First Year Experience: Sabotaging Scale

This first year textiles student explains how he used scale subversion to make playful pieces inspired by our British Stump-work embroidery. To see more of what our first year students got up to as part of their “Being Human” project, see a short video by Martin Clark here.

I looked at the stump work piece in the archive, and what interested me the most was scale, I thought it was quite playful as though it had been done by a young child. I wanted to subvert by introducing the idea of playful scale and almost tricking the eye. For my “Learn, Make, Subvert” project, I focused on learning crochet, more typically very small detailed pieces. I wanted to work with that and think about the idea of a child’s perception of scale. I subverted the stump work piece in two ways.  

Student’s sketchbook showing idea development from stump-work embroidery

The first way focused on the Stuart period in Britain at the time and the imagery that the children would make of what they knew, and what they knew at this time was about those kings and queens and animals found on the piece. So I was working with scale and looking at how people reacted to things being bigger or smaller and then I wanted to subvert my crochet in ways that made it playful. This reminded me of a technique called bobble stitching where you crochet four rows and connect them into a bobble. Then they kind of looked like wigs, maybe like the king and queen wore in the stump work. This lead me to finally make big wigs out of crochet and digitally superimpose these onto the archive item. I also used really alternative materials to do my crochet and played with scale in this, for example balloons and tubes with colored water inside.

The second way that I subverted the piece was in thinking about the idea of these children drawing what they grew up with, so I took inspiration from Timorous Beasties and I contrasted this with what I grew up with, which was living in Maryhill. Instead of tapestry, I made a collage of what I grew up with, for example the big Tesco and various places within Maryhill. So that was how I subverted it to make it personal to me.

Images courtesy of Stephen Keane – many thanks Stephen!

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