This series is based around how mental health changes through the year. It was my first venture away from representational landscapes in fibre art. Following lockdowns I felt the need to bring more inspiration from within into my work, in a way the landscapes weren’t achieving for me. This is the beginning of a journey exploring use of words and symbolism in my art.
The Leaves of Life
The piece is dark and foreboding with poisonous themes. I’ve used natural silk cocoons to make the poisonous wolfsbane flowers to represent danger.
Stop the World
In the deep winter I find I just want to hibernate. Dealing with the world becomes an effort. I spend more time in my own head and lprefer to be left alone to get on with tasks. Over the years I’ve tried to plan for this phase in year, with varied success. One method I’ve used is to have a big creative project to get stuck into for a few weeks.
The red flowers in this piece are witch hazel. They represent protection, shelter and healing.
In addition to the icy cold expanse and stormy theme of winter in the piece I have used cow parsley, also known as mother-die, to represent dangers and animosity. To deter them from picking poisonous hemlock, which looks similar, children were told that if they picked cow parsley then their mother would die.
As the light starts to return in late winter I can see the end and start to look forward to spring. I’m able to plan ahead and become more creative and productive.
‘Unseen Things‘ uses gold acrylic fibres mixed into purple wool and silk fibre. Mawata silk over carded wool forms the ‘pebbles’ with gummy silk cocoon fibre to make the dandelion seeds.
This piece depicts the energy, strength and resilience that arrives with spring. The phoenix provides the theme of flames, feathers and wings with the allium showing strength, patience and abundance.
Take a Breather
The brief breathing space in the year is the late spring/early summer, the short lived time in the year when everything is good. Mental health is as good as it gets. I feel in control of things, not overwhelmed and not yet dreading what come next. This is ‘Take a Breather’. It is sunshine and daisies, butterflies and dragonflies, clear dawn light, colour and sparkles.
Cut silk cocoons are used to make the flowers. The soft sunshine is yellow wool with white silk mawata layers, felt circles, degummed cocoons and spun mulberry silk rays. Cut lace and sari cuttings form the details of the insects and flowers.
Diary of Mental Health
The experience of researching and creating this series has been of huge benefit to me in understanding more about how my mood and capacity changes throughout the year. Working on this collection has helped me to anticipate and learn how to manage mental health variations and understand how these provide a backdrop to the other challenges that come up. For example a task or problem that is no big deal in the summer is huge in the winter and vice versa. Knowing this means I can calibrate my reactions, adjust the time given to tasks and where possible arrange the diary with appropriate projects for each season.