Pocket Handkerchiefs

What do you do when you have a voucher to have some fabric digitally
printed? Design some handkerchiefs of course. This is an idea that has been
niggling at my mind for some time.

The colour circles share the same DNA as my ‘Colour of Place’ screenprints, but whereas in the prints many of the colours arise from the overlapping of layers of ink, in these circles each colour is pulled directly from a photograph of a specific place. The example I am showing in this post comes from a walk to the Wainstones in Yorkshire, I have also made a second handkerchief based on a walk to Maes Knoll Tump, to the South of Bristol.

The idea of making a handkerchief comes from wanting to make a memory of a walk that you could keep with you, a way of remembering and sharing colours. Also a handkerchief can be a keepsake, a treasured gift, a token to give to a loved one – it’s a lot of responsibility to put on a small square of fabric.

When my fabric arrived I admired it in its entirety for about a week before being brave enough to cut it into squares.

I wanted my handkerchiefs to be large and flamboyant, so they are based on the size of the largest man’s handkerchiefs I could find online – coincidently this means they have ended up approximately 42cm square, a number that pleases me immensely.

An unwillingness to lug my very heavy sewing machine downstairs led to my
hand sewing the hem of the first handkerchief, and what a revelation that was!
I was expecting to find it annoying and frustrating, and instead found it relaxing, therapeutic and thoroughly enjoyable. The handkerchiefs seemed to demand that I committed the time to it.  To wiz along the hem with a sewing machine would seem totally out of keeping with the whole idea.

I am not sure how my handkerchiefs will progress. So far I have sent them as gifts to those who have helped me get through the last year. I think I want to work them into some sort of project, but what, I currently do not know. Rather than calming the niggle in my mind, they have started other thoughts clammering. This is a good thing.

Latitude and Longitude

I realise that the titles of my recent prints are a bit of a mouthful, but I am quite excited about ‘51°51’42.2”N 3°03’21.5”W’.  It is the first one of my ‘colour of place’ series to be based on somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere.  The previous seven have all been inspired by places in Australia and so had ‘S’ and ‘E’ (South and East) in their titles.  This one is inspired by the view from Sugarloaf Mountain in Monmouthshire, Wales, so is North and West.

The titles give the latitude and longitude in degrees, minutes and seconds (this is where Google Maps comes in very handy to pinpoint exact locations).    Latitude tells you how far North or South a place is, from 90° North at the North Pole, through 0° at the Equator, to 90° South at the South Pole.

Longitude lines run from Pole to Pole and tell you how far East or West you are of the Prime / Greenwich Meridian in London.  Anything east of the Greenwich Meridian is in the Eastern Hemisphere and is labelled °E.   Anything west of the Greenwich Meridian is labelled °W.

I always feel it is more like drawing than writing when I name my prints.  I like the idea that the titles I give my work can mean everything or nothing – you can use them to pinpoint the exact position where the photo that inspired the print was taken, or just accept them as additional information like that found on the key to a map.

Colour Walk – Walking West Continued

Very unsettled weather led to an ever changing sky. From heavy brooding grey clouds to perfect blue and back again in the time it takes to take off your jumper. Pausing every three minutes to take a photograph looking straight up.

The wonderful sugestion from a friend to use the resulting image as a mood descriptor – today I have been feeling rather E6, but I am hoping tomorrow will be C5…

Colour Walk – Walking West

June 6th

7.6 miles through Windmill Hill, Bedminster, and Ashton Gate, then across fields before trailing through the very appropriately named Long Ashton and finally ending in more fields.

A walk focused on discontinuities, divisions, and joins. The easiest to spot – mends in the tarmac, joins between old and new walls. The largest – the huge bridge built to carry the new Metrobus.  Built to join areas of the city together, but currently unused and gathering graffiti, visually dividing the landscape and creating a physical divide in the public footpath. I found unexpectedly sharp divisions of land use where a brand new housing estate buts right up against an area of wildlife. I thought I was walking along a clear division – a fence dividing two fields, one containing me, the other full of cows. But then the fence ended. The physical division was no more and I had to create a mental one, convincing myself that the cows were quite happy on their side of the field and had no desire to join me on mine.  Luckily they agreed with me.

This is the first set of photos that I have taken whilst consciously thinking how they would work when pixelated. I deliberately positioned the discontinuity along the midline of the photo (either horizontally or vertically) in the hope that it would be clearly visible in the change of colour in the pixelated image.

Colour Walk – Walking North

May 30th

A walk through sprawling Bristol. My aim was to try and walk as far North as The Mall shopping Centre (the group of white buildings above and slightly to the right of the furthest north point of my walk). I got tantalisingly close, but in the end was defeated by a combination of a locked gate, a grumpy caravan owner, and the extreme heat of the day. I did get to Filton airstrip, now defunct but still a huge mark on the map of Bristol.

My first timer went off as I walked down a cut through between houses – high brick wall on one side, a fence on the other.  The only spot of colour, a ‘danger of death’ sign on an electricity transformer box, gave me my theme for the rest of the walk – every three minutes I took a photograh that included some element of text:

Old favourites, company names in the frogs of bricks piled high on a demolition site.

Sign in a window ‘These premises are alarmed!’ – by what?

Grafitti – ‘we have to start somewhere’ and ‘no going back’.  Signs of the times, but sounding to me like the start of a Margaret Atwood distopia.

‘Look right’ sprayed on the grass at a golf course. A safety warning, or sartorial instruction?

WAITING.  For what?

Colour Walk – Walking East

May 16th

Walking East, not an easy thing to when there is a river in the way. There are surprisingly few places to cross the River Avon to the East of the city, hence the large detour North before I could head east again.

The rule for this walk, a photograph of the ground every minute, suggested itself as soon as I left the house – wearing walking boots rather than my normal sandals, I was very aware of the sound of my footsteps on the pavement.  I took the photos without judgement, looking directly downwards every minute as the relentless buzzer went off, but turns out even a quick photograph and a speedy reset of the timer takes time – I was out for four hours, but according to the number of photos, I was only walking for two of those.

I am drawn to the images of the grey tarmac, especially those that have captured a mend, or join, an unconformity in the continual surface of endless paths.

Colour Walking – CMYK continued

If I ever print these colour walk images, they will be tiny little post cards to make you really look up close and personal at the images, or to hold the colours tight to you. A comment on how hemmed in I have been feeling during lock down, especially this month when I was expecting to be roaming free in the wilds of Northumberland.

Colour Walking – CMYK

Four colour isolation walks around my neighbourhood, blue, pink, yellow and black, or, at a push, cyan, magenta, yellow and key. I feel very aware of my urban environment at the moment and these colour collections reflet that.   Several surprises.  The first being just how much more in the moment I felt walking whilst searching for colours.  Most of the time when I walk I am focussed on getting somewhere –  it is a very different experience being more present, taking notice and enjoying my surroundings.  Second surprise was how hard it was to find some colours.  I had to really hunt for pinks, but when they were found they were well worth the effort – the pink princess pony is a real favourite.  Other colours were plentiful but lacking in variety – so much of the yellow I found was gorse/road marking bright, I think 90% of the cars in my area are black, and a good 70% of the front doors some variety of blue.

Colour Walk – Walking South

May 9th

Walking South, taking a photograph facing West every five minutes – a journey through Bristol housing stock. What amazed me was just how suddenly urban Bristol stopped, and rural greenness began. There was no slow transition, one moment you are in a housing estate, the next on a lane enclosed on both sides with impenetrable green hedges.

Walking with a kitchen timer clipped to my belt slicing the walk into five minute segments. Odd looks from the few people I met.

My mobile phone getting hotter and hotter in my pocket as I track my walk on an App.  Half way through the battery gives out, meaning I have to plug it into a battery pack. Now my pocket is extremely hot and very heavy.

Constant swapping between glasses and sunglasses to read the map, read the compass, look at camera controls etc.  I forget if my glasses are on my head, clipped into my T-shirt or in a pocket.

Camera swinging round my neck.

Colour Walking 2

May 4th

A circular walk beginning and ending at my house.  Learning from my first experiment, this time I had rules.  I took two photos every two minutes, the first a close up of the most colourful thing near me, the second a wider view of something nearby.  Not too restrictive, and it gave me more of a structure than on my previous walk.  The first colour grid shows the colours resulting from computer manipulation of the photos, the second are the colours I feel best represent each photo.  As a lover of the muted colour palette, I think the computer has made the better choices.