Turned to Stone

I’m grappling with a piece on stone walls that I’m wanting to bring into existence – to go through the pain of letting go of the million possibilities and focus in on one. Whilst thoughts are free to roam and morph it feels fine, but of course caging them is quite another matter.

When I returned to working on this theme, I could not have felt more at home, satisfied and generally excited to be back. It was a little surprising to be honest. I’ve been listening to many ‘Authentic Obsessions’ podcasts from Margret Petrie and happily acknowledge that stone is one of mine. It’s part of a wider theme of containment and living within a stone house and amongst stone walls feels utterly right within my soul. As well as the physical textures, colours and forms of stone, pebble or walls, stone speaks to many psychological aspects such as stability, permanence or protection: I really enjoy exploring both.

I’m happily starting to re-explore thoughts around ‘The Song of the Stone Wall’ by Helen Keller.

My ideas keep changing about this sizeable piece but I’ve settled into smaller experiments and not hurrying the process. It’s the only way I can prevent the feeling of not being able to start (or being ‘petrified’ – literally being turned to stone). Sometimes possibilities are hugely exciting, other times they can just feel overwhelming.

The unreal is more powerful than the real, because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it…

Chuck Palahniuk
I love the ‘bad mend’ in the wall!
This is made up of torn up mark making exercises from something else. It was laid out on the floor and is about 1.5m long.
Capstone patterns
Sketches and marks

I’ve had a desire to explore abstract expressionism for some time and perhaps this will be an opportunity to step in that direction? I have to keep smacking myself round the cheek with a wet kipper so as not to wander back to the familiar; there’s a lot of ‘new’ to get to grips with. And just because I’m a mad old bird and like to make things especially difficult for myself 🙄, I want to work on paper and fabric as I go along because I still see the final piece as a textile. So far, I have one stitchy bit and one small painting to show you…

Fabric, print, stitch

Looking at fabric prints next to cut fragments of design
Wondering what to do with the card resists
I went for it and just stuck them on!
Thinking about light and dark areas and how they might change with hand stitch

Paint, mark, excavate, repeat

Inky, free gestural mark-making
Then convering them up…
Excavating marks and under-layers, collaging over other areas
The final painting

So… from time to time, between all the other makings, I will come back to this and let you know how things are going!

And I will keep count of the kippers.

(This is a beautifully illustrated romp around the symbolism of stone if you’d like a little more…)

6 thoughts on “Turned to Stone

  1. Hi Rachael Love your work and your pictures of those ancient stone walls.  If you have any interest in seeing the work of others that I think might relate to what you're up to, may I suggest looking at Fiona Price's work – she's incorporating heat-treated Tyvek, which looks a lot like stone, into her work. Another artist is Roxanne Evans Stout – she's a book artist, but the colours and textures of her work remind me of stone.  Here's a close-up of a cuff bracelet that I made years ago with heat-treated Tyvek – just to give you an idea of what it can look like.  Cheers – hope you don't have to use many wet kippers! Frances (Taylor)website: http://www.francestaylorfiberartist.com My Ottawa Artisans page for online sales: https://ottawaartisans.com/pages/our-artisans/art-by-frances-taylor“Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain." Viviane Greene


  2. This is a real treasure trove of a post! I am fascinated by your creative journey, each part is a work of art by itself and I am grateful for the opportunity to read some of Helen Keller’s poem, previously unknown to me, although I have collected poems forever – this one will be revisited many times.
    I commented some time ago about houses in patchwork and intended to send you a photo – sorry I haven’t a finished a piece of work yet to send. I am a very undisciplined person, easily led into a new project which recently involved using text in a textile piece and you may like the text which has diverted me from my patchwork – I found it on a chocolate wrapper, Christmas 2019 – a chinese proverb translated from the french text:
    ‘Learn how to write your wounds in the sand and to engrave your joys in stone’

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