The show is a collection of face and portrait ideas some more resolved than others. Every piece is created using textile techniques including dyes, pigments, printing techniques, stitching (both hand and sewing machine stitching) and various kinds of appliqué. I want to include pieces in the show that are well-worked and re-worked incorporating dyeing, painting, pencil drawing, silk-screen and stitching and may even have been worked too far, but what is there in that surface, although worked that is full of expression? and this is the key for me and quite apart from my intentions when I started it – what is the face itself saying?
This piece is a detail that started with dye on linen as a self-portrait, it soon took its own course; it incorporates dye, washing and washing and washing (which is a significant part of the process) layers and layers of machine stitching, pencil, and not in any order. The order of processes determined itself. The feel of the cloth is exceptional after all these processes and that might be the meaning of the piece. The intention of this Portrait Lab show (as the name implies) is experimentation.
I am including self portraits and created faces expressing a meaning just by the abstraction of their expression. This piece is a hand embroidered face created by simply gesturing on paper in pencil then interpreting in stitches. I used all single strand embroidery thread in order to keep the detail and again played with how the face seemed to want to evolve, the hair added was so playful and I loved applying the hair to the portrait as hair actually grows from the head, strand by strand. The piece is full of nuanced textural effects hard to reproduce in photo. You will see.
My favourite thing to notice in the face is the falling of light and shadow as well as shapes of features. This is one of the first sewing machine sketches of Bettina Matzkhun. I was amazed by her hair in terms of its linearity, movement and volume through my drawer’s eyes. Love doing these sketches from people and it is my desire to continue this, using stitch techniques to express or portray people.
That lead me to mention, in my original proposal to CCBC, it was one of my intentions to include portraits of people (or a person) in the community and Bettina agreed to be the subject. Besides her hair, which kind of sweeps about as she stitches, I was drawn to her hands as they worked and her deep relationship to sails/sailing, weather, inventiveness, breezes, sky, also the action of stitching as drawing potential and the relationship of the sail to drawn line. I had her gorgeous booklet called Sail propped up beside me as I stitched on the machine. These are sketches, first attempts.
I have done a set of spontaneous silkscreen and mono print portraits on cotton. I am intrigued by these; almost the idea of ‘face wipes’; the face leaves its mark on the cloth. I will include an image here, not at all finished or resolved. I have deliberately used ordinary bleached cotton, nothing special. I had the inkling to “clean them up” then realized I am so attracted to the instant-ness of them, rawness, surprise, it’s very much what I want to move towards in my art/textile/stitching work. These pieces are silkscreen, monoprint in pigments in cotton.
I have enjoyed a lot of release and satisfaction from doing self portrait gestures on the sewing machine propping up a mirror in front of the sewing machine and working like the blind contour drawing exercises of art school. I have never stopped doing these exercises. Below is an example. It is sewing machine stitching then afterwards hand embroidery in blue. I was intrigued by the idea of the blue faced gods of India.
Some of the above pieces won’t make it into the Portrait Lab show but one of these pieces (below) will. These portraits are pieced and appliquéd from fabrics that I have hand dyed and hand silkscreened, everything has been made; they also include block print and are on raw canvas. The face ‘pieces’ or features are sitting formally and the figures who emerge (again I let them take their own course) are in some way playing with something, This one below is Playing With Soldiers they are humorous, amazingly fun to create and ( for better or worse) they are a part of my committed ‘impulse to portray’.