My impulse as a practitioner has not been to pursue a skill in a traditional manner, but to unravel and question it to develop new skills. I use these new skills, histories and traditions of textiles in strategic ways to challenge conventions and generate new practical and theoretical perspectives.
Furthermore, my specific interest in textiles as a language and how it can be distorted and formed has led me to a number of varied outcomes. How meaning is constructed and understood from this framework as well as how it can be transformed by contemporary sensibilities into a new visual language is what I pursue within my work. As a result internal oppositions exist within my work; geometric and organic, construction and deconstruction, order and chaos.
I continuously aim to display the hand labour involved in the making as a developmental process to obtain my own personal language. I achieve this in my work by introducing organic elements into the work which might otherwise be seen as too rational, and bordering on the sterile. It is this tension between these aspects that aspires to produce a sensual edge to the work.
With this in mind, the tactile qualities and fine details of the work I create are vital to the communication aspect of my practice. I achieve this through an appropriate use of process, as I am primarily a maker and have a need to be making and working directly with materials. Textiles are very much about the accessing of information via sensory engagement. We understand deeper levels of meaning through the employment of both our sensory and intellectual senses.H. Werschkul. 2006. in Encountering Eva Hesse, Corby, V. and Pollock, G (Eds), London, Prestel, p.200 It is this key issue that I continuously engage in throughout my work.
In essence, my work combines quality craftsmanship and aesthetics with a highly conceptual approach, often belying the perceptions and blurring the margins that are set up between Fine and Applied Art. I incorporate a diverse range of materials in the work, from textiles to metal, wood and plastic. Through each of these mediums I aim to let the materials express what I want to communicate. The visual language of my work which finds its origins in textile processes and materials is also the language of modernity, and ‘is used in a strategic way to counter-balance subjectivity and offer an array of meanings.M. Bristow. 2006-2007. http://www.clothandculturenow.com/Maxine_Bristow.html, Date accessed 01/09/2009
It was a combined interest of linear qualities and a tendency to enjoy the more labour intensive techniques that initially drew me to weave, as well as its possibilities of being used as a communicative art form. Throughout my work I have explored deconstruction as a process so that I may construct a unique series of works.
The introduction of technology alongside hand crafted techniques has always been of great interest to me as a practitioner in an ever more technologically driven world. These new technologies are combined with personal abstracted weave techniques are now the processes I employ throughout my work. This enables me to establish my own unique voice through the way in which I assemble the individual fragments. These arrangements of forms, colour combinations, outlines of structure, and the degree of complexity or openness are all choices that I make during the making process.
These works act as a physical manifestation of my own personal reflections and reactions to given places as well as a dialogue with the particular materials and techniques. The fragments of weaves and lines are predominantly visual, as the intention was to create work that in a sense acted as a catalyst for the viewers’ imagination. I did not wish to use a recognisable image but to create something that was almost an image, ‘that shimmer of suggestion that never becomes clear sight, but always hints at something deeper further on.’R. MacFarlane, Mountains of the Mind, Granta, London, 2003, p.243
Therefore the work ideally attempts to deliver an initial framework that’s easily grasped, but that then pulls the viewer along as it unpacks itself, or as it is spontaneously unpacked in the mind of the viewer. The interpretation and understanding of the work relies a lot on the associations brought into play by what is suggested and inferred at each piece of work, and those associations are personal to the viewer.
I offer the viewer the opportunity to delve into the work, interpret it to their own means and come to their own conclusions. As long as the process of weave is conceptually present to the viewer it is this aspect that is of upmost importance. One viewer will read the work differently to another and I am aware that this will happen within my practice. The level of the reader dictates the level of understanding and this is what Umberto Eco explains readers should read more works of art in order to understand more,
…artistic experience also teaches us that only elicits feelings but also produces further knowledge…By increasing one’s knowledge of codes, the aesthetic message changes one’s view of their history and thereby trains semiosis.B. Jackson. 1999, Art, Culture and the Semiotics of Meaning, New York, Palgrave MacMillan, p.3