Monday, December 19, 2011

Stitch oil, white and black

I've got a couple of large scale oil spill works on the go. Pressing hard at their heels are some mining works I've got planned, just waiting for confirmation on deadlines before I reassess my stitching priorities.  There's nothing to show for those but sketches and notes so far, but they are what occupy my minds eye most compellingly right now.  Occupying my hands however, is "stitch oil, black and white" as the notes in my daybook record day after day.

The first oil spill work is an installation of about 400 crocheted cotton spheres of various sizes. I've finished about 160 so far. Because my policy is to, as far as possible, use second hand or waste materials my selection of crochet cotton is quite variable. Different weights and shades, different types of spinning and possibly different materials- its hard to know if any of my cotton isn't all cotton because almost none of the balls have labels. I'm having to use a lot of white because I keep running out of the ecru.

Anyway, to try and bring some harmony to this motley ensemble of spheres I will spend some time this summer dying them with tea. Here was my first serious tea-dying experiment. After the tea dying comes the much more fiddly work of starching floppy net bladders into shapely spheres.

The intention is to represent oil dispersants such as Corexit which was heavily used on the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in 2010 and briefly used on the Rena oil spill in the Bay of Plenty NZ this year. Dispersants are much more toxic than oil but have the attractive (to oil companies and politicians) ability to make oil spills invisible by breaking the oil down into plankton sized blobs and distributing it through the whole water column. Great for dodging fines based on the amount of oil recovered, not so great for the eco-system and human health and local economies.  

Here I am holding up my big black spill (working title) which is about half of its intended finished size. Its the currently same height as me, 155cm or 5'0", short for an adult, big for a hand stitched piece.   I wrote about starting this one in a blog post about cutting the paper pattern and blanket pieces? So far I have felted and stitched about two thirds of the fabric I cut that day when I ran out of grey blankets.  Since then I have managed to acquire three more which should be enough to see this work spreading down the wall and across the floor of the gallery.

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