My sewing goal for Summer 2017/18 is to get my PHD (project half done) pile reduced by half. Which means finishing at least a dozen projects, because it’s a little out of control!
I’m getting a little help in the push to finish things thanks to the re-launch of the Sew Weekly (ooooh!), though it’s Instagram only this time ( 🙁 ). But I can still show you the things I make here, and be able to talk about them in depth.
First off: something for the way-too-easy-to-be-on-theme-for ‘UFO’ challenge:
This skirt has been on my PHD pile for over a year, ever since I started it along with a class I was teaching. Things begun along with classes are the problem with half my pile.
As a textile fanatic (aka, snob), printed ikat-look fabrics usually make my head hurt. The weave is so intrinsic to an ikat. This one, however, managed to win me over. It’s a heavy stretch herringbone twill, and the weave of the fabric and the colours of the print just worked together perfectly. And it was only $3 a meter at a Fabric Warehouse sale!
The skirt only needed hemming and a waistband to finish.
Jasmine Togo-Brisby’s Bitter Sweet artwork was amazing. Even Mr D was properly impressed. Sadly, it was too cold for the sugar to have any smell, so that element of the artwork didn’t have as much of a sensory impact.
Tracey Moffatt’s Plantation photographs were a perfect counterpoint to Bitter Sweet – both glossy and beautiful reflections of a very un-beautiful episode in our history.
If you have a chance to see either work, I highly recommended it.
While Colonial Sugar was the reason for our visit to City Gallery, the skirt is named after the other exhibition we saw while we were there: Occulture: The Dark Arts, featuring art that explores the occult.
Colonial Sugar was about a terrible event, and Occulture about our beliefs, but Colonial Sugar just made me sad: Occulture actually made me profoundly and personally uncomfortable, and it’s rare that art can do that.
I’m used to honouring and respecting art, and people’s beliefs. I was brought up to consider art a valid and profound part of the human experience, which helps us to explore who we are on an individual and societal level. I was also brought up to respect the beliefs and practices of a wide range of religions and cultures. I think of myself as being being kind and respectful to people of all faiths (or lack thereof), even when they knock on my doors at inconvenient times, trying to convert me. Whatever you want to believe, I thought I was OK with it, as long as it’s your choice, and isn’t negatively impacting those who didn’t choose it.
Seeing an exhibition about various forms of the occult, from artworks that were meant to be literal ‘spells’, to those that treated magic and astrology and astral planes as completely valid, real, beliefs, made me realise that while I think of myself as unprejudiced and non-judgemental, there is a huge swathe of beliefs that I react to, with, at best, mildly condescending indulgence, and, at worst, complete derision. I respect art, but consider astrology (for example) rubbish pseudoscience, so to see the former combined with the later in artworks that treated astrology as a completely valid science, using it to explore major world events, was extremely disconcerting.
I think of myself as openminded, but to look at artwork, after artwork, where the artist’s message was something that I think of as silly, and maybe even a little dangerous? Quite disconcerting.
And very good for me. Because artwork is meant to stretch your mind, and in my world of academics, in the most educated city in a very liberal country, and living a life where my background and choices all encourage me to meet a very diverse range of people, I can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking mine is completely open, and it isn’t. We all still live in our own little bubbles, and while I didn’t expect mine to be pricked that day at City Gallery, it was, and I appreciate the new angle on myself, even if it was uncomfortable.
So this skirt is named in honour of the experience, and a kind of magic I do believe in: sewing magic.
Because it really is quite amazing and magical that we can take flat fabric and make 3-D shapes that fit our bodies out of it, and that a garment can completely change our mood and perception of ourself, or another person. Fabric can warm us, shield us, protect us: all the things spells are meant to do.
And it’s quite fantastical that a bit of very careful pattern matching can make a seam right down the centre of a skirt completely disappear. 😉