The little tapestry that came out of thinking about laundry, sacredness and prayer rags is done (and even packaged and waiting to send off to my tutor!). It came out very close to what I envisaged. As I wrote in the previous post, I chose the word ‘sacred’ from a list in my course book, and focused on the idea of the sacred in the mundane, as expressed in Kathleen Norris’s book ‘The Quotidien Mystery: Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work’. I sketched a design for a stylised drying green but didn’t think I would be able to execute it technically, and then I started thinking about rag trees, which I’ve seen in Cornwall and Ireland, which led me to prayer cloths, found all over the world in various forms. I love the idea of cloth embodying prayer.
I decided to work with a combination of wool tapestry and cloth rya knotting that could evoke both rag trees and clothes lines. I auditioned various yarns for the tapestry but decided to spin my own in the end. I was trying to achieve a spacious meditative feel for the background, blending colours of sky, clouds and leaves.
Each scrap of fabric knotted into the tapestry has meaning for me, associated either with a person, an idea, or a memory. I like the result overall but I would change some of the sizes of the pieces, as I don’t think the balance is quite right – I was trying to create the kind of wildness you see in a rag tree, and if several neighbouring pieces are too similar in size it looks like a fringe and that freedom is lost. This happens in the third line down, which is the one I’m least happy with – it also breaks the rhythm of the diagonals and I think the line should be less horizontal. I was trying to create some variety in the diagonals but that one looks stolid instead of dynamic. I like the way some of the fabrics fray and curl up – this creates the ‘alive’ feeling I was hoping for. I photographed the piece outside where the wind could touch the cloth to emphasise this.
I’m not sure whether the piece works in the end or is just too literal. I wanted it to be abstract and symbolic more than representational. What do people think? I couldn’t have made it any bigger as that was limited by the size of my frame, but I wonder if it would have been stronger at a larger scale. Technically there are problems with ridges in the weaving which I think comes from using a simple frame with a single shed stick; and I would need to do a lot more weaving to find out why it twists in opposite directions at top and bottom.
I’ve also been working on my theme book for the final assignment of the course, which has an absolute deadline of 16th June. My theme is ‘hospitality’, thinking particularly about asylum and sanctuary for all kinds of people who might not be made welcome by everyone. After reading a little piece in Country Living about ‘How to Lay the Perfect Table’ I decided to focus on ‘How to Lay the Imperfect Table’. These are some of the pages from my theme book. Most of what I’ve done so far is playing with the ideas but I’m ready to start sampling now.