07 February 2014

Museum labyrinth - fishing for thoughts

At the V&A earlier this week I picked up a map, as well as taking some pix (with ipad, as new camera was still in transit) of floors and stairs and corners and suchlike. At home I drew out some sections of the map and imagined a person - or a ball of string - going around this labyrinth, hugging the walls. With the "unconnected" walls removed, it looks easy enough ... and boring ...
Musing on it, I started to finger-crochet a chain from the neon thread. And then another ... just to see what might be possible ...
No obvious way forward came to mind and I ended up resorting to diversionary tactics - a bit of clear-up of the worktable and areas nearby. While putting some magazines in their right place I noticed that an issue of Surface Design (Fall 2010) was about quilts, and thought this would be a good time to have a quick look at it "just in case" a breakthrough idea was lurking [is this clasping at straws?]. Several things caught my eye, first of all this (map-like) example of a fractal in Judy Bales' article about the use of fractal geometry in "African" quilts, vs Euclidean geometry in Western quilts -
The patterns on Chung-Im Kim's printed and stitched piece reminded me of flooring, and the curved lines brought to mind how time expands and compresses as you get interested or bored on a museum visit -
Carol Westfall's piece is so simple, and very much in keeping with the pared-down "thing" I'm trying to come up with. And "compressed weaver's knots" are listed in the description - how intriguing! -
In Kate Lenkowsky's article "Quilt as Metaphor" she features the work of three artists whose work embodies "the power of metaphor in old textiles". Ellen Zak Danforth uses reclaimed sweaters and blankets, and the cut red strip caught my eye ... a combination of my cut-and-folded pages and the "red thread" that could wind through the labyrinth -
While those thoughts were jiggling round in the brain, the hands went to work, adding graphite to small pieces of paper (rubbing over threads and the loopy chains)
 and threading thread through the pages, sometimes looping it over adjacent pages to try to control the form -
The idea was to put these "paths" into a series of "rooms" - a 3D version of the map. My first attempt, folded from japanese paper and sewn on the machine, didn't match my mental image... the original idea was to dip it in slip, but it would obviously be easier to roll out clay and cut slabs and butt them together. Or even do it with cardboard (I'll look for the bits-of-card box and try that next) -
Nor did the "paths in rooms" work out as planned! -
The postcard at the bottom of the photo of the day's work had turned up a few days ago and may be having a subconscious influence - white, black; squares, curves...
It's William Scott's The Harbour (1952), now in the collection of the Tate. Again, something quite simple-seeming - and (to me) entirely satisfying.

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