comment back from judges, though this is not the case in art quilt exhibitions.  My quilt came back after the exhibition with a judge’s comment along the lines of  –   ‘The wavy lines are most distracting’.

La Cueva (The Cave)   1998         150cm x 130cm

Hmmm … the photo I took of the cave ceiling with roots and stalactites hanging down was the inspiration for the repeat units I combined to make the quilt.  That dismissive comment highlighted to me that the person chosen to judge the art quilts was not seeing these works as ‘originally designed art’ and really did not understand the difference between an art quilt and a functional bed or wall quilt from a traditional design or commercial pattern.

So the answer to my question is, no, I don’t think art quilts have a place in quilt shows.  Many textile artists differ with that view (for valid reasons to do with their own practice and marketing) but eventually it’s a personal choice about where to have your work seen, and sometimes a difficult decision.

Considering Series Again

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

In response to yet another question on working in a series, on which I have written before,  I wrote a  few comments on the Quiltart list this week, including:  “I think it is important to write about each work. I don’t mean how you made it – those technical details aren’t the important part of a series. I mean writing your thoughts, ideas, inspirations, concerns, fears maybe – anything about your work, put onto paper, or into a digital visual or artist’s diary of some kind.  This writing, in whatever form, is not for publication but for yourself; the act of thinking about why you are doing what you are doing is part of the series process.  And when a meaningful artist statement is required, you have already done the groundwork! I’ve occasionally had what I felt at the time were one-offs, and yet with some, hindsight, there are really only two that don’t fit in one of my series.  But, even as I wrote that sentence, it occurred to me that those two almost forgotten works, made almost 20 years apart, have something strong in common… perhaps I need to think about that and write something about what links these two very different looking works…”


Life’s Rich Tapestry 2,  1990,  160cm x 160cm

I can’t find anything I’ve written about this old quilt, although if you have a Visions 1992 catalogue handy you’ll find something in that –  that artist statement would refer to the role of chance, in how our lives weave through highs and lows, as nothing stays the same for ever – we exercise skill navigating the swings and roundabouts, but there’s always temptation, the quirky hand of fate, the wheel of fortune, and so on – all these things are alluded to in the images on the quilt, which itself is a patchwork background of brights and darks signifying highs and lows.  In many ways this  contains the germ of the much later and still current ‘Ebb and Flow’ series.

 

Arbol de la Vida,  2008,  approx 150cm x 100cm

This morning I went back through my blog posts (aka something like ‘artists diary’) and read here what I’d forgotten about this second quilt I called Arbol de la Vida.  It was a exhibited in some exhibition I was invited to take part in – I just don’t remember – and I didn’t write much about it at the time, perhaps I didn’t think it was important enough, I’m not sure.  But I can tell you that in the preceding few months or weeks I had seen a fabulous exhibition of the ceramics of very important Uruguayan artist  Jose Gurvich  some of whose works can be seen today in a dedicated museum in the old city on Plaza Matriz. I love his work which is literally everywhere here.  Note the Life theme, and the pictographic symbols on the leaves – I was definitely on that same hand of fate/role of chance track 18 years later.

This morning I watched an interesting profile of Egyptian jewellery designer Azza Fahmy whose beautiful dramatic modern jewellery references her nationality and cultural history – she commented that while designing her Pharaonic collection over 10 years she was constantly combing through museums and archeological sites all around Egypt re-familiarising herself with all elements of ancient Egyptian decorative design that she was using as inspiration.  It can take much time and thought to build a series!

I think it’s time to have a palm reading.

Something Spherical, Continued

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

On October 10th last, I wrote in this  blog about a new work, and showed the left part of the photo below:

Untitled work in progress:  machine piecing (left)  machine quilting (right)

 

Progress has been intermittent, but apparently like a phone app, my mind has been quietly working on in the background looking for a good title for this.  My custom is to start a list of words and phrases that could become titles, and add to it as I go along.  The list for this piece already includes Moonlight Sonata and Dark Side of The Moon (both really famous musical works already, so not hot contenders for this) but there’s Lunar Eclipse, Night Light, Lunar Grids… and about 20 more.  As I got into the shower this morning, the phrase “…Tears of the Moon” popped into my head, and I knew it followed something about the sun, but couldn’t remember the other part of the metaphor.  So I had to look it up – and where else but Wikipedia, that excellent starting point or, in this case, aide memoire ?   I quickly found what I’d forgotten – that the Incas referred to gold as Sweat of the Sun and silver as Tears of The Moon, and remembered that was the title of an outstanding tv doco series I saw years ago (before I ever came to South America) and I will look for it now to watch again.  As you can see by this extract from the Wiki page, this section of text alone could take me off on a full day at the computer, following interesting links and having a fascinating time learning new things, but I really want to finish the quilting on this piece while I consider a possible companion piece, plus, I’m listening to a fascinating audio book “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, A 500-year History” by Kurt Andersen.

“Mama Killa (Quechua mama mother, killa moon, “Mother Moon”,[1] hispanicized spelling Mama Quilla), in Inca mythology and religion, was the third power and goddess of the moon. She was the sister and wife of Inti, daughter of Viracocha and mother of Manco Cápac and Mama Uqllu (Mama Ocllo), mythical founders of the Inca empire and culture. She was the goddess of marriage and the menstrual cycle, and considered a defender of women. She was also important for the Inca calendar.

Myths surrounding Mama Killa include that she cried tears of silver and that lunar eclipses were caused when she was being attacked by an animal. She was envisaged in the form of a beautiful woman and her temples were served by dedicated priestesses.”

It won’t be Tears of the Moon – that’s been done, but something good will come from this I know … Silver Eclipse ?…Silver Moon ?… and the app churns on.

 

 

 

Textile Exhibitions Montevideo, 4

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

On the top floor (no lift)  of the recently restored original Cabildo building Museo Historico Cabildo on the Plaza Matriz is a lovely small exhibition I’m glad I went to this morning.  Entitled From Within – Outside and Beyondthis invitational exhibition was curated by Beatriz Schaaf of Uruguay and Germany, hence the inspired, evocative, title.  I must confess it, I know little of felt making.  I have seen wonderful felt here (Siv Goransson) and in my home town Perth Western Australia, (Nancy Ballesteros) for example; I own a couple of fabulous scarves, and sometimes buy something made in UY to take overseas as gifts.  But I’ve never watched anyone making felt. I believe wool felts best of all because of its fibre characteristics, and I believe water plus your hands and arms are greatly involved.  Prominent felters in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands and Uruguay were given Uruguayan wool to work with, to which most then added other wools from their own regions, plus in many cases incorporated other fibres, papers, cloths, natural materials and metals to produce their creations for this show, a lovely idea.  Here I present some of my favourites.

 


Margarete Warth, Germany, Vessels (Recipientes) variable sizes, max length approx. 20cm

To me these looked ceramic, but of course they are felt, and beautifully as-if-casually-arranged on an elegant marble mantle-piece in the grey-walled gallery.

 

Esther Weber, Switzerland/Italy, Revelation full (perhaps 90cm x 75cm) plus detail

I love the textures on this one, Revelation by Esther Weber, suggesting something growing and hatching or emerging from beneath the top layer… something organic and a bit disturbing perhaps, so I’m not going further down that path! (see post 3 in this series for my comments on statements and titles)  This is a perfect example of a brief title giving freedom for the viewer to mentally explore responses with minimal direction from the artist.

 

Gudrun  Bertenberger-Geyer, Austria  Hidos humanos / Human nests – silver (front) and gold (rear)  height perhaps 1.5m each

I managed to photograph these so that they hid the security fellow sitting behind them 🙂   They look so solid, like rocks or cement, but knowing they’re not, I really felt I’d like to climb in and see how nesty these feel.  As I say, I know little of felting technique, and it surprised me that someone could make such large forms -feeling sure that this comment proves my ignorance.  So I googled ‘3D felt shapes – how large can they go?’ and, well, I’d need to know how to crawl before walking this one, but clearly there’s a lot of interesting potential.

 

Claudia Fischer, Germany, collection of bowls, individually approx. 20cm diam, 15cmH

Each a bit different, with textural variations on the inside and outside, plus different edge textures (rims), these bowl forms were placed low down so you could easily see inside many of them, too.


Christine Rummel, Germany,  selected textural pieces.

Christine Rummel of Germany provided a large installation of panels of textures and a table to which were attached several little pieces people could touch and fiddle with, always a wonderful experience for viewers of all ages.  Textiles and fabrics are such an important part of our lives from our arrival in the world to our departure, and we expect to be able to touch them, but so often cannot.  (refer to the right hand panel of the top photo)  I just loved the grey and cream texture in the upper right of the panel, with little lips or protuberances of 0.25-0.4cm filled with something darker grey.  In the lower panel, very, very fine forms suggest something almost papery, like wasps’ nests or something very organic, and quite fascinating.  No, I didn’t touch them, but was very tempted.

As I write this, I realise this exhibition in particular has been very inspiring to me personally, and for that I send my thanks to ALL the exhibitors, including even those whose work I haven’t commented on.  Felting is very organic, somehow very ‘environmental’, and I will not forget this exhibition.   But there were a couple of negatives – the signage was tiny, often poorly lit and positioned way down close to the floor.  Good grief organisers, think a bit more carefully about making it easier for all people to access the relevant information – use larger signage, placed close to works at heights that don’t require visitors to almost kneel on the floor. (In another museum today, Museo Andes it was exactly the opposite)  And, further, I was stunned to find when I got home and consulted the biennial catalogue, that not only were not all images of pieces in this show included in the catalogue, but none were attributed at all – how very disappointing for everyone involved, and unprofessional to say the least.  I could not have written what I have if I had not taken photos at every point in this lovely exhibition.

 

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