Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Chemo Finished & Work @ The Knitting & Stitching Show.

I can hardly believe that it is now 8 months since I wrote about what had happened to me; it has been a very rough ride, the 6 months of chemotherapy were very difficult with some nasty side effects, and a 6 day stay in hospital when it made me very ill....however, that has passed.....I can hardly believe it, and even though I haven't had the results of the scan yet, I am feeling very well and have been getting back to " normality"...if there is such a thing....again, re joining my art group EAST ( East Anglian Stitch Textiles), and going out properly.
For the first few months of the treatment I lost all creativity, only managing to start feeling any inspiration at all, once I had started to do a little bit of gardening and a little bit of garden art by way of making a woven nest for a large stone because my sister said that a certain bush looked as if it should have a nest in it.
Thank goodness I did, because I was committed to finishing a piece of work for our " Between the Lines" WW1 inspired EAST exhibition at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexander Palace and Harrogate in October......and I did finish fact, I am certain that having it as a goal really helped me to stay positive and focus on things other than feeling ill! I have always known that for me art...especially stitching also works as a therapy and I have often talked about stitching myself better.
I wasn't able to steward our exhibition but went up on the coach with friends last Sunday and thought that our ladies, who work so hard to hang all the work well had done a wonderful job....and everyone's work shown to its best.
"Between the Lines" goes 'on tour' in 2015 by which time I will have three pieces ready....I was just happy to have finished the major piece in time.
So, I thought it was time to start my blog again....I think it helps me in that it is another goal and point of focus which will hopefully drive the practical work forward as I have a lot of ideas buzzing about in my head for new work, but no clear direction yet....I know that I want to make a visual journey of my last 11 months of surgery and chemo, but in what form I have not yet decided....I may start with some lino cuts first of little drawings I did in hospital and see where that leads, but for now, here is my work for the exhibition, it is called "The Solace of Larks:

"The Solace of Larks"

I needed to relate personally somehow to what I was going to make, and started with my love of nature and birds....Skylarks especially as hearing them every day through Spring and Summer was such a joy and blessing. I started studying the soldiers diaries with specific reference to this subject and discovered that nature and wildlife were of great importance to so many of them....especially the Skylarks as they could sometimes be heard even over the bombardments.....on quote was " as long as the Skylarks sang, we felt we had hope", and the other, which formed the basis of my work was " the song poured down over our upturned faces like golden rain"
At the other end of the wildlife theme were the rats, who were responsible for a huge amount of deaths through disease, but they also provided a great deal of sport as the soldiers would be killing as many as they could in their quiet times and proudly displaying rows of them strung like bunting, so I knew they had to be a part of the piece.
Finding an old First Aid kit, built into a suitcase was the starting point too; it still had very old medical items, and the wooden splints and tourniquets could even be from that era..
I decided to make a textile panel to fit in the lid of the case, which would show the shattered landscape by using tree bark. The piece of antique quilt that I used was already full of craters, so I filled them all with tiny stitched crosses to represent the soldiers.
The mother of pearl Dove was a very old brooch, and seemed perfect to represent the purity of her and the song in contrast to the devastation and horror below, and gold beads 'rained down from her' over the crosses.

There were three empty compartments in the suitcase,  and I knew that I wanted to make rats to put into these. In fact, the part I found most difficult was the making of the rats....first in finding a fabric that I was happy with and felt I could mould well, and secondly....I had never made animals before and I didn't want them to look like toys....they needed to be a little sinister, but not ugly. After many trials with unsuccessful fabrics I sacrificed a very old black cashmere cardigan which was almost beyond repair, and this worked really well.






Estella Star of the East said...

This is an amazing piece of art.
Wishing you lots of strength.

Sea Angels said...

I think this work of yours is amazing and beautiful and so innovative.. i adore your rats I love rats and these are adorable (sorry) (so cuddly). So glad your feeling better and the chemos over and done with. I wish you lots of healing and good health.

Love Lynn

Ellen said...

Thank you Lynne...and the rats are cuddly, having been made with my cashmere cardigan! I also like rats...such intelligent little creatures. Lovely to hear from you again and I always look at your blog and enjoy your beautiful work so much.
Ellen x

Ellen said...

Thank you Estella, Star of the east for your lovely comment too, it is appreciated.