Completion of Instruction 2 enabled first investigation of the locations from which Windham wrote his letters within Volume 1. Of the 49 letters he wrote, 25 included listed addresses from 10 different locations, 4 of which were from his home of Felbrigg Hall in Norwich. Taking the idea that Windham would have departed and returned from his home at Felbrigg Hall, I used this as the starting point, and began by listing the distance of each town recorded from the Hall. When only streets were listed, I used known information about the life of Windham to determine which town the street may be from the list of options provided on Google Maps! This resulted in addresses in Glasgow, where Windham was a student, the Netherlands, and a further 2 in London, including one of the oldest Gentleman clubs in London!
Utalising this system of distance, I constructed a network of lines radiating from and back to the library windows at Felbrigg Hall to catalogue additional places of writing. The original library stamp from Christ Church, Oxford provided an opportunity to present a key to each location and record the number of times that a letter was written from each address.
Taking an idea from the given word connection, I began by exploring potential links with previous responses and reflected upon the similarities and differences within this instruction and the last. I considered how I might draw upon making practices employed within my response to instruction 3 to undertake instruction 4. The similarity of scale and placement of the portraits enabled a returning to the idea of the Oxford frame. Within this response I chose to remove the shape of the frame to amplify a lack of connection to Windham. I also returned to the idea of printing multiple initials to decorate the back of the portrait pages embellishing these with gold leaf to further illuminate the gaps in between the individual letters which I had previously filled with the initials of William Windham in instruction 3. With a further reference to the notion of illuminating, and historical illuminated letters, I made use of the paper removed from the book in cutting out the Oxford frame and embellished these with emerging connections with Windham’s life, loves and letters. These are placed decoratively within the original portrait and will be made use of again to embellish the list of illustrations at the front of Vol.1
In response to the third instruction, I once again began by gathering a list of connected synonyms. Alongside this, I observed that each portrait is contained within a single page with blank paper surrounding it and considered constructing a frame around each recipient to decorate this empty space. Drawing upon the idea of decorating, adorning and adding ornament, taken from the given word illustrate, I explored the idea of what a frame could be and came upon a historical style called an Oxford frame in which the sides cross each other and project out at the corners. I noted that this was considered a popular style for framing prints and that it is similar to the Oxford corners used by printers in which a corner is formed by a ruled border which cross and extend slightly beyond each other. I had never heard of either term before this research and was drawn to the connection with Oxford, historical eras and printers!
Having already altered the book in response to instruction one and two, I have decided to employ techniques used within this earlier work to form the frames that I construct. This will enable relevant individual ingredients to be mixed together around each portrait. Colour will be taken from the inventory constructed in response to instruction two and I also plan to make use of paper cutting, letter stamps and repetitive mark making found within the work of Mira Schendel and Cy Twombly.
In response to the second instruction my first line of enquiry was once again to investigate the potential of each given word to inform visual arts practice. I became interested in using the actual text within the book to construct the inventory by physically ‘extracting’ the name of each recipient and re-assembling these within one alphabetical list. I explored the notion of inventories and considered how I could present Windham’s recipients by viewing a range of historical and contemporary inventories. I observed order, logic, detailed referencing, names and dates. I decided to locate the inventory within the empty first pages, as a further introduction to Volume 1., and directly underneath the following quote: Why may not the life of Windham be written by his letters?
I began cutting and ideas evolved in this making process including an observation around frequency of correspondence and choice of subject matter located within William Windham’s personal and professional life. I noted that Windham expresses times of confidence, achievement, anxiety and self-doubt and began to apply a system of inductive analysis selecting one individual word to most effectively represent each letter. In order to visually code emerging themes shared with the 24 recipients within this book, I have used four individual colours to evidence positive and negative adjectives in response to shared information about his evolving professional and personal life.
The opportunity to share first sample pages face to face enabled scrutiny of the given theme, analysis of our decision making process to date, and the format of the book to be finally confirmed. Ideas were exchanged and initial concerns around the scale of the typewritten key in contrast to the cross stitch transfer page alphabets were talked through and solutions were found collaboratively.
We have decided to revise both independently found cross-stitch books by transcribing the text from one book onto the pattern transfers from the second book using a typewritten key-based system. The key will be printed onto both sides of the transfer paper utilising the grid format in the original book which will result in off set printing when the pages are viewed together. The scale of the transfer pages will enable us to construct two new double page spreads from each sheet which we plan to insert into the first book. In this way imagery and text, original substrates and outer book covers will all intersect.
Sections of first sample pages provided further ideas about other outcomes which may possibly enlarge sections of given and intersected pattern.
In response to the first instruction I began by exploring the meaning of each given word and became drawn to the word deleted. Synonyms listed included: obliterate, erase, cross out and drawing a line through it. Further synonyms listed for cross out included: squash, stifle, suppress, rub out and shade. I began to consider the idea of erasing text perhaps through the use of an ink rubber or sandpaper to remove the printed text from the surface of the paper. I also became interested in the notion of crossing through text with a line and considered possible options open to Windham if he made a mistake in his original letter writing. This in turn led to some research around Windham himself and his family home.
I read about the gothic library of his family home, Felbrigg Hall, filled with books he had brought back from his Grand Tour and further claims that books were both his lifetime passion and the cause of his untimely death! Alongside stories of his fluency in French, Italian, Greek and Latin were stories of his sporting achievements, political inconsistency and his ghost! Allegedly his ghost has been seen seated in a chair by a roaring fire reading a favourite book! I began to think it would be interesting to make use of letter forms in some way and looked at the work of artists who use text in their work in particular the multiple letters, scribbles and scratched lines used within the arts practice of Mira Schendel and Cy Twombly. Schendel speaks of blurring the processes of drawing and writing and exploring the visual qualities of words so that sometimes only a single letter is used repeatedly within a piece of work. One article talked of multiple letter L’s repeatedly formed to look like legs marching across a page.
Gradually I began to think about how I could use multiple letter W’s to obliterate and shade the letters he had received. I considered using black ink but felt this may create surfaces which couldn’t be worked into at a later date and so returned to the idea of erasing. I have now begun the process of responding to the first given instruction by using lines drawn in Tippex to represent the angular lines found in a letter W together with white printed letter stamps to delete sections of text.
A pre-arranged FaceTime conversation enabled the exchange of first ideas gathered independently in response to our new projects. We are keen to continue with the methods of making established in our last project which are rooted in Serial Art and talked around a range of possible starting points.
Inspired by the purchase of 2 cross stitch books, first research into this craft has revealed rules and conventions around restrictions with image placement which could be interesting to make use. A potential colour palette is listed within one of the books with particular symbols linking to specific colours. The symbols have some reference to the patterns we created using the typewriter in our previous project and the making of these links with the theme of Intersect. The process of making a cross stitch also links Intersect and also offers further potential to divide pages into two parts, cut across, overlap and criss cross. Whilst these are interesting ideas, first examination of the two books presented challenges in how to connect them. Eventually we have decided upon sending half of each book to each other for further examination. This will involve taking the books apart and some independent decision making which may provide new ideas
We considered the idea of using text messages to instruct each other in the production of art work and both liked this idea initially although were unsure of how this would lead to an outcome. P shared ideas making use of found books and experiences from the recent Artist Book Fair in Bristol (BABE) around working on editions and one-off books from the same starting point. We discussed first ideas for the Windham papers and P will initiate this process by texting the first rule that we will undertake on our individual volumes of the book.
With many potential ideas to consider we have fixed a second Facetime conversation and a meeting within the next 3 weeks in order to move both projects forward. Prior to these we have agreed to send each other half of our cross stitch books and share links to first reading.
Removing the papers from my cross stitch book to send to P has revealed 9 sections with each section having 3 double pages. The remaining pages are glued onto the binding – perhaps these remaining pages can be the starting point for the the new book?
Having made twelve backgrounds by photocopying found found surfaces onto cartridge paper, I have produced a second layer of shapes using machine stitch onto tracing paper. Exploring the linear quality of machine stitch I have made use of red and blue thread to reference sewing markings used in dress making. These second layers will be photocopied onto the first layer prior to letterpress text being added by P.
Photocopying the tracing paper stitched patterns onto the cartridge paper first backgrounds worked well. Slight adjustments were made in the printing to heighten the colour of the thread by using the colour management settings and two backgrounds were amended to lighten the tone of the first background in order for the machine stitched line to be seen clearly.
The need to postpone an arranged making day due to work commitments resulted in FaceTime decision making this morning. Swift decisions were made within the limited time frame in order to move the project forward around the illustrations and text. Determining the order of production led to jobs being shared between us in order to construct the book within the given deadline.
Both P and I are keen to build on the style of working we established during Meeting in the Middle and share the production of both text and image. This is being realised by P adding letterpress text on top of initial backgrounds and both of us typing the selected stories. Both of us will use a blue ribbon and decorative elements in order to draw upon sewing conventions seen in dressmaking patterns.
Whilst I finish the backgrounds, P will edit each story and produce a template to work to. P will then add letterpress text whilst I construct new backgrounds for additional individual stories. Each of us will have 2 weeks to type the stories and add any final embellishment which is still to be decided but may include stitched details and bias binding trims.
Following the FaceTime conversation, my first job is to send P the sewing story I am contributing to the book. Reflecting upon my first sewing projects at secondary school led me to old school reports and reading around Needlecraft and Housecraft education in the 1970’s.
Having selected which stories to include, I have begun to gather found surfaces and imagery to make use of within each of the 12 illustrations. Working systamatically I have once again made use of the photocopier to alter scale and colour and plan to put these back through the photocopier to overprint stitched line drawings.