I’ve long been fascinated by Bethany’s combination of textiles and cement; the contrasting soft and hard materials, the transformation of cloth from malleable to solid objects and the potential her innovative techniques would hold for my kind of manipulated textiles.
Last year I applied to a-n’s collaboration bursary to fund our travel and expenses to develop a collaboration and we started working together in January 2014.
Our aim is to create work suitable for public art commissions, large-scale installations and projects. I wanted to explore Bethany’s techniques and she wanted to look at more organic forms, moving away from her usual square-format.
We started by simply setting a whole series of my textile and paper samples into cement to see how they worked and then moved on to making specific samples to test based on what worked best and looked most interesting.
Plenty was simply scrapped as uninteresting, or not sufficiently exciting to stand out. I wanted to make sure what I made was sufficiently different to Bethany’s existing work too. A new set of samples worked much better and gave us new avenues to explore.
At this stage I was struggling to find a theme which worked for me, beyond simply exploring interesting shapes. Our discussions lead to the idea of growth and renewal and eventually to mould, lichen, moss and fungus. We also worked on colour palettes; looking for something that contrasted well with the grey of the cement but would also work with my quite subtle-coloured work. We used Pinterest to share ideas, much like I did with my collaboration with Alys Power. Our palette became delicate pink. Bethany continued to work on new shapes and forms while I experimented with fungus-inspired growths made in textile using fabrics I dyed with elderberry.
Their success was limited but other pieces definitely worked and we have finally hit upon the perfect combination of form, textile structure, colour-palette, type of fabric and display concept which we are really happy with.
The finished work is a series of smaller pieces; potentially a lot of small pieces, so we are busy making more and more. Our aim is to exhibit the work in 2015 and use it as a basis for joint application for projects and commissions.