28 April 2006

"The Other Side of the River"

Marks on bark cloth -- I was looking for something "contrasty" to use on two complementary panels, and this painting seemed to provide that contrast. In fact it seems to fall into two halves -- accented by the fold so it would fit into my portable sewing kit.The basis for the two panels is - a couple of moth-eaten trouser legs, made of a wool so good that strands from unravelled fabric can be (and were) used for stitching. Other threads for stitching are dark green twisty rayon, navy blue perle, variegated dark purple silk -- colours called Sorcery and Mole! -- and stranded black cotton. Anything I had on hand that would contrast with the pale background - yet would give a bit of interest on closer inspection.
The irregular neutral patches again came from whatever was on hand, washed to give ravelly edges and that crumpled texture; then they were quilted down on the base, and the embellishment began. I'd forgotten how much I love hand stitching. The piece just grew -- rapidly at first, and then there was a bit of a slowdown in progress (spot the difference).Almost done now -- the underlying "geography" is (almost) all covered up. I've found something that will work for the "river" - silk reclaimed from a blouse found in a trawl of Gloucester's charity shops on Easter Saturday. The river is sewn onto a larger piece, and the "banks" will be sewn onto it too.
The bark cloth that inspired this piece comes from the Congo. While stitching I've been thinking about the way the Congo river forms a boundary and an artery in the area, and wondering about both the colonial history of that area and its horrible recent history. It's much more pleasant to think about the area's traditional tribal societies and their artistic output.

I'd imagined the bark cloth was about 30x40, but the measurements of the original piece are almost the same as mine - 80x55 - mine is 90x49.

1 comment:

The Idaho Beauty said...

Very nice - and unusual as so many of your pieces are. Like its verticalness more than the horizontalness of the inspiration. Not the least bit boring inspite of its lack of color, something to remember. And isn't it wonderful to rediscover the joys of hand stitching?