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Falling in love again

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There haven’t been many posts recently as I have been finishing things off and there hasn’t been much to report, but suddenly I have quite a lot to post about.

This is a big project from my work on Laura Ashley.  I made a start on it ages ago and just didn’t like what I’d done.  The colours were too pastel for me.  But a couple of months ago I got it out of the box and started again, and for some reason, I totally fell in love with it.  So, I have done a lot more work and the piece is almost ready.

As usual with my work it is made in panels.  These were inspired by the printed panels from Quilters’ Trading Post.  They are fashion plates of Regency costumes, which I have combined with Laura Ashley fabric and lots of fabric samples including silk and embroidered wool, and lace.  Again, a lot of the fabric would otherwise have gone into landfill, so there is recycling and upcycling involved.

My interest in Laura Ashley was originally in the seventies with the milk maid and country cottage ranges, but I have become increasingly interested in her later product ranges and the way in which everything became much grander and country house-y.   There is some nice scholarly work about the brand coming out of it, which I will outline at some point, but this project is about the airy muslin loveliness of the Jane Austen type view of the eighteenth century, which will be contrasted with the gruesome Hogarth vision.

For the moment, though, this is the pretty top.

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This is fly stitch done in a wine-red Madeira luna thread which has a lot of wool in it.  The second part of the stitch is done through a clear bugle bead.  The little dots are done with colonial knots which are much easier and reliable than french knots and give a nice dimple in the middle.

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These are pieces of old-ish lace over silk samples.  I love stitching through this thick upholstery silk because it is so crisp.

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This is a lovely bit of tiered lace, with some composite embroidery from Judith Montano Baker’s Elegant Stitches, which is a fantastic source book for embroidering crazy quilts.  These panels are essentially well-ordered crazy pieces.

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I used this panel to work in a piece of my favourite Laura Ashley fabric, the swan print:

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More of the panels to come.

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What I did at the weekend

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These are really not very good photographs of the work I did on the new Laura Ashley piece.  I have had a big burst of interest in this quilt, and I am wondering if it is because the other large piece has gone.  There is a lot about at the moment on the subject of decluttering.  One idea is that you have to clear out old stuff to let the new in.  I wonder if I had to let go of that piece, which had every technique I knew at the time in it, and completely wiped out my bead collection, in order to produce something new.

Anyway, I spent a couple of hours yesterday working with scraps of cloth to put together the foundation for two panels.  Again this is mainly fabric which would be in landfill if it hadn’t ended up on one of these pieces, although the Regency prints are commercially produced.

I wanted a record of how they looked before I started really working on them.  The pinkier one has some embroidery already, but the bluer one is at the very beginning.  The minute the embellishment starts to go on they really change.  All of my embellished quilts are like Vegas showgirls – nothing much until they put on the bling and step out into the lights.

I will post again when I have made some progress on them, and it’s good to have some hand-stitching to do again in these long, dark winter nights.

 

 

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Relaunching the Laura Ashley quilt

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I have had a new lease of life with my Laura Ashley project.  My huge Body Shop/Anita Roddick quilt has finally gone to its new home and this seems like a good time to make a start on the large Laura Ashley piece.  As ever it will be made in panels because this is only way I can manage something as big and heavy.  I will post pictures of the other panels I have soon, but wanted to show you a finished one based on the outlines of clothes.

So many of the scraps that I stared my patchwork career were fents – the bits that are leftover from cutting out pattern pieces – that they keep on creeping into this project.  This is a page from a sketchbook project where they re-emerged:

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This panel is all hand-stitched and I had a good time manipulating the fabric using a kantha type stitch which relies on running stitch in parallel rows to ripple the fabric:

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I also really enjoyed using stem stitch.  I have never been able to do this until I got a lesson from the fantastic Tanya Bentham.  I love in this picture – where I am playing with the idea of the red thread which binds us all together – the way that the stem stitch sits on top of the kantha-y stuff:

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Really, though in this post, I just wanted to post some pictures taken in very strong sunlight.  One reason is that this is so rare.  It is dark, cold, grey and wet here, so a crisp sunny day is a real luxury.  I have posted before, however, about how much I love to photograph my work when there are strong shadows and contrast.  I love it because in close-up (with the wonderful new camera) the textiles take on a sculptural look:

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I will post a bit more about this panel, but I know that some people read my blog on Sunday afternoons, and I wanted to have some nice pictures for them.

 

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Latest Laura Ashley panel

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I have started doing some work with Laura Ashley fabric again.  This time there is no rush.  It’s not for an exhibition or a conference paper, so I can take as long as I like.

It started with one of the fents – or waste trimmings from the manufacturing process, and then I added some extra elements which I bought from one of the traders at the exhibition in Malvern that I went to a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the trader.  Much as I would love to say that I dyed the lace myself, I bought it, and it went instantly and magically with the Laura Ashley floral – which is the dark green fabric.

I laid out all the elements, but in the course of sewing everything shifted a bit and I ended up with a different arrangement in the end.  Here are the initial layouts with the Madeira Lana thread that I intended to use to do the stitching:

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This is what it looked like at the end:

 

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I bought the buttons in the summer in a great shop in Utrecht (which is every bit as nice as Amsterdam but without the museums – and the crowds and the frantic-ness).  They are big, but I thought they worked.

The piece really came together, though, when I realised that it was basically a variation on a Victorian crazy quilt.  So I did a lot of embroidery on it, including herringbone stitch, which I consider to be one of the most relaxing things in the world to do:

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While I was poking around the internet looking at pictures of crazy quilts and fancy embroidery stitches, I found some sage advice about not bothering whether the embroidery is absolutely perfect because it reflects your energy at the point at which you were doing it.  I rather like this.  My slightly wonky herringbone is a bit like my signature and the opposite of mass made.  There isn’t any machine stitching on this one, it is all done by hand.  And, as with a lot of my work, it seemed to come to life when I started to stitch on some beads:

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The big pearl beads are stuck on as they must have come from a necklace which was taken to pieces at some point.  This makes the piece a bit fragile, but I think the sparkle justifies it.

The netting, by the way, always suggests textile conservation to me, as professional restorers often use it patch up very fragile pieces of cloth, so this fits into my theme of conservation and preserving the past.

I really enjoyed making this piece and it has spurred me on to make some more panels and to produce a large piece about the importance of nostalgia in the brand.

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Public engagement – Thinking Futures Workshop and Glamorgan Quilters

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It has been one of the busiest two weeks of my life, which is why I haven’t posted anything recently.  First my lovely PhD student, Zara, had her viva.  Although this is her oral exam on her thesis, I was quietly nervous as there is no way of predicting what questions will come up.  I had prepared her as well as I could with my colleague, Mary, but there is still unpredictability involved.  In the event she sailed through it and the examiners loved her work.  I am delighted for her.

Then, the following day, I went and gave a talk to the Glamorgan Quilters.  They are a lovely group and a delight to talk to.  One of them gave me some tiny scraps of Laura Ashley fabric which I don’t have in my collection and which I intend to do something with.  Another member brought this lovely bag to show me:

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I love everything about this bag.  The piece is like a time capsule of what we were doing in the 70s and 80s and the handles are just delightful as is the quilter who brought it along.

After the talk I went into Cowbridge with one of my colleagues, Sheena, who had come along to support me.  She took me to a sort of indoor antiques/vintage market with a tea room on the side.  I got a packet of Laura Ashley prints, and somehow managed to spend £17 without blinking.  We had a great time.  Cowbridge is the place to go for swanky dress and shoe shops, by the way.  I got off lightly in retrospect with my £17.

Wednesday was my Thinking Futures Day.  This is part of a ten-day-long programme of events put on by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law in which we try to reach people who wouldn’t normally come into the University to hear about our research.  I did a workshop on patchwork and quilting and the contribution that quilters make to the fabric of our culture and society.  I held it at the Friends Meeting House where Bristol Quilters meets, and we had two wonderful speakers, Harriet Shortt from UWE, and Jenny Hall from Bournemouth University.  They were both great, speaking very passionately about their work.  I talked a bit about the academic study of patchwork and quilting, and gave an update on my Laura Ashley research.  I notice there are a lot of ‘I’s and ‘me’s’ in that paragraph, but really it was a communal day.

I really wanted it to be a bit of a party for Bristol Quilters, to celebrate their contribution to society, as well as to my research.  So, we, my Grate Frend Ceri, and I tried to add some little touches to make it feel like a series of small treats as well as an educational day.  Ceri made these wonderful biscuits:

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The stamp set comes from Lakeland.  These were a great hit.  I made parkin, which I always associate with Bonfire Night which is when we held the workshop.  Alison, Stephanie and Ceri contributed homemade cakes and biscuits and traybakes for afternoon tea.   Ceri and I had already had an afternoon making posies for the table, and in the process realising that a second career as florists was probably not for us:

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This is the pile of things I had to take in for the day:

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We were aiming for amplitude and generosity:

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As well as cake and sandwiches, there were notebooks for taking notes in the morning, and cards with vintage fabric and needles ready-threaded in the afternoon.  I’ll post some pictures of those separately.  There was also fabric very kindly donated by Flo-Jo in Bristol in the afternoon for our sewing bee:

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People worked on a variety of things, but the most popular were the little coverlets for the premature babies unit in Southmead Hospital in Bristol.  These are 16″x20″ unwadded patchworks which we donate to the unit.  The mothers get to keep the quilts no matter what the outcome, and there is always a demand for a steady stream of replacement quilts.  They are exactly the right size for a group project like this.  Although I think only one top was finished completely, Ruth Case, one of the Bristol Quilters, very generously volunteered for finishing duty.

Here are some more images from the day:

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And here is my friend Beatriz talking to Eva, the organiser:

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I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked of the speakers because I was too busy listening, but here is the marvellous Jenny  and her quilt:

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And I didn’t have my camera when Harriet was speaking so this is a photograph of a doll that her mother made of her in her wedding dress that she brought to show us:

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Finally, I spend a lot of time trying to find writers who have something sensible and useful to say about leadership.  There isn’t much out there, I think, that isn’t about people desperate to justify wanting to be in charge.  They should hang their heads in shame and come and look at the self-managing teams which effortlessly formed, performed and disbanded throughout the day, without my having to ask, to make sure that everything went smoothly.  Not least of these were the tea and coffee makers and the washers-up, real unsung heroic examples of distributed leadership.  Thanks to all of them:

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Latest additions to my Laura Ashley project

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First of all, I am very sorry about the long gap between this post and the last one.  I know a high proportion of people like to read the blog on Sunday afternoons, and I haven’t been providing you with your reading lately.  This has been due to the pressures of the day job – the start of term is always a lot of hard work, and various everyday life things which have required a lot of time and energy.  But I am back.

One of the things that I have been working on is the Laura Ashley project, particularly the gift element, which I will post on later.  I have also been working on ideas about taking the idea of art as research seriously.  What would it mean if we did produce pieces of art rather than written academic papers?  What would happen to the field of study, and to our careers?  John Dewey, one of the great authorities on education, said that communities which do not produce art are deficient.  But what happens if we try to address this?  And, on the other hand, what happens if we reduce the art to mere decoration or illustration?

Well, a small element of my Laura Ashley project has been to produce some illustrations for some of the stories I have collected while doing my research – often when speaking to quilting groups.  These are pictures taken with my swanky new camera, which are great, but could have done with better light.  I am still experimenting with it, so please bear with me.

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This was my trial piece.  I often make a dry run sample to get my self sorted out if there is machine stitching to be done.  That’s why this one has no legs – she was just made with an offcut which suggested the shape of the dress.  It is a really bright piece of probably 80s fabric so I reversed it to give a more vintage look.  Her hair is another of my beloved furnishing fabric samples.  The are probably about 2×3 inches:

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The faces are all made of curtain lining, and once again, just about everything here is made from fabric which would have gone into landfill.

So here are the illustrations.

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I wore a dark Laura Ashley dress for a family New Year’s Eve party and it was the only time my brother-in-law ever told me I looked beautiful.

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Every time we have a big family party for a birthday or an event I add another flag to the bunting and it’s almost always Laura Ashley fabric.

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I went on a really romantic walk on the Downs with a new boyfriend.  I was wearing a really full Laura Ashley skirt and a bee flew up it.

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I made a Laura Ashley dress to go to college dance, and I made a matching tie for my then boyfriend who is now my husband.

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I made tablecloths and napkins for all the big family events and celebrations.

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My daughter wanted a very simple wedding.  The bridesmaids wore purple Laura Ashley dresses.  Years later we discovered the marriage had not been legal.

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I got married in a Laura Ashley sailor dress.

One of the things I really like about this technique is that as Janet Clare, whose workshop gave me the idea, says, you just don’t know who will turn up.  When you start to stitch the faces all sorts of people appear:

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This one has a slight look of Lady Diana.

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This one looks like someone in my office who is on maternity leave.

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The woman in this one looks like a local historian of note.  And I am pleased that I got just a hint of smugness.

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This one doesn’t look like anyone, but does look like she is in danger of growing a moustache.

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This one has a look of those 70s folk singers like Grace Slick.

 

I really liked the tie story.  It reminded me of an old American practice I read about somewhere in which the women going to a dance would make a tie in the fabric of their ballgowns and the men would pull out a tie blindfolded.  They then had to partner the woman who matched their tie, as it were:

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So, I had lots of fun making these, and I think the illustrations suit the subject very well.  I am thinking of putting together a self-published picture book with longer versions of the stories.  I will be interested to see if they are accepted as legitimate research.  I think I know the answer.

 

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War Collars project

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I have spent quite a lot of the summer at conferences presenting my research to my colleagues.  One of the new projects for this year was on the connection between suits of armour and contemporary men’s business suits.  Both are about protection and display, and both are designed for men.  Women fit very badly into business suits just like they fit uneasily with big organisations.  My explanation for this is that organisations are arenas for men’s aggression, real or symbolic, micro-aggressions as they are known in the sociology business and women have no place in men’s quasi aggression (consider women’s football, cricket, rugby, boxing).  You can decide whether you agree with this or not, but whenever I listen to my corporate friends talking about their cars I always think of the scene in `Henry V where the Dauphin and his knights boast about their horses.  Anyway, according to this logic, women going into the corporate fray need their own sort of protection, so I thought it would be interesting to make some gorgets for them, based on an element of plate armour:

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Gorgets were the piece of armour that protected the throat.  The throat is a vulnerable area, and also produces the voice, which so many women find gets silenced in organisations, hence the old New Yorker joke, ‘That’s an excellent idea, Miss Jones, perhaps one of the men would like to suggest it.’  So, I decided to make some gorgets with the proviso that they had to be just about wearable.  More about this project later, but I wanted to start with the second one I made, which I call the ‘Money Gorget’.  The finished piece is at the top of the post.

I started with a piece of fabric made from remnants of previous projects which I had started and then abandoned:

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These were rough strips of blue, woven loosely together then tacked down onto a piece of Laura Ashley needlecord.  Then, for some unknown reason, I started to do seeding all over it with thick yellow perle cotton.  What a stupid idea.  Very hard on the hands.  But the little yellow marks look like tumbling coins when you step back a bit.  I added some more stitching with Madeira’s lovely lana thread which has a high wool content and so makes quite a nice firm mark and comes in really good subtle colours which tone down my preference for fuschia and lime:

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I outlined the pattern with tacking stitches and then filled it in with stitching.

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Then I began to cover it with smoky acrylic gems that I collected from a flashy top.  There is a custom in my part of Bristol of leaving things on the wall for others to take if they can use them, and I picked up the top on a walk with the dog.  Fantastic to find so many gems for free:

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Finally, I lined the piece and then stitched some cube beads on with buttonhole, using a technique that I learned from Laura Kemshall, and the whole thing sprang to life and suddenly looked very finished:

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These cube beads used to be violently expensive so you could only do a bit of the edge, but they seem to have come right down in price.

I finished it off with a secret pocket on the back for messages of encouragement and support:

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Which is the fabric without any embellishment.  I made the strap with a chain necklace in Sainsbury’s sale – and you could see why – which fitted well and makes it look like the more ceremonial hanging gorget you see after plate armour was no longer widely used in battle.

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The idea behind this piece is to prompt thought about how bad women still are about talking about money.  The grey gems obscure the coins, but the money is still there.  Maybe I should put some cash in the secret pocket and see if that has any effect.

Here’s the workbook page for those of you who like sketchbooks:

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What I did at the weekend

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On Saturday the Medieval Historian and I went to the Gwent Quilters.  This was a return visit for me, and I wondered why the MH was quite so keen to come with me.  Then I remembered the lovely lunch they put on as part of their summer party.  Even the dog enjoyed his doggy bag on our return.

I really enjoyed being with them again; they are a really great bunch: full of fun and passionate about their craft.  I also enjoyed wearing my presentation shoes:

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The adrenaline of doing the talk means you don’t notice that you are tottering about in these so you can break them in fairly painlessly, and they are really good fun to wear, as I would imagine pattens were in the past, like this detail from the Arnolfini Marriage:

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There are two things I want to think about with regard to my visit.  The first is that their website is particularly good (http://gwentquilters.weebly.com/).  It has a lovely gallery of their work which is very accomplished.  They have a star member, Diana Brockway who produces stunning work, but the group a a whole is very skilled.  I really recommend it.

The second thing is that my talks are different every time I give them and I can see how they move on.  I gave a talk in Oxford where I used slides and talked a lot about technique.  That is a good presentation, I think, but most groups prefer things rather than slides, and so I usually take artefacts rather than a projector, which is a shame as I like to share ideas on making.  But taking the things determines what the talk is about.  On Saturday I talked a lot about the dolls I have made for the project as that seemed to be what they responded to most strongly.  This was good for me as it enabled me to talk about a new set of ideas in my work about the direction Laura Ashley plc went in.  It was the first time I have made the presentation about this and talked the idea through from start to finish, and the Gwent Quilters’ reactions were very important as a way of verifying the ‘data’.  That was quite exciting.

So, thanks again to the Gwent Quilters.  I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

 

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A post as much for me as you

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Today is a momentous day.  I have finally started work towards my book.  I have sat down and written out plans before for a book which all came to nothing, because I think books have to be ‘ready’ to come, but I actually believe that I am going to write this one.  I suppose that this is a bit of a public declaration that I am going to write it, a bit like getting married in the face of the congregation, and if I tell enough people I am going to do it I will have to see it through – that is my theory at least.

People do like to be dramatic about writing books.  All these quotations are taken from the internet so I don’t have references, but some are worth sharing, particularly the dramatic ones.  So Annie Dillard tells us:

The sensation of writing a book is the sensation of spinning, blinded by love and daring. It is the sensation of a stunt pilot’s turning barrel rolls, or an inchworm’s blind rearing from a stem in search of a route. At its worst, it feels like alligator wrestling, at the level of the sentence.

And Mary Higgins Clark writes in the same vein:

The first four months of writing the book, my mental image is scratching with my hands through granite. My other image is pushing a train up the mountain, and it’s icy, and I’m in bare feet.

I always want to reply to the hell of writing brigade that it could be a lot worse: they could be sunning themselves in Helmand.   Onwards.

E.A. Bucchianeri pursues a slightly different route and one which textile artists may well recognise:

The Book is more important than your plans for it. You have to go with what works for The Book ~ if your ideas appear hollow or forced when they are put on paper, chop them, erase them, pulverise them and start again. Don’t whine when things are not going your way, because they are going the right way for The Book, which is more important. The show must go on, and so must The Book.

 I always think that my best work happens when I let the piece take over and stop trying to impose my will on it.  I suspect however I plan the book it will turn out to have a shape all of its own.

I need to write a book for professional reasons.  If I am going to get promoted, I need to have written the book on something.  This, of course, is a terrible reason to write a book.  Making work for money is always soul-destroying and I think that work that I make, just to make, is always dead and flat and hollow.  So, I have always put off starting a book.  Plus, I don’t really know what I want to write about.  As Jo Lindsell says, “Every writer or wanna-be writer has ideas for books. The problem isn’t finding an idea, it’s choosing one”.  I have been in this position for a long time.  It was only after a discussion with Marybeth Stalp and Theresa Winge at a conference last month that I realised that I should probably just write a book about being an academic quilter: what it means, what it teaches me, what it is worthwhile.  I want to write the book, really to try to sort out what I think about art as a research method.  Flaubert wrote, ‘The art of writing is discovering what you believe.’  The trouble is I am still not sure where to start.  Nadine Gordimer wrote, ‘Writing is making sense of life.  You work your whole life and perhaps you’ve made sense of one small area.’  My problem is, of course, that I am not sure I can ever make sense of this small area as there is so much to read and so many perspectives to take into account, and I dread the reviewers’ comments that you get as part of the publication process.  I shall have to take comfort from the great writing teaching, Natalie Goldberg, ‘Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as meditation, it’s the same thing.  What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.’  I have had a battering over the summer with people either telling me or demonstrating to me that my mind is not of first-rate quality.  Maybe the slower pace of writing a book, rather than turning out learned articles at speed, will do me good, and help me to develop things more fully before dashing into print.

Before I move on to what my book is going to be about, I can’t help including Kanye West’s modest comment: ‘I feel like I’m too busy writing history to read it.’  Inspiration for us all.

So.  My book is going to be about my work using art as a research method.  I am going to use mainly my Body Shop and Laura Ashley projects as case study examples.  It might look a bit like this:

Part One – Rationale, theory, applications etc

  1. Introduction – What art as research is.   The relevance of art research to Business and Management Studies – or social sciences in general.
  2. A review of qualitative methods – what do people who don’t do big survey data and randomised control trials do and why alternative approaches are valid.  How do we judge this kind of work?
  3. The theoretical background.  This is a method which is entirely consonant with the Material turn in social sciences (that is, the reaction against the idea that the world is entirely shaped by language, to considering the importance of things in the world).
  4. The sociology of cloth – why is cloth so important and so significant?
  5. My method – based on the work of Barrett and Bolt.  Also the importance of sketchbooks and drawing in research – drawing heavily on the work of Michael Taussig.
  6. The so-what question.  People who do this kind of research always make big claims that it produces different knowledge or a different way of knowing.  They seldom produce hard evidence.  I would like to trace exactly what contribution this sort of work does produce.
  7. A note on teaching, including using this sort of work in the classroom.

Part Two – examples

  1. Quilts and quilt making – Nike and Gender, M&S and Leadership, The Body Shop pieces, and Laura Ashley quilt.
  2. Dolls – Nike Doll, Laura Ashley Ghost Dolls, Red Thread dolls.
  3. Artists’ books – 13 Notebooks for Walter Benjamin
  4. Artefacts – Iconic Body Shop product shrines, War Collars for women in organisations
  5. Narratives and storytelling – tracing dominant narratives through textiles, or using narrative from interviews as jumping off points.
  6. Writing as performance – the performativity of words, feminine writing, writing from the heart.
  7. Failures?  What can we learn from the work going wrong?

Conclusion.

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This is a photo of my mind map for the book on my fairly clear desk.  Plenty of paper on the left to continue my thoughts!

 

 

 

 

 

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The £50,000 question

 

Big Keith's appraisal in 'The Office"

Big Keith’s appraisal in ‘The Office”

Events took a surprising turn this week: I had a really useful appraisal with my new colleague, Jon Beaverstock.  Appraisals, for those of you fortunate enough not to know, are meetings where you discuss your performance for the previous year and plan for the coming one.  John Cleese made a fortune out of training videos and one of the most successful was called ‘The Dreaded Appraisal’.  I am not sure why they are so unpopular: an hour to talk about yourself ought to be a luxury, but people often resent the time, or dread the attention or feel as if they are being blamed for something.  There is a wonderful example of a terrible appraisal in The Office, which suggests it is painful for the appraiser as well as the appraisee.  All this is a preamble, to a really good question that Jon asked me when we were talking about applying for research funding (which is the one part of my job which is really difficult for me as I don’t need much money to do my research).  His question was, ‘If you got £50,000 to buy yourself out of your teaching for a year, what would you do?’  This is a great question because there are things that I would like to do if I had a substantial block of time.  After thinking about it, here are two answers:

  1. I would like to develop a project which has gradually been coming together over the last few years looking at textile businesses which are headed by women: Laura Ashley, Cath Kidston, Gudrun Sjoden, Amy Butler and maybe Orla Kiely.  I am interested in knowing whether women associate with the woman behind the brand, and what sort of images of womanhood they are promoting.  I see Amy Butler as the spiritual heir of Laura Ashley, with a fresher colour palette and bolder designs but with the same vision of femininity.  Plus I am interested in the materiality of the objects they sell – does the fact this is cloth with all its associations in our life cycle – which I have blogged about before, make any difference to the brand and its image.  This would involve a trip to Sweden to see Gudrun S and one to the US to see Amy Butler, so it would involve a slab of cash.
    Gudrun Sjoden

    Gudrun Sjoden

    Cath Kidston

    Cath Kidston

    Amy Butler

    Amy Butler

    Orla Kiely

    Orla Kiely

  2. I would be interested in researching the Manchester-Africa printed cotton trade in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  The cloth I am thinking of was printed in Manchester for the export trade, so it looks as though it is African but the design was all done in England and then shipped.  Yinka Shonibare OBE uses something very similar in his work, although his is called Dutch wax cloth, it is pretty much the same thing.imgres-4 imgres-3 images-18We had a talk years ago at Bristol Quilters on this trade as the last factory was about to shut down and all the archives junked.  At the time I wasn’t in a position to much more than say, ‘that’s a shame’, and the archives have probably long since disappeared which is a real problem as once they are gone they are gone.  But this was a big trade and a significant part of our textile history which may just have disappeared and that would be a real shame.

So, just in case the universe is listening, I have changed my mind and would really like a grant to do one of these projects.  I’ll let you know if the universe delivers.