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“The Discipline of Writing” is a phrase I came across while reading Kate Murdoch’s latest blog post on “Keeping it Going”.

www.a-n.co.uk/p/2295372

I commented that I don’t think of it like that.

Over the last week I’ve been prompted to look at the beginnings of my own blog – partly because I’m coming up to its second anniversary, and partly due to other more personal reasons. I’ve also looked at the beginnings of other people’s blogs. Some people are indeed more disciplined than I am, and title their blog with their intentions, and maintain a rhythm and theme quite happily, making the reading of it focussed and sharp. Some blogs peter out, and some start, and then don’t go anywhere, good intentions falling by the wayside.

Having been persuaded to start a blog I loved it right from the first post. I knew it would become part of what I do. I see it as the opposite of discipline. Writing assignments for my MA was a discipline, one I found extraordinarily difficult… every mark gained felt like a drop of blood squeezed from a stone. Blogging is like drawing. Breathing. Thinking. Every few days, enough thoughts have accumulated to make me think it is time to blog. Some are more meaty than others. Some, I am clearly talking to myself, others elicit a response from a reader or two. I don’t need a reference to back up what I say. It is emotional, honest and probably over the word count. I know I ramble on. If you were to meet me I would ramble on too. I go all over the place. I have no discipline. That is the point. My thoughts crash about and bump into each other. Blogging is part of the method for keeping track of the threads. (Ooh, maybe by calling it “Threads” I am sharp and focussed in a woolly and blurry kind of way?)

You are getting me though, when you read this. I’m not trying to be some intellectual that reads stuff. The amount of reading I have done since they marched me up on stage and put the certificate in my hand should make me ashamed, but it hasn’t. I have loads of really interesting unopened books on my overloaded shelves. I’ll get round to it one day. Or not.

I also have ideas above my station occasionally, and think I should do something more “Worthy” (definition required). I start, and then falter. Partly through lack of confidence that I could pull it off, because I have set myself up as this not-serious, non-intellectual perhaps. Partly because I can’t be arsed.

What I do write, I think, for what it is, is “Successful” (another definition required). I’ve been asked to write a couple of things by other people. I have only recently realised that they have asked me, because of the way that I write, not in spite of the way I write.

I have discovered about myself all sorts of things through this blog over the last couple of years. And I’ve probably let loose a few things I shouldn’t have too. “Ah well… There y’are” as my mother would have said. Too late now. I do suffer from letting things out of my mouth before the brain has really finished processing it. It appears I do the same with the “publish” button.

I am going to think now about how my writing is or isn’t like my making. For a little while. Until I am distracted by something shiny.


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I’ve probably landed in some sort of “middle ground”. The problem is that I find middle ground can be a bit confusing. I like extremity and obsession. I like the fact it can take me six weeks of constant hand-stitching to get anything finished, and I like the fact that my friend can produce 200 images in half an hour. Both hold an edge.

The problem is I can’t come to terms with myself… it isn’t sitting comfortably yet. (One could argue it shouldn’t.) I don’t know if I’m making things because of the thing, or if I’m making a thing in order to turn it into a digital image. I don’t know if I’m happy with it being both.

I have produced some fabric strips and tapes with stamped letters on. The phrases come from conversations – real and email. I stamp them as if they were dialogue in a book. They take on an importance somehow. I can now stitch, but I am almost frightened of becoming addicted again after my enforced cold turkey, so I am being frugal with the stitches, using them to manipulate and fix the fabric rather than to apply the text.

Stitching my handwriting is very personal. Using the stamps is anonymous. And yet within the text are clues to the identity of the person who said them, or the person they were said to.

I could do with having a sort of story board in my studio, so I could pin things up chronologically in an attempt to clarify, or at least see the connections. I tend to pin things up in a haphazard fashion, until the wall space is full, then I take everything down, pin up a couple of the things I like best, and move on. Maybe I need to photograph the board before I dismantle it in order to maintain connections? The blog is useful here in chronicling , but of course I am very selective about which bits of work I show. It is 9 days since my last Threads post, 5 since posting on pix. A lot can happen in the gaps. I make an awful lot of stuff. Making stuff is my 3D sketchbook, my way of working things out.

In addition to the words, I have this sculptural stiffened muslin thing going on… which I am sure will at some point bump into the words. It might also bump into the digital images in terms of some sort of projection.

As I read back through this post before publishing, it seems very disjointed. I have attempted to make it less so, but actually, disjointed is how the work feels.

I know I’ve said before “God knows where I’ll end up!”

But isn’t that kind of the point of being an artist?

I don’t know, and there isn’t an end.


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This feels brave.

I can post photos of textiles up here and all is well, I am a confident stitcher and textile mangler… easy peasy!

But… this is very different. I have been playing with photos of textiles and making textile things that don’t require stitching, photographing them with a not very good compact digital camera, I’m not a good photographer, mostly because I can’t seem to use the camera properly either with or without my glasses! Then I mess about in photoshop and make digital collages.

So here’s why I’m doing this… I posted a couple of images onto my facebook artist’s page and suddenly my stats went whoosh… lots more people were looking at these images than anything else I’d posted. I’d like to know why. I would quite like to know what you think. I am not sure where these ideas will go, whether they are a serious departure, or merely a tangent because I can’t sew.

And that’s the other thing…

I’m not sure whether this current state has made me think differently about the stitch(es) too. After an enforced absence, the stitch has gained disproportionate importance. Now, if I am going to use a stitch, it is going to be because it is the only thing that works. I seem to have elevated the stitch to something far too precious. It might paralyse me.

Also…

In my head, these images happen far too quickly to be of worth. Intellectually, I know that to be rubbish, that the time it takes to create an image isn’t the issue. But emotionally, it niggles at me because I am used to having ideas that take weeks to come to fruition. Time + Effort = Worth. This equation only seems to apply to me and my work. I am quite happy with other people producing work quickly. It just applies to me. The methods I have used aren’t particularly sophisticated. Anyone who knows even a little bit about photoshop will see how they have been constructed. This is odd too. I am used to people going “Wow, you hand stitched this? Oooh!”. I don’t think anyone will be impressed with my technical skills here.

In a few weeks time I might read this blog post and look upon it as some daft rambling, or I may look upon it as a turning point. Either way, it is probably a good idea to document it.

Posting the images makes me feel nervous. You can laugh at them if you like, but tell me what you think anyway. I think it’ll be useful.

I think what is more likely to happen, is that I will, eventually, see new ways to use the stitch… the signs are already there. So maybe, this injury has got me out of a rut I never knew I was in!


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I’m touched…

I’m not sure these days where to post…. Most of my thinking and making is going towards the work with Bo so I feel I should be posting on “pix”. But more personal ramblings should probably go here. When I started out with the joint project, the delineation between that work and my own was clear. There was a difference between that and “my own”.

However…..

As time has gone on, as I’ve worked and read and talked and worked some more, it’s all become more blurred. Hence confusion about where to post now. It’s all now “my own” work.

But… This blog is called Threads, and its intention was to draw all the threads of my work together after all.

It’s the talk about touch that has drawn everything closer. I’ve been thinking about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and that unfathomable thing that makes it greater… And been thinking about the unfathomable sense of touch…. What is happening between my skin and my brain… I feel a gap… Slippage…

This is where the connections are. I look at my last body of work, all those children’s clothes with hand marks… Touches.

How we use the word touched to mean things other than my hand upon yours, me touching you… it’s more than the physical.

It means emotionally affected…. Or emotionally unstable even…

The stitches that I’m currently unable to use, ironic, coincidental, they have fallen down a gap, have slipped.

They have also become imperceptible, unfathomable, invisible. But they are still in my head. When they come back, which I hope will be soon, I will have a stronger sense of how they fit and what they are for. How I can take the parts and hold them together. Stitches and pixels and parts, strewn around the floor, waiting to be pulled into the whole, so I can find the bit that makes them greater.

I can use them where they touch, to find the part that touches.

My work has always been about touch, even when I didn’t know it. I feel my way through fabric and garments, touching things in my cupboards and on rails, waiting for the spark, an emotional connection initiated by touch. My work touches these things, becomes part of them, all the way through. I like the word interference, but it does seem to have negative connotations that others don’t like.

I think I have to find away to encourage people to touch what I have made…


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Just a short update here… still a little incapacitated, but getting better thank goodness… albeit slowly! Some making happening… nothing too strenuous, a bit of experimentation with fabric stiffening, but it makes me feel better! Most of my writing has been going on in “pix” instead of here… but I’ll be back!

www.a-n.co.uk/p/2910921


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