drawing

Stitch as touch

View from the studio, Rud AIR, Sweden

Work-in-progress, Liminal, 2015

While stitching these ‘photo hankies’ I started to question why. Why remake a digital image into a laboriously stitched piece where the process of drawing and stitching removes and alters some or most of the image’s content? The question started out of the hard-to-shake-off received (imposed?) reputation of hand-stitching as domestic and inconsequential (and even more so when labelled ’embroidery’, or ‘fancy work’). But I can just as readily frame the act of painting as archaic and ridiculous – why smear and daub oil and ground up rocks across a piece of cloth? Slow. Pointless. Unproductive. My answer (which may satisfy only a few, and they would then be the audience…) is in connection, and in touch:

“Whoever wants life must go softly towards life, softly as one would go towards a deer and a fawn that was nestling under a tree. One gesture of violence, one violent assertion of self-will, and life is gone. You must seek again. And softly, gently, with infinitely sensitive hands and feet, and a heart that is full and free from self-will, you must approach life again, and come at last into touch. Snatch even at a flower, and you have lost it for ever out of your life. Come with greed and the will-to-self towards another human being, and you clutch a thorny demon that will leave poisonous stings.

But with quietness, with an abandon of self-assertion and a fulness of  the deep, true self one can approach another human being, and know the delicate best of life, the touch. The touch of the feet on the earth, the touch of the fingers on a tree, on a creature, the touch of hands and breasts, the touch of the whole body to body, and the interpenetration of passionate love: it is life itself, and in the touch, we are all alive.”

DH Lawrence

 

Liminal hanky 2. Lace fragment, birch tree, early spring, Sweden.

Work-in-progress, Liminal, 2015.

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Residency process – fences

Farm fence

I went to Beverley without a pre-conceived plan, so I could respond to what I found there.

I started by thinking about the white gum (wandoo) strainer posts which anchor the ends of fences. Their name, function and form suggested potential material and metaphor. Driving on the district roads there were plenty of fences:Farm fence paddocks

And plenty more rolled up into discarded bundles, replaced by new metal fence posts.Farm fence discardedThe rhythm and tempo of the fence posts and wires as the car went past recalled the rushing past of notes and bar lines on the stave while playing music,

and the movement of the front fences in town as I jogged past every evening.

Town fence 1Town fence 2Town fence 3Town fence 4Town fence 5Town fence 6

It may be a small town, but there was plenty going on. Visitors from nearby towns remarked on the activity and optimism there. I wanted to make some work which could reflect this perception:

the more we are pre-occupied with living, the less we are inclined to contemplate, and that the necessities of action tend to limit the field of vision”  (Henri Bergson).  But it is possible for us to perceive more thoroughly.  Bergson reassures us that through the means of art, such as poetry or painting, things are revealed both in the world and within ourselves that are not ordinarily perceived.

It seemed that the diversity yet camaraderie of the locals was reflected in the variety and continuity of their front fences. Rather than selecting a few (how – the most picturesque? the most idiosyncratic? the oldest?) I decided to create an archive and record all of the front fences of the town. I walked up and down every street, taking photos of the junctions of every fence. I then drew the detail of each junction, spaced evenly along a scroll of paper, one for each street.Town fence drawing in progress

It is a tradition for the artist-in-residence to give a work to the Gallery’s collection. Most of the pieces are landscapes; my fence drawings on kitchen paper seemed too ephemeral.

What about a map?