Wednesday, 4 May 2016

On weaving and other stories

The word 'trama' in Italian means both weft and plot.  Perhaps because of that, I have always associated weaving with narrative. Perhaps, also, because I was thinking of Penelope's web which seemed to unravel parallel to Odysseus's journey. I don't know if weft and plot have etymological affinities in English, but the word 'thread' for instance is used to describe a continuity in a situation or story. Stories have been woven and embroidered throughout times and cultures. But it was only when I started weaving that I understood why at a deeper level. Everything gets woven into your fabric, the music you are listening to, your thoughts, your memories. It also becomes a way of making sense of things, 'string' them together. My interest for weaving, and, more generally, for fibre art, I think started from a passion for upcycling, repurposing, finding ways to use scraps of anything, paper, cardboard, and, of course, fabric and yarn. For some reason, this journey kept on taking me back to Japan, where recycling is not just a modern buzzword, a concept used to soothe the consumer's sense of guilt. Creative reuse of  material has existed in Japan for hundreds of years.  At the basis of it is the concept of 'mottainai', a regret for waste. 'Mottainai' is an old Buddhist word, linked to the Shinto idea that objects have souls. 'Boro' is the clothing used by peasants and artisans between the 17th and the 19th century. Basically they are garments made of rags, often in indigo shades, stitched together, patches to repair old clothes. And because of that, they are also journals, memoires, mementos of clothes once belonged to parents and grandparents. The other word that inspired the little handbag I made, is 'sakiori', narrow strips of worn out fabric weaved into new fabric. Which is what I did here, with and old piece of lining fabric. I also used my very primitive version of  'sashiko', a functional embroidery used to reinforce fabric. The world of Japanese textile art is amazingly inspiring, and I have only scraped the surface here. But this handbag I made, while waiting for my hip to heal, was a great experience, completely sewn by hand, with recycled materials, it contains a little part of my soul.

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