Q Did you enjoy inventing constructed surfaces? Were you surprised at the results? Can you see a connection between your choice of materials and the types of structures you made – regular, irregular, small or large scale? Which samples worked best – and why?
A These exercises were kind of interesting and challenging at the same time. I knit a lot, following patterns, and so do not usually ‘invent’ structures of my own, unless I do a bit of tapestry weaving or look a bit creatively at knit. That means that this use of yarn to freely assemble something into a synthesis to become a finished object can be difficult to think through. But I am fairly happy with the samples. I have also been studying the work of sculptural fibre artists and see that Ed Rossbach’s basket woven work is described as ‘improvisational’. Maybe that is what this work is all about – and I was working along on my woven/wrapped grid, looking at it occasionally when I saw a photograph of a Rossbach basket in a catalogue I have on mid-century American crafts (Museum of Arts and Design (2011)) where he seems to have been weaving open sections developed from any direction the ‘warp’ willows might fall in his construction, and there were quite a few coincidences in the way my own work was developing.
During the making of the samples (and especially these constructed ones) the work grows on you, and by looking at them over a longish period you start to see patterns and dimensions which can be built on. And yes, materials are crucial in this – whether they are shiny or matt, solid and dense, heavy or light. I have been looking at Eve Hesse’s work recently and am in two minds about it, however what is clear is that her focus seems to have been on process and materials and that she thought quite hard about the relationships between them. The fibre artists working around that time (1960s) also seem to have been focusing on structure and how this inter-related with materials, often on a very large scale.
So in a very small way I have quite enjoyed these exercises and got unusual results out of it. My husband joked that my ‘shield’ sample was a lacrosse racket, and that is the type of response you might expect from an untraditional piece, there is a search for something familiar in the unfamiliar; but I think the robust edges of that piece in contrast to the finer threads and small areas of woven patches worked quite well in the end.
The other grid piece is developing well. It is difficult to decide at what angle it will eventually look its best. It is being woven from various sides, and you get used to looking at it from one side more than another during making. As I mentioned in a different area, I enjoy natural materials, they have a great feel in the hand, I understand more about how they respond to processes (weaving, knotting, hanging, draping and so on), and they work well with wooden frames, and independent free-standing-hanging pieces such as the low relief samples in this project.
Hard materials such as thicker linens and sisal can be used in bigger pieces. There is much potential in these materials and they can be wrapped or hung with finer more shiny materials to create interest. If there is one think I find difficult in working in this sort of free and spontaneously constructive way it is getting a feel for when something is finished. I mean really finished, not almost, or overly finished and I am not sure when that point of balance comes. I prefer to work on something until I tire of it. With that statement I don’t mean getting bored with it, but more working on it until there is a sense of exhausting a certain stage and then putting it somewhere where it can be looked at over time until a new dimension becomes obvious and needs to be fulfilled.
Q How accurate were you in matching all the colours in your postcard: with paints?
I liked the colour matching exercise. Richter’s paintings are complex and have many, many different colours in them in different proportions, but I had a go, and found my final analyses useful. I used gouache and other water based media. Some of these mixes came out well, and overall I think gouache was probably the better media.
Q with yarns/other material?