Tag Archives: inspiration

Simple starting points

I’ve started making a new piece of work. I’m at the beginning of the process and although I’m beyond the first sampling and trying out stage, I’m still in, ‘not quite sure exactly how this will turn out’ mode. I thought I’d write a little about some of its origins and a few ideas I am pondering at the moment.

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The form of this work comes from Minimalist music that originated in America in the mid-sixties. This type of music broke away from the classical tradition to be more chaotic and you could say, less musical.

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Some of the features of Minimalist music are:

  • Layers of repeated rhythmic, melodic or harmonic patterns that are repeated many times (the proper word is ostinato).
  • Repeated patterns that gradually change over time.
  • Layered textures

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Composers included Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass.

I remember taking part in a performance of Terry Riley’s In C, when I was at music college and being completely amazed by the way a seemingly simple score could create such complex sounds.

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In C consists of 53 separate bars of music in the key of C, each with a different melodic and rhythmic pattern.  Players repeat each bar as many times as they wish before moving onto the next. The result is an ever-changing web of sound where complicated patterns and unpredictable combinations of the set bars occur.

The idea that one simple form, when repeated over and over again, can produce complex and multifarious patterns is very beguiling and is also very relevant to visual art. The work I am making at the moment is made up of a simple, repeated form. When assembled these forms will create an altogether new and more complex work. I think that this work is the simplest interpretation of the idea…..

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….but already my mind is moving on to how I could make an even more complex work from the simplest of ideas: very, very, simple repeated, rhythmic layers that slip in and out of sync with each other to make a complex work.

However, for now, it’s on with the sewing – there’s a lot to do.  More on this project later as I progress!

 

 

Reading

The Knitting and Stitching shows have finished. It was a wonderful experience and so good to speak to so many enthusiastic people and to get such positive feedback. Thank you to everyone who came, looked, asked questions and were fantastically encouraging. I was exhausted at the end but have spent the past week catching up on domestic things and having a bit of a sit down!

For me this has meant catching up on some reading. I divide my reading matter into ‘upstairs’ books (a secret love of detective fiction) that are for reading in bed and ‘downstairs’ books (books I can get my teeth into and learn something new). I read from a wide range of  topics: anthropology, history, natural history and science, and both poetry and prose, to name just a few.

At the moment I have a pile of books waiting to be read

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and two journals that I have recently bought.

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Elementum describes itself as a journal of nature and story that includes writing from Cornwall showcasing art, photography & features inspired by our connection to the ocean & landscape. This is the first volume and it explores the theme of Calling. It is beautifully produced on nice paper and has wonderful photographs and artwork. I have ordered the second volume that will arrive soon. The second journal, Reliquae, is printed by the Corbel Stone Press and is also a compendium of poetry and prose about landscape, place and philosophy.

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There’s nothing I like better in the winter than to draw the curtains when it gets dark, make a cup of tea and sit down and read …. this lot will keep me going for a while. (I always have a pencil for marking interesting passages and this one above is particularly good!)

I’m taking a break from all social media over the Christmas period. It will be a time to relax, recharge and catch up. I’ll be back in the New Year to let you know about an idea that has been percolating in my mind for a while.

Finally, you may like to know that I have put four Marshscape Collages into my shop.

 

Holes (again)

I am on holiday in Cornwall and a trip to the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden in St Ives has provided much inspiration.

In the museum I read:

‘Even as in music, not only the sounds but also the silences enter into the rhythm of the composition, so matter and empty space form in their harmony these carvings.’

That sums up everything I have been thinking about holes, space and material. There is no more to say ……

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The Sewing Machine Project (Part 2)

Last time I told you a bit about The Sewing Machine Project  – an exhibition that Studio 21 are showing in October/November at South Hill Park Arts Centre.  I thought I’d give you a bit of insight into the two pieces of work that I have made for the exhibition.

A sewing machine repeats its actions over and over again in a replicated sequence of rhythmical movement. These highly rhythmic repetitions mark the passing of time.

(From my entry in The Sewing Machine Project booklet)

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I have used the fold and the seam, the most basic construction methods, to explore two themes.

For the first part of the project the group thought about the sensory effects of the sewing machine: its sound and its feel, and what the machine means to their practice. We each chose three words to describe our response. Mine were Repetition – Duration – Succession.

My first piece, Fold, is a response to these words and considers the relentless mechanical movements of the sewing machine: the way the needle punctures the fabric as it moves up and down, the action of the feed dogs and the of stop/start action of the machine user. I stitched, folded, pierced with wire and rolled eleven, 12 metre strips of cloth to represent the fundamental processes of the machine.

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My second piece originated with a piece of historical research and looks at the domestic relief and benefits brought to women by the invention of the sewing machine.

It started with finding this interesting piece of information in Godey’s Lady’s Book. (Godey’s Lady’s Book was a magazine intended to entertain, inform and educate the women of America. The Lady’s book was produced in Philadelphia and included works of fiction, latest fashion, recipes for cleaning andeducational activities for children.)

‘In 1860 Godey’s Lady’s Book reported that the sewing machine was the ‘Queen of inventions’ and that a gentleman’s shirt required 20,620 stitches which at the rate of 35 stitches per minute took about fourteen hours and twenty six minutes to finish by hand. Operating a sewing machine at 3,000 stitches a minute, a seamstress could assemble a shirt in one hour sixteen minutes by machine’.

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I thought I would try this out and see how long it would take to sew that many stitches by hand as opposed to by machine. I rounded the number of stitches down to 20,000 (I like round numbers) and got stitching. The result were two pieces of work. Seam I: 20,000 stitches (sewn by hand) and Seam II: 36 metres (sewn by machine).

I chose to do back stitch as I thought using running stitch a shirt would quickly fall to pieces! Well …. I can’t sew 35 stitches a minute! I only managed 10-15 stitches a minute (mostly nearer 10 than 15 minutes). 20,000 stitches final took me 30 hours and 38 minutes to complete and the seam was 36 metres long.

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You can see how tiny the stitches are. I counted every stitch and inserted a little red marker thread every 50 stitches  – I timed each session.

Seam II: 36 metres compares how long a 36m seam takes to sew by machine as opposed to by hand. And the answer is….

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…32 minutes.

It’s definitely quicker to use a machine!

I’ve put all the research into a little hand-bound book that will be at the exhibition for you to look at.

Boats, bits and covers

I went out the other day to draw …. but my sketchbook remained firmly in my bag and I came home with a load of photos instead. I never know what is going to catch my eye when I’m out and about and this time I was seduced by the covers and fixings on the boats pulled up on the bank of the creek.  As I’m interested in how cloth is used in a coastal environment, the way in which this paraphernalia is used in conjunction with it is always an inspiration for my work.

An interesting looped fixing.

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Some good knots.

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A shiny shackle and several ‘joining’ methods.

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A good thick rope and some lacing.

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A furled sail with zig-zag stitching.

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Fancy studs (I like the verdigris and the imprints).

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And finally rust ….

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and a few masts!

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