a collusion of ideas, part 1

Dec 30/10 … I started thinking about all a spine means. Form, balance, courage, suppleness (or not), pain or strength, self-determination, mobility, an armature, a seam/boundary/border/a clasping that keeps the pages together or the body and bones in line. Spineless=not only limp, but weak—– but very supple, think of invertebrates like the gorgeous Spanish Dancer sea slug or the waving of wheat and grasses in the wind. Is a spine a chain, linking and never separating? Is it a string of beads that twists and swings,  letting you dance, almost letting you fly?  

Collision and collusion. 

I’m working, supposed to be working that is, on pieces for a summer exhibit at the Leighton Centre. The above (abbreviated) is from a thought i expressed a long time ago–it’s more the “collusion” than the spine analogy that has me going, though that is rather a turn on as well. Disparate elements that fit together, that is what gets me fired up. It’s time to dump some contents beside each other and see what gets jiggy.

We’re riffing off work done by Barbara Leighton, with this being the one that grabbed me:

leighton batik 1 back

Barbara Leighton, batik

leighton inspiration print b

There’s something about this piece that is simmering under my skin. Part of it i suppose, is the more “natural” colours, though it was done with Procion in the days it first was available to artists. The shapes are evocative as well, suggesting trees, branches, a rising moon (setting sun?), but it could be an aerial view also of field, road and pond. (Hmm, but trees and roads are spines also, one holding the land, the other joining the flesh of city and country.)

This is where my thoughts really go a-wandering. I’m not particularly enamoured of ponds, though i do like swamps: bio-diverse, hiding secrets just past the last hummock you can stand on safely, slightly scarey in mist and twilight, eerie in winter with hoarfrost and frozen web, sparkling with hidden life in sunshine….story book stuff. Rivers however, that’s where my heart is. And the mountains we are blessed to live close to and visit often, and trees that hold the edges of rivers and mountains.  Rivers are definitely spines. We build along them, they nourish us on farm and in heart, they transport us in thought and reality. (I had photos from my teaching trip to Saskatchewan that illustrated this perfectly, but dumped them! Hopefully Karin will allow use of one of hers. To be updated!)


I digress. I have started “compiling” physical manifestations of the research and development. (If you saw that pile, it would make no sense.) Some paint and stitch samples were done last year:

stitch paaint test pan 1

stitch tests on dischargeThe sample on the right is my favourite. A lot rougher than my normal approach, this is one of the main things in the burgeoning pile of reference materials. The discharged black cotton has to go through a few more tests as well.

I have hazily decided on colours–either the black with shots of red and brown, and maybe some indigo-ey blue, or rust with blacks and deep blue, red, gold and brown–but i haven’t decided whether to go chemical or partly chemical, partly natural. The reality is some of these colours are not my forte to produce naturally. And that’s okay, because i loathe those “recipe” “medium” descriptions you have to add to the paperwork for exhibits–“all natural, all organic, all NatureGirl hugs a tree and grounds her feet in the Great Womb”. Ick. Ha. It will be what it will be, needs to be, and that is that.  (Don’t get me wrong here–I LOVE the all natural some can do, and wish i could, but realistically? It is what it is.)

Now off to collude, collide, coalesce, compound and conspire!



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