As this wave of memories flows in, the city soaks it up like a sponge and expands...The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets.
In the last 2 weeks I have given two talks on my work. This has lead me to thinking about why I make jewellery and what is important to me.
In the face of a mass produced market it has been important to me to create 'limited runs' of handmade jewellery, exploring different concepts. For inspiration, I mostly look to ancient jewellery and textiles. I referred to this in a previous post on an embroidered bag.
The Tree of Life is an interesting and rich symbol. I remember looking in a book on artefacts from South-East Asia, and seeing this motif repeated and abstracted across a wide range of media. When I did a search in the collections of the V&A Museum, artifacts from all periods and media came up again, mostly of articles that can be worn/carried on the body. If they could not be worn, they were made for display within the home. When I worked on a community project with a group of Turkish women, I was struck by how relevant these symbols still are and are lived with in an active way. Each week the women would bring in items that they had made, tea towels, pillowcases, curtains, tablecloths, headscarves, all embroidered worked with floral motifs, referencing among other things the tree of life.
Here is a selection from the V&A , the British Museum and the Louvre.
Workbag, embroidered in crewel wool and chain stitch on linen, 1701-1702
Belt, Skopska Crna Gora, 20thC
Cuff, Greece, 20thC
Square of fabric illustrating "Aphrodite's marriage", Coptic-Arabic Period, 7th-8thC, Louvre
I find the work of Alexander Gorlizki inspiring. His process is also interesting as he works with Riyaz Uddin, a master miniaturist painter and his studio in Jaipur. More information and images can be seen here
opaque water colour and gold on paper
8 x 13 inches
Renaissance Monkey 2007
Stone-ground,water based and gold pigment on paper
I know her exact birthday because she is a pure breed with papers. Her official name is Hadrian Saturn .
The family that gave her to me 9 years ago named her Millennium. Milly for short. When I first saw her I thought that she was a funny looking mongrel dog, but she is a Border Terrier. She was given to me because she was naughty and aggressive, and the vet recommended that she be put down (because of the aggressiveness). So that is how I got her. For the first 6 months she was naughty and aggressive, but I loved her the moment I first saw her, so we worked through it together. In the first 6 months she ate through a weatherboard down the side of the house, the phone cord line, the iron cord, the side of a couch, the back of a chair, among other things. Then she calmed down and became the Milly that she is now. The vet said after I had had her for a year that I gave her hope in humans again. I can not imagine the last nine years of my life without her being by my side. I had no idea that I would love her as much as I do. She is such a funny happy dog. In fact, I think that she is the best dog in the world. Or, as my friend Nick has said in the past, the cutest dog in the world.
photo from last year with her winter coat.
Sleeping is one of her specialties.
I have put this picture up before, but it is one of my favourites, my friend Anna buried her in the sand at the beach and said that she happily stayed there for a while. That's my Milly
I made these plaster houses and small wire house as part of my Masters folio.
They sit on top of my book case. I was very happy with these 3 works, they are very simple and unadorned, but if you look closely you can see traces of stitching - doorways and windows, that were sewn into the form that I cast the plaster in to.(Again, they are hard to photograph).
This small wire structure holds amulets made from copper, coral, paua shell and mother of pearl.
Not only our memories, but the things we have forgotten are 'housed'. Our soul is an abode. And by remembering 'houses' and 'rooms', we learn to abide within ourselves. Now everything becomes clear, the house images moves in both directions: they are in us as much as we are in them...
Gaston Bachelard The Poetics of Space
At the door of the house who will come knocking? An open door, we enter A closed door, a den The world pulse beats beyond my door.
Silk, silk thread; hand sewn, hand embroidered, hand plaited, Great Britain, c.1600
In Embroidered Textiles, the author Sheila Payne writes that:
The primary function of embroidery was to decorate, to embellish textiles already created to meet man's basic needs, and the purpose of such decoration was rooted in ancient beliefs and superstitions. In primitive societies the mysteries of cosmic creation and the human life-cycle were harnessed by mythology...Man could emulate them or protect himself from them by tattooing his body or decorating his clothing with symbols of their powers...
Basically, embroidery was placed in areas that needed protection, and jewellery and tattooing served that as well. I think the three are intertwined and hence my interest in all three areas.
Perhaps by the time that this bag was made the need to embellish was governed more by decorative concerns than protective, but I find these bags interesting. Like boxes, both were made to carry precious items that an individual owned. Like jewellery , these bags kept these items as close as possible to the body and they were experienced both visually as well as physically.