Els van Baarle and Cherilyn Martin have an artistic relationship going back over two decades and have worked collaboratively during that time. In this new book, they have come together to look at how to approach textile work whilst following a theme and how one theme can be developed differently depending on your own techniques and style. The book offers practical advice to the textile artist about ways of working to achieve an end goal and showcases some spectacular and thought-provoking finished pieces.
What binds these two artists together is their interest in common themes: the past, passage of time, ancient cultures and marks left by Man. These themes lead to the creation of each artist’s individual work but with a cohesive quality that allows them to sit together comfortably. Their paths cross over when looking at how to delve further into the development of a piece of work. Materials used include fabric, paper, wax, paint and thread and uses dyeing, screenprinting, lamination and layering. The raw materials may be similar but each artist’s work is individual.
To start developing any work from a theme, there is first a chapter on the creative process, which sets out the phases of a creative process (inspiration, gestation, fruition and assessment). These neatly set out how having the right planning and consideration into how a piece of work will evolve can make the process easier and gives stages of development to follow. A comprehensive look at elements of design, colour, proportion and balance also gives some foundation for a practical approach to a new piece.
The main body of the book deals with several themes which cover the artists’ shared interests. There are works based on graveyard stones and inscriptions, walls and their markings, Pompeii, the past, book forms and using everyday objects. Each chapter delves more deeply into the many interpretations that each theme throws up and how a particular focus can be followed. Each artist’s own interpretation is explained but there are also suggestions on how the reader could develop their own approach. By being able to follow their process of work and how each stage builds on the last, a clearer picture emerges of how a considered and thoughtful approach can provide the building blocks for a balanced end result.
There are some wonderful finished pieces included from each artist. Cherilyn Martin’s Pillow Books, a series of Vintage dress collars mounted on screen-printed cotton (below); Els van Baarle’s Letters from a Friend (above), a series of works developed from the envelopes kept by her friend Henk and made into wonderful cascades of colour. Both have created some beautiful book forms which are a highlight.
The book ends with suggestions on how to see (perceive) what surrounds us with a view to finding more magic in the everyday. By tapping into this, we are more likely to add fuel to our imagination and be more receptive to our creative development.
Photography reproduced through Batsford Books; photography by Joop van Houdt.