Ancient Expressions Series

Recently on one of the lists I belong to there was a discussion on series. This topic bobs up once or twice a year, usually covering the exact same ground – as people new to quiltart wonder about the business of working in a series. But this time an interesting comment came from someone who wondered out loud if she should take the ‘risk’ of working in one, and what was the point anyway of ‘doing the same thing over and over again’

I don’t actually see any ‘risk’, to exploring the same thing over and over again – consider Jorge Rodrigue’s Blue Dog paintings, hugely commercially successful, and quite intriguing to many, wish I had one or two…. or what about Turner’s clouds, or Monet’s haystacks and lily ponds. And then again, ‘doing the same thing over and over again’ might refer to technique, colour palette, raw materials, processes, subject matter – there are many possible unifying elements on wqhich to base a series.

Rather than pontificate about series in abstract, I thought I’d offer this selection from the first series of work I made, ” Ancient Expressions” being from UL to LR, nos. I, VI, X and XII, dating from 1988 to 1992. As suggested by the title, the group/series has a general theme, which I didn’t foresee as ongoing while working with what eventually became “Ancient Expressions”. At the time I regarded myself as an embroiderer, and was only just beginning to learn about traditional patchwork, almost on the side. Hence the paint plus hand stitch and in this case quilting through layers, I thought of as an embroidery, a wall hanging. I had used ‘quilting’ as a needlework technique often. However as an art quilt, AE was juried into a very prestigious exhibition and sold. That was encouraging, and this whole area being of great interest to me, I renamed it “Ancient Expressions I” and continued on with the theme of man-made marks in and on the Landscape reflecting human activity in a region, and forming a link back to ancient peoples. I don’t know anyone who isn’t moved by this.

As the series develops the landscape element becomes more abstract but is always still present somewhere in the quilt. The markings form patterns and are less pictorial, but are based on real shapes or linear patterns I observed either on rocks or artefacts in museums and books. The series also reflects my expanding technical skills. The last work was “Ancient Expressions XIV”, and although that was 1993, I don’t consider this series is ‘closed” which is another way of saying I think I sitll have something more to say or explore on this theme. Not procrastinating though, I am wondering about exactly what it is I want to say and how I want to say/analyse it.

One Response to “Ancient Expressions Series”

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