Where pixel meets stitch: deconstruct – reconstruct, this blog aims to chart a joint venture between Elena Thomas and Bo Jones as they prepare for a show in October 2013 examining their preparations and developments.
It is a little bit frustrating sitting in a gallery thinking about tweeting, facebooking and blogging, then not being able to do it because the 15th century building you are in refuses to have anything to do with wifi or mobile phone signals.
By the time I get home, I’m then too tired to write!
So I might be a bit slow, but have discovered that the solution is simple… write while I’m here, then publish when I get home! Please forgive the stupidity, but I have been rather pre-occupied.
We like how it looks.
We think our work compliments each other: shape and pattern and scale are echoed from my textiles to Bo’s images.
The sentiments, starting points and themes converge and diverge with a nice rhythm.
The pixels and stitches stand together to build something strong…. But, as Bo has protested all along, stand alone beautifully too.
So, visually, very positive.
We’ve had some lovely comments in person, and in our little green book too:
“Virus images- a marvellous way to control the uncontrollable”
“A fascinating juxtaposition of ideas, processes and vibrancy”
“Fascinating use of found textiles, inspiring interpretations”
“Amazing how stitch and pixel, pixel and stitch fit together so well… made me go away and think”
We’ve learned a lot about the process of exhibiting our work:
The gallery is a lovely space, but in practical terms too far from home. I’ve gladly spent my half term travelling between 80 and 100 miles each day – depending on the weather and whether I can face doing more miles in order for it to be on the motorway, so quicker… but… It’s Friday and I’m flagging…
The distance also means that only die-hard Elena and Bo fans with extra time and money are going to get here (thank you, you lovely people).
Because of time, distance and money, we didn’t do the private view thing – also because the first day of the show was Monday – who wants to get to Herefordshire on a rainy Monday night?
But we have missed a trick really because when the space has had a few people in it, the atmosphere has been buzzy.
So next time: closer to home, private view, and maybe when the sun is shining!
But we will be kind to ourselves, this is the first time we’ve done it, and it has to be said there are advantages to having the first learning experience be a little quieter, so next time we can use all the lessons we have learned to great effect.
(The photos I post are to give an idea of the space. We’ll post more pictures of the work in detail later)
This hasn’t ended up where I thought it would.
But I think that’s good, and I think this is better.
I thought that the final show would end up with more collaborative pieces, but I think, in the end, neither Bo nor I have chosen to show anything (much) the other has had a hand in making. It’s as if we shared the driving to get here, but now we’re here it doesn’t matter.
About half way through the year I was worried that I wasn’t really emotionally engaged with the work. (I need to be.) I wanted to work with Bo, and wanted to have an exhibition, but the work wasn’t really doing it for me. I’m not sure how aware of this he was. I plugged away at it. I have faith in the process, and truly believed that something would come up.
Then I injured the tendons in my right arm, rendering me pretty much useless when it came to holding a pencil or a needle, or using a pair of scissors. In danger of going mad, at Bo’s suggestion I turned to the digital and my thoughts ranged around the sense of touch. I could not touch my materials or manipulate them at all. I was bereft. But this catastrophe is what did it for me, this 5 weeks of pain and sniping misery, rattiness and self-pity led me somewhere. I produced image after image, manipulating, combining, blending bits of Bo’s work with bits of mine. Playing creatively with the only thing I could physically do, with one finger on the track pad of my MacBook, my brain started to make connections between the scraps of images, the nothing quality of a digital image, the sense of touch and how we also feel things we don’t touch… heat, the movement of air. I began to think about things not having edges, about people not having edges. The edges of people don’t stop at their skin.
And up popped Aristotle… “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
Our influence takes us beyond our physicality. Small things have an effect on other people. We leave an emotional trail behind us that effects people when we are gone. These are the extra bits. The bits that make us greater: love, faith, kindness, memory, family. I began to collect the bits on my studio floor, bits of fabric and thread. There is a basket of left over bits on my table, the remains of projects gone before, and a bowl of threads got out, used and not put back. They usually get sorted and put away when they begin to overflow. These were the extra parts, I decided. These are the pieces that make us greater than the sum of our parts.
So in the pieces I show for the exhibition, the pieces that mean the most are these. There are material links from one to the next as I work my way through odds and ends of other works and lives, the influence of a long finished quilt, the buttonhole strips from a shirt taken apart to make something else, a worn out piece of embroidery…
Suddenly, through injury and being quite down, I had found the emotional heart of the work. Guided by the uniformity of the pixel Bo was working with, I decided I would use just one simple stitch, nothing fancy, just a knot, thread pulled up through the fabric and pushed back down. This ONE stitch began to mean something. Alone it was pretty useless. But together, a multitude of stitches held strong the useless left overs, those influences, memories, remainders. I could make something from nothing.
The pieces I have speak for me. As Bo said in the previous post about his own work, I am proud of it now.
Can’t wait to see how it all works together. I am totally confident that it will. Bo’s work and mine have common ancestors.
The work is ready. I’ve been framing and mounting for the past two days and finally I know what my half of the show will look like.
I’m excited… Elena will tell you that’s not like me… highly unusual.
I’m really pleased with how the work looks… proud of myself… feel that I have been true to myself and that the work reflects my ideas over this past year… the work is me…
I want the show to open tomorrow… can’t stop making and that makes selection more and more difficult… need to stop, but admittedly have become slightly addicted to the process late into the night… churning out virus’ prior to refining and adapting… my pixels… dark… sinister… nasty… yet so beautiful… papilloma… influenza… rabies… yellow fever… chicken pox… herpes… HIV…
Infected by my creative inner me…
I’m fascinated that something so simple, a single microorganism can be so beautiful, yet causes such utter destruction… individuals’… stand-alones… that can change something in the flitter of a moment… metamorphosis… contaminate… overpower… change… destroy…
My stitch isn’t the sum of the whole… my stitch stands alone and affects… engenders clones of that that it caress’.
I am altering them metaphorically… visually. I am the virus… like Hadron collider… seeking that “God” particle… infecting the infector… yet retaining that disguise… that deceit hidden within my makeup… appearance cloaked… decoy… enticing and sucking you away from Elena’s notion that more might be needed…
A stitch… alone… single… is also a thing of beauty…
And now I’m enforced to wait… patience…
Feels strange… unusual… alien… not like me again…
I don’t do patience.
I don’t do expectation.
I try not to do ego.
I don’t seek praise.
At heart I’m a grumpy, old, intolerant, self-centered, self-deprecating, miserable, anti-social git who really craves solitude and isolation…
Shows just aren’t my thing…
I can’t wait… want you to see… want to hear your opinion… want to see you smile… want to infect… defile… contaminate…
I very much hope to see you there.
Hi everyone… we’re looking for someone to do some writing for us… a review of the show, and possibly a piece about Bo’s work, and a piece about mine… we’d like to take the work on elsewhere after Ledbury, and it would be great to have something written independently to use in the promotion. So… any volunteers? We’ll buy you coffee and I’ll make you some cake…