Friday, August 1, 2008

Blackpool Rocks!

I suspect many of my quilts look better in the dark but in the case of this one - I am prepared to admit it.....

My design inspiration was 'The Illuminations' or 'Blackpool lights'. I confess that I struggled for a few weeks to think how I could get a sense of light into a quilt other than the hackneyed use of piecing lights and darks and I didn't think I had space in twelve inches to do a pieced rendition of The Lights.

I moved on to another theoretical idea - illumination as accademic clarifications. You know - Archimedes in the bath and all that. Jonathan Safran Foer's novel title Everything is Illuminated was rattling around in my head... but how to interpret it.... oh yeah, literally!
Initially I was thinking of something involving the technology you get in keyrings, white lights - may be a theatre makeup mirror.. off I went on a Google search. I found the Glow Company who make a simply amazing range of glow/light-up stuff. I wanted tack and here it was - I kept looking and kept coming back to the rainbow wand. There was time for thought while they measured it for me, in which I realised I wanted to have some kind of message with the quilt - some story or way of passing on a message - some illumination as to the realities of Blackpool.
The wand reminded me of the famous Blackpool tower and I enhanced that my lacing it up with embroidery thread to represent the lattice ironwork of the real thing, but also as a passing nod to the laced up Ann Summers type corsets often seen worn by drunken brides-to-be staggerng down the prom on their hen nights! It also refers to the windturbine brought in in 2007 to help power The Lights in a greener way than before.
The background has nine cross sections of Blackpool Rock but instead of the usual words running through the bar of sticky sweet stuff I have added some of the grimmer ( but true) statistics about Blackpool.
HIV cases rose 50% between 2001 and 2004
12th poorest area in the country
5th highest no. of drug deaths in the land
1 in 12 girls get pregnant before 18
2nd worst life expectancy in the country
Girls do worse at school than boys
Most alcohol linked deaths
4 more homeless children each month
Higher than average teen suicide rate

The circles are coloured in with textile markers ( the only ones I could get in my local art shop. I would have preferred ones with a thinner harder nib which might have negated the need to express the stats in rather truncated English!). I fused the top onto Fast2Fuse to give it a stiff base to support the tower and used a machine stitch to add gold rayon stars which made a mess of the back so it has a false back fused on with just the tower stitching showing ( but even they are not so good so I am not showing!) The edges are satin stitched.

The idea is that the glitz of the lights ( which were originally staged to attract tourists and extend the short 'season') cannot completely cover the grit of reality underneath. Oh, and I really, really needed an excuse to buy a rainbow wand!

PS It works in the light too, in case any of my collaborative colleagues were worried about future exhibitions! (although these videos both post with less light than they play straight from my laptop file)


Gerrie said...

Helen, you have put so much thought into this. I feel like such a slouch. The video of the actual tack is great. I love that you have made us think about the reality of a place like Black Pool

Diane said...

Wow -- a multi-media piece! I'm quite dazzled by the lighting technology! It's a very fun effect. But I especially like how you've contrasted the facts about Blackpool and the glitz versus reality. It's not just a visually appealing and entertaining piece -- it's very thoughtful. Well done!

Brenda said...

Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.
Saint Thomas Aquinas

I was itching to use this quote somewhere and your thought-provoking work is just the occasion. Brilliant!

Kristin L said...

What a fun surprise! I suspected from your sneek peak that you had made some sort of Blackpool Rock (and I don't remember the words or images in the real candy being particularly refined, so I wouldn't worry too much about your pens). The light wand is definitely an unexpected way to incorporate all those tacky lights of Blackpool. :-)

Deborah said...

Well, I'll admit I had to go to Wikipedia to find out more about Black Pool. There was a picture of the actual tower and the rainbow wand is a perfect stand-in. I found another entry in Wikipedia about blackpool rock, so now I can really seen the symbolism and irony in your circles. Great job Helen! I'm amazed, really.

Terry said...

Like the others I am dazzled and amazed and then brought down to earth with the sobering statistics. Immensly clever and creative!

Françoise said...

Stunning piece. I'm speechless!
I must admit Blackpool is the kind of place I would never visit...
A very meaningful piece to me. Great job!

StegArt said...

What a fun and also informative piece Helen.

Dale Anne Potter said...

WOW! This truly is a mixed media piece.

artfilstitch said...

Great work! I love how you have put so much information into your quilt which has a meaningful theme.
Great Job!

kirsty said...

Helen, this is fabulous. I love everything about it (the Magpie in me just adores tat), but especially the rock. Such a clever idea! Sadly, I suspect that this is a representation that would suit many places.

Nikki said...

Helen, your quilts alway illuminate truth. I love the addition of the rainbow want. I thought of making a light up quilt. My husband even research sensors and a computer chip you can sew into clothing. But alas, I didn't have the time or energy to so it.

I love the light want and the contrast of the glitz and the reality behind it.

Karen said...

Helen, this piece is so fascinating. I think you perfectly captured an idea, and after getting our attention, laid the facts out on the line. Really, really clever.