Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The Lasqueti She Project
I participated in the Lasqueti She Project last weekend. It's a satellite of the original project - each participant is sent a line that begins with "she" and, in two hours, creates an expression in art, poetry or other medium that responds to the initial statement.
My line was "She blew off the rules." I was quite disconcerted by this as I am a bit of a compulsive rule follower. Then I had an image in my mind of a woman blowing the dust off an actual, official looking list of rules. This led me to consider the rules I have encountered in my life, and instantly remembered a series of paintings I had done based on a penmanship exercise book from 1829. I had inherited this little book, which was a rather stern collection of proverbs and homilies such as "Honour thy parents." "Return good for evil." "Beauty soon fades." "Modesty is the best adornment." Pretty heavy stuff for the writer, 11-year-old Eliza Carmen.
The first line of the book was "Avoid wicked men." As rules go, that one is hard to beat.
So, naturally, I decided to embroider that line on a vintage linen handkerchief, suitable for dabbing daintily at one's nose.
I printed the text out from the computer and traced it with a pencil onto the hankie. Then I hand-embroidered with two strands of DMC. Not as perfectly as I would have liked, but there was no time to unpick and re-do. Overall, I'm quite happy with the white on white, ephemeral quality of the piece.
I haven't had a chance to see what other people have done with their lines, but I certainly enjoyed the challenge and the two hour time limit.
And I am intrigued by the possibility of using a slow cloth technique on vintage handworked textiles - the integrity of slow is maintained, I think, and there is a collaboration with another (usually unknown) textile artist. I can't imagine ever sitting down and working a drawn thread handkerchief with a tatted lace border, but one of my predecessors did, and I can honour her work and give it a new life with my own contribution.
Come to think of it, this is a really slow piece - started by Eliza 170 years ago! Maybe it's not finished yet!