A one-on-one with Rosie Sherwood

David Somers bio photo By David Somers Comment

Today, an opportunity to have a one-on-one with Rosie Sherwood: book artist, indie publisher, photographer, comic book obsessive, founder of As Yet Untitled (@ayupublishing), and publisher of Elbow Room (@elbow__room).

What was discussed

I briefly discussed my use of hybridity and mimicry as themes to my work.

I initially presented two smaller (and older) pieces:

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Fiber Proof Two and Fiber Proof Four. 100 × 100 × 20 mm. Raffia (rayon) and fiber (wool/acrylic) on canvas.

I then presented a larger contemporaneous piece, still in-progress:

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Untitled.. 200 × 200 × 30 mm. Raffia (rayon) and fiber (wool/acrylic) on canvas. Asset #57429

The use of fibers — raffia and wool — invite the spectator to touch. They are physically appealing.

Tension. Physical and metaphorical.

History of the material. Fiber, especially wool, is loaded with history.

The materials I use are deliberately chosen:

  • Raffia: it is a synthetic material aping a natural material.
  • Wool: it is a blended natural and synthetic material. Industrially produced aping the craft tradition of spinning.

The materials are “not quite what they are”.

This reflects my interest in mimicry.

The earlier pieces with their more geometric patterns invoke the question “what does it [the pattern] mean?”

The later piece at first glance is simple. The non-repeated pattern is interesting: the dividing line running down center “creates a reflective dividing line” that is:

  • “deceptively simple”, but what can it mean?
  • not perfect, “not quite right”
  • a “stretched divide”
  • “quite intriguing”

Color theory. Subverting expectations. Building up layers.

The piece is trying to explore layers: figure vs ground; contrast in colors; contrast in textures

The piece is trying to explore questions: is textile a craft or an art? what is the figure? what is the ground?

The piece is trying to explore materials: raffia vs wool.

The piece is trying to explore production techniques: handcraft vs manufactured.

Tension and duality.

The size of the pieces is interesting vis-à-vis the reaction as a spectator:

For the small pieces:

  • fit into the palm of the hand
  • they are “introspective” are “jewel-like”
  • like a relic, an icon
  • should feel delicate and need protection

For a larger piece:

  • the whole body is ???
  • grandeur
  • outward facing
  • expansion of vision: need to step-back to take them in.
  • should be “bigger than me”.
  • an “expanded breadth of ??? and scale”

Either need:

  • lots of smaller pieces to make it big
  • a few larger pieces to make an encounter larger than life

The only way to find what size works is to experiment. Produce them. See how the spectator reacts. Is is then the reaction that you are looking for?

Thoughts about the next steps

My practice has evolved from repeated geometric patterns and moved into one where there is an imperfect dividing line in the two materials I weave together. Rosie found the line “quite intriguing” and the form “deceptively simple”, In the previous one-on-one with Jonathan he made similar comments. This is a path that I feel worth pursuing further.

This session touched on the issue of size that was discussed in the previous one-on-one with Jonathan but also amplified it and highlighted the nuance of the introspection and “jewel-like” aspect of the smaller pieces vs the “grandeur … expanded breadth” of a larger pieces. During the Low Residency 2016 I had a discussion with Donald about the upcoming interim show and potential ways to curate my work. That discussion revolved around a similar concept that Rosie raised: lots of smaller pieces vs. a few larger pieces.

Clearly there are logistical constraints in producing larger pieces, and I have been slowly working towards that aim, gaining confidence in my practise and production methods. At the risk of hedging, I should produce both lots of small pieces, and a few larger pieces, and then put these in the eponymous white cube and see what works.

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