Irregular Exercises

Earlier this year I took a class with Ruth Hadlow, an artist now working across many media, but someone whose practice is based in textiles. One of the themes we discussed in that class was strengthening our ‘artistic muscles’ by regular practice. It was acknowledged that textile practice can be extremely time consuming, often due to the labour intensive nature of the work. In exploring some other options Ruth showed us some examples of artists who have worked in what can be described as ‘diaristic’ terms. Some of the points I got from this discussion are as follows:

  • Rather than overburdening one or two pieces of art with all your ideas make lots of work.
  • An adjunct to creative practices that are detailed and time consuming – make a work in a day – a ‘light weight’ practice.
  • A diaristic practice doesn’t have to be your main work but it keeps the creative line going through the rest of what you do.

I decided that one practice that I could instigate was blind stitching – or what I’ve called ‘a stitch in the dark’. In my previous post I explained the origin of this concept. Here is how I do it:

Take a piece of cloth. Thread a needle and sew without looking at the cloth. You can stitch in the dark, close your eyes, look away. Do not look at the work until the thread has run out.

I’ve been using cuffs, collars and pockets from clothing I’ve dismantled for other work and random embroidery or other threads. While I have lots of these pieces around I’ve realised that I’m not always in a position to have my stitching to hand. For those situations I’ve developed an alternative:

Take a piece of paper and pen, pencil whatever. Make marks on the paper. You can make your marks in the dark, close your eyes, look away. Do not look at the work until you have ‘finished’. Or perhaps I should say once you look at the work do not start working on it again.

From time to time on this blog you will see examples from this series. Here’s one I did earlier.


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