Artist's Statement

Source:  Artist's Statement    Tag:  shortest wavelength of light
My work is primarily concerned with colour, pattern and quality of workmanship. The urban environment, traditional and contemporary textiles, op art paintings, colour theory and Japanese art stimulate my practice.
The stitched qualities within my work are for construction as opposed to embellishment. I use traditional patchwork techniques and hand-dyed natural materials to create my pieces. The tangible quality of patchwork and my tendency to luxuriate in labour-intensive techniques is what first attracted me to patchwork and piecing. I find the repetitive action of fabrication both soothing and pleasurable. By using these processes I aim to evoke and commemorate the long-standing traditions of craft. Preconceived notions still exist concerning textiles and particularly the employment of traditional craft-based techniques. I aim to revive and reinvent these established techniques. I stretch my pieces over wooden frames like a canvas to reference the paintings that have inspired me and to blur the boundaries that exist between Fine and Applied Art.
Pattern plays a fundamental role in my practice. Photographs I have taken of prisms and the shadows cast by them act as my source material when designing. I reference the shapes and arrangement within my own patterns. An intrinsic appetite for dynamic visuals has always been key in my work and I believe that nothing has the ability to draw in the viewer like a complex pattern. As an artist I have always gravitated towards abstraction and, over time, geometric repeat patterns have become central to my work. Symmetry is not a requirement within my designs but balance is crucial. I use my Photoshop skills to create complex arrangements by repeating and mirroring a single sample. I endeavour to evoke a sense of depth and rhythmic movement using my patterns combined with colour theory. 
Colour theory and the concept of refracted light act as the foundations for my work. Light changes speed as it moves from one medium to another. This change causes the light to be refracted and to enter the new medium at a different angle. The refractive index of many materials varies with the wavelength or colour of the light used. This means that the different colours in the light are refracted differently and leave the prism at different angles, creating an effect similar to a rainbow. Each constituent colour in white light has a different wavelength. Red light has the longest wavelength and is refracted least while violet light has the shortest wavelength and is refracted most. It is this difference in wavelength that determines how certain colours seem to the eye; why cool colours seem to recede and warm colours appear to come forward. I enjoy creating a sense of tension by strategically juxtaposing warm and cool colours. I exploit the properties of the warm and cool colours by using them in conjunction with my optical illusion-like patterns to create a vibrating, undulating surface. In my degree show I have referenced the fact that a different colour is caused by a different angle by only having one colour on each wall. I directly reference the colours seen in the prisms in this work. My instinctive palette as an artist has always comprised of saturated hues. I feel they are appropriate for this body of work as the coloured features are limited, but of great importance, so need to be both vibrant and eye-catching. 
To further enhance the sense of varying depths within my work, I carefully select the fabric that will be used in conjunction with the warm and cool colour accents. I strategically combine matt, heavy fabrics such as duck cotton and velvet with the cool colour flashes in an attempt to make that section of the piece recede. I employ reflective, light fabrics such as duchess satin to accompany the warm colour areas so that section appears to protrude. The interaction between these juxtaposed textures creates a sense of tension and contrast. I also employ natural fibres as I have found that nothing compares to the intensity of colour achieved after dyeing a completely natural fabric. I feel the dyeing process is key to the work as it makes me feel more connected to my materials. 
Similar to Mark Rothko and Josef Albers, I aim to create colour combinations that shimmer with intensity. Their paintings are the epitome of colour theory being put into practice and this is what I aspire to. The work of Op artists such as Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley are also influential due to the sense of movement and depth they have achieved on a flat surface using only simple shapes combined with colour. The patterns used in their pieces are referenced in my own work. The later work of Francois Morellet is also inspirational, particularly his sculptural pieces that break out off the confines of the square and almost come off the wall. The sculptural textiles produced by Sally Freshwater and the way they have been displayed has influenced my degree show. The irregular edge, the fact the piece sits out from the wall and the interesting shadows they create have been very inspiring.
Travelling serves as a catalyst for my work as I have a long-standing sense of appreciation for the urban environment and, in particular, architecture. The buildings, old or new, that I admire first-hand during my summer holiday often serve as a starting point for my next piece. The Pantheon in Rome acted as inspiration for this body of work.
The respect for and attention to space seen in the work of Japanese textile artists such as Masae Bamba and Naomi Kobayashi are significant to my own practice. Due to their cultural upbringing, they regard space to be as important to their work as the work itself. They aim to create a true harmony between artwork and environment and this is something I aspire to with my pieces. 
In terms of historical context I find Amish quilts influential due to their precision and skill. Japanese quilts possess a sense of freedom, movement and energy that I hope to achieve in my own work.
The importance of the surrounding space within my practice means that I feel I would be particularly suited to working towards commissions for architectural spaces. The idea of being given a brief is exciting for me as I would find it both challenging and inspirational. Seeing the space where the work would eventually be situated before beginning to design and make it is particularly fitting with the Japanese concepts regarding space that I understand and respect. The repeat patterns within my work have a wide-spread commercial appeal and could successfully transfer into patterns for interiors and home furnishings. Rachel O’Neill’s path after university into a more commercial field is inspiring to me. My wall-hung pieces are large-scale but are constructed from many smaller components. The smaller pieces are exciting in their own right and I feel they could be sold in a commercial gallery. 
My practice as an artist is constantly evolving yet the concerns regarding colour, pattern, illusion, architecture and space are intrinsic and constant. I hope to continue exploring these themes and master the art of creating optical illusions using my ever-growing knowledge of colour theory.