Friday, January 15, 2010

Art for "The Post-Colonial Garden as a Palimpsest"

Let me begin by saying that I love hand-knotted rugs, of all sorts and I do own a few.
These are not mine, well maybe a few are by now and some are with my friends. It was a day of viewing rugs, mostly Chobi's (Zeigglers) here.

We're moving house much is being discarded, here's an old rug I almost threw away today.

...and part of another

Some details of the finer piece.

These are around 10 x 12 ft, very old, badly damaged hand-knotted rugs that I acquired in Karachi almost ten years ago. I had intended them to be used in work for many years after I gave up on them, as floor coverings.

The blue Persian is a much finer piece but totally threadbare, worn right down to the structural weft and weave of its base, from a distance it's almost monochrome. They are both also full of dust despite several previous washings. The motifs are of course all plant and garden based. These rugs would seem a viable visual metaphor a cultural reading of "the garden". Here it is played out as as paradise itself. A contained garden of fountains, bird song, fruit bearing trees within in an ordered orchard. An oasis of sorts.

I decided to cut out the still intact central portion today, and have kept the borders to experiment on as well. I'm intending to somehow work into and onto these rugs. At present it seems to me that the only authentic way to do that is to actually stitch another layer right into their very fabric, perhaps this should read from both sides as in fact this threadbare one does. Now there is no hierarchy of front or back, its much the same.

I will have to have to stitch the edges to prevent this one disintegrating. It felt sacrilegious to be cutting into this once magnificent rug but if I can use it in my work it will have another lease of life.

I'm thinking of stitching the ground plan for "Lawrence Gardens" a Lahori British Raj park, now Bagh-e-Jinnah or perhaps even the plan of parts of the "Palace of Versailles", gardens, the parterre's in particular. Right now I'm thinking of a gold thread for visibility but I'll have to try things out.

They'll need to be stabilized, stretched on frames, washed and dried, none as simple as it sounds.. Then I'll have to find out what the issues of working in to the surface of these rugs is.
I think I'll begin with some photoshoped treatments as mock-ups.

The rug represents a pre-colonized traditional cultural thread (forgive the pun) or does it? Their history in this region is not so pure or simple.

William Glover's new book "Making Lahore Modern" Constructing and imagining a colonial City, just arrived. Its only been a week or so since I ordered though Amazon's express delivery cost me as much as the book itself!
"Flying Carpet"

A work by Berlin based Alex Fleming shown at Art Dubai a few years ago. I instantly recognized it as a work I should have, could have made! (don't you hate it when that happens?) We became friends and I sent him an Afghani War rug subsequently.