And how we had fun last week...
This week I’ve been thinking about idleness and textiles. Spending so much time at home and the turn in the weather has taken me back to a time before I had responsibilities.
Observing my children has reminded me how, when I was very young, in the absence of dedicated kids tv channels, games consoles or tablets I would spend timeless moments observing my bed sheets. My sister and I had bunk beds and the covers had a hexagonal patchwork pattern printed on them. What really stuck with me about the pattern was that the outline didn’t line up - or now I know the technical term - the registration wasn’t aligned. I was really bothered by the fact that I would never know whether this was deliberate or not. I spent so much time examining the design that I can remember it very well 40 years later, I still have the pillowcases though but the design is slightly different, the reverse pattern.
Downstairs we sometimes had a crochet square blanket and I would examine the colours in it which seemed to be in a completely random order; I would look for order where there was none, and even though I knew there was no order to it, I still looked for a pattern.
I have loved observing textiles all my life. Often I’ve taken a photo of something, a curtain, cardigan on the back of a chair, discarded scarf, as I love how the light is catching it. My favourite trips to museums and galleries at Croydon Art College were the fashion and textile ones, sketchbook in hand, tucked away in a dark corner of the V&A. Weekends spent in Soho taking samples at Borovick's and the Cloth House, then going up the Goldhawk Road to buy what I could afford. Vintage curtains at flea markets and recycled polar fleece from Milan. I love it all and the powerful emotions and memories that can be evoked from touch alone.
So while I’m lounging with my kids; they may be engrossed in Lego Worlds on the PS4, or deep in an episode of Odd Squad, I am noticing the tufts of fluff on the blanket on the sofa and how the light shines through them. Seeing where the repeat pattern starts and finishes between Hyde Park and Holborn on my son’s map of London bed sheets. I watch the light catch the sparkles in my Adidas hoody and spot the misaligned fringing in the blanket in my studio. It reminds me of the feeling of having absolutely nothing that I have to do. A feeling I haven’t had for a very, very long time.
So this week I invite you to do absolutely nothing for a little while, even if it is just five minutes...and then mindfully draw a textile.
Use charcoal, pastels, watercolour, ink, marker pen, emulsion, collage, anything you have to hand. It doesn’t matter whether you draw the pattern printed on it, the pattern made by stitches and loops, the abstract shape it makes, the contours of light and shade in the folds.
Look closely and observe not just the visual side of the material but the feeling it provides:
The comfort, warmth and security; history, memories, aspirations.
Draw the feelings.
Feel the moment.
Last week's challenge:
If I’m completely honest, when I set this challenge I had in my mind some time to myself and the opportunity to let loose with paint and chalk and anything I felt like doing. In reality I am at home with my children and, despite the total lack of time for me, it seemed unfair to exclude them from activities I knew they would enjoy at a time when fun is at a premium. I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it much more with the kids that I would have done without.
One sunny afternoon we got the chalk out in the garden, covering the walls with rainbows and scribbles, then a day or two later when the weather had turned we did Jackson Pollock in my studio, covering the floor in paper and splashing paint across it, bare feet covered in paint, splashes up our arms and on our faces, laughing a great deal as we used every colour in the box and covered as much paper as we could.
I totally enjoyed last week's challenge and have resolved to bring in more creative fun more often.
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