The college at West Dean is set in wonderful parkland and gardens. At the end of the Cross materials practice course we had the opportunity to hang our work in one of the greenhouses in the walled garden – a setting that gave our work space and an interesting backdrop against which to photograph it.
I chose to hang four wood and textile pieces, one small starched cloth piece and five small dipped porcelain pieces – the best of the things I had made.
The wood and textile pieces explore how these two different materials can participate equally in the work – I didn’t want to use wood simply as a frame or armature to hang cloth on. In these pieces the force of the cloth bends the wood into a curve or s -shape – neither the wood nor the cloth would take the form it does without the other. Each material plays an integral part in the work.
I also showed a simple piece of starched linen cloth. I hadn’t previously explored the potential to stiffen and change cloth using starch – with a bit of playing I managed a really hard, board-like material.
There is a connection to stiffening cloth with starch and firing cloth/threads with porcelain slip – both processes harden the material.
There is definite potential in all of these new techniques and processes – although my woodworking skills need a lot of practise (!) and I haven’t regular got access to a kiln.
This course has confirmed my interest in materials – you could say my work is founded on the materials I use. My choice of materials is often utilitarian and familiar, they are easily understood and we know how they feel – hard, soft, smooth, rough. I realise that the processes and time used to make work are as important as the finished piece……..so much to think about……so much to do!