Women’s Library

August 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

In order to further develop and refine the rationale behind my work I visited the Women’s Library to complete some research. I was particularly excited to have access to the 50’s and 60’s issues of Women’s Own and The Woman magazine.

Women's Own 1954


All the information available to me was rather overwhelming – I had to keep asking myself the question ‘what is important to my work?’ and ‘why’? I aimed to refine my artist statement after the visit in order to create a clear concept.

Sure enough the magazines included a huge range of ‘do it yourself’ and instructional knitting, crochet and embroidery. I thought that the language used to describe these pieces was particularly interesting. Some quotes taken from the 1956 additions:

“Wonderful 8 page pull out booklet – gay colourful summer knitting”

“Daisy gay tea cloth to embroider for the garden”

“A lacy gay blouse – charming to wear with your gay summer skirts”

There’s something so intrinsically feminine about these words. It reminded me of an introduction I had read in one of the tatting magazines I have. “After the the first world war all things Victoiran, good, bad or indifferent were lumped together and classified as ‘stuffy’. As a result many fine needlework was forgotten, until a few years ago women began to rediscover what might be called the more feminine handicrafts.”  I feel there is a hesitant sense here around the work ‘feminine handicrafts’ – “what might be called”. I enjoy that uncomfortable tension – like it’s a dirty word.

Other concepts that came out of my visit include:

  • The emergence of domestic textile machines (textile technology) appearing for the mass market

“Gone are the days of laborious hand knitting” Women’s Own, 1956 August 30th

This created a clear discrepency in the magazines of the adverts and content – whereby they included articles on how to complete your lovely summer knitting juxtaposted with adverts telling you knitting is a laborious task.

  • Sewing as identity – both positive and negative aspects
“Home sewing was linked to several discourses including feminine thrift, creativity and attractiveness” Mclean, M (1940) I dearly loved that machine
In Shirley by Charlotte Bronte the character Rose York complains that a life devoted to domestic tasks waste of women’s talents and a living death as ‘monotomy and death to be almost the same’.
  • Motivations
Aesthetics and creativity were important motivations however economics was the primary reason women sewed at home. (Conkleyn, N. (1961), Home sewing, amount and kinds of sewing done and reasons given for sewing by group of homemakers, Ohio State University). How creative is following instructions? In essence every women making the same outcome?
  • Shifts in reasons for sewing
poor economics – sewing as useful
Changing role of women – sewing as relaxation/ creative outlet
As a result of my research I have become particularly interested in the change that machines brought to the production of hand crafted textiles. My latest drawing is using bi-products of industrial knitting machines and drawing hand knitting instructional diagrammes over the top of these.

knitting stitches



Studio (spare room)

August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Studio/spare room


The course has led me to take a much more serious attitude about the work I produce in my own time (which was none at the beginning of Sept) and as a result when looking for a new house in Reading a spare room was high up on the list of priorities. So here you have it. I feel like it forms some sort of conclusion, or a new start to my own practice – having the space to spread out without distraction.

In the frame

August 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have looked at pillow lace previously when I sourced a book of instructions from ebay. I didn’t have any samples myself of this form of lace so I ordered a sample off the internet. This meant that I had some choice over the shape of the piece I was to receive.

Pillow Lace sample


The empty frame seemed suitable for drawing on top of these abstract images. It also changes the way the image is read as it emphasizes the content caught inside the frame. This aspects adds a randomness to the following images:

Pillow Lace One

Pillow Lace Two

Pillow Lace Three


Crochet Laces

August 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here are two new drawings I have completed.

The Iris Lace

The Viola Triangle

Unfortunately my scanner wasn’t quite big enough to fit ‘The Viola Triangle’ on completely.

I have started to pay more attention to the language used in the instructional magazines and books. Here I particularly like that the title of the piece is ‘The Viola Triangle’ and I have drawn a circle on it. It feels deliberately obtuse.

I had chosen written instructions from the crochet magazine to draw on. If I chose a page with too much image you wouldn’t get the impact that you do here. I must admit I miss the hands and the incidental qualities of the tatting pieces. I need to keep searching ebay and charity shops for more hands based instructions. Hands seem to have become important to me; I feel they add a more obvious connection to the process of the making of the textile pieces. Also the hands themselves tell us a lot about the women who were making these decorative pieces…


August 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

As I mentioned in my previous post I have been looking more directly at the content (i.e. the images and language) of the publications I have been using to draw on. Often instructional hands are included. I love the strange dismembered floating hands. I particularly like the hands used in my tatting magazine:

Tatting Hands

They worked well in my drawn tatting pieces as the illustrated line of the thread looked as if it was joined onto my own draw line. The salmon pink hands against the black and white of the rest of my work is quite striking.

In this magazine they refer to one finger as the ‘ring finger’ along with the ‘middle’ and ‘little fingers’. The ‘ring’ finger is demonstrated very overtly in the cover illustration:

Tatting Hands Detail

I find the use of the phrase ‘ring finger’ to be a very antiquated example of pre-feminist language.

Look at those immaculate hands! In fact all these hands look pretty well turned out:

Crochet is Easy

The Art of Tatting


Drawing Crochet cont.

August 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Finished Piece

I have been focusing on completing some of the early pieces I started at the beginning of this process.



The drawing was completed on an A1 piece of tracing paper (very tricky to photograph). I have been coming back to this piece to complete sections of it at a time. I think you can see where I have stopped and started because the pressure of the pen has changed or I was adopting a particular style. I like this human quality to the piece.

To me the piece reads as a map: passageways, crossroads and branches of roads created by the various patterns the crochet makes.

The emergence of some rather chintzy motifs through the mark making may give some indication to the viewer of where the patterns have come from.

Venice Biennale

July 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

I was fortunate enough to be able to take year 12 fine art, photography and textiles students to Venice for the Biennale at the end of term. Venice was totally overwhelming, and as for the Biennale itself – the locations on their own were utterly breath taking. I felt very lucky indeed to be able to experience this – definitely a perk of the job!

Some highlights:

Maurizio Cattelan


Yang Maoyuan


Fabrizio Plessi


Below is the work of Ethiopian Gedewon was particularly hypnotic. Tiffany said she wanted my drawings to take her breath away – and these ink drawn talisman did that to me. They are intricately drawn mazes which have a map like quality. I sketched a small part of one which made my eyes go funny and took at least half an hour. They must take an incredibly long time to produce. I remember the information provided said something about the artist completing these drawings on his hands and knees. I wouldn’t fancy that. It reminded me of a piece I started and never finished at the beginning of the course. I wish I was more of a starter/finisher.

Detail, untitled 1990, Gedewon


Untitled, 1990, Gedewon


And some photos I took myself. The year 12 starting point is ‘routes and pathways’ so I started taking some images around this theme.

feet and light in a fringe show

more feet