Tapestry Topics Online
A Quarterly Review of Tapestry Art Today

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Summer 2006, Vol 32 No 2

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Door, Pathways, Journeys, Seeds

(...continued)

Dorothy Clews: "Seeds of change"

As the idea [of the compost tapestries] gained in substance, I realised that we had created the opportunity to look at tapestry in a a new way, a chance to find new meaning in our work, I found that my vocabulary changed when referring to the composted tapestries.   They were 'planted' not buried.  ...Change became of major importance to this project, not just the physical change in the tapestries, but also the gradual evolution of the concepts.  Lack of control and the abandonment of preconceived ideas were critical factors.  Soon after the tapestries were planted, the earth went under six inches of water for several weeks, with the real potential for a flood to pass through the area.  Rocks were put on the site to reinforce the stick markers, and to stop the water from washing the soil and the tapestries away.
above: Dorothy Clews, Seed I, before planting, 6cm x 9cm.  Warp: seine twine, weft: cotton, linen, viscose, silk.
below: Dorothy Clews, Seed II, before planting, 6cm x 9cm. Warp: seine twine, weft: viscose.
above: Dorothy Clews, Seed III, before planting, 6cm x 9cm. Warp: seine twine, weft: linen, mercerised cotton.

Initially the idea of mark making interested me, but once the tapestries were dug up I came to realise that the destruction process was more interesting; Discussion on the mounting of the tapestries, between the two of us and on the tapestry list, lead again to contemplating the idea of conservation, both of tapestries and of the natural landscape.  I decided that what most appealed to me was their fragmentary nature, and that the tapestries would go back into the ground to continue the disintegration process, with me digging them up and photographing them, according to the weather that we experience over the next few months.

above: Dorothy Clews, Seed I after planting.
below: Dorothy Clews, Seed II after planting.
above: Dorothy Clews, Seed III after planting.

The tapestry "Stitch" was started just before the compost tapestries were buried.  It was originally a rectangular panel, but midway, after I dug the compost tapestries up, it changed dramatically into a shaped, lacelike, fragmented landscape.  The structure of the tapestry ‘disintegrates’ through the techniques of wrapping single warps and using slits and shaping.

above: Dorothy Clews, Stitch,  120 cm. x 35 – 45cm.
below: Dorothy Clews, detail of Stitch

The Cycle

By Lany Eila

– TT p.10-11

In developing this work, I wanted to contemplate both the fact of impermanence as well as the survivors' reactions to it.  Yet, no image felt strong enough.  Suddenly I realized that perhaps the medium of tapestry itself is an apt metaphor for our perilous lives. …We are constructing these lives and tapestries from inherently fragile materials… To move forward, I first had to face impermanence in my own tapestries. I un-hemmed a number of small tapestries I had woven over the course of many yeas, ironed fusing material onto their backs and cut them up. …My goal was to arrange them in a way that was artful while appearing random…[It is] hard…to appear both artful and random. 

above: Lany Eila, Fragments, 59" x 37" x 8.5"

What happens after things fall apart?  We rebuild again, using the same fragile materials, with the same hope that this time it will last.  I created a cartoon for a new tapestry from a photo of the fragments piece, modifying it to simplify the elements and create more cohesion than had existed. … The first attempt is now a separate tapestry called "Look at the Bright Side".

above: Lany Eila, Look on the Bright Side, 28.5" x 17.75"
above: Lany Eila, The Cycle: Best Laid Plans Unravel, Memory Reweaves, the Moths Arrive, and the Cycle Continues, installed diptych, 59" x 60" x 8.5": Fragments, 59" x 37" x 8.5", Memory, 25" x 19.5"

For the second tapestry, I chose design elements and colors from the fragments, then worked them over and over again in Photoshop to more closely examine memory, reconstruction, what is lost, what is retained, and the ghosts that remain.  [It] is hung to the right of the fragmentary piece, to indicate a sequence of time. As a final step, several moths are embroidered into the new tapestry, indicating a continuation of the cycle.

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