Sometimes I come across an artist who's ploughing very similar ground to me and occasionally I find someone who's working with the same materials as me. However, I think that Bird Ross and I may actually be sharing a single brain!
I was looking through old copies of Fiberarts Magazine to see if there was anything I needed to photocopy for my sketchbook, when I spotted a small photograph of a ball of knotted string by Ross.
Anxious that I might have accidentally copied her string work when I came up with the idea for 3 Score & 10, I checked the front of the magazine, but it dated from 2005 and a quick search through my sketchbooks revealed that I was already making 3 Score in Jan 2003.
Rather oddly, Ross' 6000 Project using knotted string was about 9/11, which of course, I've also done a series about. Here's what Ross wrote about her project:
From the four airplanes (266), the confirmed dead (201), the 5422 people still missing and those that died at the Pentagon (188). It equals a little over 6000. As of today 6077. I wanted to know what 6000 looked like. How can anyone possibly imagine what 6000 of anything looks like, let alone people. What would 6000 names struck from the pages of a phonebook look like? What would it look like in terms of their handprints, their footprints, in terms of the number of people that miss them? It's like nothing we can imagine. This was my attempt to imagine.
18 September 2001
And here's what I wrote about my 3,533 (Requiem) piece:
I sat in the space and burnt 3,533 matches over the space of four days. This number is the current estimated number of victims of the terrorist attacks. The matches were then laid out so that both the scale of the numbers and the individuality of each match could be seen. The thing that I really couldn’t grasp about the attacks was the sheer scale. I needed to make work that encompassed those numbers and I thought if I could see objects laid out then I might begin to understand the loss involved.
Of course, I've never imagined that I was the only artist who took this approach, I've seen other 9/11 counting projects; it's a pretty natural response for visual people trying to get their heads around the scale of something like this. Still, when I went onto Ross' website and found that as part of her 'counting the dead' project she'd also used burnt matches, I was slightly spooked.
Then I spotted her time clock piece and just started laughing because several days ago I wrote in my notebook, "I should get one of those old fashioned work clocks so that I can punch in and out when I'm pinning".
Oh, and I've also had ideas about using layers of sellotape - guess what, so has Ross!
How crazy is this! Bird Ross and I have never met, I wasn't aware of her work before this and I don't imagine for one minute that she was aware of mine but we're clearly tuned into the same art wavelength! I'm sitting here just giggling because it's so weird.
My favourite piece of hers is this beautiful little folded paper piece called It All Adds Up. It's clearly a till receipt and since it's part of the 6000 series, I'm guessing that it's folded 6000 times.
Isn't that lovely. I like the way it's encased in the narrow glass or perspex vitrine, it sets off the piece so well.
Right, I'm just off to check one more time that there are no pins on Ross' website!