One path of research I began was to do with my father and his heritage. You will see this in my work for the earlier exercise, 4.1.
To give a little bit of background history, he was sent to a school at a very early age, a very harsh army boarding school in Scotland. (called Loretto, which personally I think sounds like a concentration camp). Looking at his early memories, I wondered what emotions they conjured up?
In line with this, being of Scottish decent, he obviously has the clan tartan. I have noticed that he seems to have a reluctance to travel to Scotland now; thus this sparked the line of thought – how does he feel about his heritage, his tartan? (Henderson)
I wondered if the two things above were connected?
See the pages below in my sketchbook:
So as you can see below, his clan Tartan was Henderson. However after interviewing him, I find that this was not the Tartan he was allowed to wear at School. He was made to wear the red sample below; Ramsey Tartan. This confused me. However I find that this was due to the kilts worn being passed down to him as he was the youngest. His brothers middle name was Ramsey. Thus he got his brothers kilt.
As you can see above, I began to ruminate over what could be developed through this Tartan inspiration. The pervading thoughts in my mind, were that he is negative towards his heritage and for good reason. Thus I asked him how he felt about the tartans and time at boarding school?
Fear, Loss, Separation, Lonely, feeling “not really there”, all were words he came up with.
This may surprise some, as we can all have the “rose coloured glass” view about our homes. Yet this was not the case.
I needed to take away from a simple repetition or “own version” of the tartans. I needed to create something deeper.
Thus I began to think…what techniques could I sample, which would represent the qualities of his feelings, rather than the heritage side?
Here are a few that I came up with, along with the reasons:
- Trapunto – Because of its use of line, I thought I could well represent tartan like themes.
- Shadow Quilting – The layer of voile, gives that “not really there” concept.
- Cut away applique – To represent the idea of my dad distancing himself from his cultural heritage and items which hold memories of that.
- Decolourant bleach – Portraying the fading of memories associated with Scotland.
- General intuitive fabric manipulation – Illustrating how I think my dad feels.
- Taking the colour away from the heritage – A line study, as if the tartan was fabric was fading in another way.
I have outlined more ideas in my sketchbooks, yet I feel these ones could be sampled…..
Here are a few results:
- Corded Shadow Trapunto (quilted) – I used a layer of my own hand dyed vintage cotton, dyeing it the blue/green/yellow hues which I observed in the Henderson tartan. A layer of voile was added. Machined lines inspired by the tartan itself. I made my own cord by hand dyeing wools to match the colours of the lines in the Henderson tartan. I wove these through, as seen:
2. Cut away applique. I wanted to try this with both the Henderson (left) and Ramsey tartan (right)
Taking inspiration from both, I made two pieces:
I looked at the idea of making something fresh. Thus I didn’t use any pieces of the original tartan to begin.
The Ramsey sample was made by layering lots of red colours, along with a few non related tartan layers, to awaken the sense of line. This was embroidered in an intuitive way, with areas cut away.
The Henderson sample was entirely based on coloured layers. The last layers were built in voile, a reminder of my fathers feeling toward the tartan and the concept of forgetting. I wanted the piece to be questioned, rather than become a literal representation.
3. General fabric manipulation. I chose to use the Ramsey tartan colours to inspire me. I began to randomly stab through and pull my fabric, giving it 3D shape. The colours of thread are reminiscent to the tartan line colours.
4. Taking the colour from Henderson. White fabric was used, choosing colours of thread which related to the Henderson tartan colours. Running stitch and back stitch used.
5. Decolourant. Own hand dyed fabric, inspired by the Henderson colours. Decolourant paste was painted on in lines:
What do I feel about my preliminary sampling at this stage?
I am happy with the emotion and feelings which I have managed to convey through the samples. I wanted to evoke the sense of loss, which I feel works best in the sample above with the Decolourant paste. The anger and almost bereavement my father felt, is best observed within the manipulation sample, where in effect I took out my own anger, which imagining his.
It is my impression that the psychological aspects rather than the tartans themselves have development potential. At this stage I do not have a clear idea where I would want to take this, but in another sense I can envisage the Boro technique, maybe conceptually enhancing the idea by cutting up and piecing together fabrics to represent my fathers feelings, in the tartan colours?