Saturday, 7 August 2010

MC Escher and other thoughts

I've been thinking recently about what influences our taste in art, design, and craft. Why do we consider someone who paints an 'artist' and someone who embroiders a 'craftsman'? Why is one considered better than the other?
I'm not going to get into this discussion, it is being held in lots of other places, except to say why can't we be both?
Visiting my brother, a very talented architect (another field in which you need to be both artist and craftsman), last week he was showing me a book on Lucienne and Robin Day who are influential designers and artists of the 20th century. Lucienne is famous for her textiles and Robin for his minimalist chairs (though this isn't all they did). Looking at some of the textiles Lucienne designed and learning from my brother about how the technology of the day influenced the finished product has brought me back round to this artist v craftsman question.
Fabrics by Lucienne Day
I don't have an answer to this question and don't suppose we ever will, but I think I'd like to consider myself both - at the moment I'm a better craftsman than artist. Actually I should more accurately say I'm a better at embroidery then drawing - but I'm working on the drawing part.
All this has brought me back to an artist/craftsman whose work I have always enjoyed. MC Escher. A little while ago I had a thought about embroidering a mobius strip and this thought has been percolating away in the back of my little head ever since then. I've seen lots of mobius strips over the years but the first one I remember being fascinated with was this one by Esher.
Mobius II
This morning I went on-line and did some searching. I have a book on Escher but it doesn't go into his history and for some reason doesn't say how he created his pictures. On the MC Escher website I found that information - lots of his work was created by wood block prints or lithographs - another artist/craftsman. Don't you love it when things just seem to link up without any rhyme or reason.
Mobius I
I think I prefer this version of his mobius strip to the one with the ants. I like how the two colours work. This one, the Escher website tells me, was printed from 4 blocks. What artistry to design it in the first place and then the craftsmanship to carve the 4 separate blocks so they match up.
The more I looked at the gallery of images the more they seemed to remind me of Japanese embroidery. I can't quite put my finger on why, maybe it's the use of shading which we get with our flat silk and Escher creates with his printing.
And the more I looked the more I thought some of these would look wonderful worked in various JE techniques. How about either of these sprial designs worked as cords?

Sphere sprials

They remind me of the JEC phase piece - Resonance cords. This fabulous example was embroidered by Iris who lives in Australia. So I will continue to ponder on how to interpret a mobius strip in JE techniques. I'd love to do as suggested by Michelle Griffiths, a shibori artist based in Wales, and embroider a giant one 6 feet or so across but not really sure how I could do this. So I'll start on a smaller version and work up to the giant one (maybe!). In the meantime I am working on the JEC piece white blossoms - I have to have something to stitch. I am finding this piece very restful. No pictures to share yet - watch this space.

This last photo, also an Escher, is just because it's lovely. It has just the right level of 'catness' don't you think?

PS - have been getting some spam comments recently so have had to switch the comment moderation back on - sorry


Rachel said...

That's certainly a very catlike cat. Escher was a fine draftsman as well as having an astonishing imagination!

Susie said...

I hear what you are saying and ponder the question myself. I like to think I'm a craftsman with a bit of artist there!. There is something captivating about art that makes you look and look again, again!
Looking forward to seeing your new piece!

Anonymous said...

I love your idea of working the spirals or sphere spirals like cords. I think it would work very well and look amazing.

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