The Joy of Stitch

Stitch or Embroidery

On theTrain
On the Train

I was spending a morning with my friend Mark Leahy, a lecturer and performance artist and pondering about the question, why I preferred the term “Stitch” to ” Embroidery”. Mark responded immediately in saying the later one is loaded with associations of decorative, historical, and expectation of skill. In a way I hadn’t really thought about it, only became aware, that I had preferred to use the word ‘Stitch’, calling the project ‘Time and Stitch’ and the pieces of the project ‘Stitch samplers’. The event was called ‘Coffee, Cake and Stitch’. Strangely only on the collaboration with a musician, I had called the documentation ‘Music and Embroidery’. Musing about Mark’s remark, I thought, he got a point; the word ‘Stitch’ feels open and freer, feels free of expectations and I often had to explain this to people, who took part in the project and the event, that I didn’t expect fanciful or skilful embroidery. My emphasis was to share the experience of stitching with other people and inviting them to share their experience with me. 

And they did! Through their writing and talking to me about their experience.

Sometimes someone would say “Oh, it is about Cross-Stitch??” and I had to say, that it was about the process and the experience of Stitching. 

Why do I use Cross-Stitch? I like to stitch with Stitches which cover the stitched surface and are simple. Cross-stitch does that for me; it gives me a framework to work in the pattern, starting in the middle and working my way to the edge. It is simple, I don’t have to think too much about it, can enjoy the rhythm and the movement. When I am on my own, I can pay attention to my breathing and be in the present moment. When in company, I can still share the conversation and carry on stitching.

I was curious what people would stitch and had no expectations. Still I was surprised that no one referred to any pre-fabricated pattern from books, magazines or websites. People really worked with, what they knew and enjoyed and wanted to share. 

On the event ‘Coffee, Cake and Stitch’ some people asked me at the beginning: “What do you want me to do?” and I just said:”Stitch!” and they did!

As having receives permission to play with cloth and yarn, it enabled them to enjoy the process and the sharing in company: quite a few said on leaving:”When you do another one (Stitch Event) let me know!”


The Joy of Stitch

Thought about Music and Stitch

Music and Stitch

Music is a very important aspect in my life; I enjoy music in many forms and variations. No matter if it is recorded music (CD’s, online etc) or life music, concerts, gigs, making music with friends. I enjoy listing to music while I work with my hands , at home or when I am out to concerts or local music events. I am known for taking knitting/stitching along with me, where I go.

The initial idea to link music with my Stitching Project, came through a visit to the local St. Mary’s church. The atmosphere, up on the balcony by the window, was the first place where I filmed or rather was filmed while stitching. A Nigel Wicken, a friend of mine, is the organist of this church and we experimented with music and did some recording.

 S1230006

Stitching at the Church

In this situation the music was a beautiful piece by Arvo Paert “mirror in the mirror”.

A very beautiful, serene atmosphere was created. Something was missing. There was a distant between the setting by the window and the musician at the organ. A beginning, but not qiute the dialogue I was looking for.

The next collaboration happened with Bill Goodyear in his flat. Bill improvised on his guitar while being aware of my presence, I was listing to him, while stitching. In the film and photography the dialogue is not visible.


DSC00039

At Bill’s flat

We both enjoyed the experience and the next step was to go outside to Mousehole Beach.

Mousehole Beach February 2013Mousehole Beach

But the music was still not “visible”.

Only when I went out with Jamie and suddenly had the idea of us sitting together the quite dialogues became visible.

 DSC00054

Jamie Mills and me in the Field

After this evening it became clear to me that I wanted to show the dialogue, the collaboration in my documentation.

Bill and I spent some time at Priest Cove, St. Just and sat together, playing and stitching, it felt just like a beginning. Bill said afterwards, he felt like weaving in and out from being ‘lost’ in his music and the awareness of my presence. In a subtle way he follow my movement.

At Priest Cove
At Priest Cove with Bill Goodyear

Another meeting was with Ruth Bolton and her three daughters, Jessie, Iris and Amy.   The youngest one preferred to be behind the camera: it was a wonderful experience how the flute (Jessie), the cello (Iris) and the violin (Ruth) wove together  with my Stitching.

 Ruth Boulton and the girls

Ruth, Jessie and Iris Bolton

After this afternoon, I became to realize that I want to start a further exploration into a dialogue between Music and Stitch.

The next step would be to start a new piece of cloth and response to the music with the Stitches.

The Joy of Stitch

Conceptual Research

The Conceptual Research

 My practice evolved out of my research for my dissertation ‘Stitch, Yarn and People’. I had of with researching artists who used Textile material and techniques in their work. Soon I discovered the aspect of Participation with the use of Textile techniques/materials.

My practice evolved out of my research for my dissertation ‘Stitch, Yarn and People’. I had of with researching artists who used Textile material and techniques in their work. Soon I discovered the aspect of Participation with the use of Textile techniques/materials.

Conversations with a Mark Leahy, a performance artist, brought me into contact with Richard Powell and the group ‘halfangel’ (www.halfangel.ie/knitting.ie/theknittingmap.html‎).

Also with Gareth Ballyn and his project ‘evenfeed’ (www.garethballyn.co.uk/2012/01/even-feed/‎)

Both were a defining part of my dissertation and I have been writing in my blog about them. Both were projects, though very different in scale and duration, which were the greatest influence for me.

These projects made me aware that the emphasis for me lies in the process of the activity, the slow process of embroidery/stitch, the embedded concerns regarding ecological responsibility and sustainability.

The first step was to choose an ongoing project for myself, stitching on pieces of Hemp with wool yarn, which is produced in Britain.Over time three pieces of stitch on cloth evolved.

three piecesThree Pieces Stitch on Hemp Cloth, 2013-05-28

 I documented the process, the journey and reflection about it through video, photography and writing. In the process the following aspects of my work became relevant: 

 The Activity – embroidery/stitching as a durational process

The Participation – sharing the activity through projects and events

The Collaboration – creating dialogues with other artists, like musicians, as in this body of work.

Influential were also ideas from aesthetics and concerns, based in Zen philosophy and Japanese Craft design.

Wabi-Sabi

Excerpt from Wikipedia

Wabi-Sabi (?) Represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centrered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.[1] It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin?), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō?), the other two being suffering (苦 ku?) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空 kū?).

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetryasperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

From the Blog:   http://donnawatsonart.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/wabi-sabi-poetry.html

Japanuese Textiles
Mended coat by Junko Oki

Accept the inevitable… Life is fleeting and transient…. impermanent. That is why Zen teaches one to live in the moment… focus on the intrinsic small details… and get rid of the unnecessary.

 That is why Zen and Wabi-Sabi are so tied to nature. Truth comes from observing nature.

Also the writing of Tim Ingold (LINES – A short History of Lines and Creative Entanglements) was informative.

Looking back, I realized that my greatest inspiration during the past academic year came from conversation with other artist, painters, textile artists and musicians about process, sensibilities towards mindfulness, holistic approaches, environmental responsibilities, slowness and appreciation of being in the moment.

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

From the Blog: http://donnawatsonart.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/wabi-sabi-poetry.html

Accept the inevitable… life is fleeting and transient…. Impermanent.

That is why Zen teaches one to live in the moment… focus on the intrinsic small details… And get rid of the unnecessary.

That is why Zen and Wabi-Sabi are so tied to nature. Truth comes from observing nature Also the writing of Tim Ingold (LINES – A short History of Lines and Creative Entanglements) was informative.

Looking back, I realized that my greatest inspiration during the past academic year came from conversation with other artist, painters, textile artists and musicians about process, sensibilities towards mindfulness, holistic approaches, environmental responsibilities, slowness and appreciation of being in the moment.

The Joy of Stitch

Thoughts about Embroidery and Stitch

Kathy Halper, an American Artist was featured in ’embroidery’ , the magazine of the Embroiderers Guild UK.

http://www.kathyhalper.com/blog

Kathy Halper 'Cellphones"
Kathy Halper ‘Cellphones”

Her recent work in an observation of youth culture and social networking.  The article in the magazine and the essay on her website give a really good insight of her approach and the context of her work.

I found her thoughts about embroidery very interesting, this is an excerpt:

” There’s this whole issue of embroidery being slowly and handcrafted’. Halper describes and we are dealing here with images that are all quick.so there is a contrast between between that and the speed at which the work was created. […] emphasing the entire tension between transience and permanence, ententes publicity and labor-intensive creation.” 

The works a thrilling because they offer the opportunity to love something without ‘liking’it, they are beautiful simply because they are tangible, they are here. The works in ‘Friend Me” offer something else entirely, endurance. (By the author of the article in the magazine)

The Joy of Stitch

An Afternoon with Sue Dove

IMG_4290
Sue Dove at the “Coffee, Cake and Stitch” Event, May 2013

I meet Sue Dove in 2002, when I had started my A level course in Textiles and she was running a drop-in session at her studio in Hayle. I experienced Sue as a very intuitive teacher, who aimed at supporting student in their way of expression, never imposing her own way and approach. Sue’s own work defies to be easily categorized, for me it is to  strong, colorful and individually: one can detect influences from the Fauves, Expressionism and Folk Art. Her work no matter which medium she uses , may it be stitched on canvas, sculpture in fabric and stitch, mixed media, paint or print, speaks of a great joy of Making. Looking again at the wide range of her work it brings home to me, that I admire her strength not to be pigeon-holed.“Sue Dove is an artist, teacher, curator; she paints, stitches and prints;She was head of HND Textile Fine Art of Cornwall College and runs ‘Art for Health’ and ‘Alternative Doll’ workshops. She graduated from Liverpool School of Art in 1974. After travels in Cornwall, Morocco and ten years living in Australia, she settled back in Cornwall in the mid nineties. Her book, ‘Painting with Stitches’ is available from Searchpress.com”  (From: http://www.workshopontheweb.com/july2001/dove.pdf) Often over the years,when we met at various places and events, we often would have a laugh, because we would have some kind of “needlework” in our bags! Making is a way of life for Sue, once she told me about wrapping yarn around cord as part of her sculptures while waiting for the bus! We both are often asked, how we find the time for this “time consuming” activity, and the answer is we do, where and whenever we can. Sometime ago, I had told Sue about my project ” Time and Stitch” and also the follow up ” Coffee, Cake and Stitch”. Not only was she happy to contribute and take part in both projects, she also agreed to the meet me for an afternoon to talk about Stitch and Creativity. Even so our work is very different, we both share one particular aspect:

“The Joy of Stitch”

An Afternoon with Sue Dove

Sue Dove
Sue Dove

So today Sue joined me for Tea and Cake and a very good conversation. Typically for her, as soon as she sat down, she took one of her Stitched Pictures out and started, talking and stitching, so did I!

Work by Sue Dove
Work for the Unit 11 Show at Morvah Schoolhouse 2012
The Small One - work in progress
The Small One – work in progress

I asked Sue if she remembered when she started to stitch/embroider and why; Sue said, after her graduation, she specialized in Weaving, then she found it challenging and impractical to carry on when she started a family and needed a way of working, that was more portable and allowed to work in small but often moment and Stitch offered the perfect solution. It was fascinating for me because I developed Embroidery as a medium from similar experience, initially haveing a small child and needing matreial which fits into life. In the process I developed a deeper appreciation for work with yarn, needle and cloth. Sue and I have in common a deep to pick up something yarn related everyday, carrying it with us. Sue showed me the part of her current project, she had finished during a meeting of the St. Ives Society of Artists’s meeting. Sue’s work is related to Folk Art, Art Fauve, Expressionism and she translates her ideas fluidly into drawing, oil pastel work, Paintings and Embroideries: she said that she very happily sells her paintings and drawings but find it hard to let go of her embroideries as they carry so much of  her life in them. I whole heartedly can empathize with this feeling! Sue also said that the process of stitching, the repetition of movement, the feel of the yarns and threads are a great pleasure. This deep joy comes out for us in our work and we feel we can communicate it with those people who can connect with our work.  There is a tactile quality in the work which we cherish and want to share.              

The Joy of Stitch

The Coffee, Cake and Stitch Event

The Event  "Coffee, Cake and Stitch
The Event
“Coffee, Cake and Stitch

On Saturday, 11 May 2013 the Event ” Coffee, Cake and Stitch happened!

From 15.00 till 17.00 pm 14 people came to the cafe of the Exchange Gallery Cafe and joined me for some time of stitching and sharing stories.

People came and stayed, they got o know the other people and sat down and stitched! It required in the end three pieces of fabric to accomedate everyone! Which was wonderful! It really was what I had hoped and wished for! Some asked my on arrival” What do you want us/me to do?” and I answered ” Just stitch, what ever comes to mind!”

Bill, who very brilliantly documented the event with photography and film, observed, that there was an ebb and flow of phases of chatting and concentrated stitching. People looked very closely at “washing line” of the Stitch Samplers, which were on display. And were quite fascinated by the amount of writing in the comments. It was observed that there had appeared a common thread in the comments about, moments of stillness, relaxation and enjoyment.

Teresa said: ” I like to do more stitching and just sitting with it, doing what appears.”

contact sheet 2 event

Coffee, Cake and Stitch
Coffee, Cake and Stitch

 

The Joy of Stitch

Sea, Wind Embroidery and Muisc

A moment of being out in the elements, the wind, the sounds, the feel of the rocks under my body: sitting still, taking it all in, stitching the experience into the fabric in my hands.

Sea, Wind, Embroidery and Music

It was my first outing with my Embroidery into the landscape. it was a new experience to in the wind, to hear the sea crashing and the gulls crying above; stitching in my awareness of place, a place close to my home. The embroidery, the act of stitching is the inner place, space I long for. The Frame and the fabric become the space, to journey into. – filming requires collaboration, a dialoge with the person behind the camera (Thank you so much Bill!!) , it requires communication, taking out of my head my vision of what I am looking for. I enter a process with the person I am working with, there is a give and take, a exchange of ideas. – Music – the music is guitare improvisation by Bill Goodyear (thank you again for your time and input). It was recorded late in his flat during another filming session. Bill’s music becomes a audio anchor for my mind, my hands are moving and I am listing, entering a place of calm.

 

Stitch and Time

With a little help from a friend!

Ian Whitford, from DPN (http://www.digitalpeninsula.com) Digital Peninsular Network and CAZ (http://www.cazart.org.uk/) Cornwall Autonomous Zone supported me with a technical issue, he kindly created this combined image and prepared images so that they can be printed in the Design Centre at Falmouth University.

Three in one – the progress