Saturday, 5 July 2008

Did Eve stitch the fig leaves together?

On Friday I went up to London to see a couple of textile art shows. It was so sunny I didn't take a coat!
Today it is cold and raining.
The first exhibition was by the group I run with at times trying to get myself to make art.
They hold the show in galleries in the City, which is nicely posh but costs half your limbs in hanging fees etc. if you want your work shown and sold there, so the best you can do usually is come out even, if you are lucky.
This event was by about a dozen graduates, mostly they work part time, distance learning, so it takes years and much perseverance, moaning and groaning. Tutors come and go as i think they don't get paid much and find more and more work dumped on them. Having doyens of the stitching world on their books is very inviting to tentative students, who find that by the time they have signed up and shelled out -the likes of Alice Kettle, or Gwen Hedley have shaken the dust.
This year there were 3 or 4 students who had really done well IMO, and I was very tempted to just "do it".
I was overheard talking to one of the artists by another woman who was teetering on the edge of signing away her spare time and savings, and we started egging each other on in that supportive way women with mutual interests sometimes do.
I say sometimes in view of "comments" a previous blog attracted which didn't seem to share my experiences of female solidarity. I certainly never experienced it with my mother, but i have been helped a lot by the friendship of other women.
Maybe the personal does affect the political so strongly that it influences the way we perceive our lives. But perhaps being on ones own, trying to earn a living, without the financial support of a partner, opens ones eyes to the power of patriarchy outside the domestic experience.
I also went the Haywood Gallery on the South Bank to see the Crochet Coral, displaying the reality of hyperbolic space so colourfully. No photos allowed and no cards, so a memory only.
All of the above is usually women's art, or is it craft? It is certainly B list in the Art World.
Textile degrees are largely getting transmuted into some kind of Fine Art degree where work can be done with needle and thread, if one is stubborn. This is a good thing in the way that the art training can lead, but not so good that experienced textile teachers find it hard to get employed to pass on their skills.
Likewise City and Guilds stitching courses are closing all over the country, they don't fit into the curriculum funding or system, so the apprenticeship in practical study is also lost.
Some women somewhere have always stitched, always delighted in putting parts together to make a whole. I moved from sculpture to stitching so that I could pick it up at any time, fit it into my day. Maybe that is why it is so rarely Art, not sufficient tunnel vision, too much compromise.
Like my blogger friend who has changed her profile to mother and grandmother first, I think I will not sweep all aside to do the degree, but I will keep picking bits up and making something.

1 comment:

carol said...

".....being on ones own, trying to earn a living, without the financial support of a partner, opens ones eyes to the power of patriarchy outside the domestic experience. ...'

A very teasing barb! As one who is trying to earn a living (and yes, I do need what I earn in order to live) in a traditionally male domain, I would say that it is easier being a woman. I am not seen as a direct challenge to the ego in the way that another male might be. I experience the chivalry of the men in my chosen profession rather than the restrictive patriarchy you perceive.