An exploration of shadow, light and tension at the Turnpike Gallery, Leigh.
photos ©Mark Howard Photography/rockpoolcandy2011
The only way I could make this piece work was if I became the mannequin.
delicate little screen-printed footprints on stones that change in the rain,
individually printed and sewn monkey embryos,
bleached animal bones meticulously wrapped in fine embroidery cottons and stacked into a nest,
plants from my garden pounded to a pulp through muslin and made into paper sculptures,
fabrics and hides surface printed with lino cuts and crocheted forms,
It is akin to a consumption that has held me in its grip. And finally let me go.
It is by just a tweak of nature or environment that we are here in our current form. Evolution has many branches. Had the World been a wetter place, would we, or indeed would monkeys, have evolved to spawn like frogs instead of give birth to live young?
At first engagement, I want the onlooker to feel safe, familiar even, with my installation. It looks like a quiet glade. But as you inspect, you begin to feel a disquiet. A nest made of wrapped bones. Strange footprints that appear to be made by a one-footed animal. And above you, a huge ball of monkey spawn, suspended in spit. What creatures made these marks? How large is the mother of this nest? Is she nearby? Is she watching you? Are you indeed safe? The onlooker becomes an intruder. How long dare you stay?
'Monkey Spawn' will show at the FE McWilliam sculpture gallery in Banbridge, Northern Ireland as part of 'Another Dimension. Print in 3D' until 15th May 2011.
The University of Ulster, Belfast, were gifted some BEAUTIFUL old display cabinets from the V&A.
You know the sort - the ones that make you want to climb inside and install mad taxidermy scenes.
Unfortunately, I haven't got any mad taxidermy (yet) but I did get to climb in them. (They have false bottoms - ooer!)
I decided to do fill one cabinet with colour and plastic;
There were a few hiccups - nothing would stay stuck to the glass, so the arrangement is a little 'flat' for my liking, but you can only swear at double-sided tape so many times before accepting its limitations.
The cabinet displays will stay until the 8th December, so if you get a chance, head up and take a look. They're right outside the Dean's office.
Over the last few years, I've leapt on any unattended loom in my vicinity and relished weaving. But I knew that a loom of my own was a long way off. Extra-wide, 8-shaft countermarch looms aren't cheap, or that readily available on this side of the Irish Sea.
and delapidated after 30 years in a stable, it had lost its voice.
But I treated her wounds, painted her metal-work gold, and gave her a new coat of blue.
Missing pieces were replaced using reclaimed mill bobbins and timber.
And lace bobbins now adorn her limbs.
Spare findings hang in her basket.
We've a way to go. The weavers amongst you will spot that the harnesses are hanging too high and need adjustment; and that my tension in the 30-year old warp that was on her isn't even.
But Rome wasn't built in a day. And wings take a while to get back their strength. And one day, I plan to turn her into an 8-shaft too.
But for now, in the early-morning autumnal mornings, she and I are humming away together, enjoying our new friendship and getting to know each other; making our new slice of Ulster history.
So no, I didn't die totally. Although I thought that I might with the nerves... Here's how my piece panned out.
Lay down base colours and drips.
Remember to wear gloves, Kiddies! Or you'll end up with a numpty finger like mine!
Add a torn map and some linen.
Sand that baby back.
Stencil lace over certain areas.
Iron on cheesy embroidery transfers.
Tie on flowers that I'd made previously.
Until my knees have recovered, that is...
So I've been slacking in my posting. You know what? There are several reasons why.
Here's one. Life's just peachy.
We've been hanging out with my friend, Debi, and friends, on her 'dirt farm' as she calls it. 'Damn near perfect' I call it. This was taken about 2 hours' from her, just at sundown on a western Floridian beach.
And luckily for the weaving world, he's documented every overshot pattern that he's ever woven. The library is extensive. I just hope that someone out there with the necessary archiving skills approaches Marvin and gets this stuff down officially. If there was a website with this stuff on, it would go into meltdown.
For our own projects, we've started sculpting loom weights from clay. Fir cones took our fancy. We've got 40 ready to fire. We'll build a neolithic-style loom to hang in the cathedral of trees on Debi's farm.
And there are three looms to explore no less.
And then there's the dyeing, the spinning, the rug hooking.
And I want to share it with you all, but, you know, it's hard to sit in front of a laptop when the sun is shining, the Thanksgiving cassoulet is bubbling on the firepit, and there are balls to throw for Lil' Bit.
And right now, we're busy in Washington D.C.
Creative Director, and buddy, Gretchen Schermerhorn, gave us a crash course in papermaking.
Including bashing the heck out of gompi bark that we boiled. It makes THE MOST beautiful paper.
But you know me, I wanted to go 3D.
And then a few more....
And a HUGE installation is now in the pipeline. I'll need a space to exhibit, but I'm hoping that opportunity will present itself...
where the hub and I scored the deal of being artists in residence.
Set on the River Thames, it's like Harry Potter with rowing facilities. (Their Dep.Head is an Olympian Gold Medal Rower, don't you know...)
and creating a 12th Century-inspired spinning wheel from 21st Century junk.
Ask yourself, as an artist, do you need everyone to know that you created a piece, or was the process satisfaction enough? Ironic to discuss on a public blog, but I for one, do not show and tell a great majority of my work. Sometimes it's a secret between me and the piece.
So the adventures continue to bloom and blossom, not just in England, but in just a fortnight across the pond, in the USA, too. Again with the hub, I will be exploring all these ideas and more, with the students of St Lawrence, Canton, NY. I am beside myself with excitement and cannot wait to meet them all. I hope they're looking forward to it, as much as me.
And what will Cinders wear to Ravelry Day?
Well, whilst digging about in a charity shop recently, I came across a load of lovely handmade silk ties. They triggered a misty memory of a wartime dress pattern I'd seen in a 'make do' article.
So being a lady of hour-glass proportions and liking bias-cut hip skimmers that slim. I've embarked upon a dress.
I'll let you know how it goes....
Have a colour-filled day of joy.
For those of you who can't make it to the Turnpike, you can watch my (rather clunky) youtube video of me winding my ball and then crocheting the monster bacteria. It didn't turn out as big as I'd hoped, due to lack of stuffing, but hey, it ain't no granny square.
Oh, and who would you want watching you shed blood and sweat for your artistic practice? Well the UK Minister for Culture, Andy Burnham, of course.
I'm getting ready for the UK DIY show at the Turnpike Gallery.
You'll recognise one of my white reefs on the cover there (and Alabamawhirly's gorgeous gloves, Miso Funky's emo-broidery, Ildiko Szabo's freeform and the odd bit of yarn bombing, too).
But I'm not installing coral this time. I've cooked up a plan with Ildi to install micro organisms.
All are larger than life.
Some crocheted and felted.
And some gigantically, ridiculously, arm crocheted (as let's face it, hand crocheted doesn't apply to this monster!) I'm calling it Cor Blimey Crochet!
If you've ever wondered what a listeria bacterium would look like enlarged to the size of a car, then the Turnpike will be the place to visit.
Thanks to the lovely Jacob Semko and my one and only hub, MyTarPit, shaking their tail feathers for the last 3 days and helping me construct this filament, I've got 300m of the stuff to drag across the Irish Sea and tame on site. I'll not know if it works until we're actually in the gallery, so fingers crossed.
And so why am I doing this - because, let's face it, it's not for the fun of picking glitter out of my undies for the rest of the year! Well, I want people to think about who really rules the world. Here's a sneak preview of my wall text.
I've often wondered why the Human Race thinks itself so superior. By taming other creatures and bending them to our will, we assume that we have the greatest intelligence of any organism.
But I'm not so sure.
I'm beginning to think that micro organisms truly rule our planet. We rely on them to keep us alive, all the time hoping that they don't kill us. Meanwhile, they're mutating and evolving, making our defenses ineffective.
At only a few nanometers long, some of these microorganisms are so small that they don't even reflect colour. (Humans can see colour waves between only 400 and 700 nanometers long.)
Under a powerful electron microscope, scientists have to fire electrons at the microorganisms to 'excite' them and make them glow to be visible.
MICRO POWER lead me to enlarge these monumentally powerful, yet microscopic entities using crochet and felting. Featured here are the common cold, bacteria, micro fungi or other viruses.
As you visit the gallery, think about how you're trafficing these micro organisms unwittingly and look out for new clusters.
Not convinced of their dominance?
•Millions of Prochlorococcus can live in a drop of seawater, quietly making oxygen. They made one in every five breaths you take.
•About 100 trillion microorganisms live in your gut. Most of these bacteria and viruses aid your digestion.
•Some viruses use mind control. Rabies, which is fatal in humans, enrages its host, making it bite, just to pass on the virus.
•Then there's body control. Dengue Fever turns your immune system against you, so that you're attacking your own body from the inside.
•Myxamatosis, found in rabbits decides just how long it needs to keep its host alive to be bitten by enough mosquitoes in order to move to new hosts.
•And there are micro fungi that lasso roundworms before devouring them.
My advice? Think small.
So come down, help the viral spread of artwork both in and out of the gallery and rediscover your love of craft.
There are a few extra classes going on. I've tried to photograph the details. Hope they come out. If not, just go to the Turnpike site.