Interested to encounter Nancy’s post just as I was about to publish this one, I was struck by the fickle finger of coincidence, because what has inspired me recently is an aspect of craft. I have very little time and energy for serious aesthetic input these days, and so appreciate the opportunity to savour intense flavours.
A friend has recently been to York and has seen an exhibition on sashiko. She sent me the leaflet, and intrigued I read the excellent article by Michele Walker on the website. There is also a gallery there which made me keen to try to see the exhibition when in goes to Plymouth next year.
Michele Walker first came to my attention when I started thinking about quilts as more than another bed cover. Her book The Passionate Quilter was one of the first I acquired, and I was lucky enough to see her work with that of Jo Budd, Dinah Prentice, and Pauline Burbidge in the glorious 1998 touring exhibition Take 4: New Perspectives on the British Art Quilt. (Telos published the catalogue – I don’t know if it is still in print.)
I have not been as impressed by an exhibition of art quilts since – though that might partly be because I have become so much more informed and experienced. However, I do find it most interesting that where Michele Walker has gone from there is to research history, purpose, social context, and technique – and I found this input really inspiring. (That also might well be because I am emotionally on edge and exhausted most of the time, coupled with the fact that my own work derives its subject matter from the source of this emotional weariness: my relationship with my mother.)
Nonetheless, I feel heartened by the sashiko input – rather like the technique itself Walker has provided me with the base material, and I can work my own stitches with my own cultural pattern thereon. And I believe that the art of craft is perhaps the fundamental preliminary to the craft of art.
(Another interesting view of Michele Walker’s more recent work is in Keepsakes of Identity 1.)