Public Commission VII: Embroidery Galore (August – October 2018)

art, recent work

With the starry sky alcove and the coloured spotlights set in place, I could return to the third part of the commission: the school road mapping.

Back in spring this year, schoolkids in two classes presented me with their hand-drawn maps – each one showing their own path from home to school. I began to fuse those forty-something individual images into one collective map. Some related to places that were easily recognizable, and some of their features were obviously identical; a supermarket, a traffic circle, those two water pools and the Thai restaurant. Others were very personal, and sometimes pertaining to different layers of reality; a secret tree-house, an encounter with a friend or a wild animal, or some wildly ambivalent feelings expressed in graffiti style… And there were suns, and moons, and stars.

Having arrived at an overview, I again divided the map in triangular parts and arranged the sketches in clusters designed for five different walls; now with the individual paths intertwined – sometimes interacting – and (almost) all ending up in the central piece with the school building.

Then, twenty-one pieces of felt were cut and prepared with starch. Similarly, twenty-one wooden boards were produced to tauten the felt pieces onto. And the embroidery race started…

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It was pure delight to discover all the details of the kids’ maps; humorous – sometimes cheeky – emotional, colourful, observant and straightforward. In rendering their felt-tip pen drawings into yarn stitches, I did my very best to stay true to the original.

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August and September came and went. Stitching, listening to the radio, stitching; pausing only to eat and sleep, and sometimes to go buying more mouliné thread… And slowly, the map took shape. By the end of October, I stowed the embroidery table away. The map was ready to mount.

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Public Commission II; Mapping the School Road (March 2018)

art, recent work

What does “home” mean to you?
What does “school” mean to you?

Those were the questions I posed to the schoolkids in grade 2 and grade 5… Their answers? “Home” means family, granma and granpa, an annoying little sister, an easy feeling; a house, spaghetti, chips and snacks; love, memories, a native language; a shopping mall, or a beach – a wide range of emotions, persons, places, cognitions and things. And “school” could be anything between a prison and a safe place, associated with knowledge, effort, fun, weariness and sometimes injustice – and, above all, a place to be with friends.

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All the answers, written down on post it-notes, were carefully collected. Next time I visited, I presented them arranged in a pattern where “school” was the common centre, while the “home” notes formed a periphery – a proto-map, missing the in-between part; the school road. Which lead us to my next question: could you draw a map showing your way between home and school?

Denoyer-6-inch-globe-mapBernard J S Cahill: Butterfly Map (conceived in 1909)

Buckminster Fuller: Dymaxion Map (first published in 1943)

Inspired by Bernard Cahill’s “Butterfly Map” and Buckminster Fuller’s “Dymaxion Map”, I offered triangular pieces of drawing paper for the task. What I got in return was a stunning variety of expressions, mirroring individual temperaments and experiences – admirable visualisations and food for thought…

The next step will be the rendering of those school road maps into visual elements to form an aggregated whole, which can be mounted permanently on the walls. In the meantime, enjoy Jasper Johns’version of the Dymaxion map from 1967:

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Photo still from Jasper Johns: Take an Object,
a film by Hans Namuth and Judith Wechsler (1990)