Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rosie Sends Love to Weavers

I had to think whether to share this with you or not, and decided to go ahead, so please indulge me in my explanation first, and know that I don't post this to gloat.

Rosie is an art historian and also very involved in music. We met in my previous life at the local Polytech, and after we both left the Polytech, we saw each other often. Then she had a child, and I got an apprenticeship with a local weaver, (thanks to Rosie alerting me to an advert in the paper), and we drifted apart, until she kindly came to my exhibition in January of last year. We kept bumping into each other at art openings, and now we try to see each other more or less regularly. She's been awfully complimentary on what I do, which I appreciate, but she's able to see things from a far more trained/learned perspective, which I soak up as my art education.

When I started working on The Wall project, I knew I wanted to weave tiny, luminous cottons, but I wasn't sure if I should weave scarves, or tiny "scrolls" to hang. Weaving them would have been very similar; the scrolls would have been slightly shorter and needed bigger hems at the top and perhaps the bottom so I could thread dowels through them. To me, a "wearable" scarf is more valuable monetarily than a scroll, but then this is our "museum shop", so I thought "objets d'art" might be more appropraite. At the back of my mind was also an extremely satisfying discussion Rosie and I had at the opening of Craft 08 about the different considerations for wearable vs. to-show-only pieces.

This was her reply. As I read it the second and third time, it started to read like a delightful tribute to what all of us do; I felt vindicated in engaging in our old-fashioned, sometimes slighted craft, and felt compelled to share with you the view of one art historian who understands and appreciates the long hours we spend on and off the loom. So here goes; this is to all of us:

"My gut feeling on this is that you must stick with your core philosophy/raison d'etre. As you know I worship those tiny scarves - they are exquisite.

"As display pieces they would lose their essential identity. These scarves are in a continual process of transformation - the cloth has a dynamic and fluid life of its own as it moves, twists and turns. Even if we can't actually put them on when they're in the shop, the inherent possibility of touching them, of stroking that silky surface, of feeling the cloth rest gently against one's skin; or of admiring them at a distance worn by someone else, seeing them catch the light, lift in the breeze, provide warmth and comfort as a token of love and friendship - these realms of our imagination are stimulated by these objects and become an essential part of experiencing your scarves. If they were not 'wearable' objects they would become static, constrained by the confines of the two dimensional surface of the wall and robbed of their potential for all sorts of 'lives'.

"I realise that you could suggest the 'lives' of your scarves using display pieces but at this stage I think some important qualities of our ability to fully experience your scarves might be lost."

6 comments:

  1. Rosie sounds like a wise and good friend, with good advice. I don't know anything about weaving though I really liked what I saw at the Portage and so I know your work is very beautiful. I'm enjoying your posts now that I've found you again.

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  2. She is those things, and more. She's criminally pretty and delicate, but funny as anything, too, and about 1/3 of our time together is spent bent over and laughing, eyes watering, over something one of us said or thought of, or because similar visuals popped up in our heads simultaneously.

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  3. Except when she's laughing, she's still a picture, but across the table, I look like a hippo in convulsion.

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  4. Thanks for sharing those words! They are lovely and truthful.
    And I bet you don't really look like a hippo when laughing!

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  5. Oh, yes, I do, and sometimes I can even sound like one. (Snort, snort!!)

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  6. Now I remember, the English expression is "doubled over", isn't it?

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