Scale and Obsession
I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of this weeks essay, it’s key to the way I feel about my work and has resulted in much thinking and journalling, not resolved but I will try to summarise.
I didn't have to think too much about whether my practice is obsessive - I knit plankton, neurons and trees on tiny needles with wire that’s a quarter mm thick, probably the definition of obsessive!
I aspire to make large scale works with impact, something that I think was instilled in me during my textiles degree, not deliberately - just unspoken. What I actually produce are generally quiet, small-scale works - limited by the process I use, although I have pushed it as far as I can. I’ve just rehung my largest wire piece todate (image of ‘Butterflies of the Soul’) and it was a real struggle! I make large scale work by making modular pieces and displaying smaller pieces in large collections. They are still small, quiet pieces though.
Does art need to be large to have the wow factor? I’ve analysed works that have been the most memorable and had the most impact on me in the last year or two - and yes, they are large, all enveloping works that hold my attention.
Chiharu Shiota - Key in the Hand - at the Venice Biennale, a large room sized installation, entranced and moved me
Ai Wei Wei - Straight - a work that shocked but also had aesthetic beauty
Alice Kettle - Looking Forward to the Past - an embroidery on an unimaginable scale, with so much detail and beauty
Anselm Kiefer - Morgenthau landscapes - texture and depth that you could walk into
Rothko - Seagram Murals - depth that mesmerises, always spend time with these paintings at the Tate
The Bayeux Tapestry - have been obsessed with this embroidery since I was a child
Fiona Hall’s - Wrong Way Time
Ricardo Brey - Every Life is a Fire
The last two works really stood out to me and were collections of mainly smaller objects forming large installations. Complex, strange, exotic, mythical, inventive, aesthetic - both with a strong narrative and where the method of display was key.
So where am I now? Instinctively, I know that I will struggle to make large work without breaking it down into smaller units - I’m too focussed on detail. That doesnt, however, mean that it always has to be quiet and without impact. I’m going to keep looking at what’s out there, analyse it and see what is says to me and how I can use that to inform my own work. Needs a lot more thought but I have started down the road and am keen to see where ‘Alignment’ takes me.
60 Words Exercise
I’ve been working with text, both implicit and explicit, over the last couple of years and have been meaning to try stitching my own handwriting. It’s one of those things on the todo list that I was going to pick up and run with one day, so this was a great time to stop prevaricating and get on with. Well, I didnt run with it - I found it so difficult! Many false starts later and after scaling up my spider writing, I’ve achieved my 60 words. It took a great deal of concentration, but was eventually quite therapeutic. Oh, and I prefer the back!