This is a piece I finished in March called Roads to Nowhere. It's another work in my Heaven and Earth series. The work measures 70 cm x 70 cm and is based on a satellite image of a military encampment in Iraq. What fascinated me was the geometry of the roads imposed on this sparse landscape, roads that are almost devoid of buildings, roads that are built not to service a community,but to transport military arms and personnel.
I have to admit that this was the most difficult piece I have ever done. I agonised over how to interpret this image that had so little in the way of structure or texture to work with. The whole time I worked on it I felt decidedly ill at ease. As I worked it I struggled over how to unite the various disparate elements of the design. i'd finish one part and think "that works" and then I'd finish the next and think "that works" and each part seemed to work with that adjacent to it, but the image still disturbed me. "But if all the bits work, and if they work with the adjacent bits, then the whole thing should work" i thought. And yet, at the end, I wasn't sure how I felt, or rather it still made me uneasy. "OK, maybe you just have to live with it a while". So I did. I had it on the floor next to my worktable for a couple of months and over time I came to feel better and better about it. I think the difficulty I had in creating the work was clouding my judgement of and emotions towards the finished product.
I started work along the top and top right edges. Whenever I got stuck on how to work the next part I took a break and stitched in some of the roads.
There were some elements unique to this image that I have never seen before in a satellite image. For example the well defined triangular forms and the circles with crosses in them that you can see in the image above. I have no idea what the triangles are, but I'm guessing that the circles with crosses are helicopter landing sites or perhaps targets for airforce exercises.
Above: Top left hand corner
Random cross hatchings in variegated thread and detail of the river bed that bisects the image diagonally.
The river flat (detail above) is worked with long laid vertical threads and shorter couching threads of varying lengths. Although here the threads look lax, they will sit tight and flat when the work is mounted on foam core.
Here, the rectangular forms of buildings make some sense of the roads.
I am very happy with the colour and texture I managed to incorporate into the "brown" area on the left which appeared as a flat brown area on the reference image. Unfortunately I just could not get a good macro shot of the area but you can see something of the variety of textured stitches used. The french knots worked with variegated thread look like little glass seed beads. I love stitching french knots. They always look great and are so versatile.
Thanks for stopping by. How do you feel when looking at this work?
Marta, this is breath taking and disturbing all at once. Maybe because of what is going on in Iraq at the moment - the image appears to be two distinct triangles; the land/people split by religion, ethnicity and the division of the Middle East 100 years ago by the west. An apt metaphor. The lines remind me of roads taken by people - bisecting now and then, but not often enough for real dialogue. The colours add to the forboding atmosphere. Maybe I am reading far too much into this work. I do admire it greatly.
Actually Erica you are spot on. That is exactly how I wanted the work to read. The palette was a bit different to what I'm used to and it was a challenge to integrate it all. I wasn't really thinking about it in a distant historical context, but your point about the west cutting up the Ottoman empire some 100 years ago is very poignant. For me it was about all the money and energy put into creating infrastructure for no other reason than to further the war machine's agenda. The title Roads to Nowhere has a double meaning. Yes, the roads literally seem to go nowhere, but as we know (and many of us knew from the outset) this war was going nowhere.
I do love your work - it is Art; makes me think and moves me, unlike so much on the internet purporting to be Art. Much is arty but little is Art. Your ideas amaze me; your technical expertise is breathtaking. Keep it up!
Love your work. Am in Tassie at the moment, and have free wi-fi, so have been surfing all day. Love the depth you get in to tour work, that I can only get with quilting. And yet you manage to do it on a flat surface.
Hi Jan, thank you for your lovely words. I am in Osterley. If you would like to come for a studio visit you are welcome to contact me via the contact page and we can arrange something if you would like.
Hi Hannah, nice to see you back here. Thanks for your kind words. I'll have another new piece posted up soon.
Leave a Reply.
This blog was previously at another site. To view older blog posts please click here.
I am a hand embroidery artist living and working in the rugged and wild Central HIghlands of Tasmania.