Making Connection; ADZ5777 Week One

Second year has started, time to prepare myself for mass amounts of work.

This week was my first week back in university back to study my second year of textiles at Cardiff Met and let me tell you, i’m so happy its finally back! after such a long summer break i’m so ready to come back and get some textiles going.

On Tuesday I had my introduction onto Level 5 textiles, and all the opportunities and possibilities that lay ahead. Having had the brief and timetable emailed in advance of our first day, I started to read through what I could expect of this year and boy does it sound great, scary and a bit daunting, but great. This year is all about Making Connections. Working from companies on commissions, finding actual work placements with real companies in the textiles business, and creating work that is based on trend and upcoming styles, so that its relevant. The most important thing is to find out what sort of designer I want to be, what sector of textiles I want to focus on, what media and techniques I prefer to work with, what style. All these things are essential tools for the creation of great work.

Trying to help myself a bit, I started to do some company/designer research the week leading up to Level 5. Having read the brief I knew how sort a time I’d have to fins so many different designers and companies across the three different areas of textiles; interior, fashion and stationery. I’m trying to organize my time so I don’t start getting behind on work, I want everything to be done in time to move onto the next stage of work, which means, that I needed to start doing my research ASAP. I’m enjoying it so far, I’ve been able to find designers and companies that are completely different from each other, had a change to look through their work, read what they have written about their creation, and have also been able to contact a few and ask then about their inspiration and the driving force behind what they are putting forward.

Knowing how much work I have to do and what is expected of me, I’m amazed at the students who are now in third year, last year I looked through their work and was inspiring to see how professional and put together their portfolios and moodboards etc. were.

On Thursday I has my first digital stich workshop of the year, starting with a quick refresher of some of the techniques that we learn last year. I was able to start getting back into the swing of using different sewing techniques as well as being able to use load of different thread and materials. After the quick refresh we moved on to learning the basics of use the digital programs which are required for the digital stitch machines. Learning the different buttons and the different tools available, the different type of stitches and different fill types (weave, satin etc.) as well as learning how to rotate the actual design or just the stitch direction. I t was all really useful knowledge, which will help me to narrow down the types of techniques and processes I will want to use during this project.


The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine – UPDATE

In chapter four we travel to the sixteenth century, which was a transitional time for art, including embroidery. The differences between men and women became more highlighted, both socially, theologically, ethically, politically and artistically. Throughout the chapter Rozsika takes us through the changes from the mediaeval view of women to the Humanist idea that men and women complement each other, and that one could not exists without the other. She takes is through the increasing divisions between the sexes, how women were expected to display softness and femininity, whereas men were expected to be hard and worldly. Embroidery was becoming seen more and more as the pursuit of the noble, delicate, chaste lady that everyman required.

Over the course of the century, the art of embroidery fell more and more into the hands of the women as it became more and more linked with their virtue and chastity. At this time, painters were becoming more acknowledged for their ability to create sketches and drawings quickly, which became to change the dynamics of the art world, and in particular the prestige of the painter over the embroider. Embroidery itself becoming further divided into the public craft and domestic art, art which became a vehicle for women to express their femininity, so much so that male embroiders felt unable to compete in this arena without using their own sexuality.

Rozsika explores these difference between the sexes and embroider within the next chapter, where the main theme was that to embroider was to be feminine, which seemed to be the rule throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Embroidery became a big part in women’s education and was used to create distinct divisions between males and females. Embroidery was used from an early ages to subjugate and dominate girls into knowing their place within the man’s world. It was used to install obedience, patience and stillness, which men believed was a prerequisite of being a woman. However, femininity did not come naturally to women and so it was the job of society to repeatedly re-enforce this idea of women.

However, over the course of the centuries, women, whilst embracing embroidery as part of their lot in life, became increasingly mindful of hat subjects they chose to embroider, and as the 17th century wore on, more and more women became to embroidery imagery of heroic biblical women. This allowed the embroiders to comply with societies demands, whilst at the same time giving expression to their own ideas of what it want to be a woman.

Rozsika tells us of the divisions between women in different classes, how religious and economical influences affected society, therefore working-class women were hired as labourers while middle-class women where left o embroider at their luxury, creating aristocratic pieces of art.  As society changed, the role of men and women became ever more rigidly distinguished with embroidery falling most definitely into the feminine sphere.

We then move forward in the sixth chapter to the 18th and 19th century where even more changes where happening for women, in both society and embroidery. During this time we see a decline of religious iconography within embroidery, instead the influence of Nature come to the fore. In the 18th century embroidery still reflected femininity, and as such was used as a tool to keep women in their perceived places.  Women were excluded from the best art education in the schools and academies and turned to other craft materials such as collage as well as embroidery. These other materials, however, were considered second class to the male dominated painting.

Rozsika makes clear links throughout the centuries, showing us how the divisions of classes carried on from the earlier centuries through to the 18th, where aristocratic embroidery was looked upon favourable by society, whereas working class embroidery/needlework was considered a necessary evil. Middle class families became obsessed with mother/daughter relationships and used embroidery both as a means of expressing this love and as a means of obedience and submission. Motherhood itself became a popular subject in all art, including embroidery. However, as women began to find their voices, concern was raised about the effects of embroidery on the health of those pursing it. From some girls, embroidery was becoming akin to punishment.

On the heels of the French Revolution, women were quick to assert a different from of femininity that included political and legal equality with men. Embroidery presented something of a problem for reformers, as women continued to view embroidery as an admirable occupation, especially towards to end of the 19th century hen women embroidered in the subject of love as a way to reflect their own personality and understanding of the importance of love in society and family life.

As Rozsika shows us, the changes with women and embroidery were slow going through the centuries covered in these three chapters. But what is evident is the use of embroidery to hold women in their perceived position, making sure that they were as subservient as ever within this male dominated society. The fact that embroidery was still not acknowledged as an art form is astounding, yet understandable considering the role it has played within the lives of women thus far.

I’m looking forwards to reading the much faster and more explosive way in which femininity and embroidery becomes empowered during the 20th century, and the changes this had on the lives of many women, and the art from itself.