For the last couple of months I have been working on a special piece for a special exhibition "I AM WOMAN" on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. New Zealand was the first country in the world giving women the right to vote in 1893.
Reason enough for a celebration and for the Percy Thomson Gallery in Stratford /Taranaki to invite "Taranaki female artists and some outside female guests from a broad range of disciplines to share their personal ‘take’ on womanhood; belief, cultural, feminism, triumphs, challenges, concerns, spirituality, the mundane, expectations, etc."
I took on the challenge to create a piece about what it means to me to be a woman, despite the fact that I usually don't define myself as woman and in my opinion separation is not the way to go.
I grew up in Eastern Germany (German Democratic Republic), a socialist state where men and women where treated fairly equal. Not because this was such a great, human system but everybody was needed for building a "better and fair" world. Consequently each and everyone had to work, including woman. It was greatly supported to get woman into otherwise male dominated positions. However, when the wall came down I was 16 and landed in the western world, rebelling against everything, including female role models. I shaved my hair, preferred spending my time with male friends, beer and schnapps and never ever wanted to become a mum.
Many years later I bumped into a spinning wheel and fell deeply in love with an activity widely regarded as typically female. I'd like to believe it wasn't
a pure accident, but a calling. I needed to reconnect with myself, with other women and the natural world - with life. This is exactly what spinning
has been given to me - not only the pure joy of creating with mother natures gifts but getting in touch with so many inspiring women along the way.
Women with whom I share my love for fibres, women who have been sharing their skills and knowledge and enabled me to spin the way I spin.
One of those women I adore is Lexi Boeger. She is one of the game changers in the modern spinning world and her book "Intertwined" has been a constant companion and main inspiration right from the beginning of my spinning journey. There couldn't be a better title for my artwork: Intertwined
But the title wasn't the beginning of the process. After a few weeks considering all sorts of aspects about womanhood I suddenly saw what I had to do when I was passing by my favourite spindle. Everything clicked in within a short period of time. I needed to create a piece about the hidden power of spinning, even not always recognised, about female inclusiveness and how this is perfectly embedded in the idea of making threads, about how we are not separated from each other.
Eight drawings are hiding in "Intertwined", capturing seven women and one man, spinners from different times and all over the world - including myself. They are spun into paper yarn together with eight plant and animal fibres commonly used in different parts of the world (Cotton, Wool, Linen, Silk, Muka, Alpaca, Mohair, Angora). The yarn is stored on spindle sticks. These simple tools have been used for spinning fibres since the early history of humankind and are still valued companions in many cultures all over the planet.
The hidden story of a paper yarn - that moment before spinners from all over the world and various times (including myself) will be blotted with walnut ink, cut into stripes and spun up.
The hidden story of a paper yarn - that moment before a spinner from the 15th century is hiding away in a thread. She is drawn after an Illustration from the "Heidelberger Schicksalsbuch", Regensburg (Germany) 1491.
The ink for these drawings I extracted two autumns ago from a local walnut tree. I love how plant colours add another dimension to everything.
The hidden story of a paper yarn - that moment before the spinning begins. If you look closely there is a tiny detail which still gives you a clue about what's hiding here. I swear I didn't plan to make that visible, but it's very cool!
...and this is how it looks like spun up.
I also added Cotton, Muka, Wool, Silk, Mohair, Alpaca, Linen and Angora (starting with Cotton at the top of the picture).
And here is "Intertwined" hanging out in the gallery with a copy of the drawings and my statement (see below)
I am Woman, I am Spin Artist, I am not separate!
When I spin a yarn, I am connected with every single spinner in the world - past, present and future. Most of them are women who have been doing work of utmost importance for humanity while spinning every single thread by hand, not only for useful and beautiful garments but for sails, tools, arts and so much more.
As females we are inclusive by nature and as spinners we are in a close relationship with our fibre plants and animals. Intertwined we continue creating the thread for the fabric of life, often quietly, sometimes unnoticed or even invisible - yet never without power.
With "Intertwined" I am honouring all beings who have made it possible for me to have a voice as a woman and a Spin Artist. I‘d like to highlight those who have not been in the spotlight, yet contributing their part for a fair world, peacefully and intertwined.
On show from 14th December 2018 till 24th January 2019, Percy Thompson Gallery, Prospero Place, 56 Miranda Street, Stratford/Taranaki, New Zealand