Sunday, January 12, 2020

New Work

Island Heart 2019 by Judy Martin,
rayon, silk, rust, harvested local plant-dyes, a few commercial fabrics including my late father's hospital gown
 80" h x 73" w, embroidered with wool yarns and hand quilted with cotton threads 
I took photographs of finished new work last week.
Looking at my work through photographing it gives give me a distance from it.
I'm able to see my own work more clearly.
I am a woman and am often interupted.
This means that my work develops deeply, with many layers, over a period of months.
Because I usually have many pieces underway,
I just put them away in drawers or shelves for breaks of three to four months
and they steep.
As time whirls past,
my life experiences alter how I see those pieces in the drawers,
so that when I bring them out to work on again,
I see them more clearly and am ready to move forward.
However, very often, my work and I move need to move backwards.
Things need to be un-picked so that my work and I can start up again on a different path.
Flowers Started Blooming Inside Me  2019, Judy Martin 
rescued wool blanket saddened with iron, holes cut into it, autobiographical artwork and velvet appliqued onto it,
 hand stitched with wool threads   67"h x 26" w (when folded in....62" wide when full width)
It was through photographing it that I was inspired to make a cocoon shape out of the blanket piece.

Flowers Started Blooming Inside Me went through so many stages, all very intense and quite personal. 
I cut the holes to make it vulnerable because women are full of holes and are so open.
I added the spirals and the horizontal stitching after so it would be stronger.
Those red spirals.
They seem like flowers.
And as I worked on the piece, I began to feel loved.
Was it the work that did this?
" I wish my work to have the lightness and joyousness of a springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labours it has cost"   Henri Matisse
Touching The Sky  2020, Judy Martin 
silk velvet, harvested local plant dyes, appliqued to commercially embroidered linen base, then folded.  51" h x 21" w   
I finished the velvet piece late at night, pinned it to the wall rather carelessly and went to bed.
I woke early with this piece on my mind and when I saw it again I realized that it was a self portrait.
It's me.
It's how I feel about my body when I do not have a mirror.
I feel soft.
Touching the Sky
Like my other new work, the materials led me.
This one is velvet, with unexpected rich surprises of colour from local plants.
Velvet responds so well to dye process.
It's so lush and soft.
I kept stitching it and touching it.
It was the touching of it that made me want to tuck it in towards itself.
This made it even more loveable.
My work makes use of the things that only thread and cloth can do.
Prayer to the Sky  2019  Judy Martin
three layers of wool, (madder interior layer, indigo exterior layer), tucked, embroidered and hand quilted,
cut to reveal the inner layer, 60" h x 64.5" w 
The indigo horizon piece was unpicked a lot.
The barely there marks are like chanting.
Perhaps it too is about female interior yearning and fragility and openness and sadness.
These new pieces are the sexiest I have ever made.

Cloth becomes charged with touch.
We rub and cut and pierce and poke and touch.  
Eventually it feels as if the cloth touches us back.
(an Abbas Akhavan idea)

This is my work.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

imagination is the star

"it goes on endlessly and one never gets to the place where the sun is setting but the red gets more and more intense"    Tove Jansson
This post is about a book.
Sculptor's Daughter (by Tove Jensson)
is written from a child's point of view. 
Child logic combines with adult wisdom and experience
and teaches the reader about art.
In fact, the book is a work of art.
It is a work about imagination.
"making a whole is very important.  Some people just paint things and forget the whole"
Tove Jansson
'The act of art becomes charged with power, then with failure.
We are up against mis-judgements, pre-conceptions, mis-interpretations, age-old entrenched beliefs, traditions, authorities, inevitable failures and competitions, and those games you have to play.' *
'A child, she reminds us, is refreshingly free from pre-conception - as well as a sponge for it.' *
We see the closedness of pre-conception and the child 's unknowing up against it. *
Sculptor's Daughter is full of images.

Darkness and light,
kindness and understanding,
objects and humans and emotions vivid and surreal.
The book makes us understand the importance and the fragility of our smallness.
It asks us to be alive to the imagination.
 It is full of flung-open windows.
Thrown-open doors. *
Tove Jansson has written a book that salvages and gives back to adults the child-sized truth about how things connect and how they mend.

How they continue.
I dream and my soul awakens.
Imagination is the star.    Carl Jung
The italics marked with * are by Ali Smith, and are taken from her introduction to Tove Jansson's memoir, Sculptor's Daughter.  I read it over Christmas when the children were home with their magical world.

The images are of some pieces I made in December while being a grandma and a hostess and a mother and I wasn't letting myself think too much. 

Monday, January 06, 2020

figuring things out

rescued 70's dresden plates, re-appliqued to fabrics dyed with walnut  2019
New phone
better camera
so many family photos on it from Christmas
I haven't seen them all yet.
blocking a new quilt by pinning it while still damp after washing into the 12" ceiling-tiles on my design wall 
I get lost.
I'm figuring it out
Instagram is easier than blogging.

As we enter this new decade let's do our best.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Christmas Wrapping

This year I wrapped the gifts for the four children and their children with their own art
.... saved all these years.
 Everyone is coming home for Christmas - they arrive for dinner today. 
 I send out lots of love to all of you who read this blog.
Your support and encouragement have meant so much to me over the years.
Thank you and have a wonderful holiday time this coming week.  

Monday, December 16, 2019


Moon of Kindness  2018 by Frances Dorsey
dyed printed, stitched pieces of old discarded table linens, natural dyes
42" x 42"
In 2018 we were in Halifax, and visited the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.  While there I came across Nova Scotia artist, Frances Dorsey's work with domestic linens.  I share them here, so that I can see them again.
 I like the way the fabrics are layered and allowed to hang rather free.
Moon of Meanness  2018 by Frances Dorsey
dyed, printed, stitched old discarded table linens, natural dye
42" x 42"
The artist holds back on the addition of stitched marks, although she used stitch resist with dyes.
This is interesting and informative for me.
The fabrics have a different way of hanging when they are not stitched.
The layers are more evident.
Dorsey uses the archetype of circle within a square, and I identify with that.
These next three images are of pieces by Berlinde de Bruckere, an artist from Belgium. She  also layers her fabrics and does not stitch them much.  The holes and tatters in her work reveal layers that are sometimes 16 inches deep, more like sculptures. Go to this link and watch the short video.  Then you will have more understanding of how evocative her work is.
Fabric is very evocative of the human body as both are so vulnerable to aging and exposure to the elements.  Berlinde de Bruyckere's pieces have a sense of history and memory.
There have an emotional narrative, about love, suffering, and time.
 "I want to show how helpless a body can be.  It's nothing you have to be afraid of - it can be sometimes beautiful"  Berlinde de Bruckere
 Shot through the Heart 2010  by Frances Dorsey
used linen napkins coloured with natural dyes, oxides and metal salts
screen printing, discharge, stitching  108" x 108"
and click here  to see another direction that Frances Dorsey takes with dyed table linen.
Moon and Chrysalis number 2 by Junko Oki  2017
stitch, wax, cotton bandage over an iron frame
39.5" square  ............ and I continue in my admiration for Junko Oki