Monday, 28 July 2014

Home is where the roots are Theme Book

During this research project I have been working in my sketchbook, and particularly on a theme book about roots. What I find attractive about roots is both the physicality of their fleshiness twisting around each other, combined with the fine tendrils, and the symbolism of their clinging and stretching to find nourishment and stability.

Here is a selection of the work I did on this subject:

This roots idea coincided with a thought that my hall is rather bare and some imagery about home would be good under the stairs.

Hence 'home is where the roots are'.

Monoprints exploring thick and thin organic lines.

Natural fibre woven yarns exploring different ways of representing roots.

It became apparent to me that these were all raw and rough, giving a feeling of the grasping, survival aspects of roots more than the secure, homely aspect.

So I thought about how I could make a similar image with more luxurious yarns.

On the left, shiny hair falls in a rhythmic way, and could be a beautiful, luxurious metaphor for roots.

Right - knitted 'roots' in a variety of luxurious fine yarns and translucent plastic, separated by the more 'earthy' upholstery yarn.

Other explorations of roots images included knitting in different sized wools (left); fabric manipulation with threads left as rootlets (below left), combined monoprint and drawing (below right).

There is a problem with almost all these techniques, which is that they only describe the top layer of roots, leaving the mysterious depth of darkness behind and beneath.
This trial of fabric manipulations was a little more successful, I think, with horizontal lines adding to the texture. I followed this with an experiment in tie-bleaching a piece of black fabric.

The result was this fantastic ghostly striped image which gives something of the feeling of the dark roots under old trees.

This was my sketch of what it might look like to have this as the background to some more 3D roots under the hall stairs.

Chevron friendship bracelet
with curled upholstery cord

I have been exploring the way friendship bracelets are made recently, and wondered if I could use this knotting technique to make something root-like. Here are my two attempts:

After making these, I was lucky enough to go to South Africa on holiday. This produced lots of ideas images for my sketchbook, and below there are a few relevant to the roots theme book:

Zulu village fence made of branches stuck into the ground

Below left - Zulu hut before thatching

                              Eucalyptus tree trunks in the sun.

This is a photo of the branches of a tree, taken through the insect door of my tent. The combination of regular rectangles and the predictable/ unpredictable angles of the branches appealed to me in much the same way as root do visually, and so I drew it, and then explored this more in embroidery and net-making with silver yarns of various thinknesses (below).

I picked up some fronds of two plants while on the beach, and explored how they could be woven together into a flat piece:

By this time my ideas about roots had merged with some of my ideas about how to represent my identity as a more or less complex and light-admitting sphere.

This is the latest related image in my sketchbook.

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