Friday, August 10, 2012

Jean Draper and Dorothy Tucker

Two contemporary embroiderers whose work may have been influenced by Kantha embroidery - please refer to project 3 - Understanding the textile world

Jean Draper and Dorothy Tucker

Jean Draper joined TSG (Textile Study Group) in 1989, she is also a member of the 62 Group

In her Artist Statement Jean states that she mainly stitches by hand,
"The rhythm of the repetitive stitch - the gesture - is a very important aspect in the making of my work. My stitching is a form of drawing, an intensely physical activity; the actual process being as meaningful as the finished work."
The picture below shows Jean's work featured in Stitch - with the Embroiderer's Guild 
Making Waves by Jean Draper
Here she "makes waves" with a simple running stitch.
Running stitch is used in Kantha work for practical and decorative reasons.
The stitching on the cloth gives it a slightly wrinkled, wavy effect.

She is also interested in:
"how land is shaped by time and natural elements and is also affected by the generations of people who have lived, worked and left their marks upon it."
This piece is called Aftermath it represents the effects of fire on rocky hillsides.
Aftermath - Jean Draper
Kantha work has always been influenced by factors like climate and geography (amongst many others). The pictures will often 'tell a story' or depict day to day activities.
In 'Aftermath' Jean tells the story of the devastating wildfires that affected the Arizona landscape through her work.

The rhythm and the meditative quality of the stitching turns the work into something that,
 "visually resembles the surface textures of the land." 
The piece below is called Rock ruins and rock shadows - evening
Jean Draper
The surface textures of the rocks have been created by the techniques Jean uses in her stitching. As the piece has been stitched, waves and ripples appear across the surface of the fabric.

Once the work is complete she will,
"treat it with clay slip, paint and sandpaper, emulating wear and erosion, creating in the piece its own history."
In traditional Kantha work old sari's and cloth are used to create a new 'piece', the fabrics already have a story, a history.
The fabrics have an aged, soft appearance that you cannot achieve with new cloth.
Once Jean has aged her fabrics with sandpaper and clay slip they begin to tell their own story and have a history of their own.

In her interview with Workshop on the Web
Jean says herself that she wouldn't have been able to create the American south-west landscapes without her trips to India.
There she learned some of the stitching techniques that have gone on to influence her work.
In order to emulate the eroded rock structures Jean realised that she had to manipulate the fabric by changing the directions of the rows of stitching and applying more tension to those stitches.

So although not a traditional approach to Kantha work - Jean draper's stitching and the tales she tells through her work show an influence from this very beautiful folk art.

Dorothy Tucker is also a member of the TSG (Textile Study Group), joining in 1979.

In her Artist Statement Dorothy's current work is inspired by her research into traditional Kantha techniques, the designs and the stitching that are used to create quilts and throws.
"I love the tactile and visual pleasure gained from handling old worn cloth and stitching into it by hand. I find that this absorbing process expands and transforms my original drawing and leads me into finding ways to evoke what I have seen and experienced"
This echoes the traditional way of working a Kantha cloth where originally the designs were outlined using a needle and thread, focal points were then worked, followed by working motifs that 'filled in' the design. It was a way of working intuitively - the designs being developed at the pace of the stitching.

Below, the piece Marigolds is one of Dorothy's working samples which explores the translation of drawing into stitch.
Marigolds - Dorothy tucker
This piece which has it's roots in tradition is very much a contemporary piece.

Dorothy has worked in collaboration with other contemporary artists using Kantha as a theme.
Surjeet Husain and Jenny Bullen (both members of TSG) created the following pieces:
Creative Dialogue
This was their Creative Dialogue.
A sari was cut and divided into three, each of the artists then stitched their Kantha in their own style.
"Over several months of stitching, meeting together and exchanging emails, their creative dialogue turned into a celebration of how pleasure, inspiration and skills can be passed on informally from person to person."
Traditionally kantha's were not made for money, during the 1980's there was a growing interest in this type of embroidery and commercial ventures began.
Women worked together on these projects - this gained them a financial independence that they had not previously experienced.

The women would share their experience and knowledge. Some things changed with the advent of a commercial rather than a personal enterprise (designs would now be traced onto the fabrics rather than drawn by hand), however the old ways of several women working on one large piece remained unchanged.

Although Dorothy, Jenny and Surjeet's project evolved into not one large quilt, but three smaller pieces - their collaboration mirrors the work of the women stitching kantha in India. They shared their knowledge and ideas, they shared an experience together.  

Additional information gathered from:

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