Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Just a few words say that I'm away from the 11th to the 18th in sunny Wales, walking, sketching, catching up with reading (all those textile books bought at Stroud) and generally lazing about. Please do not send any work to me to arrive during this time. If you are on half term at the moment, either looking after children or taking a break, enjoy the time as much as you can too.
 Bark 1- Trisha Goodwin

Those of you who eventually do all the Textiles courses,  may see a picture of one of my "napkin rings" as my dear husband calls them, in the new course that is being written at the moment. Actually they are textile art pieces, but he is not as enlightened as you or I. They are examples of  art using found materials and also artefacts “imbued with value” beyond the original, which aim to “transcend the prosaic identity of the original material”. Beyond the day to day design work that I do for others and so on, these are the pieces which are most personally me.

Two months before the final MA examination and exhibition, I lost two people extremely close to me and found it very hard to continue working.  I went to Scotland and walked and walked over the moors for miles (a lifetime habit, as is collecting found materials as I go). I noticed the way that the ground underneath objects (pinecones, sections of bark, etc) was changed completely, usually in colour and an indent forming under the material. Where the objects fell was completely accidental but the actual earth was changed; this became a poignant metaphor for me; we are all transient, and fragile, but leave a mark on the earth, even if unmourned, it is there. Back at UCE I worked quite compulsively with these bark pieces and pinecones. I wanted the found material to suggest the actual form of the work, so pulled fine silk through holes in the bark, etc and stitched it where it lay, a form of fabric manipulation which took on a life of its own.

Bark 2- Trisha Goodwin

 I was very encouraged to persue these ideas by Dr Colin Gale, the senior lecturer in Textiles and head of the Textiles Dept, as well as the visiting MA examiner. I am eternally grateful to the textile artist and visiting lecturer Claire Barber (her work was in Through the Surface and numerous other exhibitions) whose kindness I will never forget. She gave me a one to one tutorial and cleared up many doubts for me. It was a big step into the unknown at the time, even though I knew it was what I wanted and needed to do for myself.
 Bark 3- Trisha Goodwin

The pieces concentrate on texture alone, relieved only by the natural colours of the found birch bark. I struggled to find a way to preserve the bark, it started to fragment as soon as I worked on it too robustly. After trying lots of waxes, oils and varnishes, I found an organic boat varnish based on natural ingredients which seemed to preserve the integrity of the other materials - organically produced silk and silk thread - extremely well. I left the thread ends hanging to emphasise the nature of the textile processes used and as a contrast to the ridges created by light and shade in the stitched areas.

 Little Cairn - Clyde Oliver

Strangely, I didn't even know about the work of Andy Goldworthy at the time (Claire Barber put me onto him and other Land Artists). These were truely exciting discoveries for me, as was the work of Clyde Oliver, a textile artist who works in stone as well stitch. He had some fantastic pieces on show at Stroud, but look at his website if you were unable to visit - I was also drawn at Stroud to the work of Sue Hiley Harris, a weaver who makes wonderful structural pieces with beautiful form If you ever get a chance to see their work, do so, it may be your personal thing or not, but you have to admire the fine balance wonderful workmanship and sense of meaning they evoke.

 Indoor sculpture 4 - Sue Hiley Harris