Saturday, 3 April 2021

More garbage to take out

What I'm making. 

For my upcoming July exhibition - Garb/Age - along with dresses I'll be showing some lengths of embellished textile. This is one such piece I'm working on, measuring 112cm wide by 176cm long, but I'll most likely add to the length before its finished.



It is a combination of stenciling, hand painting, applique and patchwork on an upcycled cotton sheet.

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 What I'm reading 

Alana Lentin - Why Race Still Matters

Koa Beck - White Feminism (audio book)

Iain McGilchrist - The Master and his Emissary; The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (audio book)

Plus these 2 books from Japan, the one on the left is a technical book for Sashiko stitch patterns and the one on the right a pattern book for womens clothes.


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Continuing my critique of Degendering Fashion

The second part of Emilia Bergoglio’ article “Degendering Fashion” is published in Seamwork magazine #77.

Degendering Fashion

In this Emilia creates a history about seamstresses and tailors which is simply wrong. Few of the claims they make are based on historical facts and in many cases, such as the paragraph below, the assertions are so completely incorrect I'm at loss where the information came from.

In the West, until the 17th century, womenswear and menswear were fairly similar. They were both based around a tunic-style garment and made by the same professionals—the tailors. Generally speaking, the clothing divide was based on class and not gender. The great divide, which is the precedent of the gendering of clothing we see now in the West, started in France.

In fact prior to the 17thC men and women wore different clothes and clothing was not ungendered. There is no time in history that European people of any class wore gender neutral clothes. The statement that men and women wore a “fairly similar….tunic-style garment” is baffling. It is such a stretch of imagination I can’t conceive what that would refer to. As Emilia won’t communicate with me I can’t ask them directly what on earth that garment would be. If anyone knows the name of the garment, or has a picture of it please educate me.

 


Firstly, European women never wore trousers. Right up until the 1920s it was considered so radical and outrageous that women literally went to jail for doing so.

Since the 12thC women have always worn gender specific underclothes such as petticoats, chemises (also called smocks or shifts) and corsets.

Womens undergarments

Over the undergarments either a one piece dress or skirt and blouse was worn.

Men wore pantaloons, shirts, jackets and various types of waistcoats and jerkins. In Europe, apart from the Scots kilt, men never wore skirts.

This is the very famous Arnolfini portrait painted by van Eyck in 1434. Mr Arnolfini seems to be wearing something that could be described as a tunic, but the Mrs is definitely wearing dress. Perhaps if her dress was unbelted it may be more tunic like? However, if the garments were switched it would be dissonant because the clothing is still styled in ways that signify the gender of the wearers.

 


The second sentence from Emilias paragraph stating that the tunic-style garments were made by tailors is also errant nonsense. In truth, it is actually deeply insulting to the true history of how women have laboured throughout history to make clothing. Tailors were, and still are, a professional class of men devoted to making clothes mainly for men. There was not an equivalent class of women doing the same because women were not permitted to have careers, professions or occupations outside of the home until the 20thC. The garment making labour of women was a huge industry hidden behind the fa├žade of domesticity.





Tailors served the needs of the wealthy, privileged classes to have their clothes cut from expensive, luxury fabrics and fitted to the body and embellished with embroidery, laces and whatever the status signaling of the day required. Tailors had special training in how to measure the body and create a pattern for the item of clothing that would fit the specific proportions of the client. After measuring and cutting the cloth tailors had a workshop of people who would then sew and finish the garment. Such workshops typically comprised other tailors, one or more male apprentice tailors along with the tailors wife, daughters and possibly other female relatives. If there was a lot of work to be done the tailor would have a network of outworkers. Sewing work would have been sent out to skilled women workers who worked in their own homes doing “piece work”.


It is the labour of women who cut and sewed clothes for themselves, their children and male partners that has created almost all the clothes needed in society and over history. Tailors were a professional class of people in business for themselves to serve the needs of wealthy classes for high status garments. The description “tailor made” still has a ring of privilege and exclusivity about it, no one ever boasts “seamstress made”. And as it has ever been, the tailor who measured and created the pattern and cut the cloth most likely wasn’t the one who personally sewed the whole garment to completion. They did very little real stitching themselves, that work was turned over to skilled women who were low paid because of their sex.

More to come in a few more days.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Trailer trash feminist

Continuing my critique of Degendering Fashion, by Emilia Bergoglio, published in Seamwork magazine #76, 2021.

I think Seamwork magazine #77 Balanced, may be published. It will contain the 2nd part of Degendering Fashion, but at this point I haven't been able to read it so what I've written today refers only to part 1, from Seamwork #76.

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 Questions to ask........

What would the response to Degendering Fashion have been if it appeared in a publication for tailors and male hobbyist sewists? 

What sense would it make to an audience completely of men? 

Would it make sense to a woman in Guatemala who takes pride in and makes a living from making clothes with the lavish embroideries her female predecessors taught her?  

Would it make sense to a woman in Mali who makes traditional mud cloth? 

What sense would it make to a Hmong hill tribe woman in Thailand embellishing fabric with traditional cross stitch?


link to an article that expands on this idea

Missonary Feminism

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Would a man wear this?...and why not?


Considering Degendering Fashion in a historical context

In all of human history clothing has never been degendered. There is no culture in which all genders wore the same clothes. So I think if degendering clothing was a desirable thing humans wanted to do it would have happened before the last 10,000 years.

I agree with Emilias view about "unisex" fashion in their article. It is de-feminised clothing made to appeal to females who prefer masculine styling. It was never intended to be marketed to men as something desirable to wear.

If there is any gender that could benefit from the essential message of Degendering Fashion  it is men. I think they are the ones we should be urging to wear a full range of colours, prints, dresses and skirts. Rather than suggesting the way to degender fashion is by women wearing more blazers and trousers I think we should be educating men about the comfort and pleasure of wearing dresses and skirts. 

Men in Indonesia and Sri Lanka understand this and the traditional sarong is worn everywhere as commonplace, everyday attire. They would probably be baffled if men of other nationalities told them it signifies feminine and not masculine.

Sarong 

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Same old, same old shaming

In the next paragraph all phrases in inverted commas are taken from Degendering Fashion

Degendering Fashion suggests that it is women who must change their ways of dressing in order to achieve the goal of "gender neutrality". Emilia suggests that a good way to begin is to "eliminate binary nomenclature in fashion" by erasing terms such as "bust darts" and "fitted bodice dresses". Coming from a person who defines themself  not-woman and binds their chest to appear flat I can understand why gender neutrality is something desirable for them. However, personally I cannot understand why adopting less gendered clothing, by wearing clothing that is less feminine, is a way forward for women to gain more equality and empowerment. 

The view that women are complicit in their subjugation has been taken up no less enthusiastically by high status, privileged women in the 21stC. Ever since the feudal system was created to control, exploit, and keep the peasantry oppressed women of the superior classes have always policed the unruly female underclass demanding they behave better, work harder, keep your home cleaner, drink less alcohol, buy more stuff, wear these clothes, don’t wear those clothes, educate yourselves better, have more/less babies – endorsing whatever is the prevailing need of patriarchy and its capitalist agenda. 

Back in the day those women would have been from the aristocracy and gentry and the wealthy mercantile, land owning class; in modernity the former mistresses have switched to be high status, tertiary educated, professional, white or light skinned, independently wealthy women taking up the same role. From the podium of their Manolo Blahnik stilettoes they shame, harangue and blame women for not being more free and happy. They imply it is our personal fault not having achieved power and agency in our lives because of having babies too young, being without a male partner (or choosing a low status one) or for choosing to wear fitted bodice dresses.

High status women cannot conceive of how the machinations of privilege have given them access to successes more by accident of birth and nationality than as a personal achievement. High status women already have all of the things low status women need – a home, education, birth control, careers, personal wealth, regular income, safety (most of the time) from male violence – and they believe all these things came to them through their own striving on the level playing field of society.

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Clothing choice as societal signifier

Signifier 

In Degendering Fashion Emilia touches only briefly on how clothing is a “signifier”. 

In simplistic terms this refers to what a viewer reads about a person by how they present themselves physically. This takes into account not only the chosen clothing but numerous other things such as age, height, weight, hair styling, etc. Emilia only discusses how clothing choices can be a signifier of gender, they don’t examine how clothes also signal class, status and wealth.

Here is a little quiz to help explain how visual signifiers work. 

Match the pictures of people to a letter that best describes how you would rate their power, status and privilege.

a)              a) professional, well educated, high status job 

               b) career person in their workplace, well educated, waged

               c) working class, low education, low wage

               d) low status, low education, not waged

               e) high status, tertiary educated, rich

               
















I hope this helps illustrate how clothing choices (and skin colour) put people into stereotypes where we make assumptions about them. Does the woman above look like she has a tertiary education and owns the factory where she is labouring? Perhaps that is more likely one of the women in the 6th picture down? Or perhaps those women are the company accountant or marketing manager? Perhaps the woman in the 5th picture down is so rich she is a shareholder in the clothing factory and doesn't need to manually labour to get a wage?
       
Have you noted that the people wearing trousers and suits are always the more high status and waged? That the women wearing more colourful, patterned and "ethnic" clothing are more likely to be identified as low status, low wage and low education? 
      
That is why I think suggesting women should dress more like men, or as Emilia puts it "gender neutral", serves more to keep women oppressed than making us free. It is true the clothing worn by women is a signifier of low status, power and privilege. However, I think it is masculinist culture that needs changing, not the clothing preferences of women. Degendering Fashion judges and stigmatises women of other cultures who have long, proud traditions of textile art and making clothes. 

Degendering Fashion comes from a hegemonic, highly privileged view of cultural mores and could not be instigated outside of the global north. If its not good for all women why would it benefit women of the global north?
     
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Here is an Instagram I follow that I think presents a genuinely revolutionary take on degendering fashion and deconstructing signifiers.

LagosSpaceProgram




Wednesday, 24 March 2021

stitching my mouth up

Developments in csf.

Email sent by me to Meg Stively, editor of Seamwork magazine 23/03/2021


Dear Meg, I am reaching out to you again as you kindly asked if there was anything else you could help me out with.

I am appealing for you to stop blocking my access to Seamwork Instagram.




I wish to recover comments recently posted there by myself and to keep following the comments being made by others about the Degendering Fashion article.

As a Seamwork subscriber I feel it is unfair to limit my ability to participate in the community. Stopping my interaction implies my views are not respected or held as sufficiently valid for others to decide themselves.

Publishing Degendering Fashion in Seamwork #76 indicated openmindedness to a newly emerging cultural identity that is to be applauded. Non-binary and trans people in the sewist community are bravely stepping forward to talk about their experience. I wholly support this. As bi-queer myself I am part of the LGBTQI+ community and have read widely in the area of gender politics and ideology over decades. Reflections from me aren’t coming from an ignorant, misinformed or prejudiced position.

Yesterday I published the first part of a critique on my blog and plan to keep following up as the 2nd and 3rd parts of Degendering Fashion are published. Believing in the validity of my counterpoint view I plan to seek out other sewist forums who are open to presenting a balanced range of views.

I am appealing to you to allow me to participate in Seamwork Instagram. Going forward with my critique as subsequent parts of Degendering Fashion are published it will be relevant for me to hear the comments made by others.

As a feminist it’s my belief that all speech is political speech. Having had my participation in Seamwork Instagram stopped I feel it signals the position of Collette Media is to believe gender identities are not contested territorities, but have arrived at a place where they are now fixed and cannot be challenged, examined or deconstructed. That it requires policing, censoring and denial of interacting in public forums would seem to contradict that.

Please note that I don’t regard my correspondence with you as confidential and may choose to publicly share what your reply or possibly non reply is.

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 Email sent to me in response to message above from Meg Stively


Hi Pearl,


Our community guidelines are stated on our website and our online community. You did not follow our community guidelines. Here they are in case you need to reference them: https://help.seamwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/360004211473-Community-Guidelines

I have also attached a screenshot of our community guidelines in graphic form. 

Thank you for reviewing these guidelines.



Meg


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 Email sent by by me in response 24/03/2021

Hi Meg

Thanks for response. I read the community guidelines and are no more clear which one/s were contravened by me.

As I have already monopolized your time a great deal and being sure you have a more important job to do than engage with an irritating, misbehaving person, I won’t ask for it to be clarified what guideline was crossed. Will just ruminate over the mystery.

I wish to strongly state my total support for people who are non-binary and trans gender. I absolutely support that they have the right to choose gender, perform it how they wish, that they have a right to a voice in the world to outline their views, politics, feelings and ideologies. I believe they are a vulnerable community that is largely misunderstood and actively discriminated against.

The only thing I am disagreeing with Emilia about is their view that the language of dressmakers and seamstresses is a problem that should be changed. To disagree with that view is not an attack on non-binary and transgender people, though many people seem eager or silly enough to conflate it as such.

I hope you might look at what I write on my blog in the coming months as the next parts of Degendering Fashion are published.

www.pearlredmoon.com

The first big issue I’ll address on my blog is how a small number of high status, privileged white, tertiary educated, independently wealthy, career advancing and progressive identifying women in global north society take the high handed attitude that their views represent those of all women. Or should, if only the lazy lower classes would educate themselves appropriately. In many respects this group of high status, privileged white women replicates the way “upper” social class has always deployed over history to monitor the wrongful views of the working class by shaming, criticizing and implying we are incapable of understanding complexity and morality. Upper class women of past eras (some names for them…nobility, aristocracy, landed gentry or from wealthy capitalist classes) have always felt it is their mission to drag up the kicking and screaming rabble to their level of superior understanding and morality.

The community guidelines you forwarded me are a wonderful explication of how rules will be applied to keep rabble in their place.

 Huzzah and adieu

Pearl Red Moon


Monday, 22 March 2021

The political dressmaker

 

Firstly I am apologising for my blog of 2 days ago when I referred to Emilia Bergoglio as “her” and “she”. Emilia states she is non-binary, therefore does not identify as either male or female and asks to be addressed as they and them. My use of wrong pronouns was unintentional. It’s extremely difficult for me as woman of 63 years to change a lifetime of programmed thought processing to get it right consistently. It has only been a year since I first encountered people who state they want to be referred to by unconventional pronouns. I uphold their desire and will personally endeavour to respect it.

However, its not a switch that is instant or simple for me, I have to work at it. When I make mistakes and people sneer or make weaponized accusations that I’ve done it to purposely offend, they are wrong. Some graciousness in allowing older people to adapt would be an act of human kindness.

 

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In the studio

In July I’ll be having a second exhibition at Newcastle Art Space, 8th – 18th. The show will be called Garb/Age and the same as last year I’ll be showing textiles and garments made entirely from used fabrics sourced from thrift shops and garage sales.

My book illustrating the garments made for last years show “Thirty Coats” is available in my Etsy shop

Boho Banjo Etsy shop




I was in Newcastle last week visiting Newcastle Art Space Gallery to sign the contract and saw that the exhibition space had been hugely expanded from my last show. Immediately I saw the possibility to show not only made up garments but to display lengths of embellished textile hanging down the walls. Buying a length of art textile has many options; it can be hung on a wall as it is like an artwork, or the buyer could make it into a garment, or even commission me to make something wearable!

I have a number of dresses finished ready for the show. Initially I’d planned to have at least 30, like last year. Now I’m thinking it will be 16 dresses and 12-15 lengths of textile.

This is the first length of textile I’ve started working on. This is a strip of off white 100% cotton sheet that I first printed with black. Yesterday I started adding sewing on appliques.

 





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Did anyone go to that link I gave to the BBC Arts Hour in my previous blog?

This is the exquisite Wendell Berry poem that was referred to

The peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

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YTNUC THIS YREKCUF

In my blog of 2 days ago I said I would be critiquing Emilia Bergoglio’ article in issue #76 of Seamwork magazine, called “Degendering Fashion”. It is the first of 3 parts and is titled “What is Gender”. Initially I thought it could only be accessed by subscribers but a kindly person sent me this link so everybody can read it.

 Degendering Fashion in Seamwork magazine

I read it when it first came out a few weeks ago. I knew why it made me feel uncomfortable and have been ruminating the issues since then. Emilias Instagram was given at the end of the article so I started following. A few days ago posts from @Seamwork were coming up in my Instagram and I could see the comments and feedback readers were giving in regard to Degendering Fashion. 

I would like to quote directly the response I made but I’ve been blocked from following Instagram accounts of both Emilia and Seamwork so cannot recover the exact comments made. If anyone goes searching and they are still there, please let me know, but I would be pretty certain they have been deleted.

My comment was something along the lines of “I think a problem is being made where there is none. I don’t understand why the specialist language women dressmakers created over a long period of time is a problem that needs changing. Women have different body shapes from men and we created a commonly understood technical language for being able to sculpt fabric around our particular body shapes”.

That comment got quite a lot of response and I had made a number of replies to several people when I got a direct private message on my phone from the editor of Seamwork magazine asking me to stop commenting. I must have misunderstood her becos I got the impression she was willing to consider I could make a published response to Emilia in Seamwork magazine, outlining a different view, if I would stop commenting, which I did. A day later she wrote to me saying she did not intend to give me a forum.

This blog is becoming way too long long and I have to do some artwork today. In finishing up by publishing the letter I wrote to Meg, editor of Seamwork.

In another day or two I’ll be back to continue my critique of Degendering Fashion.


Dear Meg

I’m writing today to request the right to respond to Emilias articles published in Seamwork. 

They made a really thought provoking argument for examining why we have specialist nomenclature for garment making. I have some ideas about that, many of which are in agreement with Emilias opinion, and some that aren’t. I hope that holding in mind the journalistic principles of fairness and balance I’ll be allowed similar access to discuss my different view.

In regard to Emilias contention that there is a problem with nomenclature in the world of dressmakers and seamstresses I react as a woman who is strongly defensive of female culture and the safe places we constructed for ourselves over millennia. Until recently patriarchy defined all the places women were allowed to occupy and there were very few outside the domestic sphere. Huge changes happened since the first wave of feminism, such as women being allowed to own property, get access to tertiary education, birth control and have the right not be raped by their husbands. Women wearing trousers in the 1920s were often arrested and fined, even imprisoned.

I completely endorse and agree with Emilia stating everybody should be free to dress in whatever way they please. Absolutely. In my persona as radical feminist and subverter of fashion I have frequently worn completely outrageous outfits to thumb my nose at those mores. I support all humans to have the right to choose gender and how to perform it. Those who are outside the gender conforming mainstream have every right not to be discriminated against in society or law. They should be supported and given access to platforms where they can advocate to dismantle prejudice.

The only part of Emilias premise about nomenclature I disagree with is that the words that were created by dressmakers and seamstresses are a problem and should be changed. Having the power to be the one who “names” things is highly political. Essentially, whomever names it pretty much owns it. Just like people who discover stars, new insects and plants, they get to name them and are forever recognized in that way. As a feminist and a proud female identifying sewist I instinctively want to resist what I interpret as a political act of appropriation in a culture that was created by, for and owned by women. It increases my anxiety and fear greatly that it is being done by a person who does not identify as a woman, in fact they are a person who declares being called a woman is offensive and disrespectful to them.

I might be an annoying shouty woman who wants to take up a lot of space but above all I love women – our resilience to systematic oppression, our creativity, our boundless ability to give of ourselves in love and healing – I hope you can empathise with me when I say it is hard not to react with fears and anxiety at such an approach. It feels analogous to a home invasion, with people busting in the door and demanding that the furniture be re-arranged for their comfort as the present furniture is not fit for their purpose and offends them. The people who built the house and who have lived there forever are left speechless as it is deemed “centering yourself” to ask why.

It is difficult to negotiate dissent and diversity of opinions with respect and delicacy. If I put my questions directly to Emilia on their insta they will ignore me and refuse to engage. Their friends have explained to me that putting my questions directly is regarded as disrespectful and offensive, and remind me I have no entitlement to ask them anything. I cannot resile from believing this – If you identify as an activist/advocate and publish political views, ideologies or premises in widely circulated media then I believe you have a commitment to be open to receiving the full gamut of reactions and feedback (except outright denigration and threats of violence). 

As a person who has made a living as a sewist for 44 years and has been active for decades in sewist communities I find it deeply disturbing that their view is I have no place in the community, deserving only to be cancelled, silenced and discarded.

I’m impressed at your courage in publishing Emilias articles. Gender identity issues have been bubbling away in many online sewist communities for some time. Many mainstream people, who probably have never questioned the orthodoxy of heterosexuality for themselves or the wider community, are deeply curious to find out more of what it all means and how this might affect them interacting respectfully in online communities.

For myself, I have several intersecting identities that are relevant to how I present in the online world. Like the onion skins I’ll start at the outer – woman, radical feminist, artist, sewist, person advocating for sustainability and ethics in the clothing manufacturing industry, person advocating for justice and the end of genocide to the Uyghur people of China – a large number of them being in forced slavery picking cotton and in sewing factories, I am a member of the Greens political party and activist movement Extinction Rebellion, I am large bodied, bi-queer and a person with a cognitive disability, Aspergers.

The opportunity to talk with people through Seamwork how these multiple identities are the foundation of how I construct a worldview would be a privilege for me. Ultimately I hope to foster more understanding for mainstream people how people with alienated identities negotiate their existence and politics.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to put this case to you. Even if you decide not to give me a forum I would appreciate it if you would acknowledge this correspondence as it has taken a great deal of my time to compose it. As an extremely low waged person - I made $15 yesterday - time is precious to me and I beg your respect for that. 

 

huzzah and adieu

Pearl Red Moon

 




Saturday, 20 March 2021

My CSF manifesto

 

On Monday huge numbers of Australian women rallied outside Parliament House and in cities nationwide to protest at political indifference to the safety of women. Men came too, and protested at the March4Justice. Regrettably I live in a tiny rural village where there was no action and I couldn’t attend rallies away from town.




Following up in the media coverage later I was uproariously thrilled to see an image of 4 women holding up a large banner outside of Parliament house, Canberra, which had the words “CUNTY SHIT FUCKERY” emblazoned on it. Starting yesterday I did searches trying to find the image again, without luck. No surprise that it has probably already been expunged from social media. Nothing more confronting than uppity vulgar women.

I am embracing this slogan for myself.

Having posted those words on Instagram a few days ago I was quickly censored for “breaching community standards”. So henceforth I have to use subversive means to publish the slogan. Those means will be

#1 - I use the acronym <CSF>

#2 -  I spell it backwards as <YTNUC TIHS YREKCUF>

Here is the explanation why…I am a feminist. Though I have never belonged to organisations or participated in networks (mainly due to being an isolationist Aspergers person) I am a well read autodidact.

The type of feminist identity I embrace is being a noisy woman who demands to take up space and be heard. CSF gets a reaction becos it is not something a polite, demure and compliant woman goes around saying. It is emblematic of a woman behaving badly. It is a woman doing “shit fuckery” and resisting being shut up.

 

 

I had a private chat with a woman colleague in the dressmaking and sewing pattern publishing world a few days ago. She queried why I so often stick my neck out and get embroiled in controversies. The result being getting much trolling, cancelling, censoring and denigration. She said her strategy was to ignore and deflect all that becos she wanted to grow her business and make it profitable. She was intrigued why I am prepared to cop so much negativity sometimes at the cost of having been blackbanned in places.

The answer is that I don’t separate my art from my politics. Making art, even what is regarded as “decorative art”, is a type of political speech. Political speech is art. I don’t feel any separation between the two, or in my person. Doing both is necessary for me to feel an integrated and whole human being.

In contemporary western mindset ppl in modernity are encouraged to split off parts of their personality and behaviours. We are encouraged to think there is a difference between my private self, my public self, my business or working self. This kind of fracturing makes it easier for ppl to participate in harmful systems of capitalism and how that system goes about damaging and pillaging the natural world. Adopting that compartmentalizing leaves individuals feeling powerless to change things. Your “private” self might be deeply concerned about the breakdown of nature and the way consumerist mentality keeps telling us there is no end to filling up the world with crap we don’t need, but if your “public” self works in the mining industry and that is where you get your income, then this dissonance will cause you to be silent and keep on running around the hamster wheel believing you can’t get off.

Here is a link to a brilliant podcast which perfectly encapsulates what I think.

BBC Arts Hour

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My art part completed this dress yesterday. It is 100% cotton fabrics upcycled from a used doona cover.

I used the wide white edging that was already part of the doona before I cut it up as a feature on the hem, sleeves and top of the pockets. The appliques are made from a scrap of lightweight denim I had left over from another doona.







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Two books I've read lately. "Why Race Still Matters" by Alana Lentin is on the left. "If This Is A Woman" by Sarah Helm is actually a re-read, bought about 5 years ago.

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My next piece of CSF will be....

I will be blogging again in a day or 2 to discuss an article published in Seamwork magazine. Seamwork is an online magazine that is only available to paid subscribers of that community.

Seamwork

Unfortunately being a magazine that can be accessed by paid subscribers I won't be able to give links to the actual article I want to talk about, which is called Degendering Fashion, by Emilia Bergoglio.

However, below are Instagram links for Seamwork and Emilia Bergoglio where you can get an understanding of Degendering Fashion might mean.

Unfortunately Emilia has already blocked me from her Instagram so I don't know how the commentary about her article is developing. Her friends relayed to me that my putting questions to her was rude, unacceptable and none of my business. The link I've given may not work for that reason. But if necessary you could look her up at emilia_to_nuno. I suspect that comments I posted a few days ago have already been removed.

Seamwork Instagram

Emilia

To follow me on Insta, I'm here

Pearls Instagram

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

ear things

I'm just finishing preparing a proposal to submit to Newcastle Art Space for another exhibition in July 2021. I hope to find out by the end of this month if the proposal is accepted. If accepted I intend to show 30-40 dresses made from altered upcycled fabrics and some beaded adornments.

Heres a new series of earrings I've been working on this week. They are all just.one of the pair at the moment. I call these "orphans" until they are made into pairs. It can often be days or weeks until I return to the collection to complete the pairs (if ever!). That is why I am the director of a very large orphanage....

The way I work is when a design concept starts to trigger off a brainstorm of inspiration, usually starting with a newly created item, I start riffing on the theme. It is similar to the way when a musician has a little piece of tune that they play with, embellish and expand by trying it out in a multiplicity of versions.

In the picture below I've laid out the earrings left to right, top to bottom, in the first little series. This shows how the initial simple version on the top left transmuted into more complexity. After the 6 versions the spark burned out and I moved on to making the 3 and a half long drops in the bottom row.




As ever, colour is everything.....

Friday, 29 January 2021

Books and Beads

I have always loved books and are still buying them. Regrettably they can be heavy, cumbersome things that present challenges to store. Consequently over decades I’ve had to have several library purges to weed out the ones I can live without...a few regrets there, sigh... Since the digital era my book buying habits have been re-assessed so that nowadays I only buy fiction/non-fiction on Kindle or audio and no longer any magazines.

I still buy real art and craft books. I tried Kindle editions but haven’t been able to get comfortable reading onscreen. Onscreen means going to the laptop instead settling down with the book where I want to read it. Sometimes that is outside and paper pages can be read without the issue of screen glare. I also really like the physicality of books, it seems so much more practical and convenient to be able to flick forward and back in the pages virtually instantaneously. As a person who frequently reads the footnotes, bibliography and index it's considerably more practical. Also living in a country with third rate internet I can take books on holiday and/or read them in the car without the internet dropping out due to “blackspots” – or as it should be more truthfully described “places inadequately serviced due to being too hard (expensive)”

This is one of my bookcases with about a third of the art and craft books I own.




Heres pictures of beaded earrings I’ve made lately. Actually the 2 tubular pieces on the upper right are sections being worked that will eventually be collaged together into a neck piece. The earring in the middle is still an orphan.



About a year ago I bought 2 out of print books by my favourite bead artist Diane Fitzgerald which were published in 2007 and 1997 (left to right). The earrings next to the books I made learned from a technique in her “Zulu Beaded Chain” booklet. They have an amazing tri-pedal structure. They are more clearly shown in the picture above on the left. The book describes the basic beading technique, not any specific projects, so I adapted it to make these earrings and chose the colours. There are 10 techniques described in the book and I’ve learned 3 of them recently.



Yesterday these books I'd ordered about Seminole and Miccosukee patchwork arrived. Published 1982 and 1995 they're also out of print and not available on Kindle. I feel ambivalent whether I should draw on any inspiration from these techniques as some critics might suggest it is an appropriation! Until a few months ago I had been completely oblivious to this tradition of patchworking, which was adopted then developed from English and European traditions starting around the mid 18thC. I'm only a few chapters into the book but intrigued that the Indian tribes had a close relationship to a large group of Highland Scots who emigrated to their territory in 1736 (my ancestors are Scots - McDonalds).They traded with the colonisers for beads, cotton and woolen textiles. The tribal women learned patchwork from the coloniser women and gradually evolved it into their own distinctive patterns and interpretation. Fortunately, in that era the Creek women were untroubled by concepts of cultural appropriation.


Next week an order for books from Japan is due. One is about traditional sashiko stitching patterns and the other is contemporary clothing patterns.

The art and craft books in my collection are from all over the world. For example, just eyeballing the bookshelves - India, South America (Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil), North America (American Indian, Inuit) Middle East (Turkey, Lebanon, Israel) numerous African countries and quite a few from England and Europe. Every country and culture in the world has a tradition of beading and textile art and I find them all intriguing.

From my early teens I’ve always been attracted to abstract patterns and bright colours. I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist in 1974 when I made my first attempt at age 15 to paint in oil colours a picture of the Indian Queen Mumtaz Mahal sitting on a Turkish rug (she of the Taj Mahal mausoleum in Agra). That painting was lost long ago but I’m often bemused that that very first attempt at a serious artwork remains very definitive of the art I still do 45 years later. First - the subject was a charismatic female figure, #2 - it was about clothes and jewellery, #3 –  and it was about textiles and patterns, as in the clothes and carpet. The picture below isn't the actual picture I tried to copy, just similar. 

I like that she is holding a book.




Thursday, 17 December 2020

New pdf sewing patterns (coat - not an effen kimono)

 I've recently published 2 new patterns. They are available in either my Etsy or Shopify shops - find links on the side bar.

"Coat Thirty" is the coat pattern I developed and used for all the coats I made for the 2020 exhibition.










"Rainy Maze" was one of the 30 coats shown in the exhibition

back of "Rainy Maze" coat

The other pattern is called the Skye Blue dress.










Happy Jesus Birthday to everybody.






Saturday, 29 August 2020

Ear me, ear me

In Murrurundi as the last 2 days of August slip into the abyss of history Winter is gradually seguing into Spring. Blossom has been appearing on the many Prunus trees around town. The mornings are still chilly with below zero frosts but the days warm up pleasantly to around 22C in the afternoons.

This is a quick touching base to show the two beaded earring designs I've published as instructions and kits in my Etsy shop this week.

As many long time blog followers will be aware I've been worn down with anxiety after 2 years of having my art to wear designs stolen and faked by China based mass manufacturer ChicV. Its hard to feel the enthusiasm and joy I used to have when working on a new piece of textile art with the overhanging dread that as soon as I show a picture of it a few weeks later ChicV will be faking it and selling it on the internet for $34.95!!!

So for the forseeable future I'll be making adornments and publishing patterns and kits for making them.

Samaria earrings instructions  

Samaria earrings instructions and kit



Another colour version of the Kumaruka earrings.

Kumaruka earrings instructions

Kumaruka earrings instructions and kit


Now I'm going outside to let the chickens out to free range. Then I'll put my gumboots on and spend the day weeding and cleaning up at the bottom of the garden.

Have a beautiful day everybody.