Love at t'Mill

This may one of my final blog posts (at least for a little while, until I've figured out my trajectory for the final practical project of the year!) This is also one of my last weeks in The Stow for a wee bit, and I must admit I'll miss it. In early January I'll be travelling back down to Falmouth, to deliver a presentation on The Cure for Love, bringing this project to a close.

The celebratory end of The Cure for Love happened last night, with a joint exhibition and embroidery workshop at The Mill community centre, where Tina and I held our Is There a Cure for Love? workshop in October. 

My embroideries were displayed with a booklet of all the texts I wrote throughout The Cure for Love. Each embroidery was numbered according to its corresponding text in the booklet.

In the workshop I offered two options; either make a love potion or a cure for love of your own concoction. It was enheartening to an old romantic like me that most participants chose to make a love potion; perhaps we're all more sentimental and optimistic around Christmas time?

Some of the ingredients of these, er, "love potions" were a little suspect, though:

Looking at the photos, it seemed like everyone enjoyed themselves; they've certainly all got smiles on their faces (me included!) I'm very lucky to have such supportive friends and family.

We even had a number of curious locals in, eager to have a gander and try their hand at stitching.

It was a lovely evening, and a very fitting end to The Cure for Love.

I suppose all that remains is for me to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! Until next time (whenever that may be!)

Love Potion Number 1

Remember the potion book I shared with you in a previous post? Well, I've spent the past few days stitching up the love potion from it (apologies for the long absence; I've had two friends to stay pretty much consecutively, and consequently have been quite busy!)

The tiny stitches are practically illegible; unintelligibility is a concept I have previously been interested in in terms of the spoken word in sound art; censorship, self-censorship, a lack of transparency of communication, stuttering, irritating modern-day “thinking aid” fillers such as “Yeah” and “Like”, etc. I think illegibility can sometimes work when done intentionally, for example in this case with the sprawling handwriting of young children, with its invented and secret languages. Also, it only adds to the mystique of potion-making!

Yesterday an aforementioned friend who was staying with me and I visited the Wellcome Collection in Euston, one of my favourite London galleries. The exhibitions are often a fascinating combination of art and science. The current exhibition  which I was most interested in, however, was a bit of a departure from the scientific side of things; titled Charmed Life: The Solace of Objects, it was curated by the artist Felicity Powell (who I think may just be my new favourite artist!)

Powell selected talismanic objects from the collection of Edwardian amateur folklorist Edward Lovett (which comprised 1400 amulets). Despite rising to the rank of Chief Cashier at the City of London's Bank of Scotland, Lovett had a keen interest in the superstitions of working class Londoners. He began collecting charms which these Londoners carried for luck or protection, amassing the huge collection from which Powell has drawn the exhibition.

The sea horses shown above, for example, were made in Venice and carried by Londoners to bring good luck.

A coil of wire from Ceylon with "length equal to the height of a person" was intended to ensure a successful resolution to any request by the person in possession of it. Alongside the wire were displayed "Gemstones of poor quality, given by Gem-miners", also intended to bring good luck.

One of the most aesthetically interesting installations was comprised of a huge selection of beautifully laid-out charms, votives, and amulets, to ward off "nightmares" etc. These included glass acorns, lucky horse-shoes, glass slippers, tin hearts, carved coral and bone, fossils, and metal crosses and phalluses. The (rather blurry and wonky)scan below shoes how this installation was laid out:

Powell also made work in response to the exhibition; ranging from an etched coin "Against insomnia, for sleep, against amnesia, for memory", with a scene of clouds gathered over the sea. This put me in mind of relaxation techniques for sleep; "whale song", and imagining that "you are on a beach..."

Powell's current practise mainly focuses on wax "amulets" carved into mirror backs. These dream-like scenes are evocative of folkloric art. The short films Powell had created for the exhibition truly captivated me; they were full of the illusion and "magic" with which the objects Powell curated were imbued. In one, Powell "strokes" wax on to a mirror back, and hands appear; in another, "beams" of coral-coloured wax dissolve into flames.

Sleight of Hand, video, 7 minutes, 2011

Folkloric art and charms is definitely a practise I will be looking into towards the time of my CAP (the final performance/installation/presentation of my degree). I feel it is relevant for The Cure for Love, however, due to my focus on love potions and seeking a "cure" for love.

"Is There A Cure For Love?" Embroidery Workshop @ The Mill

Tonight was mine and Tina's embroidery/love potion making workshop at The Mill community centre in Walthamstow. There wasn't a huge turn-out, but to be honest, considering it was an introductory session I was glad anyone turned up at all!

We took ingredients, negative and positive, from failed relationships, and stitched them on to ribbon, adding them to bottles to make "broken" potions. We then stitched ingredients to positively re-balance the potions, to find a "cure for love". The workshop was very therapeutic, both in its subject matter of taking something broken and making it beautiful again, and in that sewing itself is a therapeutic action (something Joetta Maue mentioned in my interview with her).

"Is There A Cure For Love?" - Embroidery Workshop @ The Mill

If you're in London on the 19th I'd really love to see you at The Mill in Walthamstow for a session of stitching love potions! Tina Bueno of The Pharmacy of Stories and myself will be hosting the night. 

The Mill is on the left hand side of Coppermill Lane, which is the road which leads on from the very bottom of Walthamstow Market. The nearest tube station is Walthamstow Central. Hope to see you there!