Sunday, 15 January 2012

First one down

Hi everyone,

I've finished the first quilt in this new series. Might not suit Orientation, but I have ideas on how this set of work will progress in a more Eastern direction!

"Two for Joy" 36cm x 96cm

I've used drawings from my sketchbook and reworked them as monoprints direct to white cotton fabric. I was worried that a white quilt will just disappear into a white gallery wall so I've added a plain black binding to give the quilt a definite outline.
I've added extra detail with pen drawing. I toyed with the idea of adding shadows behind the ribbons and the birds, but I've decided to keep this one simple. I quite like the 3D ribbons contrasted with the flat emptiness of the white background.

 The text on the ribbons is from an Egyptian spell that I discovered in my research which talks about swallows. I was very tempted to add just a touch of colour (using Inktense pencils) to the wings and throats of the birds, but I think I'll save that for the next piece.
Really enjoyed making this piece - now onto the next!


  1. Just switched to here from facebook and seen the title ..... brilliant, even more of that shock factor - especially as it is swallows, rather than Magpies. Beautifully sinister - look forward to seeing where the next ones go x

  2. Yes, I've pinched the title from Linda. I think she's used 'One for Sorrow' in the past too, but I have it in my sights! The whole series might be named along those lines, but I've got a short list of other titles jotted down too so we'll see.

  3. Cor that's wonderful it!

    I hesitate to let you know about this but it came to mind seeing your birds hanging up on their nails, and you wanting to give this a more oriental slant. DD (my very own Laura!) is vegetarian and was quite horrified to find that in her local Chinese market in Hong Kong they sell string bags of what she thought were fruits of some kind. However, when she got closer and saw that the contents were moving, she was horrified to realize they were frogs. They buy them live so they are nice and fresh, and they hang from nails just like your birds. Just saying! (again!)

  4. I'm sorry; I cannot appreciate this in the way one would 'expect' of a post-modern viewer. I have seen humans die, and cannot witness the replication of even this sort of death without tears, anguish and the hope and wish that this not be so; that visual art be coming from a place of joy and delight, of which there is such a shortage in our culture.

    Widowed 5 years 5 months

  5. I don't usually make statements to accompany my work. I prefer to let the piece do all the talking, but in this instance, I feel that I ought to explain the symbolism and meaning behind this quilt.

    I've thought about the long journey that bird made, flying thousands of miles over Africa and Europe, and with the twists and turns of fate, ending up in my hands. While it was with me, I viewed that bird with tenderness, smoothing its feathers and drawing it with all the care that I would afford the portrait of a loved one. This piece, and those that will follow it are not so much about death, but the fragility of life. It's about protection, control and about loving something or someone so much that you don't allow them to be free. That's why the choice of the swallow above all other birds, because of honesty and loyalty. There's no need to cage a swallow. While it will fly far, it will always come home.

    I didn't set out to make something difficult to view, a gut-wrencher if that is what it is. But if I'd made a quilt with a pretty picture of swallows flying would it have been the same? There must always be light and shadow, life and death in equal measure.

  6. Nice statement Laura. I felt it was a piece of what can happen if you cage free spirits. Not too far away from your intention.

  7. Thank you for that statement Laura; it's beautifully put and is a positive and helpful view, if one is needed. Art is not only about work which can be appreciated for it's beauty (and that is very much in the eye of the beholder anyway); it's about emotional power and life's imperfections as well as it's joy. I also feel the need to express whatever I feel in as honest a way as I can based on my own experience and sometimes that's uncomfortable, but it's also how life is, and although I would never set out to upset anyone intentionally, some subjects will inevitably appear delicate and shocking to some,(and we can all name great art that stops us in our tracks) but I don't see the need to stop visually talking about them.

  8. This is such an interesting discussion, and one that will always come up whenever art is made. I loved your statement Laura and it gave me another way of looking at this piece - the curtailment of freedom, and our tendency as humans to inflict this on the very things we love and thus destroy them. My own interpretaion of what I was looking at was to read a statement about our unpleasant (in my view) tendency to want to kill and destroy animals and birds and to view this as not only acceptable, but pleasureable, justifying mankinds need to control and master, especially when we see beauty and freedom ... hence my love of the title 'two for joy' - which I read as ironic. I am sure that Laura will be as happy for me to interpret her art with my own thoughts and frame of reference, as to follow hers, and I feel enriched by both views. But here is the cruncher - enriched and thoughtful, yes, happy - no. Thinking about either theme is honestly bringing a lump to my throat. I loathe cruelty, especially to animals and find it an exceptionally difficult subject to deal with. I am often reduced to tears by images I see from the RSPCA and in the newspapers, and even a roadkill pheasant or rabbit lowers my mood for quite some time. I also suffer from chronic depression and as such inevitably have some very dark and bleak times in my life, and when I am free from those, my choice is to embrace happiness and beauty as much as I can. So the 'art' I make, is (I hope) beautiful and uplifting - made to try and show some of the beauty in our world, and re-dress my personal balance of hope/despair. I literally dare not tackle some of the bleaker, darker subjects, for fear of where they may lead me, but I am so grateful for those, like Laura who do have the courage to, and can therefore increase our awareness of things, that are unavoidably part of our world. Left to me, the world would be relentlessly cheerful and always beautiful, but could we even recognise that without the contrast? Can we understand joy without having experienced sadness? We must always have both in life, and also in our art. Crikey - that's a long waffle - but I hope the gist is there ... 'vive la difference!'

  9. If I were sensible I'd probably be wise enough to keep out of this discussion but actually I'm thrilled that a tiny piece of quilting can provoke such controversy. Isn't the power of art that the meaning is in the eye of the beholder? We all interpret a work of art art individually. Laura and I shared the experience of finding two dead swallows this past summer. They were such exquisite creatures and it was a priviledge to be able to handle them and to see them at such close quarters. It would have been unforgivable not to have celebrated them in some way. How wonderful that quilting can be the means of expression of such significant meaning. If you look to the symbolism represented in old masters' paintings you'll find that a bird held by a ribbon is an expression of longevity. The images are normally of live creatures but in life there is of course also death.