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unable to hug a tree at present …

January 12, 2021

So I embroider some; somewhat crumpled and far from finished; was begun in response to images regularly posted on social media by a friend.  Each day during the pandemic she videoed the trees in her back garden to the sounds of an ice-cream van as it touted for business at 11 o’clock each morning.  Little loops of comfort as we all are prompted to look out in our gardens for hope.

Gingerbread houses …

January 11, 2021

My work seems to reflect my mood during the pandemic and in particular lockdown (s).  This piece began as an illustration of a gingerbread house as seen in the story Hansel and Gretel; who had been abandoned by their parents. In the story, one of many collated by the Brothers Grimm.  The children had become a burden to their heartless parents who instructed a hunter to leave them deep in the woods.  Alone and far from home they came across a gingerbread house, where a wicked and renown witch lived and was inclined to eat children.  Hansel was very cautious and wanted to hurry away; Gretel was hungry and was tempted by the cake and sweets. They were captured and caged by the witch  and the story goes on to tell of their escape.

Meanwhile my embroidery has a story of its own and becomes gingerbread houses; and representing the houses on a nearby housing estate.  They are, I am sure built to utmost standards, with the finest design features, style and worth millions of pounds; yet so bleak and lonely.

With my needle and thread, I have tried to see and embroider some joy…

Next step …

January 6, 2021

As I step from this module for my MA, that was about my reflective practice, self-criticism, progression to independent workmanship towards professional development into considering my final piece and exhibition I must learn to departmentalise.

While it is difficult to separate being a puppet and stitch maker from being puppeteer, animator, stage designer or that a story teller; being able to isolate these tasks in the studio environment will go a long way to ensure that while art and creativity  is maintained and progresses, the result as a film or within a frame is produced with a professional balance and appearance.

When making the puppets, the story, and story board is in the back of my mind. To fore, is the wire sculpture with its strength and continued flexibility, the felt must be constructed to a fine and durable quality, the costumes designed and stitched to create a characterful colourful actor. All this takes place long before the animation comes to the fore.

Back drops, while they may be treated as a two-dimensional element they do fulfil and important function and cannot be ill considered when being the stitch maker.  Firstly, they might tell part of the story like the stage set or form a barrier from an unwanted background. However, they must not distract; the camera is a fool and easily distracted; so, the background must not have an obvious focus. Its function is a mere suggestion of a garden or street for example.  To that end, threads and fabric are carefully used without positive or negative lines or impressions.  Unlike the puppets or coat hanger people who as described earlier as characterful there is no subtlety. We must be assured of their importance.  In their isolation, neglect and the mundane they take centre stage and star.  

For my work for the next few months regardless of the outcome; while perfecting  the backdrops I will ensure the puppets will be well made, balanced and stage worthy. 

Coat hanger people or puppets?

January 4, 2021

As I begin to think about my final piece which will be much about studio work; for example: finding a story, giving my characters a role, making props and stage sets and animation.  While I have thought much about it and even have a plan; where I begin remains mystery.

This saddens me and find myself distracted by ‘other’ things and even further research is so attractive.  This weekend for instance I taught myself crochet; learning, however that it will not have a place in my final piece. 

On the other hand, this was far more interesting a hand puppet in a drawing by Bruegel 1564 and would like to know more about the stories that were being told 5 centuries ago.  I am not sure where my coat hanger people and puppets meet; if indeed they do.  I am also interested in the use of puppets and animated creatures in art and communication

Still in holiday mode …

January 3, 2021

As I begin my day before dawn; reading, writing and walking; my breakfast at 9.30 is a welcome feast and my pot of pu-erh tea is heart-warming. So, until my next pit stop and while I am still in holiday mood and brevity is of the essence … another character or two of note these are goat like … and dance very well .

New year colour …

January 2, 2021

The sun is up; there is a tiny break in the clouds and blue sky is peeping through.  After so many days of grey; the colour is so welcome.  During these days while I have been culling my collection of books; I have been looking at and being inspired by the work and writing of Friedrich Hundertwasser and Paul Klee.  These books will not be going anywhere.

Düchting, H. and Klee, P. (2018) Paul Klee painting music. Prestel.

Restany, P. (2010) Hundertwasser. Parkstone International.

Inside out …

January 1, 2021

In the 14th century after a 100 years of the Mongol Yuan dynasty; Emperor Zhu Yaunzhang became the founder of the Chinese Ming dynasty. One if his first acts was to ‘establish a new dress code;’ he banned the barbaric Mongol styles, but bought in his own rules that distinguished the nobles from ordinary people.  The story is complex and thrilling; the book called The fabric of civilization; how textiles made the world by Virginia Postrel describes it fully.   

My coat hanger person wears a coat that relates in a small way to the laws as regards the wearing of silk and embroidered cloth. Commoners were forbidden to wear such luxurious textiles; merchants would flout the strident rules and line their mandatory plain coats and jackets with fine fabrics. 

resolution or revolution?

December 31, 2020

Oh dear, it is New Year’s Eve; the last day of a year of immense difficulty and helplessness. We hear today that another vaccine has been approved and ‘rolled out’ but it still looks as if spring is a long time coming.  I haven’t been to a New Year’s Eve party in decades; seeing the new year in with Jules Holland at home on the TV has become a family tradition, that, and lots of champagne. I am wondering if that too has been cancelled, as so many live events this year haven’t happened. If so it will seem, albeit a little melodramatic, like the last straw.

So, with that I must be truly grateful that my family, friends and I have remained safe and that with the vaccine things will get better.  Not back to normal or as it was, for me that will not happen. I cannot afford to lose time, so I am making wishes, making changes, allowing myself to find ways to realise new invention within and without the digital development and fulfil my dreams. Is that resolution or revolution?

Herding cats ….

December 30, 2020

So, another day of winteriness and surprisingly pleasant after a good walk.  However, this deep reluctance to decide what my coat hanger people are going to say or do this year; as I begin to consider my final piece. What seemed like a plan for my recent submission; which incidentally hasn’t take place yet, appears rather drab.  I suppose this is the effect of being a lone worker or one who is isolated. I am not alone is this; around the world students are learning to find that erstwhile and painstaking team of beavers in our souls who rally us to weather the bleakness. 

Meanwhile, I will attempt to herd my coat hanger people like cats to story land.

Not so much knitting …

December 29, 2020

I woke well before dawn and worked on a small task that will become part of my final piece. It is knitted; I learn as a child and been knitting complex patterns for decades.  However, knitting in the traditional sense will not form part of my final. Until then this person, sports a rather dashing sweater in indigo and of the Aran style