Monday, 2 January 2012

ad hoc doilies

The Crafts Council approached me the week before Xmas asking me to submit a piece for their collection. Rather than choose something I had already made, I thought I’d develop a new piece for them. Knowing they are interested in adding to their textile collection, I thought I’d make use of my knowledge of lace making and combine this with some assemblage processes using materials I have at hand at the studio. After a few days work, I ended up working out how to make doilies out of paper clips. Useless if used as they are meant to be - it will be the doily not the pot that will scratch the surface of your precious piece of furniture - they are simply to be appreciated for their aesthetic value…

To make these, I reinterpreted bobbin lace making technique to suit working with the clips - I've used a wooden board and nails instead of a pillow and pins to do this. Thinking about it now, I had in mind the work of Joep Verhoeven who I met during the Sydney Design Festival last August, when exhibiting in the Love Lace exhibition. Joep create architectural sized pieces using bobbin lace technique and wire much in the same way I have with hammer, nails and a jig. I love this misappropriation and reinvention with processes and materials. To understand something better, you often have to step away from it to take a fresher look at it, and in this way allow for innovation.

I relied on this strategy when working on the Hybrid Basketry project at Origin Craft Fair in 2009, which resulted in the commissioning of the Practical Basketry Techniques publication mentioned in an earlier post. Visitors at the fair were asked to deconstruct a basket in order to remake something, and in doing so, find something out about basketry and related techniques of making.

This ‘hybrid’ a approach to making, and the notion of re-using, appropriation, or even ‘hacking’, is nothing new of course. It has been a characteristic of design and art practice for 20 years at least. Designers such as Ron Arad and Jasper Morrison took up the ready made cause in the early 90s. Re-use and re-make ethics were promoted by Tom Dixon as well as Renny Ramakers and Gijs Bakker from Droog Design amongst many others. Choosing to re-use, whether out of necessity or not, teaches you to be resourceful. The theorist Charles Jencks coined the term ‘Adhocism’ in the 60s to describe “using an available system or dealing with and existing situation in a new way to solve a problem quickly and efficiently…a method of creation relying particularly on resources which are ready to hand”. I have a slight regret that this way of thinking was not featured more heavily in projects for the book mentioned above. No matter, the beauty of collaboration (co-authorship in this case) is the opportunity to find out something new and be surprised at the resulting outcome of your joint efforts.

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