Saturday, October 29, 2011

Super-size curve stitching

click photo to enlarge
Last year, in a post showing a photograph of church organ pipes, I briefly touched on the subject of curve stitching (often called string or pin and thread art) - that is to say, the assembly of straight lines of thread in such a way that they produce curves. It's an activity that I associate with my own years as a primary school pupil. However, it must still be quite popular because I see from my hit counter that particular blog page being regularly landed on by people searching using the phrase "curve stitching". The activity is, to my mind, a craft. However, the other day at the National Centre for Craft and Design at Sleaford, Lincolnshire, I came upon an example on a giant scale that bridged the gap between craft and art.

The main exhibition gallery was filled with a piece by Gabriel Dawe called Plexus No. 10. Accompanying text by the artist described his arrangement of taut, visible spectrum coloured threads arranged in lines and curve-stitching- style arcs that the viewer can walk between as "materialising the structure of light." To wander into the piece was a fascinating journey because the coloursof the threads changed depending on your position, as did their shape, from some angles resembling the slats of venetian blinds. An interesting phenomenon was the way that the viewer sometimes became disorientated, losing a sense of how near the threads were. We often descend on the N.C.C.D. at a time when we are the only visitors, or when there are just one or two others. On this occasion there were quite a few people and it was interesting to hear and see their reaction. There were lots of smiles, gasps and much careful peering to see how the structures were constructed and why they behaved as they did. In this piece Gabriel Dawe has clearly pulled of that most difficult of tricks by creating a work that is both good, popular and fun. The exhibition opened on 22 October and continues until 15 January 2012. I thoroughly recommend it.

With permission I took several photographs, none of which effectively describe the sight, experience and fun of moving around the installation - fitting three dimensions into two often has that result. However, they do give an indication of what I've been talking about and were interesting to shoot. Here are my best three.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Main Photo
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 102mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/30
ISO: 3200
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On