Thursday 31 December 2020

Times of endings

It's been an incredibly long time since the last blog post and I suddenly remembered that I usually write one at the turning of the year so here it is! I've been thinking about time this morning and how these strange times have unfolded and look likely to continue well into the New Year.

At first, way back in March, time became elastic and seemed to stretch out ahead of me and I imagined how I would use this time of enforced separation from my normal life to do all manner of creative projects - what a wonderful gift it might be! I could investigate new techniques, read all the many inspiring textile art books on my shelf and spend many happy hours upstairs in my room. But this was not to be.

I began well enough by finishing work I'd already started or planned for our 'Senses' exhibition, which we still hoped to show in the Autumn. My 'Ocean Drum' and the metal weavings, 'Moon' and 'Sun', have already been mentioned here in blogland, (Ocean drum in Winds of Change  and Sun and Moon in Lockdown Life) as has my doing the 'Swirls of Colour' workshop with Isobel Moore (also in Lockdown Life), but after that I began to lose creative focus. It slowly became clear that we wouldn't be exhibiting anywhere in 2020 and exploring any new themes just didn't excite me.

Ocean Drum - La Mer

Round and Round the Garden
(Ocean Drum reverse)


Finished Swirls of Colour piece - untitled as yet


I know from artists that I follow that I'm not alone in feeling like that - some have made great use of that elastic time to change direction or explore their work in greater depth, while others have felt like me. I questioned my belief in myself as an artist sometimes but thankfully those times were short and I reached a quiet acceptance that I needed to focus on other things in my life which fed my spirit - mainly singing, virtually on Zoom, with many people all over the world, which has given me great joy.

But this is a textile art blog so gladly I do have some other artworks to write about and they also followed what was emerging as my lockdown theme - finishing things. I found a small piece of embellished felt I'd started many moons ago, which needed some stitching and beads and so that soon came together, although it's unframed and untitled as yet (and the colour looks very odd in the second photo).

I also finished another piece, which I started earlier using one of Maggie Grey's paint-resist techniques; this will be part of another exhibition, curated by Chris Gray, hopefully sometime next year. I was inspired by aboriginal dreamtime symbols and imagery for the central panel layered on felt and I was very pleased to find a piece of handmade paper, which I'd previously dyed on a workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden, which worked well for the background. That has made its way into a frame and is ready to go ... but who knows when?

Turquoise Dreamtime

I'm now working on finishing another piece for Chris, which had to be wearable, so I'm upcycling an old boiled wool jacket, which had a few moth-eaten holes in it - also on the dreamtime journeys theme.

I'm enjoying marrying the needle felting with the use of Kantha stitching and also working with no clear idea of where I'll end up, which I suppose could also be a useful metaphor for where I am right now on the last day of 2020 - with no clear idea of when the strange times will end or what lies ahead. Maybe I needed to concentrate on the endings to make room for new beginnings and I'm hoping for changing times soon. The elastic 2020 time, stretching out far ahead, eventually seemed lost altogether, leading to a timeless quality of life for me and I'm hanging on to truly timeless themes of joy in nature, music, friendship and love.

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."

TS Eliot

I'll be back with more news from Traverse in 2021 but till then we all wish you a very Happy New Year and hope to see you soon!