I’ve been reading the Subversive Stitch by Rozsika Parker, and i’ve found it quite interesting. Not only for the content and ideas within it, but also for some of the quotes i’m getting from the book. Quotes which could easily become an inspiration for my embroidery.
“Femininity and sweetness are part of women’s strength…Quiet strength need not be mistaken for useless vulnerability.”
I really like the strength of this quote. It fits well with Emma Watson’s quote ‘Both men and women should feel free to be strong, both men and women should feel free to be sensitive.”
It fits well with my patchwork artwork too, there’s sweetness and femininity within the work via the floral fabrics and patterns, but the message i’m trying to get across is all about strength within the genders.
The quote above is a shortened version of this quote ;
“Femininity and sweetness are part of women’s strength. Passivity and obedience, moreover, are the very opposites of the qualities necessary to make a sustained effort in needlework. What’s required are physical and mental skills, fine aesthetic judgement in colour, texture and composition; patient during long training: and assertive individuality of design (and consequence disobedience of aesthetic convention). Quiet strength need not be mistaken for useless vulnerability”
Reference : The Subversive Stitch, Roszika Parker
I have finished embroidering one of my canvases ! I’m now part way through the second and final canvas. After speaking to a few of the tutors at university, I now have some new thoughts and ideas regarding my work;
- Some of the letters that I have embroidered have been left unfinished. This was unintentional at first, but it was brought to my attention that the unfinished letters were in the centre of the canvas. When painted, this is where the focal point of the portrait will be, so maybe it is best to leave those letters unfinished – so as not to distract attention from the central focal point.
- I have been embroidering the diagonal lined fill of my letters too tightly, so the letters have become embossed, which will make stretching the canvases extremely difficult. This isn’t really an issue for me, as I was planning on leaving these paintings as wall hangings. I also really love how the letters appear embossed. You can especially see this effect from the back view of the canvas, which brings me to point 3..
- My ideas for displaying my work in the degree show. Since the back of my work is quite interesting, i think it would be a waste to hide it by pinning it to the wall. Perhaps I could hang the portraits from the ceiling so they are perpendicular to the walls. That way, the viewers can walk around and in between my works, giving them an interactive feel.
I have a feeling that painting over the string will prove to be a challenge, and the string is so tightly sewn in some places, and loose in other. My plan is to finish both canvases, and then paint both of them together, so the textures, colours and emotional context remains the same through both of them, so they look like they belong together, rather than two separate and different paintings.
I’ve been taking a variety of quotes from Emma Watson’s UN speech on gender equality, my favourite being ;
“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.”
I have made a few pieces of artwork based on this quote alone, but now i’m moving my art forward, by creating works around an adapted form of this quote.
I’m currently sewing into a blank sheet of canvas the words ‘I’M FREE TO BE’, where the sentence will be finished by the title of the painting. I’m planning on creating two final works, both with this quote sewn onto them. The first being titled ‘STRONG’, the second being titled ‘SENSITIVE’
This painting will be of a female. She will share a confrontational eye contact with the audience. Women are often shamed for being muscly, told that it is a masculine appearance. They are also stereotyped as being overly sensitive, unable to hold strength in emotional situations, so this title works in different levels.
This painting will be of a male. He will also share a confrontational eye contact with the viewer. Men after often shamed for showing any sign of emotion. ‘Boys don’t cry’ etc.
This is a painting that I have started (and not yet finished) of my friend Summer. I wanted to paint this portrait so I could practice sewing into it, but it’s taking so long for me to finish. I’m struggling with the proportions of the face, first of all I made her face too wide, and once I had corrected that, I realised that I made her eyes too big.
It needs a lot of work, and i’m unsure whether to put it on hold for now so I can focus on moving my project forward.
I am really happy with how all the colours have blended together in this painting, and I hope to continue using the bright colours in my next paintings. I’ll change the composition slightly in my next works; I want the subjects of the paintings to share eye contact with the viewers, as it’s quite confrontational, and will help with the political nature of the paintings.
I want to try and embroider over this painting, as a practice for my final two portraits. I’m considering embroidering a floral pattern, but not too large or too much, as i don’t want to draw too much attention away from the painting itself.
As well as the prints that I made in the workshop onto fabrics (the ones i mentioned in my very first blog post), I have also been practicing with my embroidery techniques. I practiced on a medium sized embroidery hoop, where I wrote part of Emma Watson’s speech in string.
I changed elements of the quote so it would read a littler easier, and fit in the hoop, this is the original quote ;
“I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents—but the boys were not.
When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press.
When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear “muscly.”
When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings.”
I really like how she has incorporated issues for both sexes and the different issues each gender faces through different years in their childhood. A tutor suggested that I write something in a similar format, but so it applies to my life, so it is personal to me.
I’ve been thinking about things I could write. I work in a pub in a small village in the middle of nowhere, and the comments I get from the middle aged + men in there would be perfect for this sort of thing.
“You’re such a typical woman.”
“Are you the village bike?”
I don’t want to waste this embroidery quote, despite the fact it was only a practice piece. I’m not planning to sew my previous prints on fabric onto my paintings, so I’ve decided that i’m going to make a separate couple of artworks which features all of my quote artworks. These separate works can hang along side my portraits in the degree show.
So far i’ve incorporated one of my floral fabric prints, alongside another floral fabric, and a plain blue fabric. I added in my practice embroidery, and then started embroidering flowers over the top. I haven’t tried to make these flowers particularly suggestive like the ones in Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, but I am planning to add in a few that could be seen as vaginas.
I love the variety of colours present in this work, but I hope it doesn’t distract from my portraits. I plan to use a similar colour scheme in my portraits ; bright and vibrant, so maybe this won’t be such an issue.
References : http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2014/9/emma-watson-gender-equality-is-your-issue-too