|The journal of a woman's life|
Although I had said yes, almost automatically, this year saw a major artistic challenge for me. And at times, deeply question my belief that I could meet this request, let alone produce something that would connect to them in any meaningful way.
You must understand that I did know the person who had asked me...very well, and for a number of years, and this person I would trust with my life. However, I had only met the mother of Anita Sauvage once, Colette Sauvage, and it was towards the end of her journey.
This was to be a very sensitive piece of artwork. To dissapoint was not an option, but so possible it at first defeated me.
It would also see its production taking just over a year.
The idea for the piece would take most of that year to even come to me, let alone to work on.
Circumstances would also see the piece delay in creation, due to the subsequent death of Anita's father, which, I would later realise had connected to me subconsiously during the commissioning period, and during the subsequent months.
The commission began with chatting to Anita and listening to her talk about her mother's extremely interesting life, noting her choices, her jouney from Algeria, through Spain to France, her work as a seamstress, her love for her family, for modern art and for her garden.
Three objects to go by. Three photographs. Three stages.
|A young woman|
This piece enabled me to pull together many of the techniques developed over the past few years. Watercolour, pen and ink, abstract photography; my skills would be needed once I had committed to the piece, and to weave this life together. Starting the project came at a time when I was also sensing the deep moments of loss in my life - facing the loss of job, house, and remembering the loss of my own father. These deep emotions connect us all, and are thus universal.
|Becoming familiar with a woman not known|
|Developing a weave|
I love detail. I have an eye for it. Met with a woman I did not know really threw me headlong out of my zone of comfort. I had very little detail to go on. A few words, a few pieces of paper, with literally just moments of the past. I would need to trust in my intuition.
|Letting go of detail|
For me the few words would have to do...journey, garden, seamstress, husband...bird.
Once committed, the piece began to emerge, and take shape...taking note of previous artist's use of weaving and tapestry, I would couple the history of this woman as a seamstress and my technique for almost weaving pen and ink lines.
The journey from Algeria would help me connect her final garden to its origin in maps.
And, coincidental, magical connections would be included, with the addition of the Algerian nuthatch...the migrating bird; migrating like this adventurous woman. It would later appear, and prove to connect to Anita's father, Jacques - where the bird would signify her father's career as a French pilot.
Beautiful happenstances are always so precious, and once Anita saw the finished product, and was pleased, and moved (I am happy to report), it quickly became obvious that I had captured more than I thought. For me, the almost tear-nature of the jewels, hanging from the draped fabric across the garden and grapevine, bore a remarkable resemblance to one of Collette's favourite necklaces. I just love the moment when these unexpected coincidences are made!
The final stage would also see her daughter take a hand. Enabling the memory of her mother to be placed, literally in her mother's choice of modern sunglasses, it would prove to be a fitting final signature touch, with the detail of her mother's gaze hidden from view.
|Colette - in her garden|