Tag Archives: sacred tree

And a river runs through it

One of Maiko’s suggestions in our last tutorial was for me to consider some mythological objects and uses, and use those to try to get some stronger meaning into my work. Looking back it has been a bit ‘functional’ instead of speaking with strong messages. I have some good ideas of research to do – a few museums to visit, places to go, books to read etc. but not sure how much will realistically get done in the 15 days left before going away, ontop of everything else. Always good to start though! and in-between getting more work done on my City & Guilds quilts, I have had an idea of something to explore.

The first inspiration source was from an episode of Masterchef on catch-up TV I was watching yesterday. One of the young chefs on the show was taking about how he likes his food to tell a story – this one dish he made was flavours from his childhood farm – according to Mr Wearing, the emotion and passion for the ingredients could be tasted in the food. This dish also spoke of “grown together goes together”. I’ve written about this before on this blog, and as something of a foodie / food-lover, I can attest to this being true. Now I like a tasty pie as much as the next person, but also quite enjoy dishes which do speak of something beyond just some ingredients stuck on a plate – as long as the flavour is not comprised by prettyness. This can translate straight into any other craft – you get a more powerful piece when you can see a good message / narrative coming through alongside good quality making. I have been cooking much longer than I have been making, so I thought to myself, why not see how I would approach designing a michelin starred menu and then translate this into my making?

  • I like a balanced dish which demonstrates technique but no fancy additives for the sake of it; honest cooking done very well
  • I like dishes which are more than the sum of its parts – telling a personal story from the chef which sings out in the food
  • I like ingredients that have meanings, and using them in balance in a dish to suit the mood or feeling you need to create (e.g. herblore)
  • I work with natural ingredients, no chemical additives or preservatives.
  • I love foraging and hedgerow cooking when I can get it – brambling was a childhood favourite
  • I like dishes which offer a respectful modern take on traditional classics, but still taste of what it should be. Don’t give me a ‘deconstructed lemon tart’ by breaking up biscuits and shoving lemon sorbet on a plate.

Hmm, well now. My first thought on this was to make something which used materials I had to hand and which meant something to me (not just ordered off the internet). What I found to hand were three things – a bit of tree I found outside the house which was left over from my Tesseract made back in September; bramble sticks I cut from the weaving workshop with Shane; and rocks I picked up from the beach in Littlehampton last week. Bit of a theme there! This is something I did thoughout my childhood (and beyond) – I would pick up random bits and bobs from beaches and riverbanks across the country. My dad was, and still is, an obsessive angler, so we often found ourselves sat on a waterside on weekends and holidays. Everytime I would bring back shells, sand, rocks, pebbles, twigs and walking sticks from everywhere we went (I think many of these are still stored in my parents’ house…). I never made anything with them, just brought back something of the land, river or sea.

Maiko also suggested that I consider making something in response to one of the artists I’ve researched so far.  Dail Behennah and her modern basketry is the person who keeps coming back into mind. In a spare hour I found today, thought I could combine all of these ideas flying around my head and just make something. This is the result.

Photo 25-11-2014 16 06 59

Plane tree branch (London), Bramble twigs (London), steel pins, linen thread, rocks (Littlehampton), silk strands

Earth / Air / Metal

The object is reminiscent of the offerings and shrines left in sacred trees across many cultures. There is a huge wealth of mythology and folklore around trees. In the UK, Druids were thought to use forest groves for worship, and many neo-pagan groups will use prayer ribbons tied to tree branches in modern ritual practice. The trees are the physical representation of the wisdom of the earth, as if drawing on the deep unconsciousness of the world below to rise up towards the light. Like the sacred trees, all humans are born from the mother earth and are dependent upon its providence for survival.

Now, I wonder how much of this do other people read in the object?