Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A Large Personality on a Miniature Scale

YAWN and STRETCH! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Well, I’m back. I would love to say that I was off in a distant land sunning myself or picking through treasures at a Parisian flea market but, alas, I was just at home. Even though my break wasn’t exotic, it was certainly lovely and needed. The sight and smell of an airport would have done me in, I think, so resting at home was just what the doctor ordered. I was so exhausted even my little toes were tired.

We raided the library for books and films and tried to give ourselves the permission to actually look at them (the DVDs) and read them (the books). I poured all my creative energy into baking- art you can eat. Yay! Home-made banana pancakes for breakfast, now that is good living. The May sunshine streamed down into our back garden yesterday. I pulled open our back door, sat down, put my feet up and finished my book. Gary cooked dinner and brought me a cold drink. I am a very lucky girl. It was the perfect end to a much needed break. That may just have been our complete Irish summer so I’m glad I took the time to enjoy it.

So without complaint, I return to the documenting of my art work. I have decided to take up where I left off before my holiday. Bears! Yes, more bears, they just keep coming out of the woodwork. This little bear is called Cameo. I say little bear because I was experimenting with scale when I made her. I do seem to have a fascination with scale that emerges not consciously but rather organically as I work. I think it happens very naturally when knitting because, as I described before, just by changing the needle size and the thickness of the wool the same pattern can be transformed in many different ways. Sometimes the experimentation is a disaster in this regard but the fun is watching something develop. A lot of the time I will end up laughing at some oversized floppy creation that has appeared as I knit NOT using the pattern guidelines. But when it does work out it can be kind of magical.

My interest in scale has always been present I think. I like to draw small things large and large things small. I love exaggerating details until the object I am drawing is nearly unrecognisable to its original form. In the opposite way, I love anything miniature. I think that started with my obsession with Sylvanian families when I was a little girl. Oh my goodness, how I loved my Sylvanian families. I played for hours with these tiny animals and their accessories. My mother minded one of our neighbour’s children when we were young. He accidently knocked my Sylvanian Windmill off the kitchen counter one day and broke the sails off the front of it. My mam glued it back into place but they never moved again. My heart was broken like my beloved toy. As you can tell, I never forgave him and I’m still not over it.

When I visited Bath last September, their museums were full of miniature portraiture and objects. I found it so inspiring; I came back full of ideas and reinvigorated about my craft. This bears name ‘Cameo’ is a nod to that type of Victorian and Edwardian decoration: miniature, petite and perfect.

After making Theobold and Oliver I wanted to make a more feminine bear. I didn’t want to make her pretty and pink though. I was never a very ‘pink’ girl growing up and was always drawn to an alternative world rather than a conventional one. Being ‘arty’, I did experiment a lot with my clothes and my make-up, especially after entering Art College. In doing that, I have found you do leave yourself open to people commenting on your unusual tastes. Sometimes it’s complimentary and sometimes it can be offensive. Being ‘different’ can be difficult but I found in the end it was easier to be myself, with the mean-spirited comments included, rather than trying to be what I thought other people wanted me to be and feeling like a fraud on the inside. I tried very hard to fit in when I was a teenager, like a lot of people, but for me, I found it nearly impossible to blend in and be like everybody else.

It’s hard to explain but it felt imperative that my individuality be expressed. The ‘trying to blend in’ was a massive effort and I was so worn out with making that effort that I was never very convincing anyway. I eventually gave up and gave in to my inner need and I have been that way ever since.

I embroidered “An Out There Kind of Bear” on to a heart shaped top for Cameo. I have never wanted to stand out or to be ‘different’ on purpose. I have only ever wanted to try to be myself as this has been the balm to most of my ailments. But I have found pursuing my individuality essentially makes you put the spot-light on the things that are special or specific about you. Cameo does not represent a purposeful prodding at convention but rather a self acceptance of individual differences. I am out-there not because I wear bright turquoise eye shadow or pierce my lip. I am out-there because I strive to be myself and sometimes that seems like the most radical act of all.    

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