Back last year I had the beginnings of an idea that decided to explore; it involved the concept of combining lots of small things to create something bigger and better than just the sum of its parts. I think this basically sums up what patchwork is, so from that perspective I was on safe ground. The simple way to sum up the concept is encompassed by the word 'Synergy, which Wikipedia explains as being derived from the Attic Greek word συνεργία (synergia), from συνεργός (synergos) meaning 'working together'.
It is very different from my other work which often focusses on rather heavy subjects, and taking a break from that for a while has been good for me as it has left some space in my mind for that work to develop and grow too.
I started off with paper and got drawn into the incredible world of complex origami assemblages. I have always liked the precision required to make a successful origami model - but what some people can do with many sheets of paper is incredble. I first began looking at the work of Coco Sato, http://cocosato.co.uk/things-i-do/ which led me on to exploring Kusudama (薬玉 the Japanese word for 'medicine ball'). These models require many identical pyramidal units to be made and subsequently stitched together to create ornate hangings that are used to hold insence or fragrant herbs and flowers.
After trying my hand at a few paper models I began searching for a fabric alternative that would be stiff enough to work with and hold a fold. I tried several starch prducts, Terrial Magic and gelatine on numerous lightweight fabrics, but none gave me what I needed to create successful creases that could withstand handling. Finally I settled on using a fine cotton muslin known as organdie which I have seen Iris Van Herpen using in her incredible couture.
'Points of View I' and 'II' were my first pieces in this exploration. After hand dyeing the fabric I created a few hundred folded pyramids in a whole range of vibrant colours - for once my studio looked beautiful (instrad of looking like a small explosion has happened), like a colourful sweetshop. Each pyramid is made from one square of fabric and the many folds give rise to layers which can be stitched, cut or embelished in many ways.
'Points of View II' is a large installation which is suspended from the ceiling and allows the viewer to walk around the whole piece, viewing it from all angles. It was a successful piece and has happily found a home.
You can see the whole installation here: https://www.clairepassmore.com/fold--unfold.html
Using the same lattice structure, but in a more formal layout, I next made 'Storm'. This was as much about controlling the use of colour as it was the use of the pyramidal units. You can see other views of this piece in the galleries on my website : https://www.clairepassmore.com/storm.html
One of the things I love about this work is its simplicity. With minimal materials and simple folds it is possible to create something that appears to be a lot more complicated than it really is. That sums up synergy for me.
Update: This piece has been selected to be shown in SAQA's first online gallery on their new website, which will be launched sometime in the Summer of 2020.
Connectivity II Claire Passmore © 2019
Following on from simply folding and stitching the modules together in a plane surface I followed on by exploring what happens when the modules are layered and stacked. This led me to make a series of small pieces which I called 'Connectivity'. The photos above are the second in the series. Although the photos appear to be different objects they are, in fact, the same piece, just posed in different ways. If I were more mathematically inclined I think I would have a better understanding of how to develop this, but as it stands I just stich and manipulate the pyramids and see what serindipitously occurs. It is a bit like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates - you never know what you are gonna get!
You can see more arrangements of Connectivity II here:
The last piece I have recently finished is this. It has been made using the same principle that of repeated modules, but this time they are only similar - not identical. I also made them flat, as the piece was made in response to a SAQA call for entry entitled 'Opposites Attract' that required 2D work. It was a lot of fun to make and has given me further food for thought in terms of cutting and layering the fabric as well as folding it. I am happy to say that the Juror, Gail M Brown, selected it for the exhibition and it will soon be winging its way to Australia to be part of a tour that starts at the Australasian Quilt Convention – April 16 to 19, 2020.
Read more about the SAQA Opposites Attract exhibition here
And more about this specific quilt here: https://www.clairepassmore.com/round-hole--square-peg--space-to-grow.html
I am pleased with the way this new branch of my work is developing - it satisfies my need to keep my mind occupied with new ideas and is also very 'portable' when under construction - something which I find very convenient!
Thanks for reading.