After Illusion is an online residency opportunity that takes place via Instagram.
I’m so pleased to be starting 2021 by taking part in After Illusion, an Instagram based residency; the residency program run by artist and curator Skye Williams.
‘After Illusion is both a residency programme and community platform for creatives. Founder Skye Williams, an artist herself, set up the programme after realising a need for the arts community to show internal support during this particularly difficult time.’ – Skye Williams
The residency generously allows the artist to explore their practice and increase their social media exposure on the AfterIllusion platform. I decided to spend my time exploring ways to embellish and rework older test prints into artist books. In an ideal world, I would be back in the studio developing new prints, but with the UK’s third lockdown in full force, that was not going to happen. So it seemed like the right time to re-work and explore some preparatory prints.
Stitching and sewing have become an obvious visual and practical way to explore my work; especially as I have been making books and utilising Japanese stab stitching.
I proposed to spend time learning how to embroider paper. I like the idea of creating a book, where the back of the stitch is as visible as the front. There is a beauty to revealing the making process and it offers a nice analogy regarding neurological processes and things occurring under the surface. The messy underside is masked by the neat topstitching and only revealed as the work is explored and turned.
The residency has also given me an opportunity to focus on paper folding.
I love taking the potential of the two-dimensional paper and transforming it into a sculptural, tactile and engaging object. I love the tension that folded paper and embroidery have. They are both innately tactile. Both methods needing a creator to physically fold, manipulate and pierce them.
The book provides a physicality. We want to touch and explore them. Books also have an implied narrative. We go to them, time and again to learn, amuse and contextualise ourselves.
As someone on the ASD spectrum, I am constantly pulled between a longing to touch and engage and an aversion to the process. This strain is something I’m keen to draw upon and potentially draw my audience into.
Embroidery is similar to books in that, it is haptic. We are constantly shrouded in textiles, we inhabit them and the embrace that they provide us can transcend generations. Embroidery is often inherited through the female line. It could be argued that men are the keepers of history and narratives through books, whilst women have been sidelined to delineate history through the domestic. I think this is a nice tension coupled with the visual content of the autistic female brain.
Working on a digital residency doesn’t allow the audience any tactile engagement, and I think I’m starting to enjoy that tension too.
We cannot reach out and touch, caress or smell the object. I am continually denying the satisfaction that comes through the embodied experience of interaction with art. Perhaps curating ‘Do Not Touch the Artwork’ has had an unconscious effect on me.
The residency running over two weeks allows complete freedom for the creative person who takes over the AfterIllusion account. My AfterIllusion zine is available to view here.