Thursday, 7 October 2010

Quilting. The new Guerrilla Art Form.

One of the things that always brightens my world a little bit is graffiti. I love graffiti (I even don't mind the dodgy kind), and I wander about taking pictures of it sometimes (you know, when I can't find any random cats to photograph. I did nearly take a photo of a hairy little terrier outside Homebase, though, because he just looked so tragic, but then his owner came out to get him and I felt I shouldn't intrude on his incandescent joy).
Just off Portobello Road. 5 million tourists with their cameras pointed in the other direction, me photographing 2 men standing near a signpost. It is a wonder I do not get arrested
I love the colours, the style, everything about it. My best graffiti experience was going to the outskirts of Prague to look at a modern art gallery, and the tube (I can't remember what it is called in Prague) went through a completely graffiti-covered urban-wasteland-type landscape which was very striking. Sadly this was before the days I had my digital camera always on hand, ready to whip it out at a moment's notice in order to photograph urban artwork and passing furry creatures, like a Photography Ninja. I was completely thrilled, then, when I went to Habitat the other day (home improvements. And I say again, Do Not Do It),  to see new and really dramatic graffiti on the corner of Newmarket Road, which is one of the, shall we say, less attractive parts of Cambridge. Indeed, Newmarket Road looks a bit like capitalism chewed it up and spat it out, with a side order of boarded-up shops and dirty concrete. The graffiti looked amazing, though. Today I went to bother the people at the bathroom shop opposite to get an estimate, and while I was in the area I took some photos:
Well that certainly brightened things up. Perhaps they considered and discounted Magnolia

This is about fractured enactments of femininity. There, I saved you the trouble

And this is how my hair feels today
It's by a group called Blight Society – they also have a blog with more photographs, if you want to look (and you can see why the location needed cheering up. Somehow it never gets any sunlight either, I think that makes it seem worse). You can also buy artwork from their site, from £1, thrillingly. I shall certainly be checking back to see what's selling for £1, and I think I actually recognise some of the styles from stuff I've seen around Cambridge. Anyway, this got me to thinking. I always feel like the best kind of graffiti is the kind that has a bit of an edginess to it. And – admire my segue, here, this is going to be worthy of daytime television – I feel the same about quilting. I'm nearly finished piecing the top of my quilt, and I can't say (says she carefully) that I feel it's entirely an aesthetic success. I think it's a bit too busy. If I'd had a full choice of fabrics I would have done it differently, and I think it would have looked better.

But... I did make it entirely with things left over from other projects, fabrics from charity shops, fabrics I'd swapped (and thankyou to Mumma Troll, your fabric is one of the best things in it!), and stuff like that. So although I do think it would have been more attractive if I'd planned a colour scheme and then bought fabrics to fit, I just can't somehow entirely get behind buying all new fabrics for a quilt. It seems wrong. The point of quilting seems, to me, to be that it's a blindingly effective way of making something lovely out of unusable scraps: going out and buying all the latest co-ordinating Kaffe Fassett, although it would produce something really beautiful, just isn't the same (I do love Kaffe Fassett prints, though. Not dissing him. Just saying). So, I'm happy with my scrappy quilt in terms of theory, even though some of the blocks do look as if they've been put together by a short-sighted monkey on acid. Anyway, here is the half I've pieced so far of the Edgy Guerrilla Art Quilt of Doooooooooom – you can judge for yourself if being thrifty was worth the aesthetic compromise. (You can be critical. I can take it).
I just don't know why this went so blurry. In real life all those horrendously clashing prints are as sharp as a pin
Now. Do check back tomorrow, because I've got an interview with Diana Rajchel from Magickal Realism. I was very happy she agreed to do the interview, as Magickal Realism has long been one of my favourite shops on etsy (indeed I believe I once bought some House Blessing oil from her: time to dig it out and scatter it about methinks), and it turned into a very interesting interview, I thought.

OK. I have linked graffiti and quilts, possibly not as good as my Yoko Ono/ Spratley cake link but I think that's enough for one evening. I shall now go and look at brochures with toilets in them and weep quietly. (I don't quite know how I became so bourgeois. If someone wants to take back my membership card, do. It's fine by me. I used to be cool).


Marushka C. said...

Now I'm wondering whether anyone is designing and making quilts that look like graffiti...

resa said...

I once spent an afternoon with a friend trying to learn how to spray paint in her backyard. I was beyond awful and thus my dreams of being an awesome graf writer met a tragic end. I thought I'd be limited to wheat paste posters and stencils for subversive art, but I have to admit, the idea of quilting appeals to me much more. Especially if they come out as awesome as yours. Yes, it's loud, but it's a cheerful sort of loud.

West/CJ said...

Those photos are fab! You really have an eye for it. And I like the quilt.

Susie said...

Resa, I could not spraypaint 'bum'* on a wall so I sympathise. Guerrilla Quilting! The new subversive art form!

* In the English sense.