the exhibition has been featured in the University of the Arts blog
a selection of images from my last visit
Some thoughts on unpicking and rebinding -
How has working within the archive informed my practice - What will last?
Over many years of reflecting on my work previous to this project I had come to know that my practice had the concept of control at its core. This issue of restriction was challenged by the choice of materials that were used within the project. This selection in turn was governed by the establishment of a set of rules developed from a political position. The concept of the hidden within the fold has informed this thinking. Practically the materials chosen serve an unsung yet useful original purpose; stiffening, strengthening and creating form within the garment.
Politically there is a link with workers making and possibly controlled by the processes they are engaged with, making work for idle hands, subjugation through craft.
When the choice of materials can be anything rules and concepts are important to enable you to focus what you will work with. Materials have political and aesthetic factors connected to them and this choice compounds with issues of quality and value towards the final pieces.
The extensive use of fabric within the project has forced me to release a degree of control in the work I've been making – paper and card ‘move’ less. The inherent quality of materials one works with is apparent and informed by every decision and those decisions embedded within the materials. The fabric feels alien and too open, although this has been one of the many practical lessons learnt.
I have developed my personal connection to the history of textile activity within the Eastern Region, specifically amassing knowledge around the meaning of smocks through time – agricultural labourer to bohemian crafts person including a political position around workers and decoration.
Learning from making is something that I constantly talk about with the students I work with. Asking them to consider and act on it - this new body of work, where I have positioned myself outside my 'traditional' knowledge has required me to learn skills and develop strategies which have in turn moved my work forward
I have been developing my practical textile skills, specifically smocking techniques. This has widened my making vocabulary, enabling me to have a richer visual voice. This extensive period of learning skills from practising creating pockets using paper and lining materials to traditional smocking techniques is now part of my practice. This rigorous making has enabled parallels and connections between pattern cutting and the world of experimental book production to be considered.
Reflection whilst physically being with the objects in the collection enables links to flow. The objects have a palimpsest quality; the record of their history reappears on the surface like the traces of old texts to be 'read', a memory of use embedded within the objects physicality, like cumulative palimpsests. And the objects themselves leave their own mark on the viewer. Every object has an infinite number of stories attached and each personal truth illustrates multiple connections and this in itself documents our relationship to what and how we value the objects around us. But when making work that is inspired by the works of others the shadow of impersonation is ever present. When referencing becomes pastiche pieces can cease to be viewed as valid or creative in their own right. Looking at objects and striking a balance between research and creativity, between citation and indication.
The physical making led, through reflection to a series of questions, including when does bend become crease become fold? When does an object become itself? This initial interest in the idea of objectness led to a need to consider categorisation and it became a large part of the research.