Weekly roundup 4 September 2016

A very quiet week. Yet another cold, this time knocking me flat for a few days. So no evening lecture at AGNSW, precious little drawing, reading or thinking.

Lecture: Chet van Duzer Sea monsters on medieval and Renaissance maps
Fortunately I was well enough by yesterday to go to this lecture at the State Library of New South Wales, accompanying my mother (long-time map lover and collector).

The lecture was excellent. Very well structured, many high quality illustrations, and an unexpectedly fascinating subject. Quite a few seem good starting points for exploration. The schematic nature of mappamundi, especially the T-O structure. A different way of viewing and categorizing the world. On nautical maps the run lines as an organisational mechanism, a network, connections. Some lovely line drawings and patterning. Based on the science of the time (now seen as fantasy?). These elaborately decorated maps were for wealthy men of learning, not for navigation of ships. Journeys of the imagination – and what are our monsters?

New project: Continuing from the last paper coiled vessel.

  • A single paper. I want to focus on shaping and stitching.
  • Bringing in mono-printing, especially the brushmark (following Vivien Haley class 27-Aug-2016). I’m curious about how much if any of the mark-making will be apparent in the end result.
  • Group experiments

    Group experiments

  • Thinking about folds, dimensions. The photo shows my little collection of recent experiments. My new coiling will make two dimensions three (being casual about the depth of the paper). Or it could be seen as a line (one dimension – thread), a plane (two dimensions – paper), folded (spun) and coiled to create three dimensions. Perhaps breaks and gaps cutting through to behind.
  • Also memory. Vivien talked about the printed brushmark as a memory, a record of something gone. I see a connection with dimensions, making time more visible in the work. I also like the idea of memory as experienced today. There’s the original event, but often the memory we have of it today is quite different. Did it really happen like that, or look like this? Memories aren’t the past. They are happening today, influencing us today. The act of remembering.
  • Printed mulberry paper

    Printed mulberry paper

    Today I printed a full sheet of white mulberry paper. The overview shows an undifferentiated mass. The details below show there is some variation. The big outstanding question is just how much will be apparent when spun and coiled. At the moment I’m more curious than anything. Some colour has seeped to the reverse side, but it is mainly white. I can always play with that. Or add plain white at points if that seems a good idea.
    vessel plans 20160904

    vessel plans 20160904

    I’m also curious about whether the printing will impact on the joomchi / paper felting technique.

    A quick sketch today of possible forms to aim for. That joomchi question needs investigation before any decisions are made.

    Other sketching
    I tried one more day with Cafe Croquis quick sketches, in felt tip pen on cartridge paper, but started feeling very rushed. If part of the purpose is improving observation… well, it didn’t seem that was happening. Next attempt was charcoal on kraft paper, spending around 20 minutes on a single photo. Some very odd things going on, and certainly not my favourite result. Still, it was easier to make sure I was really trying to see what I was looking at. After a few absent days I eased myself back in trying out some new-to-me tinted graphite pencils and some charcoal pencils.

    Uta Ruhkamp “Soft bodies and inner textile worlds” In Brüderlin, M (ed) (2013) Art & Textiles: Fabric as material and concept in modern art from Klimt to the present Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz Verlag.
    A brief essay, this considers the closeness to the corporeal that using soft materials allows. Works made reference to art history – Dorothea Tanning’s Nue couchee linking to the classic reclining female nude, and Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Venus der Lumpen, which contrasted a classical sculpture of Venus with a pile of old clothes, symbol of affluence and waste. Ruhkamp finds fabric phalluses, protective amulets, metaphorical chains of memory, and aggregations of time and love in the textile works discussed.

    In the following pages a headcovering from the Kingdom of Cameroon, collected in 1904, is juxtaposed with a 1965 grid of spotted phallus by Yayoi Kusama, the layered textile patterns in Felix Vallotton’s Nude from behind in an interior (1902) with the sculptural textile collage of Sonia Gomes’s Tecidos Leves Atados em Forca. I have trouble connecting with or being able to visually process Gomes’s work, but with its neighbour I started to see some flow and integration. As always it would be great to see these works in person, to experience the scale and dimensionality.

    A later quote from Magdalena Abakanowicz empasises the importance of shaping directly, with her hands, revealing the unconscious. Many of the works suggest there was an unconscious or instinctive element to their making, although I suspect the artists’ eyes and hands have been honed by many years of work. This thought reminded me of the essay by Conor Wilson that I mentioned recently (14-Aug-2016). He writes about craft production “based on repetition”, the work becoming un-selfconscious, “released from the tyranny of concept”. The works connected with Ruhkamp’s essay don’t show that honed skill or freedom from concept, but I see a kind of surety, of conviction that I would like to experience.

    Laura Breede “Texture: The surface of space” In Brüderlin, M (ed) (2013) Art & Textiles: Fabric as material and concept in modern art from Klimt to the present Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz Verlag.
    This essay is subtitled “The sixties and seventies: Minimal art and postminimalism”. Some lovely language, which has had me musing (again!) about all the different things that art can be, and of course testing each to see what draws my attention – “spontaneous gestures” (art informel and abstract expressionism), “a highly reduced language of forms” (minimal art), “paint [used] exclusively in an object-describing manner to depict figurative, narrative pictorial elements”, “a means to visualize movement, space, and materiality”, “articulating spiritual content”.

    There’s also mention of the close relationship of postminimalism to “the serial-geometric structures of textiles, which are defined by the material itself.” At a near inspection that’s a simple description, but I remember what a surprise it was when I started weaving. I thought I was already textile obsessive and fairly knowledgeable, but the detail level of interlacement, tension, twist, material properties was new. How do we keep focus on the details that make a difference – which changes according to our different purposes?

    Texture as the surface of space, how to generate space from the surface, “how the thread steps beyond the texture into space” – questions of interest to artists including Lucio Fontana and Fred Sandback. What loose ends could be teased out and explored from a modern, textile-y lens?

    The repetition and seriality of processes. Contemplation. Ceremonial.

    Piero Manzoni’s Achromes look intriguing, especially given recent experiments with plaster during Mixed Media for Textiles. Another way to explore and capture folds, space. Fred Sandback and the geometric forms that structure space. Robert Morris and interplay with gravity. Strands to explore.

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    September 2016
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