Petalplum

Artwork Process : Cocoon | Emerge

Creative Process, Botanical Dye, FabricEllie BeckComment

Last week I went to Sydney, with my teenage son, to attend the exhibition opening which my work was in. Being part of a textile award exhibition was wonderful - in a room full of other textile artists, and textile work. Seeing loom weaving, basket weaving, stitching, quilting, fabric dyeing, felting and more being shown side by side, being promoted and loved, and enjoyed. I want more of it, I realised.

I wanted to put this work up here to share with you too. Because I think one day I’ll wake up and my whole Instagram account will be lost and gone, and I’ll have nothing much to show on the internets of what I’ve done, my journey these past years. Do you ever feel like that might happen?!!

I made this piece, called Cocoon | Emerge {self} using the silk offcasts from spinning the threads, they’re called silk rods. They came from my fabric supplier and as soon as I looked at them, they started talking to me. The rough bark-like texture, the soft silky feel, the depths of them, the way they called out to be stroked. They took beautifully to the colours in my dye pots - being like raw silk and all. Of course they’d take amazingly to natural dye.

This work feels, to me, like the ripe opening - the pulling of my soul. The near-whiteness of the external with the colours hidden underneath.. like caves of colours, pockets of what we keep hidden to protect us, to protect our internal thoughts, emotions, feelings. I wanted to share these pockets - to be opened up.

Society isn’t always ready to see the colours we keep in our depths. Society wants to see the outside being a little more neutral. We can of course show some of ourselves, but once we start sharing too much — people get afraid. That’s what I’m experiencing anyway. That’s the journey I’m going through. Maybe my colours are too much.

But, in Emerge I wanted to open up. To not hide behind the bark-like exterior. I wanted people to reach in, to look closer, to ponder what’s behind, underneath. To accept and express joy in that.

While it looks bark-like and tree-ish, it also has a wing shape. The flight of the cocooning. Those opposites of self…… staying closed and metamorphosising towards flight, freedom of self. I think that’s what we exist in : all aspects of who we are, as humans. We are neither fully sealed off, nor are we fully able to be 100% ourselves.

The exposed copper pipe, to hang the piece, feels to me a little like some of Frida Kahlo’s paintings of her spinal cord, wrapped in bandage. The journey and the process of healing herself. That’s what I went through - not physically of course, not so dreadfully painfully. But emotionally, spiritually.

During making this piece, which was both machine and hand stitched, my family went about their own days. Walking past me, making comments and noticing things about the work, giving their ideas and interpretations, shedding light - for me - on different viewpoints. Often I wouldn’t want something like this, viewpoints and expressions of someone else’s ideas about my work, especially not before it’s finished. But my work takes place around my family, with my children a physical part of the process. I stop and start at their whims, and their timetables. And I’m able to work because they take for granted that this is what I do. They sit beside me and draw, or chatter, or play. And their words, their feelings, their thoughts shared become part of me, and part of my work. So - for this reason I will always value the thoughts, and small noticings from my family of my work. And I will always cherish it.

This piece is currently available from the Seed Stitch Textile exhibition, at Australian Design Centre, in Sydney’s Darlinghurst. You can purchase it from there directly, or if comes back home to me unsold then it will be available through my website. I’d love to make some more of this work, in this feeling….. am open to commissions if you feel like something for your walls.