Make your mark

Hi Everyone,

I’m thinking a lot about making marks at the moment. Marks on paper and cloth in this case, but I can’t help muse about the drive we humans have to make or leave our mark in the wider sense. Or not leave a mark when it comes to thinking about the environment!

I recently visited Hereford Cathedral when I was intrigued at the small graffiti scratched into the tomb of Sir Richard Pembridge – one of the earliest knights of the Garter. He died in 1375. What makes someone have to scratch into a marble helmet like this, I wonder?

I’m also on the lookout for marks in walls like these.

They are intriguing and now I’ve tuned into them, well you know, I can’t help seeing them everywhere! Apparently Yorkshire stone canal locks and house kerbs sport these stone mason marks to prove their work. I like the mystery of marks I can’t read or understand, I use a lot in my work in the form of asemic writing and using texts I can’t read. I think it’s because they represent the fact that I’m saying something but I don’t need you (or even me) to know exactly what – they, like other marks carry the essence and memory of the moment for the artist and that is enough.

I’ve the pleasure of taking part in Lorna Crane’s ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ on-line course. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the receiving end of a course like this and we all need a top-up of new inspiration and learning from time to time.

With me wanting to stretch into more gestural marks on cloth and paper, this is a brilliant fit. Fibre Arts Take Two produce some great quality courses. Lorna is a lovely tutor and puts a lot into engaging with everyone in the group.

These are some of the first marks made with brushes from found objects in the landscape:

Farm binder twine
Iris leave
Kestrel feather

Here are some layers of washes and marks: I hope they invoke the feeling of stone walls, walking through fields of grass, big skies and the hills of West Yorkshire.

I’m also pivoting to and fro as I like to, with other work I’m doing. I’m making some cloths for another project and whilst I started these before the course, some of the brush marks will make an appearance in my cloths as I make more. The first cloth-marks come from my love of stone and mirror recent paintings. I can now see how they all relate to each other which is hugely satisfying.

Differences of line
Seed stitch – I’ve filled in more since
Tiny bit, big impact
Creating movement
This mark was made using up paint from the course activities above, I love its scrappiness!

The marks and subject of the colours will change as I make more cloths – at least that’s my intention. I feel lost without something to hand-stitch at my side on an evening and this project will ensure I have stitchy companions for a while. 😊

What marks do you see turning up in your work?

I’m super excited to be retiring soon and in another way, I’m leaving with a feeling that I have been able to make a mark there, too. It’s time for someone else to take up the mantle for early years and drive things forwards at what is probably the most challenging time anyone has known. The providers we work with don’t have good working conditions and yet care for and educate children at the most important stage of a child’s life. It also saddens me greatly that creativity and the arts are being squeezed out and simply not recognised for how life-giving they are and how they can open up access to any academic subject for many children.

We are all drawn to making our mark….. all different ways of saying ‘look, this is me, I was here’. Creativity is delightful, demanding, intriguing, wonderful and eternally asks ‘what if….?’

Stay curious – be a question mark! 😄

16 thoughts on “Make your mark

  1. I so love receiving your emails – this one particularly- as it touches on all things that I love about abstract art being used in textiles. Having worked with children in school I was always amazed at how unafraid they are about making mistakes in art – always surprised at what they achieved, very satisfying. Thank you for all your inspiring work and for sharing it with us. Having been in the doldrums with my creativity I can’t now wait to get to my workroom.

  2. Love your work in this post, Rachael, and agree totally about the importance of creativity for life. Happy retirement days to come! You’ll be very busy, I’m sure! Melanie X

  3. Congratulations on your retirement and yes, you’ve made your mark. I’m finding your handmade brushes delightful. Thank you for showing some of the marks they made. A great presentation of them in your book. ♥️

  4. Thank you so much, Rachael. I so enjoy reading your emails. So much inspiring content. Gratitude!

    Madeleine J

  5. I learned from a colleague several years ago that many old churches have a sun dial carved into the stone…often just simple grooves/marks. Now I have to look for one if I go past or visit a church somewhere new!
    I agree about the decline of arts education in schools…so sad, especially when children seem to need more coping skills today than ever before.

  6. The house I bought before this one had strange marks in strange places when we decorated, as well as obvious dates of decoration type. It turns out the brother of the seller was the Master Mason of the local Priory and it is something they do. So I went along to the Priory and found his marks there too. A nice link.
    I nearly signed up for Lorna’s class too. Life just isn’t right for the comitment needed. Glad you’re enjoying it.

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