I began creating my ‘Holding your Golden Threads’ piece in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic. Life as we know it changed and I, like many, had to find and hold on to my resources to weather the storm. As I took the incredibly delicate golden embroidery threads and began to weave, I incorporated in golden wire coil, turning a usually flat (also called 2 dimensional/2D) piece into a sculptural raised piece (also called 3 dimensional/3D). The process allowed me to consider and represent the internal and external resources I have an more meaningful way.
Two things happened at the same time in May 2020. Firstly, as I noted above, a pandemic arrived on our island that changed our lives in a significant way. Life was interrupted, the pattern was shifted and we started taking a new course. It is too early in this process to really understand or know what this means. Yet, what it did bring to my attention, was the resources I had at my disposal on a daily basis to allow me to stay centred through this unprecedented time. Were my resources the same as others? Were there resources around me I couldn’t see? Was I overusing others with the possibility of depletion?
Secondly, I lost a mentor, a rock that had been in my life for over two years. As she moved house, further away from me, I could still keep in touch with her yet not in a way that she could provide me with my weekly support. I wanted to find a way of acknowledging her importance in my life and I made her a simple woven piece of golden embroidery threads and golden wire coil. Yet, even after she left and the piece went with her, the idea clung in the air around me and my studio. So I began making a second piece, using the materials, emotions and ideas that would not leave my studio until it resolved itself in some way.
Yet this piece began even before this. A few weeks previously, I had received a gift surrounded in this golden wire coil. I was drawn to the coil and unravelled it from its pattern and put it on my studio desk, where it remained. Then, a month or so after this, I had been in the middle of a mediation given by one of my class tutors. The new reality of online learning meant that all classes were taking place online and we did a group meditation over Zoom. In the mediation, she talked about a golden thread that ran from the skies to the earth beneath, through our bodies. She spoke about these gold threads as a resource, something to allow us to reconnect. The image stayed with many of us and afterwards I posted up a picture of the golden threads to my classmates. Something had been ignited.
So it was with this idea that I took the golden coil and started playing with it. Play is the start of all my pieces, for it is from play that creativity is born, and it is from creativity that we can start to imagine new possibilities. The wire was stiff, yet I could manipulate it into shapes. I took some golden embroidery thread, and slowly began to unwind it’s strands, and ended up with single strands of thread. I carefully bound the thread around the frame, making the warp. I couldn’t believe just how delicate the threads were, yet when they were interwoven with more threads and the wire coil, they took on a certain strength. I began to consider the resources in my life. Were they constant and solid, able to take the impact of change. Or were they delicate, temporary, in need of attention.
As I wove the embroidery threads through the warp, the weave very much remained flat and right angled. Yet, as I introduced the wire coil, it contorted and upset the pattern, making waves and undulations. Its almost like the weave was attempting to remove itself from the frame and be free. Have you ever considered what your resources are? What are the things that help you balance yourself over the course of the day or week? For some, who may be more sedentary, it may be active exercise, a dance class or gardening. For those who are forever on the run, it may be knitting, mediation or sitting in nature. If you know what they are for you, do you access them enough? Or are you always trying to carve out more time for them?
As I started photographing it the evolving piece, I noticed I couldn’t help taking pictures the piece in sharp shadows. I wasn’t sure why, but I wondered if some of our resources had many sides?
I would take pictures of the piece against the darkness, wondering about the judgements we make: the lightness and the dark threads would get stuck on the golden wire coil, the pattern became difficult to follow.
Was I questioning my resources, those things I loved to do? Or was I simply questioning everything in a time where Covid 19 was calling up so much to be examined. The first half of 2020 really called so much into question. How were we living our lives? What was important? Was all that was in the darkness being brought into the light. Were old patterns of behaviour and norms needing to be shifted? What on earth was going on?
I freed the piece from the frame. It was simply stunning: delicate, undulating, with a pattern that couldn’t hold the traditional right angled weave structure. It reminded me of a little nest, something made by the birds to hold and nurture their young, dismantled once its purpose was fulfilled. Yet, I knew it there was more. I began to think about the different shades of perspective that had come to light when I photographed this piece. Was there a mirror piece that needed to be made, the visually express this wondering?
Again, the shadows and stark light came into play.
I took a darker, rustier golden like thread, and began to weave again with the golden wire coil. This time I used more thread, less coil, wondering how this would look.
I started putting these weaves together. Each with their own patter, their own shape. Each mirroring the other yet, not exactly. It was like, if our perspective changes. do we see the same thing differently? Again, are our resources static, definite or can they change depending on our moods, life events and decisions.
And so they sit together in my studio, for now. I have not stitched them into a canvas, I have not glued them to a sheet. They continue to the question, giving me to to wonder as the Covid pandemic dissolves in my community, for now.
I am reminded of this poem.
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
I find a canvas that fits the delicacy of the golden threads weave and I begin to stitch. Given that this piece is about support and holding the support you have, I felt I spent even more time thinking about the canvas and its look and feel.
I started stitching the weave into the canvas and was taken aback by its delicacy. I began thinking about what support might look and and how it might feel. I have always considered support as grounded, strong, able: something that could hold me.
The weave was so delicate yet it stitched neatly into the canvas. What if my support was sometimes delicate and barely noticeable? A simple smile of confidence from someone, a gentle touch to the arm or a few words of recognition. Holding these golden threads meant much more than I originally thought.
As I began to recognise those supports, I began to consider how and when I accessed them. It’s all very well having friends, but do we chose to show them the ‘I’m great, everything is fine’ side of us? Having a walking loop through local housing estates is great yet what happens when we rarely carve the time out to go on the walk. Or, are we always on the phone to family members asking for advice on the simplest things, feeling we cant make any decisions un-aided?
As I complete the piece, I realise that our supports are not simply there in times of crisis. They are daily or weekly activities that ground us and allow us to weather the many storms of life. There is an independent part of me that shone brightly in my 20s and 30s, showing myself that I could do anything without anyone. Reflecting back now, I wondered what the point of that was. I need people, people need me. In community we are able to achieve so much more; a far greater and more daring existence. I am reminded of the quote:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, to together”
And that ‘together’ involves other people, yet doesn’t exclude animals, objects, natural resources, activities etc
Title and Year: Holding you Golden Threads (2020)
Material: Embroidery thread, golden wire, canvas
Dimensions: 30cm * 30cm * 1cm