My work Honouring Good Men is currently on show in the Stitched and Bound back to the Razors Edge exhibition. Last week I attended the Artist talks and also spoke about the inspiration and development of my own work. I was delighted to see the work has been purchased by the City of Melville.
Here is the story of how Honouring Good Men came about.
Like many textile artists, I collect bits and pieces, new and recycled fabrics that appeal to me. I had a few of my husband’s ties he no longer wore, stunning woven silk, although slightly out of fashion. I particular liked how the back of the fabric was just as lovely, often in contrast to the front. At this stage I knew I wanted to use both sides of the ties in a piece of work.
Initially I purchased ties from op shops (checking the design on the inside of the ties). This proved to be rather expensive…My Dad attends the Stirling Men’s Shed. We put up a sign at the shed requesting donations of old ties. I am very grateful to the men who donated their ties, otherwise this work would not have been possible. I was delighted with the response. I received a short visual history of ties for the last 50 years. Some were lovely, some ugly, most never washed!
I washed, unpicked and ironed over 170 ties. Quite a lengthy process! As I was unpicking them I thought about the man who wore the tie and that time in his life…was it part of a uniform (one was from Repco, another from R&I Bank), was it for a special occasion, a favourite, a fashion disaster, was it significant like the tie my husband wore to his father’s funeral that he could never wear again? That tie is still in his wardrobe, too much personal memory for an art work.
I thought about how ties express individuality in the framework of a suit, they are fashion and formality. I wanted to know what’s going on behind this armour or brave face.
Each tie was cut into two 4cm wide strips (the maximum use of fabric for the assorted widths of tie fashions). Although quite stunning and contrasting, I felt showing only a glimpse of the inside of the tie was necessary, so I folded the strips lengthwise, one strip folded in the other out. Both strips were then stitched together and rolled. Each roll is made of a single tie.The next step was to decide how to unite the individual pieces; groupings of colours, showing the folded edge or the blended raw side, hanging and 3D options were trialed.