Feels like such an overused term, but I don’t know how else to describe where I’m at with this piece.
9 separate small pieces, 3 warps (for those that don’t know, that’s the strings that you weave into).
All fleshy. Naturally dyed yarn (by Susannah Mitchell), mixed with some lovely wool I had leftover from different projects. I couldn’t help myself from sticking in some metallic yarn into one of them. If you look closely, you’ll see it.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you have probably heard me talk about how connected backstrap weaving is to the weaver’s body. The whole loom relies on the strap, round the weaver’s back that holds the tension of the loom in order for you to weave. Leaning forward and backwards aids the weaving. As you weave, your body starts to ache. You put a lot of yourself into this and you’re physically part of making something. It’s not an easy task.
When I weave, it’s repetitive, meditative. I’m part of the loom, I essentially become a machine. I’ve been interested in this idea of body and machine for a while now. It’s been really rewarding taking my time to explore this a little more, playing around with a slightly more serious subject matter than usual.
So I decided to use the subject matter of my own body - the machine. There’s a lot of expectation that we have of our bodies, and expectations or comments that others have and make of our bodies. It’s a highly emotive and vulnerable topic. I thought I would dive into this by starting with drawing and then abstracting images of my own body.
I revisited some drawings that I made a few years back, where it seems like I was exploring a similar subject matter. I absolutely loved the pastel marks and the energy behind them. So I decided to go a little risque for me, and drew different parts of my body as well. I then thought that zooming in on sections of the drawings was even more interesting, so I played around with that.
What resulted was actually something incredibly calming. A series of marks, that look fleshy, but whimsical, kind of other-wordly or alien. In some ways, almost primal. I felt that making separate pieces, in a grid, then putting them all together again was an interesting experiment. It reminds me of a patchwork quilt, kind of touching on the feminine nature of a textile, or perhaps just pieces of a body sewn together.
In some ways the work shows a kind of duality: it captures the feeling and idea of the pressure I feel of my body looking a certain way, but equally the pleasure of not feeling the pressure to make something in particular, just taking my time with it. The objects I made took me a while, and I truly found weaving this piece incredibly enjoyable.
It’s interesting to me that things tend to be more beautiful when we put less pressure on them, when we let things go and just see what happens. This shame I felt about my body started being turned into something beautiful. I liked how I felt when I was making it, I liked the motion of the weaving, and I kept playing.
Next steps are figuring out how to frame this. No one ever said weaving was quick.
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