Thursday, 26 June 2014

Stitching progresses

I've not been entirely occupation'less since my post last month, but did get into the dreaful doldrums with my City and Guilds, so have withdrawn from that. I hate giving up on things, but it was all getting too much and my tutor Barbara was very understanding. I have felt a great sense of relief since doing so, which suggests it was the right decision. I've also felt there is more time to work on other things like this.

My feather is developing, as is the breath of God. The phrase comes from Hildegard of Bingen, who was a 12th Century mystic, writer, composer and Benedictine Abbess. Her music is sublime, I fell in love with it many years ago and so wanted to find out more about her. I was very interested by her illuminations to the several writings she produced, on both her visions and the spiritual life in general. When I saw the way the dye had blended and spread on this piece of fabric I was put in mind of a feather, albeit one from a very vivid bird, swirling a cosmic burst of energy, and thought of Hildegard's image. I have been revisiting her illuminations to try and find motifs to use on this, to tie it in visually with her work, whilst still keeping to the spirit of the cloth itself.

She seems to have been a woman of great individuality and strength, in a society where women often found it hard to express themselves. In fact, the religious life was, I suspect, one of the few paths to relative freedom that a woman could take in those days. It released her from the necessity of marriage and provided a space to be herself, albeit within a context that was still primarily under the rule of men

You can read here what inspired this phrase, in which she uses the simile of a feather, floating on the breeze to express her sense of her relationship with God. Whilst I no longer have any faith to speak of I still have a deep respect for that of others, and an inner sense that, perhaps, this physical realm is not quiet all that there is to life; so agnostic rather than atheist, with leanings towards mindfulness as a wise path for living. I try to bring that mindfulness into my stitching, working slowly rather than rushing to finish a piece, so that the imagery and flow of stitching has time to develop..

Leaving City and Guilds has also freed my mind to think more about what I'll do in Christine's class come September. I'm going to stick with Creative Development as that seems to be a context I'm enjoying. I might just take the year to explore shibori in more depth; I keep finding myself thinking about what effect is would have if I did this or that, folded this way, stitched here, clamped there. I do have several books to inspire me!


  1. Your 'feather' is stunning. There was a radio programme on yesterday about Hildegarde, probably still on iPlayer if you didn't catch it. I can understand how inspirational her work is, there's certainly a special quality to her music and it's marvellous to think that here you are, nearly a thousand years later, still being influenced by her.

  2. Hi Anny, thank you so much for kind comments and especially thanks you for the tip about the radio programme. I hardly ever listen to the radio and my dear heart wouldn't have noticed this one.. I shall sit down with her this afternoon and do some stitching while I listen :-)