Bumping into old work.

The process of critical reflection is crucial to research and one of the array of tools necessary to de-personalise practice in practice based research. Creating the means to do this with ones own practice is not always easy. Time and space away from the work are some of the methods that I use. Enforced time out of the studio, while frustrating, can produce new and exciting insights. I have recently had to take some time out of the studio and also been forced to remove work that is usually hung there to allow some essential maintenance. Both these events have produced some surprising results.

My small studio space has been dominated by a large piece of work for some time.

Cate Hursthouse - Studio Investigation - 2013

Cate Hursthouse – Studio Investigation – 2013

This piece of work has remained in-situ virtually since it was made as I was unsure whether  it would retain its form once removed from the wall.  The wall it hung on was needed for the maintenance work, so it had to come down. With some trepidation it was re-hung yesterday in a larger space and has maintained most of its folds, although I need to spend more time with it. The changes that have occurred have been largely the result of hanging in a larger space which has reduced the draping. There are obvious problems with work that is so inherently unstable that I will have to address in the very near future. Later work has, to a certain extent, addressed this issue although some of the results are not as long-term as I had hoped.

This work bothers me. Its folds and drapes should not be suspended like this, it should fall flat, my awareness of textiles tells me that yet some areas seem to push proud, want to dominate, where others fall back. I have other pieces which change every time they are hung, so I now have to consider how, and if, I should stabilise these folds. Other pieces have been rendered rigid but they lack some of the ‘life’ of the more fluid pieces. My current writing reflects these same instabilities.  I am trying to marshal thoughts and ideas into a patterned cloth/text where everything works in harmony, re-writing becomes like unpicking, readjusting the balance of colour, tone, line, shape and form until the work ‘looks right’.

I have thought for some time that the surface of these objects requires something ‘more’. I have tested and sampled and ultimately been dissatisfied with the results. A chance encounter with some images of older work has made me think about where to go next and how I can revisit some of these earlier ideas which seem to have got a bit lost in current practice. It is beginning to feel quite exciting again and after fighting with the two apparently conflicting areas: practice and theory, good to feel they are beginning to really work together.

Cate Hursthouse 2010

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