Monday, 26 February 2018
However....that's rather boring!
It is much more interesting instead to accept one of the myths.... believed to be from a family of Gorgons (& Gorgons being monsters of the underground world), the Medusas were placed in the Cistern to protect the precious waters there. They are placed upside down so that they won't turn any of us to stone! People throw coins into the pool that this head sits in, trying to win a little of that luck & protection for themselves.
I know that they are stone, so don't actually have feelings, but I found myself feeling sorry for the Medusas. Having her head upside down, partially immersed in water & covered in green slime is not the most pleasant way to spend eternity!
How was I going to capture this setting & environment with fabric & stitch....that became the question for my art project this week!
I know, I know....usually I start with paper & pen & some form of drawing. However, yesterday, I just felt like trying something else!
I already had a sketch I'd done of one of the Medusa heads (currently sitting up the right way in the Archeological Museum Garden) whilst I was in Istanbul. This could be printed onto fabric & turned upside down...but what else was I going to do with it. I chose to start ripping a few pages out of a magazine, with the view of 'sketching' with collage. The colours I chose were greens & blues to represent water.
I got to this stage & felt that it was enough, in terms of layering. However, the head just wasn't working for me, at least not as well as it had earlier in the paper collage variation. I could see that the proportions were wrong, I would have been better to have enlarged the head before printing it onto fabric, but there wasn't a lot I could do about that now...what did I need to do to make that head look a little more included in the environment??
Out came the fabric pens & I applied a little colour to her face!! This works MUCH better!
Regardless of seeing the need for further improvement, I am happy with this outcome & I enjoyed working on this WAP. It is always good to step out of the usual routine & try something a little different!!
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
Last week I started exploring the features of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul that made a particular impact on me. For this week's art project, I've chosen the second of that list; the reflections of the pillared arches.
Golden light seemed to wash beautiful coppery tones over the whole Cistern & the water below reflected that precision and colour so perfectly that at times it was hard to identify what was solid & what was illusion.
The answer was repetition.
I often use mirror imaging in my architecture inspired art works. This time however, I wanted to do more than just a couple of mirror images. Therefore,I decided to divide my A4 space into 9. This meant I had a rather small size in which to create a design that reflected the pillars & arches of my inspiration.
Once I had worked up a rough idea of what was physically possible within that space, I photographed with my mobile phone & then using one of my nifty little apps....
... I had before me a rough idea of what my design could potentially look like...eventually.
This was an intriguing image, so I set to work cleaning up my design, tracing it onto an A4 sheet of paper, then transferring it to fabric.
First layering, and stitching and then...let the cutting back begin!!
This was the end result & I am very happy with it.
I know that it is a little shabby looking with all those fraying edges & yes, I would have been wise to have snipped them back before taking this photo! However...the light was fading & I needed the photo immediately!
It was a mammoth cutting task in a day that was interupted with frustrating telephone conversations (with internet provider)s, so...I was quite distracted. Nevertheless, this piece draws me in. It alludes to what it could be if it was repeated many times over. My eye is drawn to the surface then it travels further into the depths, before coming back again.
It does capture the essence of those repetitive reflections in the Basilica Cistern to me. Another weekly art project well worth investing the time in. :-)
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
This week I have been inspired by another one, this time the Basilica Cistern, which had a starring role in the Tom Hanks film version of Dan Brown's book 'Inferno'. This was the place where a deadly virus was hidden before activation! Scary stuff!
Unlike our first cistern experience where we were the only ones there....THIS cistern attracts the tourist population in DROVES. Therefore we visited this spectacular Byzantine underground sanctuary alongside hundreds of other people. Even with so many footsteps clattering along the wooden walkways, the utter beauty of the place was not lost, nor was the fact that this truly is a marvel of engineering.
There were three specific areas of beauty for me & I hope to explore each of those in the coming weeks. The one I have been engrossed in this week, is the peacock feather column.
Peacocks are symbolic symbols in both Christian & Muslim traditions, so it made sense to find the pattern on a column that no doubt graced a Byzantine building.
Imagine how excited we were to then find one UNDERground in amidst numerous plain cylindrical columns. This time though, water was dripping from it, as if the peacock was crying about the fact that it was wet & slimy & hidden away in the dark!
Why was it there? Possibly through the practice of plundering...or recycling! Regardless of the reason, I found the column beautiful & worth spending some time thinking about in an artistic way!
What was I going to do with this pattern? There wasn't much point just copying it as a fabric representation. What did I want to say about these columns? What story did I want to tell? What did I need to do to create a design that respected the original, but told my story?
Art making involves a lot of asking & then answering questions.
I kept my design simple. On one side I referenced the peacock feather design as I saw it, on the other side I turned them upside down to represent tears of water droplets.
Then it was time for the cutting back to begin...
Do you see the watery patterned turquoise fabric that is forming the central background? That section was supposed to be the pale blue that fills the background of the lefthand side background, however, I had a little brain-warp when I was placing it in the layer & ...ahem...didn't put it all the way across. Consequently when I cut back to that layer there were half moon shaped patches of the backing fabric showing. GRRRR!
I remedied it by putting this new fabric BEHIND the backing fabric, stitching it in place, then cutting the backing fabric back to reveal this. In hindsight it may have looked better to cut away the pale blue altogether & just have the water fabric, but as you can tell...I didn't think of that at the time!!
What if I adapted both to create more interest...
This was the final outcome and I am pleased with it. It captures the essence of peacock feathers, the green of the underground pillar, and the water dripping like tears because the pillar was not where it was initially designed to be seen and admired!
I could have incorporated this inspiration in with one of the others from the Basilica Cistern, but I'm glad I haven't. It has been a good exercise to not over complicate the design by putting too much information & intent into it. Although this design couldn't be considered a stand alone 'real-piece-of-art' design, it certainly has potential as a border or feature in a bigger piece. A worthwhile effort.
Tuesday, 30 January 2018
Some of the awe inspiring structures that the Byzantines left behind, are the cisterns below the city; great cavernous spaces for the storage of water. The Basilica Cistern is the best known one & is consequently a major tourist attraction. It has also featured in a few big budget movies, but our first Cistern experience was in the quieter 'Cistern Of 1001 Columns'.
In fact, we were the only ones there!
This is what I said about it in my travel blog at the time;
"...we came upon the Cistern of 1001 columns & were the only ones there, except for the guys running the cafe. We sat down with another Turkish tea , lapped up the tranquility& listened to classical music bounce off these ancients columns...along with the drips! It was a treat."
'Treat' was an understatement!!
The soft golden red light, the narrow bricked ceiling, the music, the drips & drinking Turkish mint tea in tulip shaped glasses. To think that this incredible space had been there since the 4th century! It was quite magical & so... naturally... I wanted to focus on this experience for my art project this week.
The weather had been particularly hot & I hadn't been sleeping well. Because my workroom is not air conditioned, I'd had to do my working out in the living area. Being a creature of habit, this new location made me a bit unsettled & fractious & grumpy &....well, I'm sure you can imagine.
I've shown you this spread from my sketch book (above) to encourage those of you who don't always produce nice, neat, cohesive preliminary drawings !
On this particular day, this scrabble of scribbles was all I could muster, but it was enough to proceed with.
In the sorting & deciding process, I was looking for a lighter colour & I remembered that I had some tea dyed fabric left over from a series of art pieces I completed a few years ago. This was perfect, it was not only the right colour, but it imbued this piece with reference to the tea drinking part of the whole experience.
There were to be two different outline fabrics. For consistancy, I chose to keep the second layer all the same fabric. It was a faded pinky cotton that had designs scattered across it that were reminescent of the designs found on Turkish tiles. I do like there to be connection in the componants of my work, even if I'm the only one aware of their symbolism & relationship. It was this layer that I needed to sew the outlines on first.
It was then time for the cutting back to begin!
Although I would have liked to have got more of a curve into the edges above, this was the best I could do within this size of the design, without compromising the effectiveness of the 'bricks'.
To this I now wanted to add a frame to the centre, because I'd come up with something I felt quite excited about putting in the middle! Out came needle & thread.
As I mentioned earlier, part of the exquisite experience was the slow sipping of tea under the brick domed ceiling of this ancient cistern. Although my tea dyed fabric made the perfect lighter sections ceilings, I also wanted to refer to the tulip shaped tea glasses that we sipped from.
Therefore, I started playing with the shape of the glassware, trying to transform it into my very own tulip-teacup caligraphy.
Choosing my favourites & a fine paint brush, I squeezed a dollop of gold paint onto my palette & carefully added these little treasure symbols.
This is the end result & I am so happy with it. It does bring back a sense of the experience & atmosphere in that Cistern setting. I love it...can't stop staring at it! What a great way to end a project, after starting it feeling so very frazzled.
Thursday, 25 January 2018
I remember feeling quite overwhelmed by the artistry in the construction of these mosaics. There were a number showing wild animals, set in interesting compositions with fabulous use of colour. My favourite mosaics though were of trees & plants, with wonderful shaped leaves & numerous bands of colour.
I started with simple lines sketches of a few foliage possibilities. The one I wanted to take further, received a splash of paint to guide me in my colour choices.
It was time to let the cutting back begin....
Now I'd reached the dangerous part. I had noticed that time & centuries of being walked over, not to mention being buried under ground for another few centuries, meant that the grout around the paler tesserae appeared quite dark, whereas it was quite light around the coloured tiles. Therefore, I was hoping to achieve this effect by using my darkest colour layer to create the grout lines for the background tiles. I held my breath & went for it!
This outcome is intriguing. It reminds me of cellular structures! The dark blue outlines do tend to significantly detract from the coloured section of the 'mosaic' & in hindsight, I definitely went a bit too dark with my fabric choice. However, it's not a complete disaster & there are ways of changing that overpowering impact.