Handle with Care I/II
kiln formed glass, slip cast porcelain
In the embroidered works made for Unravelling Nymans I have worked on existing textiles, in some cases undoing work embroidered on them. The works thus created become conversations, with the site, within the object, and with myself; intervening in and altering another person’s work is not undertaken lightly.
I Don’t Want To Lose You is about the pseudomedievalist plaque above the chair on which the cushion sits. A knight says goodbye to a lady before going off to fight, just as Leonard Messel would have said goodbye to his family before going to serve in the First World War; the words reference a contemporary song, Your King and Country Want You, from 1914. In embroidery, the name of the maker – usually a woman – tends to be lost; similarly, it was Muriel Messel, not Leonard, who lost her life during the war.
The involvement of the housekeeping staff in the embroidery guild set up by Maud Messel is referenced in As If, the white on white (stitch on linen) reflecting the invisibility of the competent running of a large household. Culture, in the Library, considers the relationship between inside and outside. Plants from the exterior world become the materials used to create the fabric of the building and the objects within it, as well as being the subjects of study, guarded behind glass in the bookcase. The plants’ scientific names are sewn onto an anti-macassar, designed to protect the cloth fabric of the chair from human contact.
The time-consuming nature of hand embroidery, especially embroidered text in a world of instantaneous digital text production, is an enabling anomaly. Taking an hour over each letter is a luxury of slowness allowing time for the consideration of the potential for multilayered approaches to the text-objectsite relationship. The texts refer to the business of making art, justifying it, and the relationship between artist and work, one of skill, learning, intimacy and parallel growth followed by loss and distance.
kiln formed glass, cast pewter, carved walnut, vintage case