Archive for the 'quilt art' Category

Time (by Olga Norris)

Specifically, time in the visual arts.  At a concert, watching a film or other performance, or reading a book, I enjoy the unfolding, the development, the altering of perspective and increase in understanding – all of which continue beyond the end in a work of worth.  What about art on the wall?  Paintings can be big enough to encompass the whole wall, and can take time to complete the looking, but generally the fixed image has to contain something else to hold and impart time. 

 While at a jazz concert listening to a piece with a distinct journey, holding back and revealing, teasing and revealing, I thought how difficult it is for a maker of fixed images to convey such a journey to the observer.  I started thinking about it seriously after that, and managed to answer a question which I’d casually asked myself many years ago. 


 Why is it when visiting a new place, particularly a foreign place, that so many of us are drawn to decay?  It is not just the old ways of building that attract us, because reconstructions are not seen to be quite as alluring as decay.  What is it about the poor parts of a city that make them so much more attractive than the prosperous well-tended parts?  What makes them so artistically inspiring

 Is it time?  The passage of time is writ clearly upon the face of the building in its decay.  Do we need to see the marks of time to feel a kind of comfort?  Which thought brought me to looking at the marks made by thread on cloth.  In a very direct way this can be seen in the work of Matthew Harris, and anyone who is inspired by the urban archaeology of peeling posters. 

stitched textile by Matthew Harris


 The question of time also brought me to thinking about ‘the frozen moment’: the photography of Henri Cartier-Bresson being the ultimate example of this for me.  One of his genius abilities in my mind is that although he always seems to be there to capture the astonishing instant, he also does not detract  from or paralyse the action.  In that still we are given a glimpse into a continuum. 

 I realise that this is what I want from fixed images: that they should engage with both the concept of time and with my time.  I take as the ultimate example the magical image of Yves Klein’s Leap into the Void.  Having grasped the attention it immediately provokes the imagination to supply the continuum, it questions, it arouses curiosity, and is timeless.  I love it, and find that it leaps often from the void –or out of the blue – into my mind in conjunction with many different topics. 

 In my own work I suppose I try to capture an ambiguity or enigma which can change with viewings over time.  Although my own emotions are encompassed, I hope that they have been distilled and abstracted (aha! – see my last post here) enough to be more universal.  I aspire to the foothills of Edward Hopper in providing a work which is not-quite-completely-knowable, but which attracts and satisfies timeless curiosity.  It will take me some time to get there, but I hope to continue having fun on the way!

The art of craft – the craft of art (by Olga Norris)

sashiko work pants

contemporary sashiko by Nuno

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.)

One for All and All for One

Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in an All Member Exhibit put on by the Lawrence Art Guild at the Hobbs-Taylor Lofts in Lawrence, Kansas. This was an unjuried exhibit of recent work by about 100 members of the Lawrence Art Guild, of which I am a member. There was a large variety of mediums represented in this exhibit, from photography to ceramics to oil paint to fiber. For the first time, this annual exhibit was held in a ground floor section of the recently constructed Hobbs-Taylor Lofts building. This was a large space that is awaiting the perfect business to come along and lease it, so it is only roughly finished. The guild used chain link fence panels set up in sections of four to show much of the work. I found that I liked the contrast between the art and the raw concrete and wire. The fence panels were reasonably lightweight to set up, and they hold up to the wear and tear of being stored and moved from site to site. My only criticism of the exhibit is that it was lacking in light. During the stormy day that I exhibit-sat, I began to wish that I had flashlights to hand out to the visitors.

Fiber was represented by a number of works in this exhibit, including a Jacquard weaving by Carla Tilghman, a chenille garment by Marci Blank, a machine lace and fabric scarf by Jill Mickel Zinn and quilts by Marge Banks and Linda Frost.

"Argyle" by Linda Frost

"Argyle" by Linda Frost

Mixed art exhibits of this type can be jarring, as one goes abruptly from one medium to another. Does this make one more aware of each individual art piece or is it ultimately just too distracting?

Got any spare art? by Linda Frost

There is no limit to the number of worthy and deserving causes that one can support. I am certain that business owners are constantly being asked to donate goods and services. But I also feel that visual artists must be a close second to businesses in the frequency of requests for donations of their art. Textile artists in particular seem to be targeted, perhaps due to the long history of raffle quilts. Is there anyone out there with “quilter” by their name that isn’t constantly approached for donations to silent auctions, live auctions, and raffle drawings? To my prejudiced eye, musical artists are rarely involved in these events. Theater and dance artistry are also scarce. Producing art that can be displayed and then held up for sale seems to make it so much more desirable for donation.

Continue reading ‘Got any spare art? by Linda Frost’

Sabbatical and the Quilt Artist (gabrielle s.)

Taking a different course this month as well, let’s think about if it is feasible for quilt artists to take a sabbatical. Can someone in our fast-faced, production is everything, you are only as good as your last quilt world take time off? Other artists working in different media do so frequently. Some artists think you should never do so. Robert Genn, a painter, has an interesting take in one of his open letters titled Artist for Life.

Mr. Genn’s take is filled with along list of things to get you back into the studio. The final advice is to Continue reading ‘Sabbatical and the Quilt Artist (gabrielle s.)’

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