Some notes on the textile ideas for sonic bed scotland: Kaffe sent me two pieces of music she had made after being in Bangor with the pipers and that was my starting point for what the fabric element of the bed might look like. I hesitate to call what I did “design” because thats quite limiting. I wouldnt call it visual art either, its somewhere in between, an artistic furnishing or a softening. This work arrived at a real textile renaissance for me, a time when i really was getting back to needles and wool, like a wormhole back to 1989 and Trent Polytechnic where I got my knitting degree. Knitting is a very emotional state for me, its more about the mood of knitting than the tangible objects, they are peripheral to the thinking of knitting and the thinking of yarn..the choices, the colour charts, the samples, the smell of it. In a way, once the thinking has been done, the manual labour of making the object is kind of a drain. A way i cope with that, with the labour and the tedium of something that already exists in the mind, is to make things up as I go along, like a slow motion improvising. plus, i just got a machine on ebay which speeds things up a bit.
Once i heard the music, i had quite a clear idea that i didnt want to interpret it, I wanted to work in solidarity with it, at a tangent. The pipe music was made on both ulster and scottish pipes and this cross cultural element really interested me because it relates to the history of my own family. The music threw up quite specific memories of family bedding, of staying at my granny mcnally’s house or of the objects many members of my mothers family had in common. That family originates from Donegal, its quite a common link in Glasgow…and my mother’s father was an Ulsterman. I remembered these blankets, ayrshire blankets. I thought only us had them, but kaffe had them too.Lots of people did. They are rare now, but I managed to track two down on ebay. When they arrived I was overwhelmed by them, they were so potent. Even right at the end, I was supposed to trim one of them down and I couldnt cut it. I managed to cut one, but I couoldnt cut the other one, to disrupt its wholeness. I just hid its excess in the seams.
So in the beginning, i had the blankets….the blank blankets…. and thought of painting on them. I found a relic of an old one of ours, my mother had cut it in half for the cat to lie on. i think the rest had simply fallen apart or had been binned because they were so perforated by cigarette burns. The remnant i tested with textile paints, it still had cat hair all over it. The painting test was pretty interesting, the paint sat on the wool in an interesting way… and so that became the plan, to make quite subtle and marshy marks on the blanket, then to dominate that with very strong cushions for the head. to be continued…… pics to follow
12.6.07 Just got some prints developed of photos of the bed in stirling so im prompted to write again. testing testing
Two of the cushions were handknitted, two were made on my new empiral knitmaster knitting machine which is from Japan. I bought the machine on ebay, its old, from the 1970s. The technique I used is called intarsia, where the yarn is fed by hand across the needles beds to knit different ares of colour in the same row.