Could my personal history contain my travel experiences? I think that they could, as it all forms who I am and puts my work into context. Here are a few relevant examples:
Above: A scanned sketchbook page. These images were taken at Versailles Palace in Paris. The dress I am wearing, is one I still own, although unable to wear. Thus the dress itself, could become an artefact? The bottom left image, shows a close up of the fabric of the dress, along with some antique lace given to me on this trip, by my aunt, thus the fabrics interconnect. Could this source have any substance?
Another part of the same trip which I found inspiring, was a trip to an artists house. My Uncle and Aunts friend called Gigi. She studied and taught at the best known art university in Paris.
The wording above may be too hard to read, yet the images tell the story. Her father was a sculptor, thus you see his influence around her house. She made a tea part for us, in her garden, which to my eye, seemed like an extension to her house. The Alice in Wonderland feel was surreal and inspiring. The strong mix of colour and the thought she had put into even the table setting has to be admired (tartan cloth used to remind my uncle of his Scottish heritage).
The colour and texture and curation of form really struck me:
Above: Two excerpts from my sketchbook. They are reminders of the areas I would pick out, if I were to develop this resource.
The use of sculpture really interested me. I began to wonder, is there a way I could incorporate sculpture within my work? Could I make textile 3D forms?
Artists who come to mind in inspire me are:
Looking at her soft sculpted heads especially, as they are sculpture in a textile form.
For Bourgeois, Fabric and the act of sewing held great symbolic significance. Born into a family of tapestry restorers she was surrounded by textiles from an early age and observed her mother in constant efforts to conserve and repair. As a result Bourgeois came to associate sewing with reconstruction and reconciliation.
These late works are made using fabrics which came from her own clothes and house hold items. Some fabric pieces come from garments that had been kept for over fifty years, saved as a form of a diary, each thread holding memories of people and places.
In contrast to her earlier bodies of work, which are often described as aggressive acts of separation; displaying motifs of cutting and carving away, these figurative portraits seem focused on joining elements together. Mostly cut and crafted from one piece of cloth, she constructed an inner core and gradually added layers of fabric hand stitching the features as the form grew.
A sense of immediacy and directness is achieved with the crude stitching, loose threads and raw edges as well as an uncanny macabre quality. Perceiving her art on the whole as a form of self portraiture, Bourgeois once described her work as ‘a drama of the self’. In these depictions of the human face she revealed her fears, anger and despair. They were called portraits of a mood and as they were created so late in her life they seem to be a powerful expression of old age, some of them even crying or grimacing with pain.
Personally I love the hidden meaning behind their initial simplicity.
Her work brought me on to looking at other artist who have worked with soft sculpture in the contemporary art / textiles world. Benji Whalen was an artist I found through reading the publication ‘Contemporary Textiles: The fabric of fine art’.
Resembling big, inflatable amulets, these limbs amount to a sampler of various subcultures and lifestyles. For example, one pink, fleshy arm with a buxom blonde prominent among its motifs is attached to a sleeveless work shirt; it seems to belong to an out-of-shape beer-loving biker. A much scrawnier arm, which emerges from a sliced-up black T-shirt, features a cascade of bones and a skull rendered in stark black and white, suggesting a devout punk rocker familiar with controlled substances.
Mr. Whalen’s embroidery almost has the tactility and liveliness of painting.
The arms have become his canvas. Within his work, he seems to merge and marry embroidery, fine art and social context. In a way, the arms become a vent for a story, narrative and self expression, inspired by modern times.
Related to the above context. What I like is her transition from painting to textile pieces. The Saatchi Art Gallery has a wide showcase of her work online. Here are a few examples:
The textile pieces you see are entirely made from threads and fabric scraps. Thus an amazing achievement to get this much sculptural 3D value from them. Her website is in her mother language, thus I found it hard to find details on the pieces. Oils are another medium she works in, do the two bounce off and inspire each other?
What about my own ideas of travel, cloth and memory, how can I marry these or make something from them?
I now have to find my own personal approach to my own subject matter. However there are key points from this research which I can take on board:
- Modern or personally inspired themes, created in age old techniques, yet with modern materials.
The above bullet point is a highlight to keep in mind.