For anyone who thinks multi-media or fabric collage or art quilts are simply thrown together without consideration for fine stitching -- then take a look at Pamela's beautifully and carefully constructed fabric art. -- Dawn
Here's Pamela Allen in her own words:
When I am teaching, I often exhort the students to “be fearless”. If they have an idea, however off the wall, just try it out without inhibition and worry. After all, what is the worse that can happen? You will end up with an interesting quirky potholder!
Good advice really for any aspiring fabric artist. However, I have discovered for my own work, that fear is a major player! Here are some issues that haunt me as I am embarking on a new piece.
FEAR OF BEING DERIVATIVE
I like representational but not realistic rendering. Folk art, outsider art, medieval art, native art all fit this category. I discovered I like unusual colour combinations. I discovered I like subject matter that describes every day events, or humorous narratives. So when I was designing the quilt Grandmother's Lullaby (see photo above), I picked elements from a medieval Madonna, (see photo right of Sienese Mother and Child). For instance the outline effect of her veil and robe, to start the composition. I’m sure people will relate this image to the many Madonnas and Child we have seen, but I am hoping they won’t say, “She stole that image”!
FEAR OF GOING OTT- OVER THE TOP
Here I am having designed the quilt, appliquéd all the shapes and quilted the surface. Oh goodie, what can I attach now? Even as I did all those other tasks, I was thinking about what I could add to finish it off. In the beginning, I was somewhat disciplined about this, but later became consumed by the artspeak term called horror vacuui or fear of empty space! Here is an example of totally OTT embellishment. (See photo to the right of Icon Domestic Goddess.)
Fortunately, I realized in the nick of time, that embellishment is not the be all and end all of my work but rather, in theory anyway, just an addition to help the viewer get the message. I now evaluate whether my piece actually needs ANY embellishment. It often doesn’t and I have taken to top stitching as a substitute…. at least until that too approaches being OTT! (See photo Woman Waiting 2 below)
FEAR OF REPEATING MYSELF
Over the years, I have realized that I keep returning to certain themes such as the Eve story. It’s not quite the same as working in series, as some of these were made several years apart. Nevertheless, there is the fear that I will just do more of the same so I kind of obsessively try to make each different in style, or narrative, or expression. This has the added advantage of maintaining my OWN interest as I re-examine a theme. There is nothing worse than becoming bored with your own work as it is in progress! Not to mention the possibility that if I am bored then the viewer will be too! (Below are samples of her Eve themes in various examinations.)