Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Textile Art Symposium, 2nd day (updated with pictures)

On Sunday evening I met Judith at the station and took her to the hotel we are staying at in town, and Angelika, the third artist participating in the symposium arrived a little later, so we spent the evening getting acquainted. I realized that I was pretty lucky because I knew the entire setup from earlier symposiums that I had witnessed. The two of them were a bit nervous, which I did not feel like at all. So much so not nervous, that I really only started packing in the evening after I had returned from the dinner we had together. All three of us admitted to the others that we were a bit scared we might not finish during the week and that we had worked ahead to a certain degree. What a relief to hear that I was not alone in that!
On Monday morning we started setting up the tent and work began before noon.

Enough table room, my machine, additional light. Judith Siedensberger's
design sketches on the board in the back right.
Judith at work.

 I did go home for lunch because my husband was out of town and I wanted my son to have company when he came home from school. During the meal he asked me why I had to go and move into the hotel for the week? Would I not rather have slept at home? I said I wanted to be where the others were staying, to join their conversations over the meals, and be out of the family obligations. But, did I have to pay for the hotel? When I denied that he said he said well, then it’s not quite so bad… I was touched that he had mentioned it. Shows that mother out of the house is felt as not ordinary in some way or other. I do agree it is a pretty funny situation to be staying in a hotel which is about the same distance away from the tent where we set up our studio as our house proper, only that the tent is sort of in the middle between the two. And being so close to home gives you the feeling that you can always go and get something in case you’d forgotten to pack it… But I really did want to do it that way because otherwise I would be falling back into doing housework or whatever. Just wish the food were a bit better…
So work has been going well. Yesterday was pretty warm in the tent and although we haven’t put it to use yet I was glad I had packed a small ventilator, just in case. Today it was cooler, even a thunderstorm came through in the late afternoon, which is when I packed up everything for the day to cut off electricity, a good twenty minutes earlier than I had wanted to. 


I’d had some thread- and tension issues in the afternoon, the thread kept breaking while I was stitching Article 20 in Hungarian. As it had not mucked up at all, same thread, this morning when I was doing Article 15 in Portuguese I am dead certain it must be the Hungarian that is causing the problems… and had wanted to finish outlining Article 2 in Wolof before the night. That only got started, however, and it is where I will continue tomorrow. After that there is only one more article to stitch onto the fabric, then I can go (home) and dissolve the stabilizers, wash, dry and iron the top and baste it onto the batting and back fabric. I am planning to start serious quilting tomorrow afternoon. I am managing pretty well with the machine, but I do miss my big working table at home where the machine is level with the table top and the work piece doesn’t get caught on the tray table all the time… I am spoilt with that!


We don’t talk a whole lot but it has been fun working alongside the other two. We have had a few visitors already and most likely the number are going to increase over the next few days.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Unwritten posts...


In my head I have composed at least 5 or 6 different blog posts over the past two weeks. One would have been title ‘intimated through admiration’ and would have talked about how I was struggling trying to quilt a top for Kathleen Loomis. I have always admired her work, and we have become close friends over the years after we met for the first time in a master class at Nancy Crow’s barn. She has entrusted me with two of her gorgeous tops and had given me the freedom to ‘do whatever you want’. When I suggested an idea for the first one, however, she didn’t like that one particularly, suggested something else and I started getting nervous because what she wanted isn’t easy to do on the longarm. I tried, but was thinking I was ruining her top, which resulted in stalled activity on my part. But we resolved the issue, and put off the second top for after the upcoming events that are keeping me very busy into June.



Another post would have been on important life decisions and how they are being taken.  Yet another one on the joy of the reopening of our open air pool which I consider to be the biggest asset of the small town we are living in, but which, as is sensible in German latitudes, closes from September through April, and we must be happy if it reopens on May 1st already, and we don’t have to wait until the middle of the month. 

Then I went to the Nadelwelt in Karlsruhe and wanted to write about that, but by now I should know that it is virtually impossible to do that while the show is on if I still want to catch a sufficient amount of sleep… 



Plus, there are so many people who report about events like that that I have kind of decided that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to keep adding to that. But I did teach a class, and I could have reported on how that went, as it was a new class…

In any case, I have been very busy. Also with the preparations for the Textile Art Symposium that will begin on the coming Monday. I collected all the handwritten samples of articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that I will use, and it was fascinating to see people’s reactions. With some articles I had been the person to suggest for some of the participants that they write this particular article. But at the beginning, when only a couple of articles had been chosen, I was thrilled about how people chose ‘their’ article because it meant a lot to them personally. And even in the later stages, when I was suggesting, it turned out that my suggestions coincided with people’s special interests. I had asked a woman from Brazil to write an article in Portuguese, and as she was the last one in the long line, it was article 15 that had not been done before. The article on the right to have and to change a nationality. It turns out she had wanted to do so, give up her Brazilian nationality to become only German to reduce difficulties and bureaucracy. But Brazil does not allow that. Once a Brazilian, you cannot give that up, so she had double citizenship. Brazil does not adhere to the UDHR in this aspect. The woman writing in Hungarian chose article 20, on freedom of press and freedom to assemble, because she thought that was something to vex the current leader. And it continued like that.
People I have been talking to about the project find it interesting. Some did not even know there is such a thing as a Universal Declaration of Human Rights…

Article 1 in Xhosa

I have started stitching and am making progress, although I still don’t know whether I will be able to finish during the week we will be working in the public realm behind the City Hall. And after we had the warmest and driest April since the beginning of weather data recordings it is turning cold, and is supposed to rain next week… Might have to retrieve my ski underwear which I have already packed away for the summer!

Then there are all the things I did not do. But I won't lament about that. Somebody suggested I might have a problem saying 'no', which I had never thought about. Given the fact that my mother claims 'no' was the first word I said I had never thought it might be a problem. And I don't think it is. It is a problem, though, that I think too many things are important and should be paid proper attention. What I need to learn, it seems, is, to find out early enough how much of my personal attention that needs to be.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Falling in love


The four days of show in Villefranche-sur-Saône were interesting, but long hours, and overall very exhausting. Trying to talk French after having studied for my Spanish exam (and there weren’t a lot of visitors who could speak anything else but French) was a challenge, but I managed. (Of course, in yesterday’s Spanish lesson I was again using French words when the Spanish wouldn’t pop up…)
I split up the return drive spending a night in Memmingen, a city I was really only aware of from a severe court case many years ago that made it into the nation’s newspapers and that has always been a scar on my image of Bavaria. So much so that I never thought about going to look at the town - it does have a really pretty old town and is very picturesque. 



So after a really tiring week - two days of driving, four days of show, two days of driving - I immediately went back to two days of teaching. But now my class in doing two weeks of practicum and I am ‘on vacation’. Well - not really, except for the fact that on Thursday I just needed to hang out, not do much, catch my breath. But all week I have also been working on preparations for the textile art symposium. I am one by one securing handwritten versions of some of the articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that I am using as the message for the quilt I want to make. Here is my student Puji writing Article No. in Thai, which really is a fantastic script. 



At first I let the writers chose themselves, but now that a number of articles already have been taken it is fun to consider which person or which language is the right one at this stage for a particular language. For example, I chose my Hungarian-born colleague to write the article on the right for demonstrations and expression of opinion on Hungarian. She loved that, too.
Of course, my son’s motivation for choosing Article No. 6 was completely different - he looked for brevity to get it over with quickly. But I love and appreciate the fact that he was willing to write it, after all he is not 2½ years old any more as he was when I started using his drawings as inspiration for the series ‘Play of Lines’ and could have said ‘forget it’…


Yesterday I started stitching the intermediate layer after some procrastination, which resulted in some changes of design and orientation. 

This is the plan - but plans are there to be modified...

And as I am stitching some of the what I consider key phrases of the preamble, I am beginning to really fall in love with these words.  


I have always held a very very high appreciation for this Declaration, but as I am repeating these phrases on the fabric, they resound within me, it is amazing:
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all the members of the human family.

  • Freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want.
  • Human rights should be protected by the rule of law.
  • Dignity and worth of the human person.
  • Equal rights of men and women.


What a powerful message. Perhaps it will be heard after all, some day…