My transformed chair will be exhibited at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair from the 10th-13th October 2019 in Manchester as part of the Maker Project set up by Tom Sutton who gave 9 chairs to artists and makers from a variety of disciplines.
An old chair reverberates with its past life, the memory of previous lives, its connection with people and the human body. Using yarn to transform the chair into something other is a way of both finding continuity of its past story but also weaving a new chapter. The joy of taking part in this project was the opportunity to turn something everyday and mundane everyday piece of furniture and take away its function and to metamorphose it into an object with a new and maybe mysterious purpose.
My initial thought was to use the chair as a frame to weave on, to utilise the basic structure but also to extend it out into space, to emancipate it from its original purpose and change its shape; I originally intended to fill the seat and back rest with some kind of textile construction. However when the chair turned up I was struck by its curved lines, suggesting a line drawing in space so I decided to emphasise and play with the negative space left behind by the missing seat and back rest.
Then followed experiments with different kinds of yarn and with different ways of wrapping, tying and knotting around the curve of the frame. I chose the fragile paper yarn to provide a counterpoint to the sturdy metal structure with the intention of giving an impression of lightness and delicacy to something solid and functional. The purity and simplicity of the white yarn seemed best suited to achieve this effect. I hoped to create something ethereal from the everyday.
As I spent more and more time working with and thinking about the object (that once was a chair) it exerted its presence and I started to imagine it as a sentient being that I was enabling to change, take flight and escape. No longer a functioning piece of furniture the chair was being liberated from its original purpose.
With this idea of flight and birds in mind I first wrapped around the edges of the seat with the paper yarn and then made a series of macrame knots to create feather like forms which follow the shape and create wings along the two sides of the back of the chair. Weaving into a few of these shapes with space dyed paper yarn was a further way to suggest feathers.
I have now set it free
To find out more about the maker project and read interviews with myself and all the makers/artists involved go to http://www.makerproject-thinkingthroughpractice.org