Sunday, 25 January 2015

Project 7 - The Theme Book

Project 7 is a first step into the final project in assignment 5, where a self-planned and conceived textile piece is asked for.

I have been looking at the idea and the reality of trees for some time and think that is going to be one of my ongoing and long-lasting threads for thinking about my work. My tutor suggested I do a mindmap on the theme I might work on - or maybe it was on design ideas? - so I started with a mindmap of the TREE:

The mindmap includes what I could think of in a couple of sittings and I have not included all the detail that could be thought about under the different headings. There is a long and wide-ranging cultural history of using the tree in all manner of ways - as symbol (e.g. tree of life), as a material, wood, for making things, as creating particular environments to name a few. Fundamentally trees are about life and fertility, about longevity and sometimes something spiritual and transcendent. In the part of the world where seasons are pronounced we see the changing times of the year in the trees, and here a barren tree can evoke melancholy and loss. Trees are also affected by the changes that are now taking place through changes in the climate, in rising temperatures, droughts; and where man is so follows all manner of devastation - deforestation and erosion - but also possibilities of positive ecology where land is left to recover from cultural interventions. 

A design book

From a design perspective I am now making a work book for some design themes that I may use for this project and assignment 5, project 10. There was a bundle of papers in my local charity shop which I thought could be used as a book - they are fairly large and the paper shiny, but with a good weight to it, so there are probably benefits and some limitations to how the book will work as a sketchbook. It does give me the opportunity to make a book cover which I haven't done before (the cover will not be the final project, just another sample on the way there).

Literary sources of trees

As part of this work I have been downloading pictures of trees doing amazing things like encapsulating other things, being almost suspended by their roots, being enormous as some trees are, and of course various art works by historical and contemporary artists. I have a very useful book, The Magic of Trees, Bruderlin (1999), which is a compilation of artists' rendering of trees, from an otherworldly Theosophist tree by Mondrian, to trees by impressionists and others as well as masks and totem poles from non-Western cultures.

The book Bäume, Hesse (1984), with excerpts of texts and poems by Hermann Hesse has also been inspirational. His short piece on the chestnut tree is very beautiful and there are other words of his and others on the value of trees to nourish and give meaning to life that can be found on the web (sorry to those of you interested in this - I don't think these Hesse texts have been translated into English - oh yes, I have found a site where some of these words have been translated: Hesse on the Tree).

From my own background I am digging out fairytales (H C Andersen's The Tinder Box, about magical things happening through a soldier entering a dead tree, The Fir-tree), songs and anything else I can remember. A very fond and warm memory I have of trees are of some very large trees standing immediately opposite our house. To a small person they were very tall indeed, and in the late summer and autumn winds the rustle of leaves filled the atmosphere. We used to climb the lower trees, or use the branches for bouncing and sew-sawing on.


Bruderlin, Markus, 1999, The Magic of Trees, Hatje Cantz

Hesse, Herman, 1984, Bäume, Insel Verlag

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