Friday, May 25, 2007

The Eyeline, for tACTile

I don't often post stuff about my quilting on this blog - but people were interested last time so this is a body of work made last year. It was an odd time for me and difficult. Kim, my daughter, was badly burned in an accident at her home, and rushed by air ambulance to Sydney. I flew back, but not drama removes deadlines and I had to make a body of work for an exhibition. I had originally planned three pieces for the allocated space, and had made two of them. I did not like what I had made.

With my lovely daughter hurt everything went black and white. It is interesting the way this happens - you need a near-tragedy to realise how unimportant all the other stuff is. I took my work back to the bones in many ways for this. It is unusually personal and I must admit, seeing it hung together was an unpleasant experience, like walking naked through a room full of men in suits. It also took me back to a period in my life that I woudl hate to repeat, so I cannot decide if I like the work or not.

I had to make a body of work for the tACTile group of which I am a member. We all originally - and the others still - live in Canberra in the ACT, hence the capitalisation of the state in our name.

The task was to take a line at 1.5 metres above ground level through all the work (the Eyeline) - from the last person's to the next and through your own. It could do whatever you wished inside the work, but had to emerge at the same point. Four small - tiny - square quilts formed a 'collaborative' linking the works like punctuation marks. I forgot to photograph these and am annoyed as mine are small and detailed.

I was limited in space as I moved from one hospital hostel to another. Then Bob had his hip operation. I stayed with a good friend for a week. A relative lent me a flat for a week so I moved to that. Bob went into a repatriation clinic for his hip so I moved in with him to help. I had seven moves in six weeks and made this body of work in the process. Bernina (my beloved company) lent me a machine. I had a plastic bag with a few key fabrics and homespuns - plain cottons in one colour only. I had minimal working space. These were the result.

I include the formal blurb to avoid rewriting!

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LIFE LINE

JENNY BOWKER

I wanted to make a series of quilts based on events in my life, and I wanted them to feel thoughtful and autobiographical. I was travelling at the time these had to be made, and in a way this affected several factors. The quilts had to be small so that they could be worked in any location. I also needed to carry minimal fabric and a limited palette helped to hold very different elements together and carry through a story line as well as the Eyeline.

I apologise for the photographs. We have had professional ones taken but I don't yet have copies of these. I took quick snaps at the AQC in Melbourne where the work was first hung.


1 Shimmer - the first seven years

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Gold threads on this piece are left hanging loose - hence the name. Leaves stood for passing days, with some stronger in my memory than others, but most pale against the background like most days of childhood.

2 Flowering - puberty and partners

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Not a well ordered piece - it wan an untidy time for me!

3 My Cup Runneth Over - my beautiful children

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No particular link as one bowl to one child. They are all wonderful, and all different and I love them very very much. They are the things I will leave behind me and I am so proud of each one.

In this quilt (and I did not even take photos of each quilt, just details) the background colour is light, like the second photo.

4 Long Cold Winter - the difficult years

Sorry - no individual detail - but look at the top photo for the tree losing its leaves.

Divorce and economic hardship.

5 Patterns Sliding through My Fingers - the making of work and creativity

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6 The Perfect Pattern – I have always loved this pattern. While I am aware it looks like a memorial I have always loved the way the crosses fit together like jigsaw pieces so perfectly, complex, but simple at the same time. I have had good and bad times, times which are mundane and times which are spectacular. All of them lock together to make me what I am, and there is not one thing that I would change.

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I first found this pattern in the halo of a saint on an icon in the church of Shepherds' Fields in Bethlehem. I drew it, with two there black and white cross patterns, into a notebook. I have used it often - and have seen work by other quitl artist's, notably Michael James, who use the same pattern. I was miffed at first as I thought I had discovered it, then realised that it was never mine to begin with and just accepted that many will use it. It strip pieces easily as each line is the same, short dark, short light, long dark, short light short dark, long light and so on. So you make one great slab, and slice it it, shuffling the strips along and dropping beginning bits onto the ends at will. It is a tad more complicated though when changing colours.

Snippets – four tiny quilts for some of the personal symbols I used.


No photos - and I did some interesting ones too! If I ever see them up again I will take some better shots.


I welcome comments, as usual.

14 Comments:

Blogger Lisa Walton said...

Having seen them in reality in Melbourne it is wonderful to see them again and in such detail. I love the narrative as well - makes it very special

8:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this.

10:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenny, my dear: As always, I am just filled with admirationi at your incredible talent. And you are SO good to share this with us.

Much love, Tena

5:26 am  
Blogger Helen from Canberra said...

Hi Jenny,

I do so abmire your work. I love the thought and representation that goes into them. I have tried so hard to make quilts like this but unfortunately I just don't seem to have the imagination.

It is a glorious morning in Canberra. It went down to zero overnight but now the sun is out and sparkling on the dew and the temp. will reach a max. of 19o today.

Cheers Helen

9:45 am  
Blogger Therese May said...

Thank you for sharing your work on such a deeply personal level!
Blessings to you, Therese May

1:29 pm  
Blogger margaret said...

This work is inspiring in so many ways - thanks for sharing.

5:42 pm  
Blogger Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

Absolutely beautiful quilts and it's wonderful to know about the meaning.

11:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The passion for live and the recognition of it's stages in the use of textiles is wonderful. We all have leaves that fall occasionally; your visual metaphor is apt. thank you, t

9:57 am  
Blogger Lavender said...

The quilts are beautiful in thier own right, along with thier narrative they become more beautiful still, and having read your story of life events during the time they were created - now they are inspirational as well.
Thank you very much for this post,
Cheers!

7:36 pm  
Blogger Cairogal said...

You are a true artist, Jenny. I love these.

2:34 am  
Anonymous sylvia at work in Weimar Texas said...

I like the limited palette of fabrics and colors and patterns--it gives a cohesiveness to the entire work--although each piece is whole in itself. I personally did not see sadness in the work-what I saw was deliberate introspection and processing of events with selection of a visual image to represent the summation. What is missing though is the Size of the pieces?

8:54 pm  
Blogger FunkyC said...

This is beautiful, meaningful work! There's so much that's good about it. Thank you for explaining the panels on your blog.

11:32 pm  
Blogger Waltraud said...

You´ve made wonderful works - I lucky to find your blog on surfing around.

8:06 am  
Anonymous Julie Haddrick said...

Inspirational, sensitive and as always, technically superb. I chased this site from the stunning Textile fibre forum article and pictures. I enjoyed the narrative especially in relation to the difficult working conditions and the spartan way you used colour...which I love This suite is particularly clever and I enjoyed the close up images too. Looking forward to the 2009 series

12:54 pm  

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