I have been slowly acquiring books on Eric Ravilious to add to my growing collection of...two, and this little book Design had been catching my eye everywhere recently...
In museum bookshops, at exhibitions, and book fairs, until by the time I succumbed and bought it I had actually read it cover to cover, just in three instalments and in three different places. The book is light on text beyond an introduction by Peyton Skipwith, before transforming into a wonderful microcosm of the work of Eric Ravilious and his close friend Edward Bawden. Firm friends after meeting as design students in the 1920s, Eric and Edward proceeded to create a style recognisable and unique to themselves, cleaving to the highest of artistic standards.
In a way perhaps I now see this happening amongst St Jude's, the group of artists whose work I am admiring wherever I see it at the moment...Angie Lewin, Mark Hearld, Emily Sutton, Ed Kluz et al.
The word 'gallimaufry' seems long overdue for a renaissance so I think I will start one...please use it at least once today and if you can't think of a context then just say 'that dovegreyreader scribbles...it's a right old gallimaufry' and you will be on song for its interpretation as a jumble and a muddle of things. First used in 1556 when someone presumably woke up one day and thought that the word in Middle French for stew, galimafree, would do to describe plenty more too. So it seems fitting that the first illustration in Design is a cover designed by Eric Ravilious for a magazine of this name...
And though what follows in Design could hardly be called a jumble, it is an eclectic mix of book jacket designs, textiles, wallpapers, lino cuts, all distinctive not only for their delicacy and lightness of touch but also for a contrasting robustness of style, design and use of colour. This seems to be a particular quality of the lino cuts, a medium I have not forgotten I want to explore... except the last time I looked the lino was about £5 per six inch square which feels prohibitive for the amount of damage I am likely to do before arriving at something presentable.
Books like this definitely serve a purpose for me, though that purpose quite hard to define when I try. But there is something about having a visual selection of ideas and inspiration to hand when I am pondering a creative binge. I am always amazed at what can leap from the page into my head and reshape itself as I delve into the fabric stash and head for the cutting mat and the Bernina.
I am dipping into another fascinating book at the moment, Weaving Lives Back Together - Using Textile Arts and Handicrafts in Therapy With Women by Ann Futterman Collier. I am intrigued and excited by the growing recognition in the clinical world of the potential for the therapeutic use of creativity in people's lives.
I was often tempted to try and set up knitting or patchwork groups for patients with mild to moderate depression when I worked in a GP surgery, but nothing can happen these days without an evidence base and until now there just hasn't been one. Thinking or 'feeling sure' it would help isn't good enough, but it would seem that finally the evidence for something we probably do all know anyway is finally appearing, and to my surprise, with an endorsement on this U.S. book from Peter Aitken, a consultant psychiatrist here in Devon. It would seem this could be a therapy the UK is exploring too.
The concept of 'flow' is discussed...
'Flow is a mental state in which a person is fully engaged in an activity, has mastery yet feels challenged by the activity, becomes completely absorbed, feels an energized focus, and finds the activity to be intrinsically rewarding..'
I'll bet plenty of you get that buzz too, because I know I do, that could be ME they are talking about there, I identified with that feeling immediately. Apparently you are a textile-coper if you use that flow constructively in moments of negativity. How many times do I think to myself, when life is is stacking up a bit, that I need a day of creating things. With so much else waiting to be done I might be tempted to think I don't have time to spend a day 'playing' and creating mayhem at the kitchen table, but it is rarely the case that I deny the urge. I just get on with it and emerge on the other side of that day feeling re-energised and ready to deal with the stack.
Sorry that's gone off weft a bit from where I began, but this is a gallimaufry after all. Sometimes I never quite know how I get from first line to last and make any sense, but I know there are sufficient like-minded creators out there for whom this may all chime... if so please do add your thoughts in comments.