I have a number of projects involving these shirts, but for this piece I always had in mind that I would add varnish to enable me to draw/write on it. However, I like it the way it is and want to live with it like this for a while before making a decision about the drawing and the writing.
I know who owned every bit of fabric, but out of respect for the owner I am not going to make this knowledge public. A few, sadly, would not give me their shirts, saying they were too messy or dirty. I really appreciate the fact that some people gave them to me anyway (even though they didn’t really want to), and so will not name them. Each shirt comes with a story.
I started with a pile of shirts like this. These came from a lovely young Polish girl with an incredible work ethic. In Poland she was a physiotherapist, now she wanders around the gallery telling people not to take photographs. Not that many people know her previous occupation, she does not tell you unless you ask. She is polite and kind to everyone. It is a pleasure to work with her.
So then I started piecing everyone together. I sewed small sections together first. Most of this sewing was done on the train either to or from work. Some of those collars are very stiff. If you follow me on facebook you may remember me trying to learn how to use a thimble (unsuccessfully). I do not have a studio, this is my actual lounge. We do not have another room, in this room we eat, watch tv, use the computer et cetera (that one is for you, Gerard).
I ended up with this. Now, should I varnish it, possibly ruining months of work? I just want to take a moment to tell you about the thread I used. I bought it as part of a very old bag of odds-and-ends in a charity shop. Would love to know the life history of that bag. The main one I used is silk. Both are beautiful.
Apart from the first photograph, above is before the varnish and below is after the varnish. First there are sections, and then not a very good photograph of the whole piece, which is 76cms x 76cms. I was making it to be part of the staff art show. However, due to a lot of entries and lack of space, a size restriction was understandably imposed. So, I won’t be able to display my work. Don’t despair though, I have made a smaller piece.
Below is the small version, here in the early stages, completed during the second week of Wimbledon. Very exciting. Stabbed my fingers multiple times. At one point there was actual blood. I would like to say that it dripped onto my work, but I would be lying. If you happen to be passing the gallery and fancy coming to see the staff art show, it starts tomorrow and details are below. You will be able to smell my work before you see it, it stinks. The last coat of varnish was administered very close to the submission deadline. I had to trim it down and leave it unframed so that it complies with the size rule.