Needs Must

Over the past year, a significant source of inspiration has been the thing stitched out of necessity. By that, either limited materials or limited circumstance, with the impulse to tell one's story or participate in ritual/play. This is a Hallowe'en mask, as photographed in The National Museum of Ireland; Country Life, during our lovely trips to Pontoon, Co. Mayo.

From the same museum, a St. Patrick's Day commerative rosette, stuck more than stitched, in a combination of paper and found ribbon with fabric flowers.

A Cromer Town football supporter's shirt and cap (excuse the flash) from between the wars. As taken, of course, in the quietly extra-ordinary Cromer Museum on the Norfolk coast. I may send this onto Adidas, in the hope of a design epiphany.

The Imperial War Museum, particularly in it's section on the Home Front, holds some beautiful woven insignia. These images via their online collections. This Wiener-Volks-Werk-esque mark represents the three Roman numeral 'V's of XV Indian Corps during WWII.

And this formation badge for X Corps; the symbol may represent a number '10' on its side, I guess working oddly like the seminal i-D magazine logo. Slightly different context though.

Happened upon this in a Selvedge magazine article. It is held again in the IWM though not on display because of its fragility. An incredible embroidered sheet made during a two-year internment by Mrs Day Joyce, an auxiliary nurse in Stanley Prison Camp, Hong Kong in the 1940s. It holds over 1,100 signatures of other internees and a coded diary. It was undiscovered by the guards, hidden between the rugs of her camp bed. More of the story here.

This reminded me of a sampler, seen at the V&A a couple of years ago (this via their online collection), tucked on the wall at the end of the room holding textile swatches. It has a simple intensity. There are many more decoratively exciting samplers in the collection but none with the austerity and therefore the kinetic of this, the Ashburnham Sampler by Elizabeth Parker, c.1830. The Thomas Hardy-esque story tails off with 'what will become of my soul', in mid-sentence. Heart rending. Happily, it has recently been discovered that she survived into a good life, working as a schoolteacher and dying aged 76.


Show and Tell

Michel Simon shows Dita Parlo one or two things. I love
(1934). Just this clip's density of ideas gives an
indication of the
nourishment offered by a full 89 minutes'
duration. Please wait for and note the tattoo.One of only
films made by Jean Vigo; he died of tuberculosis I
think the year this
was released.

Martha Rosler's Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975).

Sue Tompkins, performing Grease (2006) at the Tate.

Saw her concretish text pieces at the ICA last year (this piece via the Drawing Room).

And Raoul de Keyser, in his studio.


Open Season Drawing

First of a set of posters for a drawing season at Camberwell College of Arts. Each session is essentially practical yet critical in attitude. Important to consider the function of drawing beyond showing off one's ability. As a mode of thinking, of working out, of mistake and correction, of looking of course.

The posters apply my Make Do Type, with its oddness of spacing out of an underworked monospace. I keep almost applying kerns and other optical adjustments, then realising that I prefer the original awkardness. Cutting the blocks tomorrow in order to make a letterpressed version at 496mm x 700mm. Curious to see how well the blocks hold up on this press. Already discovered that the body text, with the x-height at 4 or 5mm and line weight at 1mm, is just about the limit of the lasecutter. The counterforms cannot really be retained, so may try doing some outsourced engraving.


Doll Parts

Considering doll parts, discreet limbs, corporal components. Like this Holzhand (c.1920), via
Museum Der Dinge.

Belgian votive handcasts in the wonderful Pitt Rivers Museum, from a recent visit; excuse the poor photo.

This double jointer, via Anonymous Works.

Anomalously away from hands but needing to post
Mark Manders'
-(-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-/-)(1994). Really fascinating group of beings, laid out to dry. An Addams Family specimen set; odd harmony.

Reminding me of the book English Medieval Graffiti (just reprinted so affordable). Specifically, the correlation between description of body and building. Same level of economy and abstraction in both, of course determined by implement and resistant ground.

So the windmill feels like a character. Or a letterform. All at the same time.



A growing family of woodblocks for print; the next stage for my Make Do Type.

The type itself has developed inflection, most recently influenced by the stamps and marks of the Deutscher Werkbund and the typography of the Wiener Werkstätte. I think the attitude too.

It's to make prints like this, on an Albion-style relief press at Camberwell. Obviously modular, it allows for growth and on-the-press decisions. The ingredients beyond the type osscilate in and out of figuration. Bits of language referring to, for example, vernacular architectural components such as the row of concrete trellis blocks so familiar from the housing estates of my childhood.

This part is out of a drawing for the novel Solaris, informed too by a Summer on the coast of County Down which oddly made visible the book.

Another Solaris plate, an interpretation of the phenomena thrown up by the living ocean. Something mechanical yet liquid. I have to say that the plates themsleves, now inked, are interesting in themselves and suggest an application to object or furniture.


God Jul

Belatedly, season's greetings and thanks for your comments. This, from the kit created last year.