Saturday, May 23, 2020

I Thought I had Done Little

It has felt like I have done very little this last month- stay at  home , stay at home, home quarantine for 14 days so I can see my mother, a bit of stitching, but nothing much really.  But there is a theme developing. And today when I pulled together various drawings over the past 3-4 years ( since going to Atauro Island in Timor Leste and visiting the women of Boneca de Atauro) and a visit to the Aquarium in La Rochelle and things I have been  working on in the last month or so, I seem to be preoccupied with the sea and the creatures that inhabit the sea. When I visited the Aquarium with a friend last year I was not prepared for the delight  of all those fantastic creatures and corals- the colours , the luminescence- it was a little like being inside a fantasy.

That thought- that  this was something fantastical has stayed with me and perhaps needed the austerity of the present moment to bring it out again. I have always loved rockpooling and the creatures that inhabit rockpools, but some of the fish , jellyfish, sea horses,urchins and anemones that were in the Aquarium were  just amazing.

So I have been building a book of the sea from things encountered in the past couple of years. But I wanted to start with a little piece from way back when- I think maybe 1996 or 1997- inspired by rockpools and of course sea urchins. This urchin was beaded.

Then I did a whole series of work inspired by a piece of coral which I made into a linocut and printed onto lutradur. I sold many of these little pieces.

I regret not having gone snorkelling when I was on Atauro I sland- but both times I had an open wound, and though small can easily get infected on a tropical island-  and especially one where medical care is basic. I erred on the side of safety. I did some drawings and linocuts last year  after my Aquarium visit.

This  was a small linocut block I made meant to be a kind of repeat. It is not truly a repeat but the block can be placed having the anemone pointing toward the centre or pointing out to the sides. Just a bit of fun really.

The little block stitched with perle8 weight thread.

And then I made this much larger linocut. I am still  stitching the printed  piece- it has taken time and I will probably fill in the anemone arms with solid colour- just have not got around to it.

 Then I found my drawing book I had with me on Atuaro Island and though I did not snorkel I walked along the shore every morning as it was too hot to walk any other time of the day. There were many sea treasures to be found on the shore . Every morning I would  come back with pockets filled with sand and shells ( I put all of them back eventually except for a few small pieces which I brought back with me). They sat in one of the lovely baskets woven by one of the women.. Many of the shells were battered and broken but somehow that made them more beautiful.

When I came back from overseas last year I went to visit a friend in Tasmania- and she had one of my silk dyed pieces that I made quite sometime ago. The brief had been to be inspired by the sea. I had almost completely forgotten this method of working, but when I saw the quilt hanging in her home I determined I would revisit  this method of dyeing. (it's taken a few stops and starts as of course I did not write the method down)

 So after some trial and error, and the magical process of dyeing in this way, I am always surprised by how wonderful the fabric is after seemingly being monotone. I tied rocks and chick peas to see if there would be a difference in the outcome, but  on the whole there is not a lot of difference.

The fabric will be more patterned once ironed and i was trying to achieve the effect of rockpool, shallow water.

I overdid the purple dye a little but as it takes hours and hours to do the tyeing it will have to wait a little until I do some more tyeing. Though this will give me something to go on with.

And then all of a sudden the sea bug had bitten me. I started a fabriano skecth book for the sole purpose of pulling together all the sea things from over the years and the making of new drawings and linocuts inspired by the visit to the Aquarium last year.. The octopus I made earlier this year
and made into a linocut print.

The turtle from the aquarium- who kept on swimming towards the window, to the great delight of a little girl who was totally excited by his/her manouevres toward the window close to her.

The turtle and seaweeds and ripples printed onto some hand dyed fabric. I love the work of Barcelona artist Pablo Salvaje and have his book Animalkind and also did an on-line course at the beginning of the lockdown that he teaches on Domestika.  He often makes his linocuts shapes which allows you to build scenarios/vignettes. I am in love with the technique and so have been revisiting my drawings and photos to find shapes and elements to make into shaped linocuts..

Some small water colours I did last year whilst I was staying at a camp ground in the cabin of a friend and I had to buy some water colours.  I love how all of these disparate elements are starting to come together. And I am finding my old drawings and putting them all in one place because in the end I have made quite a lot of drawings inspired by sea things.