This is my second last post on this incredible journey through The Gathered Gallery digital artist-in-residency! Today I will be sharing with you an upcoming project that I am working in partnership with an incredible artist and dear friend, Valentina Gaia-Lops!
Body House was born out of a deep interested in trying to understand and talk more openly about our body as our house/home through our life journey. When does our relationship to it start? What are the influences? How do we perceive it? Why do we have so many ups and downs when talking about it? Weaving together a series of autobiographical accounts of people’s relationships with their own bodies, Body House takes its inspiration from one of Valentina’s photography projects, Amor Proprio, and asks the question: Is it selfish to love oneself?
Stemming from the project’s central question, we have engaged in the past few months in a process of conducting interviews and taking photographs and videos of a number of individuals, reflecting a diversity of ages, abilities and backgrounds. Footage of real people relating personal stories of their relationships with their bodies are being woven into the show via print photography as part of the final video, as well as soundscapes and imagery. Both Valentina and I have been engaging in a writing process to create the overall narrative arc of the film, including autobiographical accounts of body perceptions and journeying toward self-acceptance.
The culmination of this project will be a film that incorporates movement and text, with elements of textile art, photography and soundscape. The functional textile piece is being developed in response to the short videos, photography and choreography presented to artists during the testimonial interviews, and the writing process. Ideas and feelings around body perception and relationship with one’s own body will be reflected in the textile creations. And that is what I will be sharing with you today!
Creating the textile piece for this project was very different from most of the other pieces I have ever created. I decided on the colour scheme even before I decided on what it would look like, and although I had a vague idea that I wanted to make a quilt and add Valentina's photos to it, I had no idea how to incorporate embroidery to it. Doing some research I noticed that throughout the XV to XIX centuries embroidery words were used to express social status and also to send "secret messages", with the turn of the century and the craftvism movement, embroidering words became a tool for liberation and for protest. Embroidery was now a statement and a way to stand up against social rules/injustices rather than just using a skill to create "pretty things for the home".
Because of the nature of the project, my goal was to give voice to other people in this piece. Besides the people Valentina and I interviewed, I also posted the photo above on my social media and asked people to complete the phrase " My Body Is...", once I started receiving replies I started documenting them to embroider on the central panel of the quilt.
While waiting for responses to come, I was reviewing the interviews and writing the script for the film with Valentina. The audio imagery of the interviews gave me the idea of also adding images to the embroidery panel which would help link the photography to the textile piece. I started sketching body types based on what I was hearing from the interviews and on what people was writing to me.
This whole process took me about 5 weeks.
Once I had the panel done it was time to print the photos on fabric (I used a technique thought to me at school by Susan Furneaux of treating the fabric with the sum of soy beans to hold the printer ink... If you are thinking about doing this please note you cannot wash the fabric after or the printing will smudge/vanish).
Once that was done, was time to put the quilt together! I'll share another little video experiment ( again bare with me as I learn the editing magic!) of this process here but the final photo of the quilt will be a surprise!
Thanks again for reading today and if you want to keep up to date with this project follow us on Instagram @thebodyhouseproject !