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There’s the apron with all of the flowers on. Lots of stitches, lots of flowers. I like it, but until today haven’t quite been able to pinpoint why it isn’t quite right. I will finish it, and it will be a piece of work along the way. It will be fine.

After finishing the MA, Bo Jones and I decided we needed to keep going, we needed a focus. By working alongside in occasional, sporadic, higgledy piggledy collaboration we both learned a thing or two.
One of the things I learned was the essence of stitch. That chain stitch and French knots and composite stitches and laid work (see apron) were all very well, but the essence of stitch was up and down. That’s it really. Up. Down.

A stitch fixes one thing to another with a short line. Then you make a longer line. Sometimes my lines follow words. But mostly they go up and down in straight(ish) lines. That’s all I need them to do. Sometimes the stitch just goes through. The only thing it fixes is itself. The line.

There you go: my materials research. The product of a year’s work. Up. And down. And possibly up again.

But… What you stitch with and onto. That’s the real tricky bit.

These marks I make at the moment are mere smudges.
I take apart a garment to get at the warp and weft threads, printed cotton works best, because then what I do is stitch a ghost of the pattern onto something else… A smudge of one person up against another. A tell-tale mark of how one person has touched another…. And I use the word touch in the loosest of ways.

One person affecting, mending, loving another…
It’s more than a stain, and less than a stain. The stitches can’t be washed out. (I know, sometimes neither can the stain.) Sometimes it can be unpicked. Sometimes it can’t. Sometimes if you unpick it you can still see the needle holes. Some fabric forgives the needle. Some does not. Some starts to unravel from the hole. All of these elements are important.

The research continues into the objects being taken apart and the objects being stitched into. What are they, who do they signify?

Sometimes it’s complicated. The child’s old linen dress I repair is not my child, is not me, but perhaps my mother. I mend it with a fragment of a long worn out skirt given to me, by her friend. I stitch them together with the threads taken from a girl’s dress… Who is doing the mending? What is it that needs repair? I’m reassuring my mother. And she tells me it’s ok. She died 21 years ago. But she is still telling me it’s ok. And I’m telling her I know.




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It’s like nailing smoke to the floor…

I’m playing with whatever takes my fancy each time I go into the studio, then clear the decks, wipe down the table, to leave it clean and empty for me to start again next time I open the door.

The things on the wall have changed at a rate of once a week.

In an attempt to clarify, I have started reading. Don’t panic. I’m not going to start quoting arty bollocks, that’s not my style. Regular readers will know I’m more likely to quote Marge Simpson, or Guy Garvey, than Baudrillard and Deleuze (or Hall and Eco). The fact I even know these names disturbs me very slightly…

But sometimes, someone else’s point of view can be a useful way to start grasping the smoke, if not quite enabling you to nail it down.

So, I turn to semiotics. Again, my discovery of semiotics happened years ago, not through academic means, but the radio 4 dramatisations of Baldi…

The signifier and the signified.

The apron is the signifier.

The knitted vest is the signifier.

The chair is the signifier.

My problem seems to be in deciding what I am trying to signify, whilst keeping it ambiguous enough to leave open the possibility that it might signify something different to someone else.

So, I dip into Eco’s “The Open Work”, and Sean Hall’s “This Means This, This Means That: A User’s Guide to Semiotics”. When I say dip, I mean it. I cannot sustain such reading. I literally flip the pages, read a bit, if it holds me, I carry on, if it doesn’t, I flip again. I’m sure this would be frowned upon by people who do it “properly”. For me though it is not about their brains, but mine. A need to jump start a train of though within my own work, not getting bogged down in theirs.

I begin my own game of word association, song singing, poetry reading, writing and drawing.

This is where I start the digging.

I’ll let you know if I find something.

But then again, I might get distracted by Modern Family and forget.