This week I have been staying at a friend’s house who lives in southern NSW. Sam is a textile artist, her studio is filled with bags and crates of wool fibres, silk skeins and mutated felt creatures that look like they have swum in from a surrealist sea.
She and I had been artists in residence together at Curtin Springs in Central Australia earlier in the year and worked intensively together for two weeks in the desert. So we were very comfortable hanging out in her studio just throwing ideas around. She was busy unpacking and rearranging containers of textiles into some kind of order after a hectic round of teaching and trips away.
As she unpacked and sorted her fibres, I started pulling things out saying wow this is beautiful, what happens if you put it in this…or arrange it like so…She was so used to seeing her fibres through the eyes of a textile artist as the raw materials for felting projects, she hadn’t thought they could somehow take on a life of their own and climb into receptacles and become something completely new.
I disrupted her thinking by throwing random materials together on the table and reframing them in a different context - or recontextualising them. Suddenly the swathes of pre-felted wool became the lining of a nest and bits of rusted metal and discarded bottle tops from our time in the desert, found a little nest in which to rest. These found objects became precious as they too were decontextualised and enjoyed a new elevated status.
Sam had just returned from Bali where everyday the women make small but beautiful offerings to the gods, often with flowers or pieces of fruit. She now looked at her materials through new eyes and could see that they too could become offerings, small creative offerings of striking beauty and simplicity. She then realised she had the basis of a series of themed workshops she could teach, each around the idea of offerings.
I write this blog post because I am thinking of how each of our creative endeavours is in fact an offering. When we were in Scotland last year I wrote a blog post about visiting the awe inspiring standing stones at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis in the outer Hebrides. At significant cosmological events each year, people still place small offerings around the base of the central stone. I believe each of our individual creative gifts are our unique offerings to the universe.