memory

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.

The trip home


On the road through the bush

On the highway out of the city, the bush goes on for miles and miles.

Stone and brick building down a side street

The old buildings are surprisingly substantial for such a small town.  It didn’t meet its founders’ aspirations.

At the cemetery

After visiting dad, and collecting lots of fallen gum leaves

Paddocks of stubble lined the dirt road

I drove out of town, through summer-dry paddocks.  Two wedge-tail eagles soared out of sight on thermals.

Catching up with R

Monogrammed hanky with extra embroidery in progress

Looking for a distraction, and needing to stitch, I delved into the bag of materials and samples from John Parkes’ July workshop (see this link and scroll to the bottom).  I had left the top R pinned, without stitching, as the fine brass pins looked beautiful with the transparent fabrics.  But now I’m going to stitch, both around the reverse appliqué and into the whole cloth.

The hanky was a gift, the red fabric is thick wool cloth salvaged from my old dressing gown and there is also part of a favourite linen shirt and a fraying silk scarf.  The colour and thickness of the red wool argues with the other materials, which feels appropriate right now.