Wednesday 6th March – Supervision meeting with Penny, lunchtime seminar and some studio time

Met with Penny today for a supervision meeting, essentially summarising where I’m up to with my research. Began by looking at the photographs of the objects I’ve been taking and discussing how I’m beginning to approach them. We talked about holes and distortions of the fabric weave and how these seem to be a conversation in pattern, echoing one another and about how I might begin to investigate this through different textile methods of weaving and pulled whitework – I think this could be a rich body of work…
I briefly spoke about my anxiety of spending time on projects that don’t seem to be directly feeding into my research but also how I’m beginning to absorb this work into my study – investigating and experimenting with the potentials of technology and beginning to flesh out my ideas around hacking as methodology.
I showed her the sampler/sampler project and we discussed how this is a work that is beginning to articulate a digital experience referencing back to the analog.
We also talked about some of the possible approaches to establishing a timeline of the evolution of technique and style, how the same motifs are repeating and how I could use portraits, pattern books and printing to inform my study – I need to begin researching this in a systematic way and think about what to do with the material – my instinct is to draw and stitch these…
I spoke of my interest in seeing the backs of the embroideries in order to get a sense of the hands that made them. Penny beautifully referred to this as a “chorus of voices”, and I spoke of the sense of embodied experience I have when stitching the same paths. I drew attention to the creative freedom of the embroidered in selecting and working the patterns and fills and suggested that possibly even the type of embroidery was a creative decision of the stitcher, and how I would like to explore and express this through a collaborative embroidery project, inviting different embroiderers to interpret the same motif.
We went on to discuss the partial view as a concept and how the sifting and stitching together of fragments is an analogy of my practice – how I create drawings from assemblages of incomplete pieces and even my approach to the technological aspect of my work is through hacking and copy/pate programming.
What is it about decay we find so fascinating? is it simply a modern aesthetic preference or does it speak to us about loss, preservation and the history of the object? Perhaps in the lost, decayed and fragmented we find a space to imagine? I was reminded of Amy Goodwin’s research into fairground histories and “filling in the gaps” of the archive – but WHAT are you contributing?
Do you become part of the history of the object? An attempt to preserve the makers but also the conservators who have also contributed to preserving the objects – the conservation stitches become part of the fabric of the objects. I’m reminded of Maruska Svasek’s ‘Anthropology, Art and Cultural Production’, how she talks about the journey of an object through time. Looking at these conservation practices, the attempt to hold onto something, acknowledging the heritage process. I wonder if looking at the trends in heritage and preservation practices might be useful? And what comparisons can be drawn between how we attempt to hold onto the material and the fragility of a digital interpretation/documentation?
My obsession is about how to make. A detailed looking at mistakes and decay to try and capture the human touch – but how do you capture the human touch digitally? I wonder if I might draw on Diana’s approach of oscillating between the digital and the analog, zooming in and out, re-assembling and translating?
However, this does draw attention to one huge question that I keep returning to – Why the obsession with the original? What is it we think we are seeing when we encounter an original? Is it the knowledge that it was made and touched by a particular person? And as this an external facet of the object itself, what happens when you remove that context? I feel this might be a key point for my research….
So what AM I looking for? I’m still not entirely sure but I am beginning to ‘feel out’ possible areas of investigation and I’m doing it intuitively – Penny recommended Susan Howe’s ‘Spontaneous Particulars: The Telepathy of Archives’ to give this intuitive approach some context.

I followed my session with Penny by attending a seminar presentation from Col and Michelle. Their presented their on-going art/curation practice which had some interesting echos with my own work. How historical objects are informed by their cultural contexts and how this is open to interpretation and reconfiguration. They talked about their work as a discussion of history and time, about the potential of forgetting and how this could be a construct for creating. I was struck by the echos of my discussion with Penny about the spaces created by absence and decay, looking back to see what might be taken forward and the lack of consistency in what is preserved, something they described as ‘dissonant heritage’ – what is allowed to be forgotten and the space created by that forgetting.
They also talked about the particular approach of the artist curator and how they explore materials. I was particularly interested in the work of Laura White – her workshop of hand skills, presenting objects made and the time taken to learn, very much echoing some of my past work exploring similar ideas.
What I took from this seminar was a striking way of exploring the tensions between historical and contemporary approaches and how the shift in the context and condition can dramatically change an object.

Studio: More time spent processing the research photos and beginning to assemble them. This is a physical process of printing, cutting and pasting together. Some have not been scaled quite right digitally, so I have to go back, make slight adjustments and reprint. I wonder if this is the most efficient or accurate approach but there is something in this slow assemblage that I find almost obsessively compelling. I am concerned it’s NOT absolutely accurate but then I remember – I am not trying to make copies but translations…

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