Making do

The quilt-making tradition, where fabrics are recycled and reused to make something new, has always informed my work. Starting off with multicoloured silks gleaned from charity shops or worn out vintage clothing, over time my palette has become more muted. These days my pieces are made from calico or recycled domestic linen and cotton, together with coarse hessian and with ceramic buttons that were originally inspired by the little fabric-covered ones that are commonly found on Victorian/Edwardian undergarments and designed not to be seen.

IMG_0002These are unassuming materials. Cheap, hardwearing, ubiquitous. This seems to fit with the underpinning ethos of my work which is associated with ‘making do,’ of husbanding (wifeing?) scarce resources and keeping things together in times of poverty and crisis. That begins to sound a bit overblown for a bit of stitching, maybe, but I do believe that embracing frugality is a political act and learning to appreciate the handmade and homemade has the capacity to build resilience.

Always a seeker-out of interesting textures and patterns in old buildings, over the last few years I have become really interested in those houses, farm barns and sheds that have been left to decay. Along the way I developed a new joy in spotting pattress plates, the metal crosses, roundels, S-shapes and even fish-forms that mark the places where a building is held together by metal rods running through wall-to-wall. This large-scale metal stitching through brick and stone ensures that fragile built fabric can weather a few more decades or even centuries and of course I am inspired by its similarity to sewing. The cross form found its way into my work a while ago, for me a visual reinforcing of this principle of “a stitch in time…”

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