Assignment Two (Option 2): Exercise 2.2: Focus on embellishment and risk taking in experimentation. Cut Away Applique

Cut Away Applique

This technique comprises of layering, creating shapes with machine or hand embroidery, then cutting back the layers in certain areas beneath the top layer.  Often they are different from the top layer, sometimes coloured, hand dyed or patterned or textural.  In the case of my work here, I will look at the colour palette seen within my facial work so far and use this as a basis to create the layer colours.

(See my techniques folder for a more detailed explanation of the process)

(See Machined Cut Away Applique film for more information)

One artist who I researched for this section was:

Alison Stewart

Having found her work flicking through a book on textile art, I wanted to look further into her, as her sketchbooks seemed very tactile and I think that’s something that’s missing from my own, something fabric like?  I have tried this in past work, but not yet within this course.

Her artist statement tells us this:

‘The personal journey I have gone through reflects my understanding and comprehension, developed from my struggle with dyslexia. I remove my own communication barriers by taking the written ‘word’ out of source material and replacing it with fabrics and threads, where pattern and imagery give an alternative understanding to text. Maps particularly fascinate me as they express complex information but are represented in a visual format that I can appreciate. I have studied the shape of The British Isles to investigate an understanding of self.

I used particular fabrics indicating signs of national identity: tweed or floral patterns for England and tartan or Paisley for Scotland. The textile techniques I primarily use are reverse appliqué, machine stitch and free machine embroidery. Part of the process involves leaving the trailing threads attached, which represent loose ends. To draw an analogy – it connects specifically to the text falling apart.’

She claims that artists who have influenced her are:  Alice Kettle, Jo Budd and Karen Reimer for their elevation of stitch to the realms of fine art and Tracy Emin and Grayson Perry for their use of ‘self’ within their textiles.

I myself find that Alice Kettle is an artist who inspires me.  Thus I connect with her thoughts here.  That idea of ‘self’ within our work too.  Notice that this does not have to be in a bold or obvious way.  Much of her work is based around more general looking themes, such as mapping.

Other themes include news print.  On first look, her tactile papers look interesting and clever, but no more.  However an understanding of why she has personally created them, tells us so much more.  Having struggled with dyslexia, she uses this theme to evoke the feeling related to reading, for her, the struggles etc.  Doesn’t that understanding give it deeper meaning?

love the loose threads which prevail and trail from the “newspapers”.  Colour is seen in the areas on a paper where you would normally see it.  I.E.  Top left corner on this one.  The isolation of colour and lines instead of text, not only “emulate” a paper, but also how this artist sees it.  In other words, she sometimes feels that the words are unreadable. 

Other pieces of work are also interesting.  She has a fascination with maps as I said, and the UK as a whole.  Mixed identity comes into it; who are we?  Who is she?  Clever applique is a highlight within her work, for example she has used fabrics we would associate with the place in her map work…tweed for Scotland and so on.

What can I take from her work?

–       Tactile forms used where paper is normally seen works well, the newspaper as an example.  Could I make a fabric sketchbook, as I have in the past?

–       This artist relates well to applique and collage

Now, using my previous samples as inspiration, alongside the original images of my mother, I worked with the colour palate inspired by the previous.  Below I have illustrated my development stages, to make a piece in this technique realm:

What do I think?

Due to time and wanted to try as many ideas as possible, I am simply sampling at this point and then moving onto the next idea.  Once finished I can reflect back on my work and decide which ideas to take forward and develop.  Thus it can be frustrating, as I am enjoying trying all the ideas and would like to play around with them all.  I like the highlights of colour and the hand dyed foreground of this piece.  The colours give it an edge, especially as some of them are patterned and thus add an extra texture and mottled “skin” tone.  Reflecting on where the original idea for all of this work came from, it never ceases to amaze me how ideas change over time.  Going from pictorial memories, to abstract and isolation.  However I view this as a positive; the piece above is worlds away from my starting point. Thus I have obviously experimented here to achieve this.

Cut away is a technique I will use in the future. I have more ideas to experiment with given the time….

–          What would happen if I did a dry point etching or other print making technique and then used this as a basis to stitch around and cut away layers?

–          More painting on the top layer of fabric, on the layer that isn’t cut away?


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