As in any of my practice, I hate the excuse that something can’t be done simply because I don’t have the right equipment or materials, or enough money etc. There are creative solutions to these problems if you look hard enough. While I was working on The Thread of Life project, and travelling around giving workshops, I found myself with nothing to occupy me at times. I had pieces of pre-cut Aida, needles and various cross-stitch threads, but wanted to make a demonstration piece in a non-traditional way. And so I began to unpick the edges of a piece of Aida and then to stitch the pattern with the frayed fabric.
Working in this way made the pattern almost invisible, with the colour matching perfectly, giving an embossed impression. I also liked the idea that the piece of fabric shrank in size as I worked, making a kind of self-imploding, or self-destructive, piece of work.
This first attempt was just an experiment, but it inspired me to make new work using this method. I decided to work on a simple labyrinth pattern, taken from the back of an Ancient Greek, Minoan coin, which I would take with me to exhibit in Athens at Platforms Project 17 last year.
Minoan Maze, work in progress, 2017.
I was really pleased with the texture and the overall look of the piece, but beyond this it has inspired me to develop the idea of making something out of nothing, which is something I will certainly return to in future projects.
Minoan Maze, Aida on Aida, 2017.
In May 2017 I was invited to join a group of artists exhibiting in Athens, Greece, as part of Platforms Project 17. I have an interest in Greek Mythology, which often comes into my practice, and so I wanted to make work to reflect this.
For one of my pieces of work (I took 3), I decided to build on the Penelope piece I had previously made (see my last blog post), but this time work with Greek text. I speak a little Greek, and find the language and the Greek letters beautiful, and so I chose to use the word for Faithful (πιστή Pisti) to once again stitch and un-stitch.
Faithful [work in progress, before the text was un-stitched]. Cotton on Aida. 2017
This piece was smaller than the Penelope piece, due to time restrictions on making something of that size. The Greek Key pattern was stitched with white cotton on black Aida, and broken up a little to mimic ancient mosaic patterns. Once again, the word was stitched and un-stitched, leaving larger holes in the fabric, so that the letters could be seen.
Faithful. Cotton on Aida. 2017
The work was very popular with a Greek audience, especially the secretive nature of the lettering, which became clearer as the fabric was touched.
While in Athens I was lucky enough to visit various archaeological sites and museums. The patterns that come up again and again on Ancient Greek pottery are very inspiring to me, and lend themselves well to cross-stitch. I will be returning to Athens again this year, and I am currently developing work to exhibit, some of which may well draw on this inspiration.