Thursday 18 February 2021

Memory and Remembering : Recollections I


The final  session of City Lit   Art and Ideas Time and Memory   was devoted to  sharing  our understanding, reflections  and creative work made in response  to the  ideas explored on the course. What I  chose to  make  to share with the  group was a textile piece   inspired by  the themes  covered  in session  2 and  4  on  involuntary  and mediated memories 

Remembering involves all the senses.  My  ‘Madeline Moment’ was to do  with the feel of fabrics and threads.  I have kept a lot of my  mums  stash which includes scraps from childhood  dresses.   What I collect  are  old  quilts, the layers worn through and colours faded,  the ‘hand of the maker’ evident ,the  cloth itself with memory  and re-use them to make them my own.  

In 2001  I bought my   first home computer  with  inkjet printer  to  manipulate photos  or  drawings  using Photoshop  and print them on fabric.  Over the years  I’ve  used these in   my   textile work    but  still  have about 200  or so  printed pieces  of cloth!!  These include 40 or so  printed sheets of silk organza including  photos of Krac de Chevalier in Syria  and  Tiryns  in Greece. I’d printed the same image both on cotton and  silk organza. Slightly offset they give a 3d  effect, more of a shift  and it starts to  be unsettling , reminding me of the work of  Idris Khan.

A  few years ago ,  for  the Contemporary Quilt suitcase  collection   with the theme ‘ Childhood  Memories’ I combined  scanned photos printed on fabrics  with a monoprint that reminded me of Bamburgh  where we used to go on holiday. The black and white photos  of my childhood in the 60's and 70's are mostly black and white  but  In fact it was very colourful  time! So I used vintage charity shop fabric as backing and  using machine quilting , stitched from the back with flourescent threads following the wild patterns.Perhaps  because it was  for public viewing  it now it seems rather decorative  and literal  and my preference now is for a more abstracted approach.

 For my response  to this course I wanted  to make something  more personal .  I  layered  printed photos on fabric of  me and Ian   with those  from  significant holidays  overlaid with a print of Cyclopean walls from Myceanea on silk organza. Memories are buried but I know they’re contained within.    

While I  use  my sewing machines  for piecing fabric together and some machine quilting  for quick results , my preference has always been for the slowness of hand stitching: the rhythm, ,the mindfulness, the connection to cloth. The stitch you get with machine is uniform  ,unbroken, solid , the same on top and back. With  hand sewing, the natural variation  in size of stitch, the thread used  and the way the fabric is held and manipulated results  in the front  ‘intentional side’ often  being  different to the  back, the ‘unconscious side’.   Stitching by hand  through layers results in an  integration that you don't get by any other means.  Its difficult to describe ( though you can feel it)   and  photos  don't do it justice  but   that's what happened here, with  hidden marks/memories  revealing themselves.  I  took the photo  when it was partially stitched so  the difference  the stitching makes  is more evident . 

The  feedback from the group ( with artists from a  range  of disciplines, non textile related)  was very positive , preferring  this to the earlier work,  representing hidden layers  of memory both physically  and metaphorically.   I had to laugh when  some  said the textures  reminded  them of doors....


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