Thursday, January 12, 2017

Dear Dorothy Caldwell

Dorothy Caldwell  Canyon 2012   stitched cotton earth ochre 13 x 17 inches 
Dear Dorothy

I just finished reading the article in the recent SAQA journal.  It is very well done and I believe that it respects your work and long career.  Congratulations.  
Dorothy Caldwell  detail of Canyon
I very much enjoyed reading it and re-visiting the large pieces from Silent Ice / Deep Patience,
Dorothy Caldwell Before the Glaciers Melt plant dyed with stitching and applique 14 x 17.5 inches
I visited the David Kaye show just before it closed in December and spent a good long while with your work there and with talking to David about our favourites in the show and about some of his own history as a textile artist. 
Dorothy Caldwell detail of Before the Glaciers Melt
I photographed most of the pieces and plan to put up a blog post about that exhibition soon.  (Thank you for your permission).  Also, may I use the quotes by you that are in that SAQA article?   
Dorothy Caldwell  Looking Up / Looking Down  2016  dyed in the Australian outback with iron oxide and eucalyptus printed and stitched cotton, 55 x 59 inches
One thing that I noticed in the new work at David Kaye Gallery is the amount and variety of the hand stitched marks.  
Dorothy Caldwell  detail of Looking Up / Looking Down
Do you agree that there is more stitching in these new pieces than in previous work?  I love the way that you draw with a couched line - and how sometimes just the wrapping threads have been left behind from a removed thread, evidenced by a line of dots.      
Dorothy Caldwell detail of Looking Up / Looking Down
 Masterful.
Dorothy Caldwell   New Growth in Pink Earth   2016  stitched cotton, pink earth ochre  17.5 x 15.25 inches
 In the article, you mentioned the difference beteen a painter's gestural mark and a stitcher's smaller and perhaps tighter hand muscle mark, and how you are  seeking ways to make energetic marks. 
Dorothy Caldwell detail of New Growth in Pink Earth

Dorothy Caldwell   detail of New Growth in Pink Earth
I shall carry this (energetic) idea forward into my own work in hand stitch. 
Dorothy Caldwell  Silent Fog / Listening  2016  stitched cotton with ink wash  11.25 x 14.5 inches
 I also responded to the quote about how you initially view your work with despair but also are grateful for the flaws and mistakes as they give you a place to begin...to repair.  
Dorothy Caldwell  Crossing the River 2016  plant dyed and stitched linen 12.5 x 9.25 inches
 Thanks for both these inspirational ideas.
Dorothy Caldwell  Outcrop  2012  stitched cotton with earth ochre  13 x 17 inches
 "A stitch is a mark like any other mark.  It is a dot, a line, a texture.
One of my questions is how the mark made with a needle and thread is similar to or different from a drawn or painted mark.
The act of stitching involves the small muscles of the hand while seated.  In contrast, a painter may use his or her entire body to make a mark.
I often think about how to make an energetic stitch - a stitch with a sense of gesture."
Dorothy Caldwell
Dorothy Caldwell detail of Outcrop 
Happy New Year! 
x
Judy

14 comments:

Joanne S said...


thank you for this post.

Tina said...

I was also writing to say thank you-I appreciate your candor and opinions on the work! Thanks for sharing

Vicky aka Stichr said...

interesting. i can picture slinging threads out in an arc, and the energy you sense from that, as it flies through the air. and then stitching the threads down where they fall. but will you still sense the energy?

henrietta (aka ani aka zani) said...

A very personal post for you Judy. I say this because of how I see your stitch work being as much about the gesture as it is about the cloth thread fiber that you gather together through time. It is the gesture and intent that is made visible through a physical form. And don't you just want to touch those surface.

Martine said...

Thank you Judy for these pictures........

Stephanie Jo said...

Awe is a word I tend to avoid using but it's what I feel when I see Dorothy Caldwell's work.

Mo Crow said...

interesting thoughts on the energy of the gestural mark and response to the materials through process. The stitched line in cloth holds a sculptural relationship to the surface rather like relief carving, the moment of freedom & fluency, the energy of the work is in those first roughed in lines, strong and firm, trembling and tenuous, clear or seen though a glass darkly

Gillian Norris said...

Love Dorothy Caldwell's work and it is wonderful to see so many pieces here. Thankd you for the mini survey.
I love the idea of gestural stitching - it has a feeling of largesse. My own work always seems to end up very tiny and restrictive no matter how hard I try to free it up.I'm inspired to make more of an effort to be bigger!

Judy Martin said...

This idea of a body's gesture being translated into the fine-motor realm of hand stitch is powerful and requires a certain amount of courage to follow through on.

Most of the pieces by Dorothy Caldwell in this particular post are small - measuring around 12 inches by 17 inches or less. The exception is the piece looking up / looking down. However, even at small scale she is able to place energetic marks on small grounds, so it's not the size of her work that engages our haptic sense and our body's recognition, it is her masterful placement of shape and space, and those energetic marks.
I swoon.

x

Vivian Cothros said...

Thank you Judy for introducing me to this beautiful work.

B. Garner said...

So beautifully said, Judy - and while your remarks say about everything that many of us feel as we stand in front of Dorothy's special, thought provoking and very moving work, there is always more...
The line, the depth of practice and her well-honed and devoted knowledge and recognized willing to share, evident as the work speaks... it drives the viewer inside to breath in the marks and follow the courageous placement of the 'repairs'. She lives in her artwork, bringing it to each of us as a gift, an offering.
I love to read your posts and think of your work in the same breath as a remarkable experience. I celebrate your sisterhood in understanding and living art very well.
bethany

Velma Bolyard said...

judy! this is marvelous, thank you.

Caterina Giglio said...

what a great post, her work is simply amazing and enjoyed your comments so very much.. x

Robyn Gordon said...

Great post!