My researches into Eva Hesse made me want to produce a sculpture which used non traditional construction and possible soft or organic materials. The local arts recycling centre had been donated a bag of short offcuts of upholstery cording and I thought I might be able to knit a sculpture with these. They also had some slate offcuts from a kitchen top which I snappled.
To make a knitable thread, I hot glued the short lengths of cord together mixing up the width, texture and colour as much as possible.
I knitted this up on a circular needle to make an expanding cone of textured mesh fabric.
As I knitted, I expanded the work, added holes and knots. Eventually I split the cone so that the work became flat, grafted on another cone and continued until the work measured about five feet and was roughly triangular with 3d cones at two ends. The cord gave it weight so that it hung in loops when held up, but I couldn’t find anywhere to suspend it in doors. Initially, therefore it was hung between three birch trees.
The knitting echoed the colours of the trunks interestingly and hung in a satisfying curves, but was difficult to photograph against the natural background. I then tried suspending it from a dead branch in more open space and experimented with combining the wood, knitting and stone.
Eventually, I took out the knitting because I couldn’t create enough separation between the uprights to support it in loops. I did like the mixture of wood and stone and the strong shadows cast on a bright sunny day.
I had been fiddling about all day, so got on with some drawing.
This first drawing didn’t capture the weight of the stone and wood so I tried again in acrylic and cropped in. I used a palette knife to lay on the paint and scratched into it to create texture.
I still felt that the knitting had unrealised potential, but need more volume. I knitted another large piece grafted onto the side. A dead birch was felled last week and a hornbeam coppiced, so now I had a huge amount of large wood to play with and make supports although making them stable and safe was a challenge.
The wood has now become part of the sculpture but the size of the wood, need to make it self-supporting has dwarfed the knitting which is actually about 2 cubic metres.
These drawings try to capture the nature of the texture and graceful curves produced.
Doing a really huge drawing/painting was very challenging. The paper had to be placed on the ground and I found looking from one angle and painting at another very difficult. This paper is two large sheets of B&Q lining paper glued together in the middle. This is pretty disastrous; I had no idea how to handle the background (which I wished to minimise) or the see-through fabric.
I felt one of the positive points of this work was that it could be suspended in different ways and in different places. I found a very dark, shaddy area of woodland and hung it in different was there.
I think that this is at its best hung in free space. To draw it, I treated it like a life class with short poses, just trying to get the language of the pose and not worry about background or texture. I think the knitting works well hung in a natural environment and I will leave it there to see if it goes interestingly green over time. I think it would be at its best hung in a large white or black space but invisible fishing line, well away from any walls; shame I don’t have such a space.
I have tried lots of experiments here with wood, stone and thread. All the works suffered from the difficulty of supporting them independently. The final stone and wood piece was interesting principally for its contrast in textures and the contrast between the solid square shapes of the stone and the convex open form of the wood. The most successful element of it for me was the interesting shadows cast and how they changed during the day. I hope to incorporate the stone in another sculpture when I have worked out how to support it securely.
Knitting a form inspired by research into Eva Hesse was very satisfying but it was difficult to display it adequately and as to create enough volume to have any presence. The best aspect of the piece was how it was warped under its own weight to create huge soft intersecting curves. I was seeking organic and this is reminscent of an animal pelt hung up by primitive peoples but made of modern shiny textile. I would like to have been able to suspend this in a large white or black space. Using knitting as a construction technique with unusual thread crated interesting shapes and textures and I would now like to try knitting wire.