I've been preoccupied with curating an exhibition and putting a proposal together and have only been able to snatch moments to think about alignment, scribbling thoughts down. It's so important to me, so rather than rush at it have waited until I have the headspace to bring it all together. It's been a little stressful, but I'm doing this for myself so serves no purpose to worry about falling behind.
Mindmap - the skills that connect to my work in some way - some I have and some I don't, many need work. Really enjoyed doing and analysing this.
I really enjoy learning and developing skills, I love to experiment and push processes and materials, but am also a perfectionist so have a need to be able to do them properly as well as ‘bend’ them. Although I consider myself to have a reasonably wide skill set, it will always benfit from work and improvement. For instance, my key skill is probably hand knitting, and I'm confident I can do just about anything that I need to, with the help of reference books and I can now knit just about any shape with wire - but would not consider I had reached perfection. This isn't false modesty, I know when something I've done is right and works, but there's always another level, something new to learn or discover.
Things I love
Fabric making from thread - this has always been at the top of my list - so stitch or felting - tapestry, machine lace, knitting
Books - reference, artists books, sketchbooks, book making
Research - museums, collections - this is why I enjoy doing site specific residencies so much
Text - a more recent interest, started with studying the hand writing of the poet John Clare for a residency 2 years ago and connected to seeing writing-like marks in the bare hedges along my route to his cottage and developed into working with asemic text. I have a workshop coming up with experimental calligrapher Denise Lach, hope to progress further
Drawing - I find drawing so exciting - both looking at it and doing it, the more expressive the better. I can copy draw and am ok at scientific analytical drawings, but realistic drawings are not my thing. i work hard at it and am improving, as I think it's key to be able to draw objectively even if you plan to abstract it. As mark making, drawing connects with the love of asemic text
Hand Stitch - I feel like a born again hand stitcher, originally an Embroiderer, I know really enjoy stitch as mark making and only use a tiny vocabulary of stitches, preferring to invent as I go along
Writing - I'm finding the journaling aspect of CST enlightening and enjoyable as a way of expressing myself and hope it helps me develop both my writing and verbal skills, which I feel are weak. Im not sure this is something that you can learn, just practice
Print - I enjoy using print in some aspects of my work, but am not particularly proficient. I've recently learnt to screen print, and have basic skills in relief and mono printing, think I just need time and practice to achieve what I want with them
Watercolour painting - I rarely work with colour or feel the need to, use colour very conservatively, but enjoy mixing colours. I'm just learning and having fun with this, not sure where it will lead.
I think my preference for minimal colour goes back to the passion for drawing and line, which in turn connects to the strong line in my wire knitting and written marks.
Critique - Butterflies of the Soul
I've just rehung this as a diptych rather than as 2 individual works and think its a much stronger piece.
It unites my love for the biological/anatomical and microscopic with a more recent obsession for bare trees and hedges. The neurons and dendrites merge into trees. The background is cell-like but also reveals the structure of the knitting, a pattern I cant resist. Working with black wire was a revelation and connects with the drawn line and mark making. The work was originally inspired by Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal's drawings of his discoveries of the structure of neuron. He was a scientist and artist, by necessity in the days before photography, and his ink drawings are strong and beautiful. He wrote on discovering the structure of the nervous system
'The mysterious butterflies of the soul....whose beating wings may one day reveal to us the secrets of the mind'
It's probably my most complex wire piece and I'm beginning to think I've reached the limit with it. I really enjoy making these wire works, but am finding them more and more difficult to fit into the context of my work. It's being exhibited at the moment and the shadows cast by good lighting are delicious and add to the complexity of the image - difficult to photograph, this is the best I have so far. It's getting a good critical response and I enjoy talking to an audience about it, which has given me a buzz. The technical skill is admired, which is great, but It needs to be more than just good technique. 'Making Distinctive work' is going to be very interesting and, hopefully, enlightening as I do feel at a crossroads.
My latest work looks at trees again, and specifically how man treats and mistreats them. So far I've hand stitched a section of tree rings that I'm very happy with. I also intend to include some wire branches and roots - marrying the stitch and wire. It feels like a transitional piece, so I am working through this dilemma.