While in Turkey, we visited the ancient city of Bergama. Our B&B host drove us up to the magnificent ruins overlooking the city, and said we could easily walk back down later, going through a hole in the fence. We did, and passed this decrepit abandoned house. I went in, and carefully explored, and found 2 old textiles, even more decrepit than the house:
Back home, washed and photographed, I had great fun playing with them (I consider the business side of art - shipping work, entering shows, etc, - to be work. Actually DOING the art - thinking, researching, sewing and sewing - is my play, my fun, my addiction).
I had taken these textiles out of Turkey. Now I needed to give them their context of time and history. I sewed the blanket remnant over white cloth (to create a visual edge) and tan wool (another edge, and stability). I tried to suggest the blanket as a house, adding embedded clothespin 'people' and a keyplate on the door. The slightly darker background has dyed, embroidered linens covering a layer of crochet. So, like Turkey, it has many layers.
I used the same sort of multi-layered background for the scarf. The white layer directly under it is part of an old faded quilt. Here, I focused on just preserving the remnant, patching it with various nettings.
Turkey was the second trip my sister and I took together. On our first trip, to Ireland, I had also found textile remnants. During the Great Famine in Ireland, in 1845, many farms were abandoned. Throughout the countryside, you can still see the stone remains of the farmhouses.
As we drove along, we saw one old house being restored - and there was a big pile of dirt and weeds and everything that had been dug out of the ruins! We stopped the car, I dug right in, and found a couple of beautiful glass bottles and parts of very old shoes - the kind which were made by hand, with tiny nails. Wrapped in plastic, I managed to get it all back home and did a great deal of washing and careful drying, and sewed the shoe fragments.....
..together with photos (printed on cloth) of headstones and an overgrown wall, and an embroidered cloth, dyed green:
The result was Remains (35"h x 27"w)
I asked a young woman (visiting from Pakistan) what the biggest difference was between her country and ours. "Oh, there is no sense of history here!" At the time, we were in Philadelphia, one of the most historic cities we have. But I understood: I had been to Turkey. Turkey is a country where small shops are operating in the ruins of ancient Roman arches:
History is a breathable presence here. The ancient is everywhere. Old walls built with even-older temple fragments. The daily market adjacent to the Grand Bazaar. At the time, the city was trying to dig a subway....very slow going, because of all the archaeological material. My sister and I stayed in a lovely hotel that shared a wall with an ancient domed structure.
Each generation had appropriated the past for it's own uses, and erased what it didn't like:
I'd seen statues with broken noses, but some of these had their faces chiseled away. Carved in stone did NOT mean permanent. At Ephesus, I saw a mosiac floor...and in the corner, the older mosaics still underneath.
I became viscerally aware of history at a new, deeper level....and it affected my art. As always, I was carrying some small pieces to work on. These 2 were handkerchiefs with embedded objects, which I had been stitching down. Now I started cutting away - 'looting' my art, in the same way that so much history has been looted.
When I returned home, I finished these 2 and mounted them over frames. Then I started on a big piece, Looted Artifacts (57"h x 37"w):
I used the same thermofax screens as the ones used for Formal Argument: directions for knitting, crochet and mending. Printing them with discharge paste allowed me to get lighter letters on the darker fabric. So...we have here a field of printed knowledge overlaying various objects related to that knowledge, and by cutting out the objects - by looting them - the knowledge has been vandalized. The remnants of 2 architectural personas are falling to ruin in the foreground.
I also tried a looted version of Domestic Markings (2009), but I used a dark gray top layer, which doesn't have enough contrast. If I get a second life-time, I'll re-do it.
As of today, my blog goes to 3 x per week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And now, I'm heading down to my basement dye studio, to spend the day listening to NPR, drinking iced tea and slowly painting thickened dye onto cotton...hey, that's my idea of a good time!