Finally it is time for the exhibition I have been stressing about for so long to open. In a previous post I talked about the pain of creating and the difficulties I had been having in finding inspiration for making a piece of work for this exhibition. Well, it seems that I have not been the only one of our group who had experienced challenges with inspiration. At our last group meeting several other group members agreed that they had found it difficult to be enthused by their ‘object’, but somehow we have all managed to dig deep and produce work worthy of any gallery exhibition.
The idea behind the exhibition was for each of us to buy an object from a charity or junk shop which would then be given to another member of the group randomly, the recipient then had to consider the object they were given and use it in some way to drive inspiration for a new piece of work. My own object was a lovely Indian Silk painting of the gods Rama and Sita.
After much deliberation and research about the story of Rama and Sita, one of the perfect love story which ends badly, I came up with a couple of ideas which, although perfectly valid, didn’t ‘do it’ for me so they were consigned to the portfolio case store! After much head scratching and sighing, I started to look around at other folklore stories about true love, and also at Victorian ideas behind the language of flowers. I came up with the flower link because of the flowers in the silk painting, and the use of roses to depict true love. I felt there had to be something else and quite by chance came across the story of Fuji Museme (The Wisteria Maiden) which was a Japanese story written as a Kabuki dance in 1820. The story tells of a young girl in a painting standing under a Wisteria Tree. The painting catches the eye of a young man and as he gazes at the picture she becomes infatuated and comes to life, stepping out of the painting. She goes on to write beautiful, heartfelt letters to the young man, but these go unanswered and heartbroken, she returns to the painting forever.
According to the Victorian language of flowers, wisteria represents a warning against over-passionate love or obsession, a reference to the choking nature of the vine; while in Buddhism it is a symbol of humility and reflection. I thought the idea of unrequited or one-sided love to be the perfect theme and to bring it into the 21st century, I came up with the image of two young lovers embracing surrounded by a stylised wisteria pattern which translates itself across their bodies as a sort of tattoo such that they become part of the living plant. I decided that it would be best worked as a combination of drawing, screen printing and machine and hand embroidery. After three or four attempts the final image was complete! Hooray!!!!
Now the next question was “To Frame or Not to Frame”. Hmm, a biggie really as framing artwork can make or break an image, not to mention completely skew the way a work is perceived. Current trends seem to be toward simply stretching textile based work tightly around a painting canvas. This can be very effective and looks good if done properly. However, all too often work ends up with bulky corners which rather spoils the effect. I did experiment with this idea, but the size of my image is not ‘standard’ and if I was to this properly it would mean making up my own stretcher frame to fit the work. I wasn’t too sure about this, and decided that perhaps framing was the better option. Finding a good framer is not as easy as it seems. To get the best from a piece of original artwork your framer needs to be sympathetic to the artwork and also understand current trends in framing. My second potential problem was the shortness of notice for the work to be framed. I needn’t have worried, I found a local framer who not only talked me through various options for the actual frame, but also whether or not to double mount. The one suggestion he made which hadn’t even occurred to me was that the work should first be stretched gently round another piece of board to keep the work flat and smooth, as textile pieces can often buckle if not stretched before framing. I was so pleased with the end result and would have no hesitation in recommending the framer, Nicholas Gentle of Washington, West Sussex for the fantastic job he has done. He has really made my piece of work look amazing!