This week Dorothy Tucker’s short yet insightful interview discusses the inspiration and processes that inform her textile practice.
Are the ideas/themes for this project ongoing or are they new?
The blue sky days we have had over the last few weeks have been beautiful. I love to paint mainly in watercolour and weather permitting out -of-doors. I had imagined that this spring and summer I would be out and about painting in lovely locations along the North Norfolk Coast. But the coronavirus is restricting the possibility of any of us being in the big out doors to the confines of our gardens – if we are lucky enough to have one – and to walks immediately around where we live. During the lock down I have been busy gardening, unpacking boxes of books and filling the bookshelves in our new home.
In my own work my attention and focus has turned inwards. I am patching and piecing together scraps from the best parts of an old pair of Levis jeans with suiting fabrics from a sample book, overlaying some areas with fine coloured cottons, working blocks of hand stitching over the patches, and sanding some surfaces away. This is evolving into a series of nine irregular blocks which reference a nine patch quilt. But I do not intend to join the blocks together. They will remain separated from each other – not touching.
Stitching by hand is essential to my working practice. I like the rhythm and feel of a needle and thread going in and out of the cloth, and value the meditative zone it takes me into. The way I am stitching is informed by kantha. In the first week of the lockdown I took up stitching a kantha which I had begun on a recent trip to India. This helped me to slow down and to settle into my workroom again.
The work numbered and pinned onto my workroom walls is on-going, work in progress. It is a development of ideas and working processes which I used to create Orange and Indigo , a flat piece and a folded bundle, recently completed and photographed to be included in my chapter for INSIGHTS .
As a visual artist was it a challenge to write about your practice?
INSIGHTS has required me to reflect very deeply on how I work and what my work is about. Initially I found it difficult to find connections between things seemingly going in several quite different directions with outcomes which did not appear to relate to each other in linear way, Once I had sorted and drilled down far enough it was challenging to articulate what I had I discovered in words. As a result of working through the project brief I feel rooted and can confidently say : Essentially my work is about light and colour. The multi-media way processes I use reference textiles such as kantha, Japanese Boro, the Gees Bend Quilters from Alabama, USA.
In my water colour painting I explore light and colour within limited palettes, through mixing incremental amounts of pigments using perhaps just two colours. In these fabric pieces I am working with Orange and Indigo. Orange is a powerfully radiant colour which I associate with the sun, warmth, abundance and life. As a counterpoint Indigo provides a darkness, and the blue shades of Levis or worn working clothes.
In the nine block series the radiant power and size of the orange square is gradually diminishing, losing its strength until the amount of orange will only suggest a reflection, and then even that will disappear.
This idea is so deeply disturbing and depressing I hesitate to share it. But if the blocks were presented differently, say with the last block as the first in a horizontal series row or in the series but in reverse order, then the work could be read an orange square of colour coming back to life in whatever the new normal is to be.