My goal for the first few months of this Fulbright fellowship was to spend all my time ‘woolgathering,’ (which is basically what I do anyway, but this time, it’s my ‘day job’ not just my distraction from my day job.) So here are some of the bits of wool that have been preoccupying me recently:
Seamus Heaney’s last book of poems – “Human Chain”
Mary Catherine Bateson, daughter of anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson – “Willing to Learn: Passages of Personal Discovery” (I’m particularly drawn to her wisdom about ‘disciplined subjectivity,’ continuity vs. discontinuity, and ‘the superficial variations in culture that maintain the deeper continuity.’)
“The Textile Reader” edited by Jessica Hemmings.
This excerpt from the Bayeux Tapestry (right) – those mustachioed men are Saxons, led by Harold, on their way to visit Normandy (part of the events leading up to the Norman Invasion.) I like the depiction of the water. And also that the men took their pants off to wade out to the boats. Notice the man, second from the left carrying his dog.
Things I’ve seen: gravestones leaning against a stone wall, some bathroom graffiti, a detail from one of the high crosses at Kells (Jesus being baptized maybe?), St. Colum Cille’s holy well at Kells, kitchen tools (from an exhibit of rural life and materiel culture at the National Museum), and some plants growing out of a stone wall.
Gold foiled “Sunflower Pins,” 800-700 B.C., found in Co. Laois – How do the historians know it’s a ‘sunflower’? Did they have sunflowers in prehistoric Ireland? A ‘sun’ seems likely. And the pin part is just practical (for pinning your cloak or whatever.) Maybe the first person to find one just looked at it an thought ‘sunflower’ so the name stuck for all similar pins found thereafter.
Some excerpts from Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Book of Hours”:
“…I live my life in ever widening circles/that reach out across the world…”
“She who reconciles the ill-matched threads of her life, and weaves them into a single cloth- it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall and clears it for a different celebration…”
Some sketches from the studio – fabric, thread, yarn, stuffing, and rocks. and a bit of lipstick.
The last two were test pieces for this in-progress project: three men’s shirts, joined wrist to wrist, shoulder to shoulder. I’m ‘plowing’ ridges across the body.
And this labyrinthine tablecloth of receipts continues to grow outward as I go about my business buying food, bus tickets, museum admission and various meaningless bits of consumer crap.