Those Red Connections…

Although I have a million and one things to do – and am making endless lists so I don’t forget a single one – I still managed to find time over a cup of coffee to continue my research, looking for ideas and inspiration. I came across the work of Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota whilst browsing the internet and this work –Breath of the Spirit “Breath of The Spirit” really caught my eye – maybe had something to do with all those red threads(?) connecting all those shoes together.  Made me think about the work by Beili Liu that I mentioned in an earlier post.  Just seeing all those shoes and thinking about all the people who have worn them, where they are from, what they are doing, what sort of lives they lead…and somehow they are all connected.  Take a look at the website; there is some amazing work, a lot of which includes interconnected lines of a sort…

Anyway coffee break is over so it’s back to work!!

Time and Tide…and Teasels!

Finalising details for the installation this week, which, I have to admit, is giving me some sleepless nights!! The technical elements are proving to be extremely troublesome to say the least.  Ensuring all the audio kit is appropriate for the installation and not too expensive entails a lot of research on the internet, phone calls to technicians and trial and error!  I keep telling myself that everything will work out and not to panic but it is proving difficult – especially as time is whizzing by…

DSCN1783In order to add variation and interest to the installation I am considering hanging some teasels within the bobbins.  Teasels were used in the textile industry as a way of raising the nap on the cloth thereby making it softer – poor man’s cashmere so to speak! I just love the machine they invented for this purpose!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I could also hang some of the pirns in the piece – these are part of a flying shuttle. The shuttles themselves are fairly heavy and, ever mindful of the cumulative weight of the installation, using just the pirns seems to be a suitable compromise.  Including these elements is also a way of ‘bulking out’ the installation in case I do not have enough bobbins – although with 350 bobbins sitting in the garage that seems unlikely.  In fact I will have more than 350 bobbins as I already have some of my own, plus Farfield Mill in Sedbergh, Cumbria, have agreed to lend me some large plastic ones.  I thought I could sit these on top of the dividing walls, making them look as if they are ‘feeding’ the yarn into the cables that are suspending the bobbins – thereby making the cables more a part of the installation rather than just a means to an end.  Of course this all adds to the work, but what’s a little more stress in the scheme of things….

The Power of Water

Came across this audio-visual installation by the Japanese artist Ryoichi Kurokawa – what is it about water that we find so mesmerising?  I could sit and listen to this for ages, you become almost transfixed by the noise, hypnotised by the sight of the water falling.  Check out his website for more of his amazing installations and recordings.  This piece called OctfallsOctfalls reminded me of the mill stream at Cromford Mill in Derbyshire.  Having recorded the water falling over the mill stream, my aim is to project the film onto material woven at a mill. The material will act as a curtain that viewers will have to walk through to enter the space where the bobbins will be suspended – that’s the plan at any rate!!  Trying hard to ignore Robert Burns’s  ‘The best laid schemes of mice and men’…

Thoughts About The Future…

As part of our assessment we have to write a 500 statement about our work – details about our research, conceptual methodologies, context and so on- as well as speculate as to how our work might develop in the future.  I think it fair to say most of us on the course find this part a little difficult! It does however, focus the mind on what is important, after all you only have 500 words to get all the information in, which isn’t a lot.  Speculating about the future, which is coming all too soon, makes you realise that we will all be leaving this cocoon, this university environment, and trying to make it out there in the big, wide world.

I have got another idea for an installation based on the cotton mills involving giant bobbins and sound, but at this stage of the game, it is not something I could realise in time for the Show.  It is however, a consideration for the future, something I could propose…

Talking of the future, I found a quote in Tim Ingold’s book, Lines A Brief History, that I thought rounded off my statement quite well, referring as it does to paths, and that is, after all where I started – ‘It is along paths…that people grow into a knowledge of the world around them’ – there remains many paths yet to be explored!

Lines - A Brief History

Dark and Satanic…

Came across this poem by the Reverend John Dyer written in 1757 acknowledging the importance of the cotton spinning machines:

A circular machine, of new design

In conic shape: it draws and spins a thread

Without the tedious toil of needless hands.

A wheel invisible, beneath the floor,

To ev’ry member of th’ harmonius frame,

Gives necessary motion. One intent

O’erlooks the work; the carded wool, he says,

So smoothly lapped around those cylinders,

Which gently turning, yield it to yon cirue

Of upright spindles, which with rapid whirl

Spin out in long extenet an even twine.


The poem highlights the importance of the machines in the manufacturing process; it seems to me to portray the industry in a romantic light, using terms such as harmonious, smoothly and gently – totally at odds with the noisy, dangerous places the early mills were.  William Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ with it’s description of the mills as being ‘dark and satanic ‘ seems to capture the essence of these mills much more succinctly.

This weekend has been particularly expensive ordering audio equipment!  I have been putting these purchases off for as long as possible but there comes a point when you just have to bite the bullet and go for it. Experimented with amplifiers over the weekend but the one I had, whilst fine for headphones or if the installation was in a silent gallery, was not loud enough for some of the soundtracks – so have now ordered a bigger one!  Let’s hope this one is up to the job!

It’s All Becoming Real…

Momentum is definitely gathering during this final run in to assessment week and the Final Show! Gathering in one corner of my house is a whole host of audio equipment – mini speakers, amplifiers, cables, Blu-Ray player – you get the picture.  This, along with the 350 bobbins, really brings home the amount of work I have to do during installation week and it is at times like this I wish I had stuck to drawing – but it’s too late now! Met my Part A helper the other day – she seemed excited that it was installation, but I think she will be fed up hanging bobbins by the end of the week – I am sure we all will!! I am trying to get as much done beforehand, all those fiddly but time-consuming things, as well as buying paint trays, rollers, filler all ready for the off. I seem to be making endless To Do lists, as much to stop panic setting in, as well as trying not to forget anything.  I’m sure that once I get started the butterflies that are beginning to gather will settle down – won’t they?

Here are the details, times and dates of our ShowPicture 2 so feel free to pop in and see, not only my ‘Connecting Threads’ but all the other artworks that reflect the culmination of everyone’s three years of hard work!! Seeing the publicity material for the Show makes it real – it is no longer some event way off in the future – it’s actually happening!

The Final Countdown…

It is the 1st of May and the days are disappearing at an alarming rate! Less than a month to go and tensions are beginning to rise.  So much to organise, but I am slowly beginning to cross jobs off from my ‘to do’ list. The last remaining person I contacted asking for their permission to include their poem in my installation has replied in the affirmative – tick! After another IT workshop the 3D virtual animation (with sound) is now finished and burned to Blu-Ray – tick! Measurements taken for the fixing steelworks taken – tick! Artists statement started – half a tick!

Image converted using ifftoanyStill trying to finalise audio equipment, and the slow progress is beginning to make me a little worried  as is the fact that, try as I might to prepare as much as possible beforehand, I know that installation week will be hectic to say the least. Decisions as to what else, if any of my other pieces, will be included in the exhibition have yet to be made – and if I do include them, where will I put them?  I don’t want the space to be cluttered, I want the bobbin installation to be the focus obviously,and yet I still want the spinning mule and photographs somewhere…Decisions, decisions – it’s enough to give you a headache!

On a less stressful note, I came across this work by Dawn Ng.  Such a simple idea, but so effective.  Paper Planes 2I like its apparent fragility and the way the light and the shadows work. Lighting is a consideration for my piece and it would be really good to have spotlights above the bobbins casting shadows but you have to work with what there is…fluorescent lighting! It is however, a consideration for further exhibitions.

Saw this quote by the Dalai Lama XIV and thought it might be something to keep in mind these next few weeks: “If there is not solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it.  If there is a solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it.”