Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Land of Plenty (the unravelling)

And here we are again in the Land of Plenty… 9 workshops in and 3 to go before the final event this Friday. We now have an idea of what the installation will look like and where it is to be located. installing it will involve making an opening through an existing fence to lead visitors from the public area of De Site to the wilder and closed-off area, now overgrown with grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees growing between concrete slabs. These plants have provided us with materials to work with but despite our daily foraging excursions, we have hardly impacted on the wild surroundings.

Thinking about this now, I might have adopted a more radical approach when cutting back the vegetation; the site is to be built on next year so this could have been an ideal opportunity to have cut down a few trees to produce something truly monumental. Instead, I’ve proceeded with much economy and lightness of touch as usual. I didn’t want to disrupt the environment too much so that when the installation is up, it might appear as if it had grown there too.

This might almost have been the case if it wasn’t for the selection of bright and occasional fluorescent colours the women the Oya Atelier chose to stitch with. Seeing them in action I get a sense their choice was a reaction to the previous project, led by Daniela Dossi, which had them do much detailed work, working mostly with muted colours and according to specific instructions.

Back to this project, our plan then is to mark the end of the project by stitching a structure between trees to hold all the pieces created over the last three weeks. The fruits of the women's labour will be suspended on this net of threads and invite visitors to walk through the more inaccessible and wilder parts of De Site before the bulldozers move in.

This Friday 26th from 6.30 onwards, the installation will be ready for viewing and visitors invited to make their final contribution to it before we unravel it, row by row, until there is nothing left but a crop of stitched 'fruits' on the floor. Some of these will go back to the atelier, others I'll take back to London where I’ll present them as a collection of objects to be traded or exchanged at the forthcoming Market of Values on July 11th. This new collection will then make its way back to the Oya atelier in Ghent. More on this and the Oya stitching tradition in my next posts. See some of you on Friday hopefully for the completion, and unravelling, of the installation. Details of the event can be found here.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Land of Plenty (in the making)

Land of Plenty… One week in, two weeks to go. Meanwhile I’ve come back to the UK to rehearse and perform a new bobbin dance for the opening of Yan Tan Tethera, now on show at Walford Mills Crafts in Wimbourne, Dorset.

It’s not easy to switch from one immersive project such as the one in Ghent to rehearsing a new bobbin dance and perform it all in the course of a couple of days. I now have however something new to introduce to the Oya group. Lace making, which initially inspired these bobbin dances, used to be a major industry in Flanders, so there’s at least one good reason to do this. How great would it be too if Yan Tan Tethera was to come to the Museum over Industrie, Arbeid and Textiel (MIAT)…

Dancing with bobbins and yarn is one thing, but what of all the plant materials wed collected which is a key element of the Land of Plenty project? So far we’ve used grass, buddleya, cotoneaster, willow and poplar combined with a stock of yarn and threads from the Oya studio, to plait, coil, stitch and twine a number of objects including an outdoor loom. The skills we exchanged have guided us through this process, as well as inspiration from De Site itself.

The plan is for all this work to inspire the creation of a large scale outdoor installation at the end of the project. But what might this be? What might the planned sculptural intervention do for the space at De Site and the people who frequent it?

The process of making the piece is of course key so we might choose not to present a finished piece at the end of the three weeks, but instead a durational piece or an interactive or performative work during which participants involved in the project make something and share this with the broader public. There is a lot to sort out still, and plenty of food for thought in the land of…