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.

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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.


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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.

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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

Walking the Talk

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In the Canteen

Sometimes it is good to “walk the talk”!

After traveling from Penzance to Univesity Falmouth, dealing with Reprograhics, a tutorial with Gillian Wylde and lunch, it just flet the right thing to do, just to sit for an hour and stitch, while listing to some music! (The Bookshop Band, my current favorite!). When I look back at my documentation of my journey in Stitch, I realize, that it took me a bit of time to really take the Stitch piece on as my ‘companions! At the beginning I stitch only in ‘special moments’, at home and while filming. Only when I started the ‘Small One’ and the ‘Middle one’, I really started to carry them around with me, stitching on the train on every journey, they went to Germany, to London, to Totnes, several times to Truro.

three pieces
The Three Pieces (detail)

Over the weekend I was thinking, that the Graduation show is really not the end of this work! The three pieces will have a break, I will continue working with them, when they come home! Before they go into the show next week Friday, I will take a final photo, which will be only a recording of that moment! This is a good feeling, a feeling of continuity! 

Stitching in public is a really different ball game compared with other activities such as Knitting, or Crochet. It draws more attention to it, the is not a day or an outing without someone coming up to me, complimenting, commenting and inquiring, sometimes I tell people of the context, sometimes I keep it vague, saying I just enjoy doing it! 

Here is another bit about “Walking the Talk” from last week:

Today I have locked myself out of my work, by leaving my laptop charger at the college last night! 

So I decide to take some time out and went to the Poolside Cafe in Penzance and I here I am sitting right now and stitching! And breathing through the disappointment, the frustration and the upset. Better to accept the situation as it is and make the most of it.

Enjoying a coffee, watching the sea, breathing and stitching!

By the Jubilee Pool
By the Jubilee Pool
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

Mindfulness and Stitching

Thich Nhath Hanh
Thich Nhath Hanh

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”

― Thich Nhat HanhBeing Peace

Being mindful, while stitching, brings the dimension to it, I am looking for.

The book “Happiness” by Thich Nhath Hanh is a great inspiration on this way.

happiness

It makes a great difference when I stitch and calm my mind. I love the term “Monkey Mind”, it feels friendly, just something that is and sometimes it needs very gentle calming down, a chance to be grounded and relax. I can be kind to my own Monkey Mind and Stitching help’s me to find these moments when breathe and stitch and breathe and smile and with every Stitch come back to breathing in and out.

The Small One
The Small One

Stitching brings me into the present when I take care of my mind.

Mindfulness, Slowness, Environmental Responsibility and Connetedness with other people are foundation aspects in my work.

 

 

 

The Joy of Stitch

Time, Purpose and Companion Pieces

Time, purpose and companion pieces

Over Easter I spend two week in Germany with my mother (who will be 85 soon) and friends.

There were  moments of dialogue and reflections.
28. March 2013, before the Church Concert
For quite some years now, I tend to have some kind of needlework (knitting, crochet and these days again embroideries) with me most of the time.

Taking work around with me, started when my son was born. Embroidery provided a practice of expressing myself, which allowed me to pick it up in any spare minute, with no need for a special place like a workshop or a studio. I realized then, how much I enjoyed working on my pieces in public. My friend Sue Dove agreed that she found Embroidery suitable for a transient life. She had been a weaver before. (More about her in an extra post)

IMG_0060Knitting in Marazion

 I regularly meet with the question:” how long does it take you to finish this?” or if I wear one of my favorite knitted triangular shawls the question is:” How long did it take you?”.

It is rare for me to be in a hurry to finish something.
Like today, in 2 hours I crocheted a gray woolly barrette, because I had forgotten to take a warm hat with me to Germany.

 I bought 2 balls of very thick yarn and a matching crochet hook and ca. 2 hours later the problem of cold ears was solved.

 It is the legacy of my mother; if we need something we make it (within reason!).
My shawls are my companion pieces; they are with me, until they are finished. It is a special comforting moment, to sit down and work a few stitch, it is quieting  the mind, creates a moment of purpose, relaxes, I breathe deeper.

 Often I am actually a bit sad when they finally come off the knitting needle.

 

29. March 2013
My embroidery piece also have become what I call “companion’ piece.

I’m writing this in my mother’s sitting room.
When my mother gave the piece, I am working on, at first glance, her immediate response was, the stitch were untidy.

 The upper stitch and the lower stitch have to face the same direction in one row.

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to create

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My mother trained in the late 1940 as a tailor/dressmaker and did her Master in the early 1950’s. After she retired in the early 1980’s she took up Danish cross-stitch and Hardanger Embroidery.

It’s intriguing to make a connection now how much this generation was in so many aspects of their life’s trained to follow the rules and things had to have an end to their means and a purpose.

 IMG_0277

The Middle One (On the train, March 2013)

Later in a Cafe
Her following questions were:
“What will it be?”
“How big will the embroidery be?
” How long will it take you?”

And all I could do is today:
” I don’t know and I don’t need to know now.”

I feel, there will be a moment, where feels right to say: ” Here I will stop working on this piece. “

 

In her honor I am now incorporating at times the “right” way of cross stitch, first the row of the under stitch and then the top stitch. I can choose between the traditions and honoring them and following my own way of doing it.

The pieces will be part of my graduation show; it feels like inviting friends round.

 

Because for these pieces of embroidered cloth will tell about all those moments they have been with me, on my travels, on trains, in cafes.

Even if I cannot relate to a particular section a certain event, they still hold the memory of the time spend with them.

 

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The Chinese One (Miss Peapod, March 2013)

The Joy of Stitch

Time and Stitch – Thoughts

Time and Stitch Thoughts

Time and Stitch
Time and Stitch

..,, The project ‘Time and Stitch’ is an exploration about how we perceive time when we create something with out hands, on the example of stitch / embroidery.

The purpose of My embroidery in this work is to experience the effect of a very slow and time consuming activity. The objects, the embroidered cloth are a physical documentation of time spend, mostly alone and some times in company.

The videos and photos are the documentation of the journey, of the process.

Why Stitch and Music?

My personal experience come into play; as I enjoy the activity of needlecraft, and knitting and crocheting, I tend to take it with me to most place I know. In    Penzance I am known as “the woman who knits”. I love live music; a wide range from my local Folk group, the blues my man played, to orchestral concerts and chamber music and the knitting comes along. While the hands are engaged I listen with greater intend.
This bore the idea to explore the interaction between a musician and a stitcher.
In my experience the dialog is tangible , a gentle much more internal communication .

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Wabi-Sabi

The book “New Standard Craft” about Japanese contemporary craft, embedded in a specific ethic and aesthetic context (simplicity as a value in time were “less” is “more”‘) was and is still my major inspiration behind my work. At the beginning it was the simplicity of the image and the paired down aesthetic of the objects. To me it has a link to William Morris quotation:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to useful, or believe to be beautiful ” William Morris

Also the essays in this book give an insight into the thinking of the designers involved (more reading and extracting of content to follow)

NEW STANDARD CRAFT
New Standard Crafts – Seikatsu Kogei Kazumi Tsuji

The following images are from the book “NEW STANDARD CRAFTNEW STANARD CRAFT  LADLENEW STANDARD CRAFT Seikatsu Kogei

NEW STANDARD CRAFT GLAS

Today in the library I “found” the book about Wabi-Sabi. I remember someone talking about it and it is just what I have been looking for! To me it appears to be the aesthetic philosophy linked to Buddhism  and Japanese Crafts aesthetic.

Wabi-sabi

Zen garden of Ryōan-ji. It was built during the Higashiyama period

A Japanese tea house which reflects the wabi-sabi aesthetic in Kenroku-en (兼六園) Garden

Wabi-sabi tea bowl, Azuchi-Momoyama period, 16th century

Wabi-sabi () represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. 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 ).

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.

Description

“Wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of traditional Japanese beauty and it occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do theGreek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West.” “if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.” “[Wabi-sabi] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”