This piece Winter/ Male was started in the Autumn last year and it had a wintery feel actually because of the colour scheme that I wanted to work with. But I knew that I wanted to work with the theme of tall structures with a kind of masculine feel but within in it the dualities of male and female and that it was going to have a companion piece, a female summery piece that was going to be the colour opposites in fact.
So I started producing the fabrics using the rust dying process using metal plate and water only and working on to a pallete of found fabrics that were ready coloured most of them. And then knowing that I would over-layer with sheer fabrics in silks and cottons which would be dyed with reactive dyes and then finally the whole thing is stitched to give it that surface texture and ripple and to weld the whole thing together if you like.
So you can see top section here is really strong rust dyed marks and the challenge in this piece was how to put these very different pieces together but into a coherent whole so that it would work from a distance as a composition but would also work close up.
Ok, so we're now leaving winter male and this is the summer female it's sister piece and its composition is finished and pinned and I'm just in the process of starting to sew it which is really exciting. I can't wait to, I nearly said 'get my teeth into it' but I mean get my fingers onto it because I'm going to really discover what these fabrics can do once I start stitching and it is a moment of transformation but of affirmation as well really, it's a joyous moment that it's finished. And this piece is very different to the feel of Winter and Male. It's much lighter and brighter. It's got a lot more space and areas of blank canvas where light is allowed to come through and it's just got a kind of lighter, more relaxed feel about it somehow. I think that's how we all feel in summer anyway so that's why it's kind of got two titles of Female and Summer.
Ok, so I'm just starting to stitch this piece Summer/Female now with little tiny anchoring stitches which start to produce a surface texture so that it has a three dimensional quality which echoes the marks on the fabric surface or sometimes the marks on the fabric that is beneath the surface. Think that thing - of being able to really stand back from a big piece of work but then to be able to move close in and be excited by all the little details and the other things that you discover, the edges, the threads, all those other little sumptuous details - that's part of why I like to work big actually, the macrocosm and the microcosm if you like, you know, it gels when you walk away. Almost like an impressionist painting, you come up close to it and woa, you know, what's happening now.
But hopefully you find other little gems to look at. I suppose I just hope that people are going to respond in an emotional way as well as an intellectual way, these can be read quite formally in terms of blocks of dark and light and colour contrasts and balances.
But there is a lot of emotional in it and people have come up to me and have really expressed what I have felt when I have been doing this work. So it is a chance for me to find out if I am actually communicating with my public. And yes, I think those who can see, can see.
The Victoria and Albert Museum welcomes applications for ‘Creating Innovative Learning Programmes’, its new one week intensive course. This is a unique training opportunity for museum professionals from overseas who are interested in attracting and programming for a range of museum audiences.