30 January 2013

"Transform, change, disintegrate"

After the first of three Saturdays doing a course on mixed media textiles ("transform, change, disintegrate") at City Lit with Louise Baldwin, what lies ahead? 

It was "disintegrate" in the title of the course that caught my imagination, given my theme of loss of memory, loss of language. The first session was such a whirlwind of possibilities that I had to hang very tightly on to my intention, rather than spin off into a frenzy of wanting, needing to try out this'n'that ... even so I felt a bit adrift at the end of the day.

Louise brought in many samples of possible techniques, and I'm trying to stick to just one - washed paper, which can look like this -
Machine stitched, then washed (by hand!) to help it fall apart
Again in the interests of simplicity, I'll be using black and white. (Limitations are good when you're easily distracted!) As a follow-on from the sponge printing in ceramics class ("if it works, do it some more"), I printed on tissue paper and discovered a way of getting already-falling-apart letters - the photo shows a layer of scrim laid on tissue paper -
Trying again; some of the ink migrates through the layers of tissue -
All-over printing with the sponge - quick and easy -
 Wax over layers of cut-out letters, plain and printed tissue -
 Stitching to bring out the letters - and a light behind it, gleaming through the wax -
Working on these two samples at home (the top is ink-printed scrim over magazine pages, with leftover tissue letters thrown in, and some lines of machine stitching) left me very dissatisfied - always a good sign! -
Dissatisfied at the look of the work, yes, and also at my lack of clarity of what I'm doing and why. The hope is to find a new or different way of working with the "loss of memory" topic, via the fragmentation-disintegration route, and the washed-paper effect could work well ... but it needs more than that, and I can't figure out at the moment just what that "more" is. So, a bit of patience, and lots of development work - the doing that leads to further thinking. After all, I haven't actually made any of the "washed" paper yet.

 For next time - some inked papers (will the ink be permanent when washed) -
 and fabrics onto which to sew them - scrim and metallic organza -
These are experiments - stepping out of my comfort zone. It's about doing and further thinking. I have no idea where this will lead, and am not even sure if I'm enjoying it at the moment. Getting back to a buzzing, energetic textiles-class situation was a bit of a shock - it was hard to switch off from what was going on elsewhere.

Fortunately at the end of the session Louise gave us some bits of paper - "It's a good idea to think about what you are trying to achieve from this work in order to evaluate how successful you are being." Indeed! And here are the questions we are to think about:

What image am I going to use to explore the theme?
Why have you chosen it?
What kind of change do I want to see being visualised?
What do you want this change to suggest to the viewer?
What techniques do you think would be useful to work with and why?
What visual research would be useful to inform your work and make it richer? When can you do this?
Through the process of exploring your theme are there things that you particularly want to explore like techniques, effective use of colour, invigorating your design process....
Are you working towards a finished piece or are you happy to explore the idea through sampling and testing?

The first question, what image, stumped me, so I quickly decided on Letters, and have spent some time since looking at Denise Lach's calligraphy book. I've chosen letters because they can become unreadable, and this could convey to the viewer frustration similar to that of the person who is searching for the words or can't even articulate that they have forgotten the words.

1 comment:

Olga said...

Interesting. I can see that this could fit into your theme really well. I'm interested also that you chose letters. I was fascinated by how my mother's stroke had affected her sight. She already had macular degeneration which caused a kind of bending of the corners, and then when she had her stroke she lost the right visual field. That meant that she did not see the right half of anything she looked at.
I tried to sort her television viewing by placing a small black filing cabinet immediately to the right of the tv set, and that did it: the tv was the left half of the whole black piece of furniture!
You've got my imagination jumping now!