In my work for “Bridging the Gap” I have developed a piece of work that depicts a cafe interior with four unoccupied tables, the chairs and items on the tables give clues as to the marital relationships and the intertwined lives of Gwen, her brother Augustus John and her fellow female artists with whom she studied at the Slade. In the years leading up to the 20th century things were slowly changing for female artists, especially in France. As a consequence many female artists, including Gwen John, were drawn to Paris where there was a greater freedom, not just in artistic style, but socially. They had more access and freedom to explore – to rent rooms in boarding houses and visit cafes – unchaperoned.
My preferred method of working is to use layered and collaged natural fabrics that I have dyed and printed myself. First of all, however, I establish a colour palette that has developed from the drawings in my sketchbook. Then I dye a range of fabrics and if you photograph and convert to grey scale you can arrange the fabrics in order of tone. The fabrics range from linen, muslin, and scrim and then I print or dye silk organzas and crepeline for the more subtle marks and patterns (I use a thickener in the dye to give more control).
I also like to use hand stitch to give texture – I have used running or Kantha stitch patterns to give movement to the surface – I liked the idea of adding the little crosses to secure the background – (some time after her affair with Rodin, Gwen John converted to Catholicism).