Saturday, April 10, 2010

Big thinks. And the Quilty thing...has a name.

This piece has actually always had a name, it's just that it wouldn't really be appropriate if I don't finish it the way I want to, and it doesn't become the wearable piece I'm envisioning.  I started it off thinking of it as a magical robe for a traveller.  A robe that can be taken off and placed on the ground to sit on, or wrapped around someone as they sleep, or hung up to make a windbreak, or a door for a tent.  I was thinking of Suibhne (or Sweeney), the mad King of Irish legend, who offended a priest and was cursed to spend the rest of his life living in the tree-tops among the birds, feathers in his hair, and never knowing the comfort of a warm bed, or a cup of mead, or a decent meal, or the company of his fellow humans again.  W.B. Yeats based his poem "The Madness of King Goll" on Suibhne.

But, my original idea of a feathered cloak of some kind seemed too difficult to create, whether using real feathers, or embroidered/appliqued ones.  And the colours I began to see, and the construction that began to form in my mind, didn't lend itself to Suibhne either.  So, as I've been thinking about travellers; nomads and gypsies, circuses and traveling theatres and such people, its name has turned out to be "Traveling Robe for a Vagabond King".  I hope I can finish it to live up to its name!

Top half added.  The base is a piece of linen/cotton, that began as a rather hideous lemon yellow, but has come out a rather gorgeous old gold after dyeing with ecalyptus leaves.  I must watch my horizontals though, I seem to be going up on the left a little.

And here's the bottom half again, almost done.  I'm going to encircle each purple velvet patch with red stitching, you can see the one on the far left has been done.

The second circle's embellishments.

There's that stitched purple patch in the top left, and others to be done.

Close-up.  I'll stitch the edges of each circle down when I've finished the embroidery, because I'm using it to just tuck the loose ends of the embellishments under at the moment.

I really need to do some painting, there are art competitions I want to enter, and yet I'm so focussed on this sewing piece that I can't seem to get into the painting mood.  Sometimes I think I need to settle down and focus on one thing, because my mind is always full of so much stuff that pulls me this way and that, I feel like I don't know if I'm coming or going.  I've often thought, I wish I could say 'I'm a watercolour artist' or 'I'm a pastel artist'...then I would be focussed on one thing (not to mention the advantages of not having boxes and boxes and BOXES full of all manner of 'arty/crafty stuff' that take up much too much space) and could actually become really good at it.  My mum teases me gently and tells me I have a 'grasshopper' brain, but I'm interested in so many things I can't help it.  And not just art either: literature, theatre, music, history, archaeology, myths and legends, science, psychology, religion, spirituality, ecology...and so much more.  I know I'm not peculiar in this, but goodness, sometimes it's TIRING!  Dirk Gently, Douglas Adams' wonderful 'holistic detective' put it so perfectly.  He believed in the 'fundamental interconnectedness of all things'.  And so do I.  So every documentary I watch, or book I read, or film, or newspaper article, or poem, or...whatever, becomes part of the bigger picture, and links into other things I've seen/heard/read to create new ideas, new possibilities in my mind.  Scientific discoveries link into things I've read about music, archaeological finds make me see that we can change how we behave today.  It's all a giant web, nothing exists in isolation.  If you do this thing, something else will be affected in ways we cannot predict.  If we do that small thing, it might cause enormous change elsewhere.

That's where creativity and imagination are so important.  We can never predict all outcomes, we can never be sure what the consequences will be, but if we can IMAGINE, we can see some of the paths ahead.  If you can imagine it, perhaps you can build it, without imagination, nothing can be created.  Without imagination and creativity, humans would still be living in caves.  Everything around us that is human-made, did not exist once.  It was an impossible thing dreamed up by some mad person who perhaps spent all their time day-dreaming and being told off for it.  And this is where artists (all artists, not just visual artists) live.  In that dreaming space, where anything is possible.  I've often contemplated the similarity between artist and magician, or shaman, or seer.  I wonder if those who painted the magnificent caves of Lascaux were told to 'get a proper job,' or whether they were the shamans who saw into the future for their people, and then DREW if for them so they could see it too? As an artist, it annoys me no end that many people see art as a frivolous luxury.  A couple of years ago, the federal Government here introduced some education reform, and identified priority areas to be tackled first.  The arts, any arts, were not included.  It would come later, along with all the other 'less important' stuff.  There was an outcry among the artistic community, as you would expect.  But reading comments in public debate forums appalled me.  So many people seemed to have the idea that art was just 'painting pretty pictures', music is just a pleasant hobby, dancing is silly, that it's all just pointless frivolity, and had no place in a serious curriculum.  And yet, almost everything around us is created by art.  You cannot build a skyscraper unless someone draws it first.  Or a car.  Or a chair.  What about films, advertising, TV, magazines, fashion, industrial design, town planning, maps?  None can exist without art.  Someone has the crazy idea, and then someone has to draw it to communicate that idea to others.  Nothing can be created without this.  Without art, writing would not exist, because writing began as pictures.  And what of literature and its role in human creation?  Many of the fanciful notions of H.G Wells and Jules Verne have become realities.  But if they had not imagined them, would humans have created those realities?  Can you imagine a world without music?  One of the most ancient human-made artifacts, over 35 000 years old in fact, is a delicate carved ivory flute.  The ability to imagine it, create it, then play it, is the same ability that created civilisation.  The arts foster imagination and creativity, seeing something that doesn't exist and seeing the way to make it exist.  So much research tells us that having arts in school curriculums will improve children's ability to do well in ALL subjects.  Artists are like explorers, they go ahead into the unknown and bring back knowledge to be shared with the rest of humanity.  They cut the path into the future, and bring back the pictures to show us what it looks like.  Hardly frivolous is it?

Sigh...I will hop down off my high-horse now, or my soap-box, or whatever it is that I'm standing on.  Living in a country that idolises footballers, and thinks artists are a waste of time does occasionally get me a little hot under the collar!

A little later....I just read all through that and thought, Phew!  Maybe I should leave on a lighter note.  So.............did you know that before I was a mermaid, I was a faery princess?  Well, just once.  A long time ago.  But I've still got Prince Charming!  :)


Mechelle said...

Your quilt is amazing! I really like what you have done. It reminds me of the sun.

Michelle said...

I've just gotten hooked into art quilts. Your piece is so beautiful! I can't wait to see how it looks done. I also completely agree with everything you say about creativity!
And you make a lovely princess!

Julia Kelly said...

cool stitching- and thanks for reminding me I am not odd- or at least in good company- for pondering the same things you do and getting the same- "is she off her rocker" comments and looks from friends and family.

Emerald Window said...

Oh Honey, Please stay up on that high horse. The view must be spectacular. I agree profoundly with you about the importance of the arts and trying many differant mediums. My husband once asked me (after I invested once again in a new art project)if I was ever going to find an art I liked and stick with it. he asked if I didn't feel like a "Quitter". I had to think about that for a while and finally realized that I wasn't a quitter, I was a sampler. I wanted to sample all aspects of art and life - painting, stained glass, gardening, writing, beading, and on and on. i want to stuff as much magic and vision into my life as possible.
Love your Fairy Princess picture. I was once one too, now I;m the old wise woman.

Judit Labòria said...

Absolutely wonderful, your words, your paintings and your sewing.Congratulations.

Debrina said...

I loved reading ALL THAT! I agree with you on so many points and it can be distracting being an artist when there is SO much we want to do but we're limited by time, money or just the fact that one project is taking up all our energy - I've been a bit like that with my Pulp Redux book collaboration. One track mind on that one, currently.
And oh wow, look at you on your wedding day: beautiful doesn't begin to describe you two!

Anonymous said...

Well,when the Government came out with that little gem the steam from my ears probably blew all the way to the Indian Ocean!
Is not thinking, called by some idle dreaming, the very beginning of achievement?
Sadly, things like sporting events get more coverage and money.
Still, there are clever, artistic people and I'm glad of this.

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