about this project
this project was started in January 2010 and was intended just for the one time showing at the conference Textures (June, Riga, Latvia, 2010). Since I received requests from other people who would like to participate, I decided to create a new place for it and let it continue... Anybody is welcome to add a new story in fiber one, two, three dimensional, not too big in a size (between 20x20x20 and 50x50x50 cm). The written story about the piece is optional but will be appreciated to the level you wish to share it. Every submission will be documented on this blog.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The Collapse of Infinite Joy
A sculpture by Inga Hamilton aka rockpool candy
I am lucky enough to experience boundless amounts of true, deep and enduring love every day.
But I had never experienced unconditional love before I met Grand Duke Eduardo Bonzo Doo Dah Frogmorten the Brave. (You can call him Eddie for short.)
A rescue dog, Eddie stole our hearts the moment we saw him. He’s quick, intelligent, funny, cheeky, energetic, affectionate, beautiful, and the sort of dog that could sniff mischief at 100 paces.
I have an auto-immune condition, angio-oedema, that makes me acutely allergic to varied items on the planet. Cats trigger it, but we were unsure of dogs. We spent weeks visiting Eddie in his rescue pound to acclimatise me. The decision to adopt Eddie was a long, drawn-out process of checks on my health. But I seemed fine.
We were so nervous bringing the little guy home. Would he like living with us? Could we offer enough love to undo his previous mistreatment? Could we make him happy?
What we didn’t realise was how much we needed him. There is nothing like being greeted by another sentient being that is so happy to see you, he nearly wags his backside off!
But by day two, of Eddie living with us, I noticed that I was beginning to drop things.
By day three, serious fatigue was setting in.
Day four brought memory problems.
Day five; numbness in my right-hand side.
Day six; balance problems.
And within the week, I’d begun to lose the sight in my right eye. My angio-oedema causes the plasma to leak from my veins, in this case pooling in my skull behind my eye and pressing on my optic nerve. I was having trouble walking and the right side of my face was palsied. I was allergic to the protein in Eddie’s saliva.
Against my judgement, my husband chose me over the dog. Eddie went back to the rescue home amid floods of tears from us both. A depressed cloud fell on our house for weeks. Tears flowed freely. Hearts broke and broke again. I grieved as much for Eddie as I did my father. My husband wept like a child lost.
‘The collapse of Infinite Joy’ is crocheted from yarn that I dyed and spun in all the colours of little Eddie; deep tan, soft white, shiny black and a little pink dot here and there! It’s plied with a silky white commercial mohair – a yarn that I’m allergic to.
Beginning as a tightly-bound infinite loop the same size as Eddie curled up in my arms, it begins to drop down, winding itself smaller and smaller, as the fear of giving Eddie up wound tighter and tighter in my gut. The stitches get larger and larger as I had to spend more and more time away from him, locked in another room.
Finally, the piece unravels and is wrenched apart. The bottom threads are always wet.
Our hearts will always relish the enormous amount of love Eddie gave us in just the tiny amount of time we knew him.
And Eddie? He was adopted the very next day, by a little old lady who fell in love with him at first sight. She goes walking in the hills of Northern Ireland every day with Eddie by her side, where there are more than enough rabbit holes to keep the little bleeder ecstatically happy.
Last week I received a big box with yarn. My relative is sorting out a house of a woman she cared for. Now Vera who is 99 and legally blind, after heart attack she suffered around New Years, has moved to the nursing home. She has agreed that her yarn will no more be of use for her and it can be sent to me. From the contents of the box I could make an exhibit of development of different yarn companies, their old labels. Vera was born in Latvia and came to this country as a refugee after WWII, most of her life she worked as a nurse. I can imagine her in long night shifts in the hospital to keep herself awake she was occupying herself with handiwork. Among those different balls and skeins of yarn I found a bag with carefully saved some little pieces she was trying patterns out for possible projects. I understand very well the idea of saving them - if I will need them one day?
I could not discard them - as people before me could not either. So I put them all together and I am adding them to our fiber story as Vera's submission "Projects once started..." When I look at them I have to think about all projects I have had in my mind and about the day when I will have to realize that not all projects can be completed, from some of them only bits and pieces will be left to tell the story.
'This is the land that gave birth to me...'
I wanted to make something sculptural that gave a feeling of the earth on which I live in this ancient land of Australia - a continent that has been inhabited by humans much, much, longer than Europe. The red wool perfectly captures the red earth in many parts of Australia and would you believe, the wool comes out of my stash and from Iceland of all places! I also wanted to give the feeling of mountains and forests and different strata of landscape. I love the fact that this fibre object is changeable, like the landscape over thousands of years, and it can be folded and shaped and moulded according to its inherent energy. I feel that it's a very feminine object. When you touch it ... when you feel it... it feels quite primitive yet soft and archetypally 'woman' - perhaps it's the folds, the mysterious recesses. I decided to leave the textile endings and not tie them off or hide them... they are little bits of energy... elements that show the makeup of the object. At first, I was amazed at how it came into being as I purposely chose not to begin with any plan but to simply pick up the hook and fibre and open myself to its creation. When it seemed that it was finished I became instantly attached to it and felt it would be hard to part with it. But now, a day or two later, I can release it out into the world and it will end up wherever it wants to live..... if I had to name it, I think I would say: 'This is the land that gave birth to me...' because when I have left it for any length of time to travel overseas as soon as the plane is over Australia I feel it.... it's as though I am above a vast magnetic field that sings to me, calls me home... I am always very moved at the sight of it, and the feel of it, because it is so powerful and so mythic.....
This is how I feel about privacy...
Okay, so this piece consists of a replica of a Babylonian tablet. On it, I have "written" personal information about me, and dates that are both deeply personal and widely known. But, they are encrypted in a script not many people can read and in base 60 on top of that. On the other hand, it is easy to learn to read it. So the information is both private and not private. The tablet should look like it is peeking out of the fabric; I made it from an old pajama top - an article of clothing that is profoundly intimate. But cut into a long ribbon and knit into a sort of stiff thick sock, instead of it's former loose and flowing texture, loses that sense of secrecy and sexuality.
This is how I feel about fragility and persistence...
This piece consists of three models of circulant graphs. I am fascinated by how fragile they look (and are, because my sons have destroyed many of them) and also by persistent the materials are. Plastics are virtually indestructible, as the plastic vortex in the Pacific has made crystal clear, and the floss is made from cotton. Archaeologists have discovered examples of cotton cloth that are 5000 years old.
The Last Frontier - Us ; explorations on the journey of s/Self.
Expressing the journey in fibre with the intent to engage the senses.
A work in progress.
Polyester batting * was vibrantly hand spun on a Louet S10 wheel to provide a yarn which is representative of the energy of our being(s).
*The polyester was chosen with a nod to repurposing items such as pop cans into fibre/cloth etc., but mostly because my many years of playing with fibre, rough and dusty and wonderfully natural fibre like rope and hemp and ripped-into-strips fabric and raw fleece and dog hair and itchy wool etc. has led to a need to consider the respiratory system and (try to) limit the playing to amiable options.
The Last Frontier was knit from this lively yarn with little or no attempt to tame or straighten it: acceptance.
Eleven stitches were cast on to #7 needles: numbers intrigue me and master double digits such as 11, 22 etc. often figure in my work; the #7 needles felt right with which to start and were selected by browsing through the vessels which contain the waiting-in-the-wings needles with both eyes and hands until a pair felt right with regard to size, colour and content - #7, yellow, vintage plastic.
The piece loosened as the knitting progressed - with the expression of journeying being focused upon - both with relaxation of the knitting technique and letting go the resistance to the self-consciousness of expression and deciding to move up – or down - needle size(s) at will and whim : expansion.
Then came the wish to use even bigger needles and eliminate what was coming between me and the means of expression – the knitting needles themselves.
In the past I have knit using my arms as the needles and decided to do so again. Arms provide a most immediate and satisfying contact and interaction with the fibre and the process.
There is also an ongoing contentment at having solved the problem of not having had a hand ‘free’ to throw the yarn as one does when knitting with two needles separate from the body: the dominant hand reaches through the next stitch and then down to scoop up the length of yarn attached to the ball bringing it back up and through that stitch and then looping it onto the arm of the dominant hand.
The eleven original stitches had been transferred from the last knitting needle onto my left arm and were knit across to the right arm using the method just described. Then I knit back using the left hand as the dominant hand and then forward using the right again, etc. Back-and-forth-knitting. I likely knit the backward part with the left hand going into the back of the stitch as I usually do in back-and-forth-knitting which results in stockingette stitch (I can also knit back in knit stitches and produce the garter stitch pattern) but I do not recall this now and this inability to remember pleases me : doesn’t matter; humour.
Knowing when to quit was the next question and the answer came about as I would stop now and stop then and ask if the feeling of knowledge had yet bumped into the feeling of wisdom and when it did – I stopped.
The stitches are not cast off – this is a work in progress/process – so a clear piece of nylon fishing line was used to secure the last row and the last of the yarn ball was left joined.
I had considered taking the last row of stitches off my arm and letting them unravel as they might or could or would in their part of Story in Textures but it felt more right to keep them in the tactile state as they had left me.
So here it is. Meant to convey how I was feeling in expressing this journey of the last frontier.
Playing with fibre
Victoria BC Canada
I have finished my own piece -
those are mixed feelings about moving to US and time spent in academia. As I wrote before, the wool I used came from worn out woolen socks. Moving to US for me was like taking apart my previous life and trying to re-knit it in something new. Yes, I became known as a creator of crocheted hyperbolic plane model, therefore one of them made it on this piece also. I am not hiding all the knots in the piece because I have had many knots I had to deal with on my way.
The rest of it... well, it was the purpose of this whole project that I would make a piece and could say - this is how I feel...
so here it is (more pictures in the album):
when I came to US as proper Latvian I had in my luggage woolen socks for me and my little daughters. Some socks were knitted by myself, some by other relatives. Latvians have a proverb that "one cannot his/hers life to take apart like an old sock and re-knit it again". Children grew out of their little socks, my ones became worn out , and I took them apart to save the yarn. My life in US had to be re-knit, so I decided that it is very appropriate to use for my part in this project the yarn from our old socks.
Monday, July 5, 2010
It was the very first evening of the conference Textures on June 15 - even not all participants had arrived yet in Riga or were fighting jet lag (particularly people who came from US, Japan or Australia). My keynote was the only event before the opening reception, so I was not sure how big will be my audience. But Soros auditorium in Riga Economics School was almost full. Since this lecture was opened to general public, I was happy to see not only the conference participants.
The time for the display of our project was not long - before the lecture I had quickly to set it up with David's help.
But after the lecture people did not rush immediately downstairs to the reception. As you can see they stopped to see the display. Link to the former "webplace" of this project was to all participants well before the conference. (In a foreground you can see some of my mathematical models.)
All the fiber stories are back with me now in Ithaca, including two new ones - Inga gave me her submission in Dublin and Tija gave it to me in Riga. These stories I will add to the rest of our account.
Thank you all very very much for the time and thoughts you put into all these stories. It meant a lot to me that you decided to support my idea for the reasons I do not wish to describe here but some of you know very well. Now I am thinking about making another piece to add which should be about the support of friends.
I will move here all the stories from the previous site since this is more user friendly and do not require joining another social network. Please let other people who might be interested to know, particularly if you think that doing something with fibers can help them.
But today, feeling guilty for not having nice pictures from express show in Riga, I took all our pieces out to the lakeside. I felt like you all were with me!
Somebody (is Andy Goldsworthy in the area?) had made this intricate stone sculpture. First I thought of placing our project around it but that would mean to get some of our pieces wet or possibly destroying the sculpture.
I decided to place our pieces on the shore.