Aide Memoire

Aide memoire was about three worlds, as if in a spectrum, from one full of lushness to one that is warming up, then to one that is drying up like white, dead corals.

From a technical perspective, I wanted to see how I could push this expression using paper, some selected yarns, colour and texture. Although this work took me far too many hours, I feel it has been worth it. The process was quite liberating, in terms of just going with one’s intuition. I like to ‘hybridise’ techniques, and somehow they coalesced into a unified whole. The work measures 100 cm x 58 cm without the frame. I have a few detail shots below to give an idea of the details and processes.

The background is several layers of paper, which I have hand-painted in professional-grade, lightfast watercolour. This required a process of testing to get the right aquamarine I was after. Tropical waters was what I wanted to emulate here, really.

The painted papers have to air dry completely before they can be handled again. So I do go through quite a lot of paper! And some patient waiting. Organisation and preparation is a big part of the technique. I then iron the papers to get them flat before the adhesive stage.

In terms of the paper manipulation, it is largely paper quilling and folding techniques. I use light-fast, artist-grade papers for these elements. As to the yarn work, it is three-dimensional crochet which I’ve developed myself to get the particular dome shapes I wanted (through a trial and error process). I also added soft elements to evoke those fleshy aspects of a coral reef. I thought I’d crochet these undulating ‘sea creatures’ taking refuge in certain parts of the composition. I really like the concept of refuge and shelter.

Oddly enough, I started playing with this idea back in 2019, with Young Colony. At that time, I was very much on a ‘minimalistic’ phase, and used a lot of white paper. That work sparked the colour ideas (as I do tend to gravitate towards colour first, then monochromes second). So, this is an evolution, and Aide Memoire is the latest result.

This piece has a practical aspect to it. It can be hung in either portrait or landscape mode, with two options for each mode (see below). For art lovers, this must be a dream because you can be flexible about how to hang the work depending on your location’s demands. So I was well chuffed with this ‘happy accident’.

Aide Memoire is the show piece for my Warwickshire Open Studios exhibition with my fellow collaborators Adam Hussain, Wendy MacSkimming, Katie O’Sullivan and Sarah Howarth at the Blue Door Gallery, Coventry (here in the UK) until 04 July 2021. So, as we start to get together and connect, if you are in Coventry or planning a visit for City of Culture 2021, pay us a visit for some art.