I have chosen to use Dorothy Caldwell’s work to inspire my sketchbook, “material development and design methodology based on her use and handling of colour and materials, mark making, imagery and composition”.
Dorothy Caldwell studied at the Tyler School of Fine Arts, Rome, Italy. She has travelled and researched in India, Japan and Australia which has influenced her work and provided sources of dyeing and stitching practices. She studied Shibori in Japan, worked with women’s co-op’s and the revival of Kantha stitching in India; Researched Aboriginal map imagery in painting and textiles and also worked on projects in the Australian outback and Canadian Arctic.
She says her work is “a map of land and memory”. She is interested in ‘landmarks that give a sense of place and how humans mark and visualise the land”. “The early surveyors , of Canada, … made notations on certain rare plant growth, unusual geological formations and other points they were personally drawn to. Identifying my own personal landmarks, through gathering, touching and recording is how I create a sense of place”.
She has also said that: “The vocabulary for her work is drawn from studying textile traditions and ordinary stitching practices such as darning, mending and patching. She is drawn to cloth that has been repaired and reconstructed and in that ongoing process encodes time and the richness of lives lived.”
There is a interesting post, written by Dorothy Caldwell, on the following blog, about her love of cloth, it’s breaking down and re-use.
The following is a selection of her work:
What do I like about her work?
I really like the components and detail of her work, perhaps more than the overall pieces. Before I had really begun my journey into Textile Art, I remember seeing ‘How do we know when it is night?” at The Festival of Quilts 2013 and being drawn in to examine the stitches and detailed aspects of the work but not really understanding the whole piece.
I love the detail of her mark-making, the stitch, the patina of the fabrics, the texture, both visual and actual, the colours of fabrics dyed with indigenous plants and earth materials, the contrast of patches of colour amid black, white and grey tones, her patched-type applique.
How would I describe her work?
Layers of natural fabrics stitched together, predominantly black and white or earthy tones brought to life with patches of colour, patterned with a myriad of intricate, intimate marks using print, stitch, dye, discharge, and applique techniques. Highly textured visually and in reality.
The overall effect of her work is calm and still in spite of the hundreds and thousands of marks.
Its difficult to talk about the composition as I haven’t had the opportunity to examine large scale works, but coloured patches and couched lines seem to draw the eye around the pieces.
Simple vessel shapes appear to be couched in large scale on the surface of some work.
How does the artist work with materials and develop subject matter and ideas or create a colour mood?
She works by immersing herself in the subject, with hands on experience and research, followed-up with further intellectual research. Confirmed in her own words in the following YouTube clip:
A colour mood is dictated by the colours of the area and the land, fabric and paper is often coloured with a sample of local earth, mixed with water and rubbed onto the surface. After the fabric has been coloured and patterned with dyes, print and discharge processes, it is manipulated with stitch.
What materials does the artist use?
She uses cotton and other natural fibres, which are treated with dyes, wax resist, silkscreen printing, silkscreen discharge printing, applique and stitch. Colour samples such as earth ochres are mixed with water and rubbed into textured paper which appears to be similar to khadi paper. Marks are recorded in small books. Many small items are gathered.
Ideas & Materials for Textiles-inspired translation
Papers:- old music, manuscript and maps, khadi, teabag, used teabags, abaca, scrunched up paper, lace paper,
Materials: cotton scrim, hessian, black cotton – purchased?, dyed? to discharge?, Evolon, Lutrador, plasterers scrim
Tools: soldering iron, heat gun, candle, matches, insense sticks, ink, paint, walnut ink, potassium permanganate? lemon juice, bleach, discharge paste, soya wax, tea,
Mark making: stitch, burn, scrape, wax, drawn, scratched (scraffitto?), pierce, stitch through holes, wax resist, discharge, cold wax scrape. dye, tear, melt (Evolon), rubbings, manipulate (hessian), couch line drawings on surface
http://www.dorothycaldwell.com (accessed 18.3.15)
http://www.troutinplaid,com/2013/08/31/dorothy-caldwell/ (accessed 19.3.15)
robinolssen.blogspot.com/2013/10/dorothy-caldwell-workshop-html (accessed 18.3.15)
http://www.modernistaesthetic.blogspot.co.uk (Monday, May 5, 2014) (accessed 18.3.15)
BarbaraLee Smith’s curated exhibition catalog (pages 26/27) http://issuu.com/greggmuseum/docs/traces (accessed 22.3.15)
YouTube: Artefacts from Silent Ice/Deep Patience:Dorothy Caldwell Touring Exhibition