It has been a really long time since I have done any weaving — I cut the last tapestry off in September last year, shipped them all out to Patina Gallery, and heaved a sigh of relief at the close of a cycle of work.
Most times when I do cycles of work, they are focused on something external: a historic garden, perhaps, or the contents of my kitchen. When the sequence makes sense,when the story has been told, it is over. The last body of work was different in that it recorded an internal state of personal transformation. What marks the end? It was not a deliberated logical sequence, so much as an intuitive one. When I finished Beatrice, my muse, the work was complete.
So the remnants of specific warps — with enough left to weave more! — have hung limply from my looms’ reeds, chiding me that it is wasteful not to weave them off, while I have busied myself with projects of an entirely different nature: reading about climate change, working toward bringing local food to our tiny rural town, learning to screen print and using that to make direct statements about these issues in terms of household items. All the while wondering, Will I ever weave again?
|Bee Nice hand printed Linen towels, 2012|
Weaving to me is a centering process essential to my well being. I don’t make useful things, witty things, toys on my looms (all of which I love to make in other craft media): I reserve it for my alpha state work, when my hands and heart and head are connected in a way that still the chatter of thought and manifests deeper realities. I now that sounds hyperbolic, but that is how I define the art-making state, and it deserves the highest respect in my own chain of work: the weaving studio is uncluttered with any of the other things that crowd my work day: no sewing, no paperwork, no computer, nothing but yarn, space, and my looms. When I set foot in there it is like entering the yoga studio: no shoes, mind stilling.
I haven’t been there much lately so the mind is clamoring.
I have been distilling thoughts, though, about how the art end of my work can begin to confront the same ideas I have been so absorbed with in the rest of my activities. I have the idea, but not the visual yet. Often a body of work begins when I see something out there which might as well have a halo around it: I see it and it marks me and demands I do something with it. The last cycle was without the exterior stimulus, but most other things are clearly about a place. Genius loci, is that the phrase?
|“Cold Frames & Fruit Trees” from the English Garden Series, 1989|
Now I have been thinking about gardening as not just a metaphor for life, but as central to a new sustainability, and I am re-discovering old thought (such as my English Kitchen Garden series) and combining them with exciting new ideas being tested in the world, such as the zero-waste urban farm I saw in Chicago a few weeks ago. I have the ideas spilling out, but have found no centering visual focus yet. Nearly there! Watch this space.
all images copyright Laura Foster Nicholson