Wednesday, October 19, 2005

When I attended Quilt Indulgence in Mittagong in September, I overheard someone say as they looked at my work- she may as well just paint. I did used to paint occasionally, but feel, myself , that i express myself differently in textile and that somehow for me it is more expressive. So working with the transfer dye and polyester film , actually allows me to reflect on why don't i just paint? The first image is the painting i did on the paper ( the colour is a bit bleached as I had already transferred the dye) the second image is the transfer on the polyester film ( and the colour on the new film that i bought in the Netherlands comes through very clear) and the last image is after cutting back and stitching. So- I have come to the conclusion that stitching really does add another dimension even in something is simple as this paisley inspired motif and that is why I don't paint.

And Omega has thrown some ideas into the ring in terms of incorporating memory in work ( and see the links in her comments to my post). Some of you know that my lacework was inspired by somehow incorporating memory and cultural heritage into my work- and since I have been searching for ways to use memory, or the very notion of memory in my work without resorting to the use of photos as part of the work ( though I have some fabulous pictures of family members in kledendracht). I am also intrigued by the notion that memory may be more than cognitive thought- that it may also be an aspect of the senses and in particular touch- the knowingness of feel. One reason i have for thinking this is when I made my prototype lace pieces, my daughters who had just come home from school fell upon it and immediately seemed to know what it was. I have avoided lace for most of my life as I hated frills and ruches and lace so until I started making lace you would have been hard put to find any lace in my house- so how did my children so instantly know what it was and what it was for? And I mean they fell upon it -really. Is this perhaps part of the reason why largely women are drawn to textile??

I spent yesterday searching the net for artists who had referenced memory as part of their work, and would appreciate any links anyone has that may enlighten. I also decided that i would do another memory book- I did one for my masters/lace project really early on- as I wanted to tell the story of my families and my immigration and at that stage I could not think beyond the narrative aspect- it was the jumping off point for the lace pieces which incorporated the written embroidered squares. I have not looked at the book I made for some time, but as I read about memory and how it changes in the context that we find ourselves remembering I wondered if I did the book again how different it would be? So that is what I intend to do today- get the book made ready for writing and remembering
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Caitlin O'Connor said...

Dijanne, interesting post with LOTS of questions!

I have to "defend" my choice of quilting/stitching to my TAFE teachers at my assessment in a few weeks time, so I've been thinking on this - I don't "just paint" because I like the extra dimension and shadowing the stitching gives a piece: even without batting, there are subtle shadows created in the visual texture which have a different feel from painted /applied shadows. It's more than the opportunity to add more marks, it's a different way of thinking about the way the space is divided.

(I also feel this might be a bit art-wanky butI'm going to add that penetrating the surface is important for me, it makes me feel more connected to the work. *blushes*)

Your ideas about memory as a sense are interesting... I am looking forward to seeing where you go with this!


Omega said...

I've been and still am mulling memory. I've got a research folder with some web addresses:
(see Arlene Mead):

Anyway, I have not read them all properly myself, but there they are. I have simply been gathering references just now, and otherwise thinking about how pieces of my work in any case evoke memories in the way that Proust reacted to the madeleine. Should deliberate use of a memory/memories flag themselves for the viewer? And in my thinking, I've also designed a piece of work which 'deals with' a memory which was gnawing away at me - and which also turns out to be a kind of personal memorial. Thanks for the itch!

As far as why work with textiles - well, that is also a constant ponder. One thought I had when looking at the art of Alice Kettle, which could be described as painting with thread, it struck me that by using stitch in the way she does it is obvious that the work took a lot of effort and time. Although we despair at the inevitable cry of 'how long did it take her to do that!', it is true that the evidence of time is another dimension in what the work is saying - even if it only goes so far as to make us gasp at the effort expended. It is a signpost to the mind and/or emotional state of the artist just as much as the thick brush strokes of Van Gogh, the mountain range of paint on Lucien Freud's work, or the meticulous smooth surface of Frances Bacon.

The more I have been mulling the 'why textiles' question, the more I revisit the conclusion that as a serious artist the simplest answer is 'to broaden the palette'. I mostly want to make work which looks and feels as it does when it is made by with and from textiles. But that is in no way limiting, because if I one day want to make something out of stone, I will try.