Developing Source Material.
This stage starts off with a couple of questions to think about:
First, consider why you have chosen your particular subject. What attracted you to it in the first place? Do some brainstorming and make a list of things that caught your attention.
I’ve been interested in tribes, customs and spiritual beliefs for a while now. Individuals in many clans throughout the ages relate to personal totems, their own benevolent spirit which looks over and protects them. Many find their totem through experiences relating to particular animals and incidents involving these creatures. There may be group totems as well as individual ones and many ceremonies are held in honour of these spirits. Creating effigies and paintings and drawings are all ways of depicting these personal symbols.
What I have discovered whilst researching totems has amazed me and radically increased my understanding. I hadn’t appreciated the myriad of different totem types, reasons for being and forms they take – and I’ve only scratched the surface. I was completely ignorant about indigenous Australian totems and the different interpretations they attribute to the word: it could be a long and complex range of images and carvings, it could be an abstract art piece with a symbolic meaning or it could be a carving of a single effigy which is connected to that particular person, such as the owls I wrote about on January 2nd.
Over the last 10 days I have been putting some of my stash into my Inspiration Box ready for the totem samples I’ll be making, and also doing a little drawing. Opening my box today and seeing what I thought might be appropriate was interesting, especially as I’ve evolved my ideas a lot since some of these pieces were chosen. Here are some of my fabrics.
I don’t know why I like the fish in this next sample but I do. Perhaps it is the closeness and repetition of the pattern. It is like I imagine the frenzy of salmon spawning in Alaskan rivers must be. The salmon swim upriver in enormous numbers to have their young, providing a bounty of food for both humans and bears.
This last fabric seems very aboriginal. The stylised and simplified goanna images along with the lack of colour and the dot design create this feel.
At the end of this project we are asked to select a design idea to be developed into a functional product such as a furnishing item or jewellery. We are also asked to choose another idea which could end up as something more conceptual or an expressive piece.
I’m going to be working on my functional design first and would like to use my own personal totem, but what is my own totem? Looking back through some of the textile art pieces I’ve done through recent years I find a recurring theme – lizards and terrain. It seems too much of a coincidence to ignore the fact that a baby goanna happened to stroll into my garden as I was drawing a few days ago. Here are a few goanna/lizard/gecko pieces for inspiration.
This silk paper lizard has been coloured using alcohol inks. He features hand-stitched patterning and has two coats of Aleene’s Paper Glaze. I like him a lot.
This photograph shows roughly what my baby goanna will look like when he is fully grown. We have several living nearby, adults and juveniles, and they can get up to around two metres in length with fearsome talons. I regularly see them as they climb up a tree trunk to stay away from my dogs. In reality they could kill a dog without a problem using their long curved talons.
Next I will be posting some of my drawings and ideas of how to put my lizard totem into a piece of functional textile art.
Beaded gecko pattern from: Sonal Bhatt, Beaded Critters, Sterling Publishing Co, New York, 2005
Goanna photo from: http://walkaboutpark.com.au/index.php?id=228