Today is the day to finish off a textiles piece I’ve been working on in my current care home residency (part of the Colour Me Purple project). It is made up of many pieces of fabric, hand printed by residents and myself.
I pin them together, hoping to quickly machine-sew the work and be done with it. After the first few lines, the pieces of fabric start to object. They slip and slide out of place, and the picked up piece refuses to hang together in the way I have planned it. I become frustrated and impatient, until I realise that the first section (which I tacked together by hand) is sitting much better than my machined pieces. Calmer, stronger, more cohesive.
In my stubbornness, I don’t listen to the work and carry on attempting to machine it. I am ignoring the quiet yet persistent voice of what I wish to create, telling me it wants to be pieced together by hand, gently and slowly. The different weights of fabric (some heavy, some delicate) are stressed by a mechanical process, and join together slightly awkwardly, just like people in love who won’t give things time.
I stop, break for lunch. I had much planned today but art will not allow it. I feel slow, sleepy and in need of solitude. When I return to the piece I pick up a needle and thread. Accepting now that I must take my time, I begin to slowly stitch each part together. There is no master plan here, I am just letting the work tell me what it wants as each fragment becomes one with the next.
My playlist of music has come to an end, and I don’t put another song on. The work wants quiet; sounds from the outside, wind rustling down the chimney and the muffled beats coming through next door’s walls. The needle is small, but she is so strong, sharp and persistent. With each stitch I pierce time itself, spacing out each and every second.