Friday, November 8

#Why I Make


From time to time I get asked why I make what I make and how I came about it all.
This time I'm being asked by Love Crafts.

I have been surrounded with expressions of embroidery as I grew up. The sampler above was embroidered by my great great grandmother - Sarah K. in 1879. In fact my name is also Sara and the name has been handed down thorough successive generation to my paternal grandmother and then to me.
Therefore I feel a great connection to these pieces of embroidery.
They have inspired me to create my own sampler.
 For Sarah K. motifs of her religion and the tree of life motif dominate the sampler.
The altar, the tabernacle and the host for holy communion. She probably loved plants and flowers and embroidered the floral motifs.
Red must have been her favourite colour I'd like to believe because it dominates the sampler. So when I began my alphabet sampler I decided to limit my palette to red and two blues. It so happens that red is my favourite colour.
I almost feel it's a genetic compulsion because the women on both my paternal and maternal sides of the family have done a lot of handwork. Sewing and dress making, tatting, crochet, knitting and different forms of embroidery. Clothes were monogrammed and embellished with embroidery. Cushion covers, table linen and tea cosies to tray cloths and bed covers were all embroidered.
I learnt from my mother who is extremely creative.
Blogging opened up a whole new world of creativity and connections with other creative people around the globe.
 Inspired by the natural dyeing and rust dyeing I have created garments and scarves.


Currently Instagram has also helped to keep me connected with the creative world of fiber arts. It has got me involved in projects like the #25 Million Stitches public art installation. Sitting in a small town high up in the Western Ghats of India the internet and social media keeps me connected and helps me participate in such events. 
 My blogging has brought me commissions such as this piece. A favourite poem entitled Anyway which was for a retirement gift. Read more about it here.

 Blogging has got me involved in quite a few challenges such as the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge run by Sharon Boggon at Pintangle. Which  in turn got me making fiber books such the one above - Monsoon - A Fiber Book. 
Doing the Take A Stitch Tuesday challenge I created two fiber books which I use as teaching aids 
when I teach embroidery and Traditional Indian Textiles to students in design schools.
Blogging and blog friends presented me with the opportunity to have my work published in the book Textileart Around the World.
People around the world are generous with their and knowledge and happy to collaborate.
I have many a fiber book created through  fiber book page swaps.



My blog is my online journal of my journaling on paper and fabric. It's been a joy sharing my work and getting acknowledged with comments, collaborations and commissions, all of this goes a long to way in keeping me motivated to do what I do. That's why I make.

Thursday, October 31

A second panel for 25 Million Stitches




I've begun work on my second panel for the 25 Million Stitches public art engagement installation.

I stitch while helping my parents pack and move to an assisted living facility. It's a big move and a big change. I hope I can try and make the transition as smooth and easy for them as possible.

Progress on the panel. Working from one end to the other.

Change is not easy. 
Mamma is choosing photographs to take with her from albums that contain photographs of individuals from five generations. 
It's lovely to look back in time and remember. Then one realises how we've changed with the passage of time.
And so it is. Ever changing never stopping.
The seasons are changing too, the North East monsoons have begun and the rain has turned parched garden green. It's a welcome sight to gaze at while one sits on the verandah and sips tea.

How are you handling change? What's your mantra?

Saturday, October 12

25 Million Stitches - A Public Engagement Art Installation


 I came across the 25 million stitches project on the Instagram feed of @jennifercoynequdeen and that's how I decided to get involved. I hope you will too.
Conflict whether economic or political causes people to move and it is usually on foot. On a map lines for each person or group of people would disperse from one point and congregate at another . It was a visual depiction of this exodus and criss crossing of humanity across the globe which I wanted to represent in my panel.
While working on the panel I came across a special issue of the National Geographic - World On The Move 08.2019 which is dedicated to migrants, refugees, a world on the move for so many different reasons.  There is Paul Salopek who 'is chronicling a story for the ages: the mass migrations in which millions of people are searching for a better place.'

An excerpt from the article A World on the Move : ' The United Nations estimates  that more than a billion people - one in seven humans alive today - are voting with their feet, migrating within their countries or across international borders. Millions  are fleeing violence: war, persecution, criminality, political chaos. Many more, suffocated by poverty, are seeking economic relief beyond their horizons. The roots of this colossal new exodus include a globalised market system that tears apart social safety nets, a pollutant  - warped climate, and human yearnings supercharged by distant media. In sheer numbers, this is the largest diaspora in the long history of our species.
I worked the panel with Feather Stitch. it's one of my favourite stitches.

 The other publication with a story on human migration was The Taj Volume 46 No.1. Archiving Material Memory. When memory is across the border that can never be home again ... Aanchal Malhotra writes of the memories of migration buried within "things", sometimes mundane, utilitarian and occasionally intensely personal.
In August 1947 when the British Raj over India came to an end the sub continent was partitioned into India and Pakistan and later Bangladesh. People fled their homes with little or nothing but the clothes on their backs.
An excerpt : 'As I contemplated the notion of home and what it might have felt like to flee from it hastily, I pictured an arduous journey to a future one couldn't foresee. I tried to imagine emptying out one's whole abode, an entire life, every single belonging, and hoping to take it with you. Alternatively, I tried toimagine leaving every single thing behind. And in doing so, I thought of all that refugees brought with them: the objects that became their companions on the way to a new citizenship - from things as banal as household items to those of precious value. Such artifact would be a reservoir of memory and experience, its physical weight outweighed by the emotional weight cached into over the years. It would,in a way, occupy the weight of the past.'

My maternal grandmother and seven children fled Burma at the end of WW2 and boarded a ship back to India. She was always known as Burma Amachy and we have all developed a taste for khow swey and learned to cook it from our mothers. I'm sure most people have a migration story which they can relate to and have first hand experience of it or are just a generation away.

That's the complete panel. I spent time in a safe and secure environment doing the embroidery on this piece. I hope the 25 million refugees will find safety and security for themselves and their families.
I intend to start my second panel along with my mother in a months time.I'm hoping to hear about her childhood in Burma and the move to India while we embroider the panels together. I want to write down her stories, she's the only surviving sibling.
Have a good weekend.

Thursday, August 15

Urban Camouflage

My resolution or rather resolve this year was to go after the things I wanted to do.
One of the things I've meant to participate in is the Hand and Lock prize.


I toyed with the idea of creating an embroidered fiber book or a scarf and finally settled on a scarf. My theme was Urban Camouflage. The intention was to create a reversable stole/scarf. 
My inspiration was the torn posters on walls and graffiti.  
My attempt at fashion illustration!
The idea was to create two faces, one a bolder brighter side and the other a more quiet, subtle   surface. One can choose which side to wear the stole, turn it around and in a jiffy you can sport a different look a bit like camouflage, you can decide to blend in with what the occasion demands.
 
A portion of the scarf I began work on. It's a work in progress.Need to add some sparkle.
 I didn't make it as one of the finalists.
 Hoping to enter the finished stole in another show and I'll try again next year.

Thursday, June 20

Embroidered poetry commission


The poem - Where the Mind is without Fear was my first commission and that has since brought about others.
I received another commission to embroider the very same poem for a dear friend. 
Similar but different is what makes each piece so unique.
The embroidered poem is for her father who served in the Indian airforce  and so I chose to embroider the poem in blue.

Working on the border. My signature appliqued silk circles with multi coloured buttonhole wheels. 
The completed piece. I hope my friend's father will like the way I've visually represented his favourite poem.

Sunday, June 9

Colours, Textures, Forms and Composition

We were driving to Wellington and had no intention to go to Hawke's Bay but our GPS had a mind of it's own and at around noon we started noticing vineyards and boards displaying address' which had Napier on them. We were puzzled but decided to make the most of what the location had to offer and have lunch at one of the vineyards.
We chose to drive into the Te Awa Winery.
The dining area at Te Awa. It was a grey blustery day but inside it was warm. Very few patrons but service was excellent and we got a great view of the vineyards beyond the large glass doors.
There's outside seating but that day because of the weather there was no service outdoors. 
We ordered the Gimblett Sampler
Beautifully plated, the food was a visual delight and it brought back memories of classes in the Elements of Design. We aren't connoisseurs of  haute cuisine, we are more the hearty home cooking sorts but it was an interesting meal. The chef was obviously an artist.
Ora King salmon crudo, wild fennel & granny smith.

Little neck clams, wine, saffron and mustard cream.

Mata figs, milk curd,cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds and fig leaf. 

Hillcroft mushrooms, port wine broth, pecorino custard.

Venison Boudin noir, pine nut, pickled cabbage.
Along with the bill came these two marshmallows. The best, softest marshmallows I've ever tasted.
Space outside the Kidnappers Cliffs Room for private dining for 8 - 20 people. Love the outdoor fireplace.

I've forgotten the taste of the food but I will look at the pictures of the food as a great resource for creating colour palettes in future.
What unexpected encounters with food have you had and have you used this experience in your work?
Are you guilty, like me of photographing the food when you eat out? My husband has learned to wait patiently while I photograph the food. He doesn't understand why I do it but he indulges me. :)
Hope you have a great week.


Friday, May 31

The National Weaving School at Te Puia

I last posted in February and the months have flown and after three months I've finally got a chance to update Million Little Stitches.
There's much that has happened and I have matter for at least five posts but I have been travelling and we have been hosting a number of guests. I'm hoping to catch up with my blogging in June.

Our travels took us to New Zealand. In Rotorua I got to visit the National Weaving School.       
It's good to see that traditional Maori weaving, processing of flax and dyeing are being passed on to younger people who are keeping the traditional practices alive.

A variety of products for various uses are made with the flax.
The Weaving school space is decorated with so many objects suspended from the roof all made with natural materials. 
Students and teachers work at tables quietly conversing and are happy to answer your questions. One can't walk into the space and examine what they are working on. Which is a pity because I had a number of questions.
 There is a gallery where the work of the students are displayed beautifully and available for sale.
 A number of bags called Kete in Maori.


 Intersting use of materials and colours.
 Garments or fashion accessories.
These appear to be like stoles or capes.
 Modern interpretation of something traditional.




 New Zealand is a beautiful country,one can drive all day and see only sheep and cattle and no human beings, everything is orderly and people follow traffic rules. A huge contrast to India which is teeming with people, chaotic and so diverse. In India one still sees the use of traditional textiles in everyday life but other than this weaving school and the gallery I did not see traditional woven Maori textiles anywhere.
The quality of the photographs aren't the best as they were taken with my mobile phone.
Have a great weekend. Hope to have another post up earl next week.
Take care.

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