These two quilts have just been acquired by the Australian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which also serves Australian interests and Aussies in Paraguay and Uruguay. Here in Montevideo last week, I handed them over to an embassy staff member who was about to return to Argentina after some business here. As most of our consular needs can be handled here in Montevideo, I’ve only had to attend the embassy in person a couple of times in the last decade, so I expect that might be the last I see of either of them. I understand they’ll be hanging in areas fairly accessible to the public, and look forward to seeing the installation shots. In their new posts I hope they give embassy staff and visitors pleasure for years to come.
I’ve always loved hand stitching, and am among the growing number of textile artists whose surface designs are featuring greater amounts of hand stitch than they previously used in their 2D and 3D functional and/or decorative stitched layered works. I extensively use that most basic of all stitches, the straight stitch, or as I think of it – the Glorious Straight Stitch, on account of its mark making versatility.
My regular readers know that I periodically browse on Pinterest, spending an hour or two viewing images and sometimes saving them onto to and sometimes deleting from my boards, (categories or collections, for the Pinterest uninitiated) Important things I search for on Pinterest include Lines and shapes, and it’s not exaggerating to say that I really do see lines as potential individual stitches or collections of them. And any kind of grid, regular or not, interests me, so I also save images of art designed on grids or grid-like layouts in this board, Grids! l spent several months last year experimenting with stitch as mark making through sample making, and many of the samples were on grids.
Probably a couple of years back my attention was grabbed by an image that I saved but didn’t investigate at the time. However, it kept attracting my attention, and one day last year I picked up my needle and began doodling. See lower left – it became the basis of several of the samples I did in that samples-only period. I began with a stitched square which I then went over again with the lines slightly off kilter and then followed with different arrangements of a few lines. This was the essence of that image which, when I investigated it recently, I found was of computer generated art designed by a Hungarian artist, Vera Molnar, pioneer of generative computer and kinetic art. So then I began reading more about this woman artist who apparently frequently declared “My life is squares, triangles, lines. I am mad about lines.” – quoted from the interesting Mayor Gallery artist bio on Artsy.
Now here’s a fascinating article by information designer Duncan Geere on his blog, https://observablehq.com/@duncangeere/structure-de-quadrilateresas. He’s young, clearly very able with computer algorithms and all the big words that go with that stuff. In 2018 he discovered Vera Molnar and was smitten; I really recommend you take a minute or two to scroll through his article, following the evolution of complexity in his diagrams until right at the end you get to a similar kinetic drawing like the Molnar one that grabbed my attention on Pinterest, though that one on Pinterest didn’t ‘move’ 🙂
Anyway, my little stitched block gradually developed complexity, all without any help from a computer program, and has become a signature motif, really:
I used it with neon nylon thread to produce this small piece; and at 6″ x 8″ like all other submissions – it’s too small even to call a potholder, let alone a ‘quilt’. and it will be auctioned off during the SAQA Spotlight Auction during the annual conference, this year from April 29th to May 7t. Bidding is online and open to everyone, anywhere, whether registered for the conference, or not, so for further details go to https://www.saqa.com/events/2022-spotlight-auction
Lately I’ve noticed something that might have always been there, but now I’ve noticed it, it erks me a bit: when you click on an image to have a closer look, you get this message – ‘Tried this Pin? Add a photo to show how it went.’ and there’s a button to click to add your photo ‘of this pin.’ The message might just as well have said ‘Have a go at copying this and let us see how successful you were’. Of course there are no instructions or list of materials, and all artists who display their work understand that imitation/copying does happen, and can often be regarded as the sincerest form of flattery. But such actual encouragement to copy is a bit annoying.
Arcs in the Bungle Bungles series
This morning my eye was caught by a red and cream abstract work of the German multimedia artist Sati Zech on Pinterest. There are many imagesof her art online, and I loved the way she repeats particular organic shapes, especially the arcs, quarter circles or approximations of, elongated arc-like shapes that I have often used myself. I went to herwebsiteand found her to be a very gifted multimedia artist and teacher. Her own media include paper, fabric, plastic, paint and found objects – and probably anything else she sees that grabs her imagination. There is a lot of information on her website, but the closest thing to artist statements are her master class workshop descriptions; from which it is clear her focus when teaching is the basics of design which the student can achieve using any medium and any technique – sculpture, sewing, photography and accessing a wide range of materials. How stimulating it would be to be in such a class.
Mirage 1, 2005. 75 x 100cm Oscuro, 2002. 122cm x 100cm.
These two small wall quilts date from early 2002. Looking through archived images this morning I found the one on the right, and though I remembered it, and occasionally come across it in the deepest recesses of my storage area. For a while I couldn’t remember what on earth I called it, but eventually I did, and I now believe the illustrated catalogue to be complete. The key word is ‘believe’, leaving some wiggle room for another discovery.
Mirage 1 was really just a sample to see how fine I could go with a wavy line approach, and gently waving lines like these have characterised my technique ever since. It’s no great art work, but a little piece I love and usually take to any technical workshop that includes freehand piecing. I had just been inspired by the new appearance of very finely pieced works by well known Australian artist and friend, Margery Goodall, which has since become a signature element in her textile art. The title reflects the shimmering quality of a mirage.
Oscuro also has little artistic merit, but is another piece I needed to make. The arcs of colour which began appearing in my work several years before seemed appropriate for those unforgettable images of rolling, falling, clouds of smoke, ash, all manner of debris, that filled our minds following New York’s Twin Towers attack in 2001. The barely visible machine quilted pattern is of same-colour grey arcs over the entire quilt. Oscuro is spanish for dark.
Round 2 of the 2018 SAQA Online Auction of 12″sq. quiltlets starts today at 2pm Eastern Daylight Time USA, 3am EST Australian time, 3pm Uruguay time. The works are all donated by Studio Art Quilt members each year to support the organisation’s touring exhibition programme. Full information on the auction and the online bidding form is all here
My donation, Ebb&Flow 26, is well down the page. The background fabric is silver speckled black, and it’s machine quilted with silver metallic thread.
A couple of friends collect them and have attractively grouped several pieces together on walls in their homes – why not start your collection today?