3 Score & 10 vs crazy 70′s macramé birdcage.
I rest my case!
Well, what can I say? Apart from reproduction prints of paintings or images in books, string pictures and macramé were the primary examples of art that I saw as a child. My parents aren’t big art people plus I had three noisy younger brothers so although I’m sure I must have seen paintings in museums, I don’t remember visiting an actual art gallery until I was in my teens. By the time I was 15, I had started taking myself off to galleries at every opportunity and had broadened my art horizons a little but before then, pins and string had featured highly in my formative visual experiences.
Ha, you should think yourselves lucky that I don’t feel an overwhelming urge to make all my art in shades of orange and brown!
I started a new piece on Wednesday and to my eyes it’s got a distinctly 70′s look, probably because it’s on brown linen. It’s another thread drawing but from a brand new series. I’ve been contemplating this particular series for a while now; it’s all to do with pithy phrases, emotional tension, domesticity and lots and lots of red thread. For ages I’ve been collecting strange trite sayings that people use – things like “well, I suppose it could be worse” or “but apart from that, how are you”. I’m fascinated by the emotional gaps in language, the way we use clichés and meaningless phrases, especially in Britain, to cover a vastness of things unsaid. For some reason, this is connected in my mind with endless images of red thread.
I had an image in my head of a red thread drawing on raw linen that I wanted to test out. I found a natural framed linen canvas that may work although I’m not entirely sure about it because it’s sized with clear primer and I think it might be too glossy and stiff. For some reason, I’m a lot more comfortable sewing on framed canvases meant for painting than on loose fabric and when I was in the craft shop, I got scared by the proper linen embroidery fabric and coped out and bought a sized canvas instead. This one is my test piece to see if I can live with the sized surface or if I need to make that intellectual leap and do ‘proper embroidery’ on ‘real fabric’.
It’s odd: intellectually I know that what I’m doing is probably embroidery but I don’t think of it as sewing. Instead, I always think of it as a very slow and laborious way of drawing.
With little bits of thread.
I mean, obviously I know it is sewing. Except that in my head, it isn’t. I cannot explain this.
I don’t know why I feel this way about using cloth. A couple of years ago, I started doing sewn drawings on felt and that didn’t bother me so it’s clearly something to do with the fabric. When I was about 7 or 8, I had a scary primary school teacher who endlessly criticising the sloppiness of my stitches and I suspect this has a lot to do with my fear of using ‘real fabric’ and doing ‘real sewing’. I did like threading shoelaces through pictures with holes in them though (did anyone else do that, what was it supposed to teach us?) and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I now pierce holes in my canvases before threading my needle through. Actually, you have to when using sized canvas because if you make a mistake, the hole doesn’t close up again but I also think it takes me to a safer, happier place than the word ‘embroidery’ does.