31 December 2012

Getting going on a new project

Seeing this bark painting -
White Painting by Nyapanyapa Yunupingu (image from here)
made me get out some woolly fabric and perle thread and try to replicate the criss-cross effect. But the fabric and thread seemed to have a will of their own - or was it that the second layer got too "floaty" -
Having a few pens at hand, I started to draw criss-cross sets of lines with a Lumocolour pen (it soaked through to the back quite nicely) and then used one of the little pens, found scattered on the pavement outside a betting shop, to draw some "ravelled patches" -
The erratic nature of the blobby ink of the little pens enhanced the wobbly lines of the patches.

A short train ride gave me a chance to try these drawings with my non-dominant hand - which was hellish awkward, and added further wobble -
and also to jot down ideas for the next steps with this "memory maintenance" piece - translation from drawing to textile. Today's task is to experiment with sewing down thin strips of newspaper (as used for the "Journey to the Studio" piece) by machine and hand in the criss-cross pattern.

Having started with the idea of doing rubbings of bark and "mending" the gashes shown on them, this "memory maintenance" idea has evolved, in a few days of constantly revisiting it, via questions like: What shape is memory? does it even have a shape is or it something undefined? How are memories connected? How do we rehearse memories, how do we retrieve them?

I plan to use black fabric, various threads, and strips of newspaper. Wax and ink may make an appearance, as may other types of paper, and old photographs. Using newspaper is appropriate because of its place in time, and because of the way it will yellow and crumble; similarly, ink (used for the dark bits, perhaps) could run or fade - these would be part of the history of the piece, in the way that the memories are part of the history of an individual.

In many ways, this period of information-gathering, when the final form is still fluid, is the most exciting part of a project. It acts as a filter - you focus on information that's relevant to the project, rather than getting overwhelmed with a lot of exciting possibilities for projects-as-yet-unborn. Also, it's interesting to take what seems to be a brilliant idea and actually try it out - even if it doesn't work as planned, if you're open to surprises and critical about what's going on, it will lead to new possibilities. By "being critical" I mean assessing the success of things - keeping in mind your own criteria for what might happen further down the line, and what you originally intended - and also stepping back to assess what someone else will see in what you're doing ... is there a blatant connection that you've overlooked, that makes the piece "mean" something entirely different. Making samples is fine in terms of figuring out techniques, but it's not the only thing going on.

Yet to come:  choosing the materials - grappling with composition of the piece - and deciding its size.

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