Tuesday 15 February 2011

"Threads of Feeling"

Over the past week or so, I've been playing  with collage using the papers that I painted a little while back.  I've made a departure from the ones I'd been making before which featured flowers and plants done in a stylized way, very much influenced by my love of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, and especially the point where they meet.  (Perhaps I've just been watching too many Poirot reruns).   I still plan to make more in this style, as I quite enjoy doing them, but I'm also interested in the process of making more abstracted collages with papers I've coloured. 

The floor of my room was once again in a state of absolute chaos and I had to make potentially body-unfriendly leaps to get to my computer and writing table.  

In the middle of all that chaos is one of the larger ones I've been playing with.  It's nowhere near done, and I'm not entirely sure where it's going as it keeps leading me one way and then another.  Below are three smaller ones (ca. 20 x 20 cm.).  This is the approximate size of my botanical collages, and I am finding that it's a much more comfortable size for the medium than the larger one (ca. 40 x 40 cm.).

This past Autumn, I collected and pressed some leaves.  I've used one in each of the collages.  Next Autumn I'll have to collect more.  Although there are certain similarities between the two styles of collage, they are, naturally, quite different.  Both processes are enjoyable and seem to appeal to, and challenge, different parts of

As I have so many little stretched canvases which I've purchased for this purpose, I decided to have a bit of fun of a different kind the other day.  Lately, I've had banshees on my mind.  In the current story I'm writing there is a band of banshees, and in another story, currently on the back burner, the protagonist is a banshee.  I've long had a fascination with these mysterious creatures which straddle the line between ghost and fairy.  I blame it on Siouxie Sioux.  When I was a wee lass of around fifteen, I absolutely loved Siouxie and the Banshees.  That started it all. 

Part of their mystery is that Banshees are solitary.  And, unlike so many other female fairy-folk, they are feminine without being a femme fatale.  They sometimes appear as a beautiful young woman, other times as a terrifying crone.  Sometimes washing blood stained clothes by the ford of a river in Scotland, other times scaring the bejeebers out of guests in the manor home of some Irish lord soon to pass from this world to the next. 

I've started a sketch in oils of one.  When she's done, she'll sit on my wall at my writing table. 

Once again, the influence of the Art Nouveau movement can be seen.  (Thank you, Klimt.)

The banshees of my current story are leading me away tomorrow.  I'm fortunate enough to be heading to London for an overnight, to see an exhibit at the Foundling Museum called  "Threads of Feeling"  The original The Foundling Hospital was established in 1739 by Thomas Coram, and was financially aided by such London pillars as Hogarth and Handel.  To this day, one of London's largest children's charities is named for Coram.

The exhibit I'm going to see showcases more than 4,000 pieces of fabric which were attached to the entries in the ledger books of many of the babies admitted to the hospital between 1741 - 1760.  These pieces of cloth were sometimes given by the mother as a token, and were other times snipped, by the attendants, from the clothes the child was admitted in.  It's a rare collection and insight into eighteenth century dress of the poor.  It's going to be fascinating, and it's going to be incredibly poignant.  I'm looking forward to seeing it, but it's not going to be an easy exhibit to view.

When I return, I will be sure to post about the experience. 


  1. I love the banshee painting... sort of Klimt meets a matrioshka doll. I've seen a bit of the catalog of the "Threads of Feeling" show, it does look amazing and not easy. Hope you find something there of inspiration. Or, maybe, its something that very much needs witnessing.

  2. Fascinating post . . all of it . . banshees, your paper process, your work, painting . . . the exhibits . . . wonderful! Thanks for posting all of this. Am learning about staining tissue from a wonderful video I (finally) purchased (Carrie Burns Brown), Such amazing posibilities with paper . . new to me. And Klimt is one of my favorites too!

  3. Grooving on the texture of your three smaller pieces ... especially with the idea that you collected, pressed, and saved those leaves from an earlier time. Don'tcha just love it when (these) interstices collapse and ... (lost in thought)

    And how cool are banshees? I listen to a Siouxie and the Banshees song from the 'Marie Antoinette' soundtrack these days ...

    Your upcoming visit to the Foundling Museum seems intriguing ... I'll be curious as to what you bring back from that experience Lynn.

  4. Lynn, i see the klimt influence too, this is going to be lovely. Enjoy the exhibition, wish i could get down it sounds intriguing, poignant & beautiful too.

  5. What an interesting post ! I love seeing the chaos on your studio floor. Anytime I collage my own studio is a real mess, so I'm glad to see I'm not the only one. It's part of the creative process. I enjoyed seeing your botanical collages too. Both the theme and the process are interesting. The second one is my favorite because I have a feeling of things past and things soon to be. Very inspiring.

  6. Wasn't Siouxie Sioux also a fan of Klimt? I like the drawings of the Banshee face and the poppy is lovely too.

  7. you have wonderful collages here-- I also make a mess of papers everywhere when I am working on my collages.. papers naturally spread out I think.

  8. The Banshee has been fun to paint, Valerianna. Somehow King Tut's sarcophagus snuck into the mix! The exhibit was incredible and very moving.

    Jann, your painting on tissue sounds fascinating. There is so much that can be done with paper. Endless possibilities really.

    That's a soundtrack I'm not familiar with, Jan. I'll have to look it up. That's one of the things I love about collage, that you can use items that you collect. I purchased a few old letters and envelopes and old photos from the Spitalfields Market in London, which I'm looking forward to playing with.

    You're right, Ruthie, there was a lot of beauty there too. Seeing the efforts and altruism that came together to make this Foundling Hospital a reality was beautiful. As were the individual pieces of textile. Truly inspiring.

    I'm also glad to hear that I'm not the only one who makes a complete and total mess, Ghislaine! At first I would try to contain the mess, but I found that just felt stifling. Not I let go and know that I can clean up later. Sometimes much later...

    Given her aesthetic sensibilities, I could certainly believe that Siouxie Sioux was a fan of Klimt, Jane, though I know very little about her.

    Yes, Donna, papers do naturally spread out! It really is the only way to work with them. I've tried to keep them in neat piles, but that doesn't last more than a few minutes.

    Thank you all for visiting, and for your lovely comments! I will try to post about my visit to London on Monday.

  9. Wow - lovely, creepy painting of the banshee. And I hadn't heard about the Coram exhibition, which sounds amazing. I must try and see it. Looking forward to reading your comments!

  10. If you get the chance, Katherine, it's really worth going to see. It runs until March 6. Though, I must say, even without the exhibition, the Museum is certainly worth a look.