Work in progress – Storm 2
This is a topic that seems to come up quite regularly on social media / discussion groups. Some people like to use fairly descriptive titles, others prefer to use ‘untitled’. I guess it depends on how much the artist wants to tell the audience about their inspiration for the piece. Working in series leads to other decisions – whether just to use Storm 1, Storm 2, Storm 3 etc or whether to add subtitles. In my Still series I am having my cake and eating it – Still 1 and Still 2 don’t have have subtitles but Still 3 (Rest) and Still 4 (Flow) do. The subtitles came into my mind when stitching these pieces. Still 3 was very restful to stitch, and the stitching on Still 4 flowed across the surface.
But what to do about the Storm pieces? I have struggled with this series – the colours are muddier than I usually work with and some of the printed fabrics are not very lovable. But it is important to me to express some of the darker periods of last year in my art. And, although I am not quite sure why, it is important to me that these pieces have subtitles. (Maybe it is about controlling my emotions??). So I have turned to a word map I drew when first thinking about this series. I think Jagged might work. Or maybe Distracted. I’ll decide as I stitch.
After getting mightily distracted by PC problems last week I was really glad to get back to creating. Having finished off two ‘Still’ pieces I have now turned my attention to creating ‘Storm’ pieces. I’m trying to convey something that is the opposite of Still. A sense of stress, anxiety and mental distress that dissipated when I sat on Dunure beach. The fabrics I’ve used are mostly made using the darker colours in my Dunure colour family. Many of the fabrics border on the ‘ugly’ but when cut into strips and pieced together they really start to ‘sing’.
Background for Storm 1
Don’t you just hate it when you have a whole bunch of stuff planned and that vital bit of equipment breaks down. In the case of my PC ‘deader than a dodo’ aptly describes it’s current state. Very, very frustrating. Thankfully I also have an ipad so was able to research and order a replacement really quickly (John Lewis are life savers!). I back up all of my ‘art’ stuff weekly so have only lost a few bits and bobs but I have lost hours of studio time setting things up again. As I said very, very frustrating.
I was photographing two pieces and getting ready to submit them to the SAQA call for entry ‘Tranquility’ when calamity struck. The call ends on January 31st so I still have plenty of time. One thing that I haven’t had chance to decide is whether I should show full images of the pieces on this blog. I checked with the organiser and there is no rule that says you can’t but I’m just not sure what is ‘good’ practice. So while I think here is a photo of the back of Still 4 (still needs a label and hanging sleeves). I really like the back. I like the front even more!
The back of Still 4
The next ‘Transitions’ exhibition by Etcetera will open at Ryedale Folk Museum and Art Gallery in Hutton le Hole, North Yorkshire on Saturday 19th March. The gallery is a lovely space with a lot of wall space for us to fill. Today we meet in my studio to work out what pieces would go where. Now I am, in case you haven’t already figured out, a bit of a control freak. So no scraps of paper for me! Instead I made a 1/10th scale model from mount board. Where I had photos of our pieces I scaled them, printed in colour and laminated. Other pieces were represented by appropriately sized pieces of card.
It took us a couple of hours to collectively curate the exhibition. Some pieces were excluded because they didn’t work well and others were added. By using the model we were able to visualise the space and decide where plinths or cabinets would stand. And, of course, we sustained ourselves with coffee and cake! So here is a sneak preview – we think it is going to look fabulous and would love you to visit!
Detail from Still 4
One of the big steps I made in my transformation from making quilts as a hobby to becoming a full on, somewhat obsessed, artist was deciding to let the work itself decide what size and format each finished piece would be. And to let the natural flow of work dictate what I worked on and when. No more shoe-horning of ill-thought out ideas to fit a theme or a challenge. No more self imposed pressure to have something new to show every year at Festival of Quilts or Malvern.
Which is great in principle but doesn’t really work if I want to exhibit my work widely and, hopefully, gain recognition as an artist. Exhibiting as part of a group or on my own is the best way of having complete freedom but opportunities can be limited until people / gallery managers have heard of you. So the best place to start is to submit work to art quilt or textile calls for entry. In November I sat down and looked at what was coming up in 2016. And it could be a bumper year as my Still / Storm ideas work for several SAQA calls for entry. But – and here is the rant – why do so many calls limit the size of pieces? And why aren’t there more non-themed calls? I get that restricting size may make it easier to fit into some venues and might make it easier to curate a nice looking collection. And I get that having a theme can make a collection of pieces less challenging for the viewer but isn’t it frustrating?
Especially when you are an artist whose work wants to be BIG.
There are calls for entry which do not have size restrictions and, to their credit, SAQA have two in the latter part of 2016 but these are in the minority. Which means that sometimes we have to compromise. I’m just putting the finishing touches to two Still pieces that are 100 x 100cm. The ideas in them work and I am pleased with the results. But I know that it will be the next Still piece, the big panoramic one that is in my head right now, that will fill me with joy! And that the series will not move forward until I have ‘scratched that itch’. So, compromise but with integrity!