Friday, 14 February 2014

how to be feminine

okay so I said to Jenny that I'd write a little bit about the crafty aspect of the Stature project: obviously I am a crafter, it's my medium, and I'm also a feminist so naturally I'm intrigued to learn and share how craft has contributed to women's history.

I'm in the middle of reading The Subversive Stitch by Rozsika Parker which is frankly fascinating. I know there was a conference at the V&A last year called The Subversive Stitch Revisited, exploring the legacy of the book 20 years after its first publication. I didn't go because I hadn't read the book then and didn't know it was on, but I know some people who went and I'm going to do some secondhand research involving them at some point. The book largely covers the craft of embroidery from Victorian times and links it with the false notion of femininity, and how this relates to class and women's roles within and outside the home.

from thetextileblog.blogspot.com


So embroidery was at one time an upper class ladies' pursuit and kept them occupied for no real reason other than to give them something to do all day. It was considered a proper ladies' activity, and was practised by young girls who wanted to be 'good' and feminine even though some of them hated it. It was more or less considered to be an art like any other. Then the Renaissance came along and the idea of the artist as a 'divine, inspired individual' was big, so copying patterns designed by someone else, no matter how accomplished, started to look a bit shit next to these wonderful conceptual oil painters who just happened to be mostly men.

This division between fine art and craft went on for ages and still continues to this day to an extent. Craft is still mostly practised by women and tends to serve a more functional, domestic purpose. The Arts and Crafts movement went some way to uphold the value of a well-made object, though, so props to them. Nowadays the likes of Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin mix fine art and craft in their work and seem to do quite well out of it.

High Priestess Cape by Grayson Perry

Crochet has a slightly different history it seems. Developed from a type of embroidery called 'tambour' it was practised by poor Irish women during the potato famine, who used it as a cheap way to make lace to sell abroad. It was deemed a bit common until Queen Victoria got into it and then it became all the rage. Here she is look:

taken from love-crochet.com

Jump forward a few years and here we are today. Crafts got left behind slightly in the 80s when people started buying cheap factory-made items and handmade wasn't very cool. Now we are in a recession, or were, or something, and a big crafts revival has taken place (actually it started way before the recession but whatevs). Funnily a lot of the stuff people make nowadays doesn't seem to have much function; yarn, especially wool, is expensive, and people still buy cheap goods from abroad, even more than ever, so it doesn't really have much correlation. But it's super cool to crochet.

So the issue of femininity. I would say, from my travels on Etsy and the like, that being cute and childlike is kind of a big trend in handmade items. People favour woodland creatures and kittens and cupcakes, crochet food, doesn't make much sense to me. I'm not knocking it because it obviously makes people happy and they like making it and buying it so who am I to judge. I'm as guilty as anyone else to be fair. But when you look at those women from Victorian times, embroidering flowers on everything in the house (for a while, the word 'flowering' was synonymous with embroidering) and women now, crocheting teddy bear cupcakes: the styles have obviously changed, and women (presumably) are making things of their own free will these days; but what it means to be feminine is more or less the same. Soft, unobtrusive, child-like. As Rozsika Parker says: 'there is no hint of the determination, application, ambition and education demanded by [these works]'

cupcake bears by Amigurumi Kingdom/from DIYlife.com

Our very own Elizabeth Gaskell saw the limiting social structures held in place by embroidery. In Wives and Daughters, 1866, she depicts her heroines using the craft to intimidate others, throwing their reels around, and to seduce men by being ever so feminine. The woman without needle skills is hopeless at attracting men. Parker notes that she 'relied on [her] readers' familiarity with the art', sympathising with the heroines' lack of real power but allowing them to win their own small victories using their only weapon: embroidery.

More on this another time. Maybe when I have actually read a book and am not just making it up in my head.

xx








Monday, 27 January 2014

six months on

hi guys

I was going to post more or less constantly about the trials and tribs of doing Warp and Weft stuff, but then I got caught up in actually doing it, and then I had a bit of a blip mental-health wise, and then it was Christmas and now it's now and I've actually more or less finished all 8 masks. There is more info about the project on our blog.

I don't want to give too much away but here are some secretive photies.




looking good, although not really in these pictures because my camera isn't working all that well any more.

So that's exciting. Here's the flyer for the show, in case you haven't seen it 5,000 other times on twitter and wherever.



do feel free to pass it around. We would really love you to come along and see all the masks in situ. It will mean a lot to us and it will blow your fucking mind.

I thought here I would say some stuff about the inspiration for the masks, crafts-wise. I had a murky idea about how I wanted them to look, and I have to say I've been heavily influenced by Jo Hamilton's crazily accurate crocheted portraits:




If you look on her website there are some mannequin masks which are a bit like my crochet ladymasks, which I hadn't seen before I started the project honest guv. Anyway she's a super talented needlewoman and I praise her highly. skill.

what else. this is Blanka Amezkua. She makes embroideries based on the way women are depicted in comic books, they're pretty cool. Embroidery not crochet, but what the hey, we're all craftswomen aren't we?


I'm also well into yarnbombing, if it's done creatively (none of this wet-scarf-round-a-lamppost eyesore-osity). I live on knithacker (they featured us last year! and my Ron Swanson monster a bit earlier which resulted in a possible meeting with the man himself) and there's loads of amazing cool ideas for getting knitting/crochet into the public realm.

finally I am in super love with Olek. You'll have seen pictures of her work on craft blogs and the internet generally: she makes crochet fabric in bright coloured camouflage patterns and uses it to yarnbomb tanks, bikes, people. She's a total dude and she dresses like she's crocheted herself every morning. Once she crocheted an entire flat, including all the people in it, and covered the walls with crocheted drunken sexts.


my favourite thing she ever did though, is this amazing installation 'The End is Far'. It's pink and glittery and the walls are covered in fussy, girly scrawled affirmations. There's CROCHETED GOLD SKELETONS in this piece. 


That'll do for now, not least because I can't think of anything else to say at the moment. Please come to the show if you can! and tweet about it and make me and Jenny famous! I want to do another post soon about the Art Party conference but realistically I will probably do it in June

xx




Sunday, 11 August 2013

warp and weft and masks and women

Hi guys

this is a new thing about a new project i'm doing with my mate Jenny, it is to do with feminism, yay! The town hall is full of statues and busts that look like this


and are big ol whiskery men. The thing is, as Jenny found out, in the golden olden days people who could afford to get statues done of themselves did - and there aren't ANY women in the Sculpture Hall, surprise!

Sooo we're doing a little proj whereby we celebrate notable Manc women throughout history, by temporarily covering up the men's faces and hiding them, behind massive badass crochet womanface masks. I'm doing the crocheting and Jen's boning up on her history and learning about some seriously astonishing women doing their bits for a better world. The official blog and info about our women etc, is at wearewarpandweft.wordpress.com but I'm going to post here now and again, so I can talk about my feelings and complain and swear and things.

Right so first off can I just say it is EXTREMELY difficult to make a mask which a) looks like a person's face, b) looks like an actual, real, specific person's face, c) fits over the completely different face of a manstatue with a stupid massive nose (and in one case a stupid massive BEARD) and d) isn't completely dreadful in every possible way. I'm not going to lie to you, it's very hard. At the moment I've given up on a) and b) and am focussing on c), after which I will attempt to do features and whatnot.

As for d) well time will tell won't it!

Here's some photos of eyes I have done so far.


this is Elizabeth Gaskell



this is Sylvia Pankhurst


this is Sunny Lowry (she looks angry)

I'm having most trouble with noses so that's why I've stopped at the 'masquerade ball' stage here. It's going okay now, I've got a few wonky noses sorted out. 

Another thing which is bothersome, is that I don't really have terribly great photos to work from, so I'm sort of guessing what they look like anyway. It's pretty hard and my motivation keeps wandering off and falling down the nearest drain. I am enjoying the process though, it's fun to try new things even when they are impossible. 

Some half-finished masks will be in PS Mirabel's Artifice exhibition curated by Aziza Mills at the end of August, so keep an eye out for that.

Ohh I'm sure it'll be fine. Join me next week for more worries and general chitchat!

xxxxxxxx





Saturday, 20 July 2013

something a bit different... and way overdue :(

hey beloved guys, I am distraught that I have not posted anything since FEBRUARY, I have been busy with work stuff and procrastinating, etc. Plus I haven't made anything much worth sharing UNTIL NOW (more on that later)

anyhoo those who know me well-ish or see me every day will know that I quite often wear clothes that I have customised myself or made out of perfectly reasonable other clothes - indeed quite a lot of my clothes have been butchered in some way. I like looking like a day glo tramp. WHATEVER mum

I've been making dresses out of big boy t shirts for years now and they're really great, for something you can buy for a couple of quid from a charity shop they're real comfy, pretty hard wearing and they look nice (I think).

here is my Pinterest-style internet craft tutorial with diagramzz. Also I get to show off my Paint skills.




to illustrate this better, here are some that I have made over the years (photos by Maddern)


made this about 6 years ago. two big boy t shirts and a bit of flowery jersey in the middle. also please note bit of red fabric added in to preserve modesty.


black t shirt dress for a party, instead of a second t shirt I crocheted round the bottom and collar with sparkly blue yarn, it's really short


this is made from a pink girl's top and two big boy t shirts. 


here the two navy t shirts didn't really match. Added the collar from an old top that had gone a weird shape.


big grey t shirts, baggy fit, cat.

there you go, the end. 

oh yeahh me and my friend Jenny are doing a project together, we are sorting out a blog for it and that. I will update here when it's all sorted. It's exciting, I'm being an artist.

see you in 6 months xxxx


Monday, 18 February 2013

how I learned to stop worrying and love live art

Hi guys. wow I can't believe I haven't posted anything in nearly two months, rubbish! I haven't had time to do anything much recently besides panic, so please do excuse.

Still haven't really done much worth talking about, but I want to sometimes do posts about other people's work instead of just mine. I think this is the first one.

This weekend I was lucky enough to go to In Between Time in Bristol, a city I had only briefly visited before. It's a live art/performance festival with participatory stuff thrown in. I have a very limited experience of live art and didn't really think I liked it. How my eyes and mind were blown wide open!

highlights:

1. The String Section performed by Reckless Sleepers: four ladies in black dresses and heels performing a symphony for wood and metal: basically, sawing the legs off chairs bit by bit whilst they were sitting on them. I liked this piece very much, it was quite uncomfortable but funny to watch them frantically destroying the structures that they needed to support them.





2. The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein - How to Become a Cupcake

Okay this one was a bit nuts and not at all what I was expecting: women in bras and tutus smearing food all over everywhere, yeah yeah I thought. I ended up really enjoying it though, just because of its apparently disorganised structure and the bit where the Famous becomes a real boy, and the bit where she dances to the Backstreet Boys over and over again while the other women squirt cream at her for about ten minutes. Thought this one was kind of aggressive, although I liked it. I didn't take any pictures because I was mesmerised by the sight of a naked woman on crutches weeing on a pile of popping candy. I am sure you can find pictures on the internet of that sort of thing if you like.

3. Holzinger and Riebeek - Kein Applaus fur Schiesse

ohhhh... this was the same day as the Famous, and I had seen so much human flesh and fluids by this point that when the whole pulling string out of a fandango/throwing up/weeing stuff happened (within 5 minutes) I was like, oh hooray. But this was THE BEST thing I saw all weekend! It was so sweet and warm and funny, such a delight. I have developed massive crushes on both of them and rekindled my love for Devendra Banhart. I came out feeling like I'd taken some giant drugs. I still have no idea why I liked it so much.

4. Silvia Rimat - If You Decide to Stay

No nudism in this one, just a nice lady dressed as a bunny, pondering on probability and chance, and celebrating the fact that we all went to see her show at that precise time with rum and nibbles. I did cry though, when she asked who would put sleeping pills in their children's lemonade at the end of the world, and no one said yes except me :(

Me and Oly took part in Kate McIntosh's Worktable in which I deconstructed a chamber pot with a crowbar.


Live art makes no sense to me, I can more or less grasp meaning from it, I enjoy it, I feel moved by it. Is that enough? I don't understand how it's constructed. I watched loads of hour-long shows that felt, to my uninitiated mind, like unconnected series of things indiscriminately wedged together in a sequence. Maybe it's just because I'm used to static images or something. If someone would like to talk to me about this I would be grateful.

Also while we were recovering from performance-fatigue, we wandered round beautiful Bristol and had a look at the graffiti on Nelson Street




this looks like a John Campbell?


Plus other things which I've forgotten. It was a great time and I feel like I'm changed forever. Until probably next week. Anyway I will try and write more soon, i will make something, I promise. don't leave me

xx




Sunday, 6 January 2013

the true meaning of #mousebiro

Yo yo, hope you are having a happy new year so far. I am distracting myself from a job application which is taking forever.

anyway I have been meaning to write something about this for ages, because it's great. Ages, ages, and more ages ago, I read somewhere that mice can squeeze through a gap the width of a biro tube (a quick google search reveals that this may or may not be true anyway, my favourite is this yahoo answers post - good old yahoo answers. 'What is a biro')

because I am a dumbo I took this to mean that mice can fit THROUGH an actual biro TUBE, like down the inside of the whole tube. Stupid. Anyway years later me and Maddern submitted it to Salle Pierre Lamy for their first ever (?) SPLARPY, check it out here (number 008). I was the clear winner thanks to the number of #mousebiro drawings generated, people were obviously incensed.


Check it, largely nicked off SPL's website:




 Oly (I suspect)
Anne-Marie
Me

Ellie Larke 

 Emily

 Joe List

 Joe Morris Jnr

Maddern (aka MOUSEBIRO DENIER)

 Llinos

 Marie

Karen (my favourite)


Mike (at v interesting work meeting)

Me again

Bryce

Ruby

Sophie

Laura (aka rolaricho, check out her drawings MAINTENANT)


French Amazon


Awesome yes? So I won the argument and therefore mice CAN fit through biros, in your face science.

I wanted to make something mousebiro related and still do, but I haven't yet, I am cooking something up. I am NOT cooking a mouse, I don't mean. Mice have appeared sporadically in my work, since I was at uni and the whole 'people disguised as mice/mice with suckers on their feet' thing I was obsessed with, that doesn't make as cute a hashtag, but this is the sort of thing:






I only have crap photos but anyway. 

Okay so if you've been paying attention you know I made Maddern #mousebiro socks for Christmas:


And and and! Oly, my good buddy from work, MADE me the most awesome #mousebiro picture for my not-very secret Santa present! Oh my lord. Look at THIS



Whoooooooo yeahh! Now all I have to do is get a REAL one from wonder-taxidermist Fiona Campbell. I asked her to make one, and she said she would :) 

Okay ENOUGH but you have not seen the end of this phenomenon. It's BIG
xxx