A Quilting Circle for a Pandemic: Support
My making throughout the pandemic has been supported by the artists around me who have talked, listened and created with me across the gaps of digital space, and in the absence of our usual lively material lives of studios, exhibitions and residencies.
I am part of an art collective of practice-based PhD students, mostly from MMU that formed in 2019 as a response to the lack of studio space for PhDs at MSA.
As practice-based researchers, we all felt (and still feel) a shared frustration in not having a physical space within the university to make, present, test and share our ideas and findings, and felt that without this space we were missing out on the important spatial and social aspects of practice as research.
We see more of each other now than we did before lock-down, and since March 2020 we more or less have been able to meet for up to two hours on a weekly basis.
The physical and material element has shifted and has become dematerialised, we have become disembodied. However, our physical connectivity is sustained through a tactile physical mail art project as well as various online activities and provocations.
I don’t know what I would have done without this regular creative proximity.
Another relationship that has deepened and strengthened is with my close friend and fellow crafty queer Jordan, who I met at School of the Damned in 2016.
The Log Cabin is a website that serves as a digital home for our collaboration and our friendship. It is a tool for artistic development as well as a platform for thinking through what it means to craft in digital space and make queer kinships when we are apart.
Separated by distance the digital Log Cabin gives us a space to patchwork our practices together, documenting the new connections and intimacies leading to new ideas and collaborations. We were both interested in how to make a ‘digital exhibition’ less static, less of a compromise, consolation prize – into a living and useful space. And also, thinking how the binary thinking of digital/physical could be undone; how our material practices could interplay and interweave in digital space. Rather than the digital as a restriction, it becomes an expansive tool for imagining new works and possibilities.
The Log Cabin Quilt is potentially ever-increasing, its borders can continue to grow and accumulate, beyond project timelines and production schedules. We will continue to use the Log Cabin after the project; as a functional tool rather than a static legacy. New projects are already starting to sprout rhizomaticaly from the project’s digital hearth.
But the most important relationship for my practice is with Alice. She has supported me and fought for me relentlessly, tirelessly and fiercely over the last four years.
She has pushed me to develop a deep understanding of cloth and of stitch – as a powerful tool for telling stories, repairing wounds and expressing femininities.
In my times of crisis, she has been there. She understands what it is to have a deep emotional entanglement with your work, the vulnerability of stitching from a deeply personal place. – because she has felt it too.
In a brief respite from the Manchester lockdown I was able to see her work at Fabric, Touch and Identity at Compton Verney. Her monumental Adam and Eve rose up in bright oranges and pinks with deep reds, digital embroidery and her signature gestural machine stitches. In the details beads and sequins clustered over one another. After talking on the phone and zoom for so long, seeing the marks on her hands made me feel that connection strengthen – my desire to stitch, and keep stitching and getting better always. Looking at the photo of me in front of the work, I am camouflaged in pink – a third figure in the scene – seeking connection and closeness through stitch.
More posts of interest
Go back to the home page to explore more projects, maker’s stories and first steps into craft…
Feb 24, 2020
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Feb 24, 2020
Catch up on Issue 8 of our journal curated by Daniel Fountain.