I decided to look for contemporary textile artist on the internet today, and found it difficult because there isn't any quality control, for example like going through galleries for painters. So I looked for a book and found one called Inspired to Stitch by Diana Springall 2005 A&C Black Publ. Ltd. It won a Textile Book Award in 2006, and I found it a good inspiring read, about 21 British Artists with lots of good pictures of their work. I was pleased to recognise the work of two of them from the Embroiderers Sketchbooks book on the reading list - it was like having a couple of friends in the room. There were two others who particularly interested me visually - Rachel Quarmby and Dawn Bates.
There was some discussion in this book about the status of textile art as an invisible art, and its position straddling the art/craft boundary, reminding me of something I read in one of the other set books about how textiles are both ubiquitous and disregarded, and the relationship between this and our historical male dominated culture. I am a little reluctant to engage with this idea, as I do not want to be caught up in other peoples' bitterness or chippiness about it, while appreciating that there may well be a lot of truth in this interpretation. (Although I can think of male-dominated arts which are not valued too).
I don't want my pleasure in exploring and creating to be tainted by the idea that it is less worthy in some peoples' eyes than other art forms. I guess if I ever get to the point of wanting my work to be valued by others, then it will become a problem for me too. But in the meantime I intend to skim over those bits of the narrative. We live in a world where there is a strong possibility of change
Dawn Bates's design for wearable art appealed to me, especially the line drawing she made with curls of what looked like goat's hair or feathers coming off it. Looking at her website, though, I see that her creations are prettier than this had led me to believe, beautifully put together and somehow less appealing to me personally. I find I was hoping for some more of the disgust factor in it! Perhaps I should have a theme book named 'Disgusting/ Feminine'.
If she is the same person, Rachel Quarmby shows up on an internet search as http://www.quarmby-spadaccini.com/ a costume designer for dance companies and films. Looking at her website made me gasp in delight. Each production illustrated has a very different set of costumes which are intriguing and idiosyncratic. I felt awed by the costumes I saw there - I can't imagine ever being able to create something so perfect and curious myself.
I haven't copied any of the photos of the costumes, as I assume there are copyright issues, but they can been seen by following the link. I loved the dresses in Forvandlingar with dangling strings instead of skirts which give the costumes a beautiful line and I expect they move wonderfully (if the dancers legs don't get entangled!). I was particularly drawn to the costumes for Spleen, which are like membranes with blood vessels going through them - part transparency, part disgust - just my kind of thing. I couldn't tell from the photos what they were made of, but it looked like some kind of plastic film.
This reminded me that I would like to find artists who have used transparency or translucency in their work. I expect there have been a lot, but as a starting point I found a book called Transparency in Textiles by Dawn Thorne pub. 2009 by Batsford. It wasn't quite what I was looking for, and the illustrations didn't appeal much to me personally, but it had a lot of interesting breadth to the subject which I hadn't thought of. For example, there was a section about dissolvable materials, and how to make holes in what you create by working round something that is then dissolved away. This appeals to my attraction to negative spaces, and made me think about what I could use it for. I have wondered in the past whether you could make a DNA double helix shape by crocheting round the holes, and this might be the way to do it. The thought of it is rather mind-boggling!
I looked at the author's website, and found that the airy structures she makes, and the colours she uses really appeal to me. http://www.dawnthorne.com/ They are more dry and spindly than I would have made myself, but some of them have the twisted faded qualities of seaweed and others are more intriguing in that you want to explore them.
I went on to look at her studio website, and found a variety of other textile artists there with very different styles and inspirations. http://www.studio21textileart.co.uk/ that gave me back my hope that if I keep working on it I may find a style of my own, even if it isn't as marvellous as some others. I made some sketches so that I can work on them in my visual workbook another day.