I am aware that I have not posted much recently. This is because of the hailstorm of deadlines for academic pieces of work that I have had to meet – some more successfully than others. I have been doing some textile work but none of it is far enough along to appear on the blog, so I thought that I would post an old one which I haven’t talked about before. I looked up the photograph for a piece I am writing about the metaphor of Silver Hands in organisations. I use the metaphor to mean the way in which we give up the human touch in organisations and keep people at arm’s length using all sorts of systems and procedures which masquerade as good service or putting customers first. So, my conversation with a man in the call centre about my credit card which was ultra courteous but totally frustrating would be a good example. I use the Grimm fairy story, ‘The Handless Maiden’ as a point of departure for the analysis. I looked up the fairy story and got the idea for the project when I showed the panel to a friend who commented on the silver hands. So that was a nice example of the arts-based research leading into something I wouldn’t have thought of – the holy grail of people who care about this sort of methodology.
This is part of a group of five small wall pieces which I made about secrets and confession for a workshop which never took place. This, I think, is probably the most successful of them. It started with Kristeva’s fascinating essay ‘Stabat Mater’ in which she writes about the Virgin Mary and her role to hear our confessions and to intercede with her son for us. She explores her relationship with her son in parallel. This is probably the only piece I have ever made which caused controversy. It was shown at one of the Bristol Quilters’ Exhibitions, and offended at least one person because of its portrayal of the Madonna. I was surprised by this. Having been brought up as a high Anglican, I still have a great deal of reverence for The Blessed Virgin Mary and my portrayal of her is very respectful. She stands on top of a bank of flowers, as is often the case in Roman Catholic churches in the Netherlands, as a mark of reverence, and my piece was made in that spirit. My hero, Benjamin, was right: there is no way you can control the Nachleben or afterlife of a work of art or a piece of appliqué. You shouldn’t even try.
it was really good fun to make because a lot of it was recycled. So the pillars on either side were a piece that hadn’t worked out and the pocket on the lower left hand corner was a small purse made at a workshop. The flowers she is standing on are a paper bag print under organza. Her head is printed on a coffee bag and the arch is an insert into a camisole or t-shirt. The band of lace at the bottom was left over from another project. I liked the idea of bringing all these bits and pieces together to form something nice.
It was good to re-meet an old friend in a different context, and to find such a good photo of her.