Transformation: Work in Progress

Transformation is the theme for our next exhibition.  Here are some tantalising snippets from pieces of work in progress as well as images, thoughts and notes from sketchbooks.  We're very much looking forward to bringing it all together to exhibit in 2021.

What is the inspiration of the E.A.S.T artists for their next exhibition?

In my current work  “Marking the Journey”, the sea remains a prominent inspiration.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote, “how inappropriate to call the planet Earth when it is clearly ocean”. The Pacific Ocean, the most majestic of all waterbodies, covers 1/3 of the earth’s surface.

I have lived significant periods of my life on different continents and my journeys are mapped not by land but by sea. The oceans are the maps that mark my passage of travel and  transforms the stages of my life into a flowing current of movement.

Building new roads impacts the environment and one of the positive impacts of the lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic was the quieter, less polluted atmosphere. We have the opportunity to explore how we travel and make changes that benefit us individually and the world. I am researching the relationship between fields, roads, and bicycles.

For some time now I have been fascinated with how artists depict the passing time, but also the myriad ways ideas can be communicated.  And I have been thinking about how we are all learning new ways of communicating because of the 2020 pandemic. 

My current E.A.S.T work began as an autobiographical timeline.  Along the way my research has led me on a path looking at globe de mairée, The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse and the language of Solresol.  All connect with ideas of symbolism and the passing of time transforming my thinking completely.

For the 2021 exhibition I began a sketchbook which I called Curious and I endeavoured to add cut-outs and flaps to each page to engage the viewer in a curious manner. 

This led to the idea, which I began to work on for this exhibition, based, very roughly, on the idea of the Rubric cube where each side has to be turned to the relevant colour.  My nine cubes have to be rotated to make up one of six designs all based on books where the title included the word curious.

This image shows a detail of one of the designs.

After Anni Albers – I visited the Exhibition of Albers weavings at Tate Modern in 2019 and was struck by how much her geometric designs resembled patchwork. This current work is based on some of her designs in an attempt to make my pieced work look woven.

Although ‘Lock-down’ has been very kind to me and my family, creative inspiration has been in short supply. I've missed my family and and friends and found the need to work on something that was visual but needed very little thought.

I began working on a piece of appliqué which reminded me of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Needing to connect with my heritage.

Eventually, after mask making, acrylic paint pouring and creating a wildlife pond in my garden the creativity and inspiration began to return.

I returned to the journeys her ancestors made from the Isle of Coll to Stirling, Scotland then, Stirling to Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.

At the moment I'm working on two pieces, the journey from Scotland to Suffolk by rail and the families connections to the sea, rivers and water. Silk, dying fabric, manipulation and stitch will all be involved in these pieces of work.

I have been looking closely at lichen and fungi, the ancient and often over looked small organisms that live in wild places in Great Britain. They are fascinating because they often grow on what might seem to be something degenerating, like old brick work, stones or wood. But in fact they are an important part of a transformative process, where the original substance; rock or wood is gradually broken down and formed into something new for example forest litter that forms the building blocks for new growth, perhaps a young tree.

I am excited by these this natural process of regeneration in the natural world as think it shows a parallel process to that of human development and healing where something that looks frightening, perhaps depressing could be the start of something new.

I am experimenting with dry shibori and natural dyes to try to form lichen, fungi and wood for this work.      

Looking at the precious elements of minerals and metals which are essential for maintaing our life force.

The transformation of my work has been a gradual move to another genre, from landscape to still life. Two years ago I decided to look for an alternative source of inspiration for my textile work by taking up pottery. At the time I really didn’t know if it would help or in which direction it would take me but I found I loved working with clay, I enjoyed the different processes and I discovered the still life artist Giorgio Morandi.

In my recent work I continue to transform recycled fabrics into interesting texture and then into sculptured objects. I am still at the research stage and still experimenting with various thickness of fabric and thread and hoping that the samples will result in usable work with a pleasing appearance.

A collection of small items - hats pins, button hooks, glove stretchers, rubber buttons, fans, sugar tongs and many others all of which we don’t seem to use now where the starting point of my research. This led me to a renewed interest in millinery and related items.

A while ago I read of a doctor describing grief by sketching a gradually shrinking ball in a box containing a ‘pain button’ that gets triggered with gradually diminishing frequency.  As time goes on, the ball hits the button less often, but the pain is still intense and the instances it’s triggered are random.  I love the way this illustrates how feelings surrounding loss can change over time and are unpredictable, and it led me to want to express this analogy and explore it through my own visual response.

 With a working title of ‘The Ball and the Box’, the 3D pieces I’m making explore grief as one of the ‘dark emotions’ playing a necessary part in a non-linear journey towards acceptance and transformation.

Angela Brookford

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