I’m delighted to have a duster stitched by myself in the Marks Make Meaning drawing exhibition at the University of Brighton, which runs until the end of next week. The piece I created was inspired by the Drawing/Phenomenology conference I attended at Loughborough University last year.
Over the course of one month (January 2018), I engaged daily with a duster, embellishing it with intuitive marks that responded to the materiality of the cloth and its significance as a mundane domestic object. The result is an expression of the experience as well as a personal voice. Sometimes the day’s efforts resulted in areas of intense stitching, others in sparse marks, depending largely on other activities or commitments. Sometimes I felt inclined to make no more than a few stitches, other times I lost myself in the process and embroidered intensively.
The repetitive process of sewing in this way mimicked patterns of behaviour experienced when completing domestic tasks – motions such as wiping that repeat without conscious thought. Tasks begun and forgotten; a few quick wipes in comparison with intense scrubbing. The marks made like this with a needle and thread reference those created through drawing, leaving a trace if unpicked and permanence through application and style.
As a designer by training it was a challenge to embroider without a plan and without focus on the aesthetic qualities or ultimate outcome. Inevitably a pattern emerged, but it is one that I feel represents my domestic life; moments of focus interspersed with light touches to ‘keep things going’ through the working week.
In addition to to this I ran a workshop, inviting students and staff to join me in contemplating the materiality of the duster and all it stands for. We had a wonderful afternoon sharing stories, academic texts and experiences alike. The most notable outcome was that as we touched, scrunched and simultaneously drew the duster, first in pencil then embellishing with stitch, a number of 3D forms emerged for the first time. Thank you to all who attended and for your invaluable input.