The personal journey I have gone through reflects my understanding and comprehension, developed from my struggle with dyslexia. I remove my own communication barriers by taking the written ‘word’ out of source material and replacing it with fabrics and threads, where pattern and imagery give an alternative understanding to text. Maps particularly fascinate me as they express complex information but are represented in a visual format that I can appreciate. I have studied the shape of The British Isles to investigate an understanding of self.
I used particular fabrics indicating signs of national identity: tweed or floral patterns for England and tartan or Paisley for Scotland. The textile techniques I primarily use are reverse appliqué, machine stitch and free machine embroidery. Part of the process involves leaving the trailing threads attached, which represent loose ends. To draw an analogy – it connects specifically to the text falling apart.
The act of making leads my work and forms the concepts in my art. From experimenting with a road map, I developed the Mixed Identity series producing radically personalised maps by subconsciously reflecting my mixed Scottish and English upbringing. I had relocated areas of Great Britain, mirroring this Mixed Identity. These maps have woven together Scotland and England, revealing my private views about the bond between the two countries. At a time when the Scottish government plan a referendum on independence, this is political and topical.
It was important to mimic the alignment of the angle of Great Britain so at first glance the British Isles looked unchanged. The muddled maps and the removal of place names confuse their audience who generally identify and tried to find themselves within this relocation. Harper states when we look at maps:
‘ we naturally look for details, whether they be the well-known shape of a home country or town, ….. Our eyes automatically focuses upon a particular feature which means something to us.’ (Harper, 2011)
I want the viewers to contemplate and unravel their own journey through life to get a better understanding of self.
My practice has involved research in the British Library where I viewed historical maps of Great Britain and was influenced by the different shapes 15th & 16th century cartographers’ produced. Great Britain did not resemble the reality we now know and I am attracted to and feel empathy with these inaccuracies due to my own errors with communication.
Artists who have influenced me are Alice Kettle, Jo Budd and Karen Reimer for their elevation of stitch to the realms of fine art and Tracy Emin and Grayson Perry for their use of ‘self’ within their textiles.
Being part of the programme of study in BA Honours in Fine Art at The University of Chichester has finally allowed the value of my creativity to be recognised and to have a significant voice and value. I have been awarded The 2012 Textile Society Undergraduate Bursary and benefit from their support and acknowledgement.
Harper, T. (2011) The British Library. Historical Maps In Detail. Diary 2012. London: Published in Association with The British Library