Saturday, 3 April 2010

Living with an artist

It has finally dawned on me that I am living with an artist. I always knew that Lois could paint and draw, but facility is not necessarily art. I think it was Pissarro who warned his son against facility, though it might have been someone else. The point is that if you are good at something then you don't have to work at it. If you don't work at it then you may not really get what it is about.

Compared to me, and to many others I guess, Lois has facility in painting and drawing, but she also finds it hard to work at it. In the last two years she has discovered machine embroidery, what I call fabricollage. Collage with fabrics in other words. Embroidery as we usually know it is all detailed little stitches, careful hand sewing and nimble fingers. Machine embroidery on the other hand is a much more wild adventure.

For a start changing the foot on the sewing machine, or taking it off altogether, modifies the sewing machine. That means you can stitch anything to anything, within reason anyway. If you thing a piece of plastic or a sweet wrapper would look just right for the effect you want, then stitch it on, or glue works, or Bondaweb that you iron on will do. PVA adhesive turns out to be an embroidery material.

This freedom forces experiment. If anything goes, then everything goes, anarchy rules, and it is the final look of the work that determines what is best.

Trying things means that the house is covered with experiments and there is something exciting about living in the middle of art in creation. A writer experiments of course, my computer is full of them, but my experiments are not physical. I don’t trip over them.

It is hard to say exactly what art is, hence the multiplicity of definitions if you look for them. Inspiration is part of it, and seeing things differently and something that Nicholas Serota said about lifting the spirit. The cool thing is that Lois has an idea, sees something differently, and my spirit is lifted. It is an inspiration.

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