Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Thread of Life - Cross Stitch Project by Sharon Mossbeck

For those of you at the last meeting you may remember me mentioning the 'Thread of Life' cross stitch project by Sharon Mossbeck.  

Sharon had contacted the West Yorkshire Federation office promoting her project and asking for volunteers to take part.  In the email she explained the project:

My project is called The Thread of Life, and is inspired by the Three Fates, or Moirai, from Ancient Greek Myth, who spin, measure and cut each person’s thread of life, thus defining their lifespan. This puts me in mind of DNA, which is a reoccurring motif in the project. It is a project in 2 parts and will result in an exhibition at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield, where my residency is based. Through the project I hope to change the perception of cross-stitch in contemporary art.

For the first part of the project I am looking for people to sew their own version of a pattern I have devised, based on a strand of DNA. I want people to select their own colours, style and embellishments, so that each piece is as individual as the person making it. It will be interesting to see how people’s ideas differ, or indeed are the same. The only stipulation is that it must be stitched on 14count Aida. Every finished piece sent in to Bank Street Arts will go into the exhibition, which will run for the whole of November 2015.

The pattern is available to download from my website, or I would be happy to provide groups with printed patterns. There are currently individuals from around the world working on their own contribution to the project, and I have thousands of printed patterns to post out to various sewing groups, embroidery guilds, shops and craft groups who are taking part. I will also be giving free workshops at various venues around the UK to get more people sewing and thinking about cross-stitch in a different way.

The second part of the project relates to my own work. I am currently working on a large scale sculptural cross-stitch piece, which is inspired by Byzantine Church domes, but with imagery relating to the Moirai and DNA, and measures just over one square meter. The finished piece will hang flat against the ceiling with long threads hanging down to the ground, creating an internal space inside which the viewer can stand, and look up to see the imagery. The fabric will initially be covered in clay before being hand-stitched, mostly in gold thread. The crosses perfectly mimic the mosaic tiles of a Byzantine dome, and the imagery used, although relating to the Moirai and DNA, is used in a way which mimics a conventional Byzantine dome.  I believe that this may be the first time cross-stitch has been used in this way, and as such the work is quite experimental.

The project has been funded by a successful crowdfunding campaign, which reached more than its full target of £650. I have also received a grant from the Oppenheim-John DownesMemorial Trust to further fund the project, and DMC Creative World are kindly contributing all materials for workshops and for my own piece of work.

I mentioned this to our group, asking if anyone was interested in the project. Both Fran and Trish asked for further details and said they were definitely interested in participating. As ever, I saw an opportunity to share this and asked Trish Knowles if she wouldn't mind keeping us up to date with the project. This is what she has been up to so far...


This is my blog for the above project, so I suppose this could be episode 1.  When Debbie told the February meeting about this I thought, mm, that could be interesting, but before I committed myself I looked into it a bit further and at each step I became more interested.  The cross stitch piece is based on a strand of DNA - it could be a pattern of your own choosing or the one you can download from the artist's web site.  It can be done in your own choice of colours and with your own choice of embellishments.  The project is the idea of the resident artist of Bank Street Arts in Sheffield, Sharon Mossman and will become part of a wider exhibition entitled The Thread of Life that will be held at 
Banks Street Arts in November this year.  So that's the background.

My 1st 'challenge' was to lay out the pattern.  I say challenge as I have only ever worked from a pre printed pattern before.  This took me 5 days - I'm a slow worker and I felt this was a major hurdle for me, but once this was out of the way choosing the colours for the thread was easy peasy, or so I thought.  I had decided on varying shades of red and green.  Green shades were not too difficult to find but it took me several visits to Sammy Taylors and the haberdashery stalls in the market to 
settle on the red shades.  Now I was ready to start.  I e-mailed Sharon and let Debbie know.  Now, there's no going back.  I am taking my cross-stitch on holiday to stave off the boredom (as if).  

Here are some photos of my progress so far.

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