Friday, 2 May 2008

The handmade

A little lady like tinkling and smearing started forming itself as an idea from Germaine Greer's article Why Women Don't Relax about women and leisure time and her comments about the uselessness of stitching as a leisure pursuit and or as an art form.

"useless, pointless, unproductive, repetitive work: beadwork, shellwork, tatting, making cut-paper patterns and silhouettes, japanning, plus what George Eliot called "a little ladylike tinkling and smearing".

Don't get me wrong I am a fan of Germaine - I listened recently to an interview between her and Margaret Thosby on Classical ABC (unfortunately the interview is no longer online) and I had no idea she is in her mid 70s - I especially enjoyed her thoughts upon the future of our society and that children must be at the heart of this. Inspirational and a woman who isn't afraid of being heard and saying such straight forward things about our society - but few do.

Here is a link to another article that Germaine got her pen stuck into stitching also being an irrelevant art form!

"...why any woman would set about to make a portable artwork, a picture, out of bits of old fabric? What could be the point of such an exercise in futility? The work of art
is supposed to defy time but fabric is bound to fade and rot, even when it is kept in between layers of tissue paper and shut away from sight. There's nothing new in this kind of heroic pointlessness; women have frittered their lives away stitching things for which there is no demand


Germaine got me all worked up about stitching being an irrelevant activity to undertake in one's life. I do agree that I dont have a hell of a lot of lesisure time but the time I do have I stitch because I love it and it fits in around my family - no smelly spills or waiting for layers to dry and it isnt expensive and if I stuff it up I can unstitch it.

Also when I sew I fell connected to other women - women at home caring for a family. Although I am alone and isolated in this house I know that this activity has been shared by other women for generations.

So how does this all fit in with the notion of the handmade landscape?

Unfortunately this video has arrived on its side - for a better viewing visit here. It is a bit of a treat - an extraordinary hand made feat - a rail way bridge. You can go riding along this old bridge - it is at Skipton near Ballarat.

A web site dedicatated to the cultural landscapes of central Victoria states

Landscapes both shape and reflect the lives of their inhabitants.

As does Alain de Botton

where we are heavily influences who we can be

So how does all this relate to stitching?

My stitch work is representational in its presentation and also its process.

Stephen Gallagher wrote about my last exhibition when I started touching on this subject

Born in the Central Victorian town of Dingee, Marwood now lives in Eaglehawk. She draws deep upon her present environment and that of her upbringing. The impact of the human's assault upon the environment, the constant carving up and division of the open flat grass plains with vast straight stretches of lonely road systems are reflected in the subtle pattern of the fabric's grain in ‘Paddock Division'. Comprised of small horse hair canvas panels joined with a loose basic stitch, its subtle blue thread exposes the making process. The panels expand like the subdivisions of land—intersected with a network of roads, visual paths, along which we alone travel. ‘Paddock Division' takes on the practicality of the decision making process—rigid, black and white, left or right.

I am wanting to get close to the solider settlement landscape I grew up upon - this was a thriving community now going under due to drought. I want to get close to the people that shaped this landscape and also how their decision making is still carrying through in our actions and activities today - and I guess now that I don't live in this landscape my actions are my stitching.


Pip said...

I had no idea we shared a birthday!
Happy Birthday to you too!


lovely textiles said...

Hi Tamara, Ebba pointed me to your blog and I'm delighted. Particularly fascinated by Germaine Greer's statement.. will be having a good think about that when my baby goes to bed. Glad to have found you. ex

Ellen Coyle said...

Hmph. Germaine Greer loves to make broad, impressive-sounding statements but misses quite a lot of evidence to the contrary:

I can imagine that the works of the masters were painstaking, repetitive brushstrokes upon brushstrokes, and as for pointless you can't carry your change and lipstick in a Caravaggio. Some of the most useful items are made from fabric, and as with the damage to a canvas the wear and tear can be reduced with conservation.

Shut up Germaine Greer.

(wow, I never realised how opinionated I'd get once I started blogging)


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