A Textile Vocabulary Influences Beyond the Coursework Submission

Not long after I packed up my coursework and posted it for final assessment I had the following exchange with textile artist Susie Freeman:

I felt it important to comment and put forward a slightly different perspective as it can be all too easy to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to a variety of topics particularly relating to health and politics. The current obsession with removing all traces of sugar from soft drinks is akin to the blanket ban on plastic drinking straws and the social media posts and posters publicly shaming those who receive paracetamol on prescription. This one size fits all approach seems to forget that there are those who for a wide variety of health reasons rely on these products.

Whilst it is easy to become outraged over a particular issue, most tend to be far more nuanced than the media (and particularly the social media echo chamber) leads us to believe. All I would ask is that before people post potentially inflammatory comments, perhaps have a brief think about what scenarios might necessitate whatever “evil” you are condemning. I know from experience that this may be difficult to do as I have often had strangers tell me that they never conceived that a condition like my own existed and so feel free to ask questions. In fact whenever you see facts and figures, I encourage you (as someone from a science background) to question who is publishing them, their motives, what biases they may have and what the opposing argument could be. If all else fails, put the question out into the aether of the internet rather than a definitive statement…you may be surprised by some of the responses you get back.

I spent most of yesterday travelling for a scan at UCLH in London and in the reception area there is a stunning installation of what looked like a variety of objects including possibly medical supplies. I discovered today that it was created by Stuart Haygarth and is called Strand (2012), full information can be found on his website here. He says that “the starting point of the sculpture was a personal physical and mental journey [during cancer treatment].” (I should probably point out for clarity that I was not in this building to be treated for cancer but this is where the best MRI scanners are)

Interestingly the objects were not medical at all and it was difficult to see what each item was as the installation was quite high, especially from a wheelchair. Haygarth says that

[f]or the commission I walked along the coast from where the River Thames meets the North Sea at Graves End to the furthest point on the south coast, which is Lands End. Along this 450 mile coastal walk I collected man made objects, which had been washed ashore by the sea. I  chose the coastline because historically the sea was viewed as the ‘unknown’. The objects collected formed an archive, fragments from people’s lives.”

Stuart Haygarth Strand (2012) http://www.stuarthaygarth.com/strand2012

On a more positive note, I was so taken by one of the samples from my weaving experiments for the reworking of Assignment Two that I decided to turn it into a full scarf with a twisted fringe as can be seen here:

[All links accessed on 22 January 2020]

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