Hummingbird in flight: textile art for Air in The Elements exhibition

Using flight as a source of inspiration

This is the first piece I have made for our Elements exhibition. Having decided that I would use flight as my interpretation of the Air theme I was inspired by Eadweard Muybridge’s photographs of animal locomotion. Muybridge was a pioneer of motion photography who used multiple cameras to take a series of stop motion photographs. He then copied the silhouettes onto a disc which was viewed through his zoopraxiscope device, and to the observer the images appeared to move. This is considered a precursor to cinematography. My aim was to show the movement of a bird in flight by using a series of images similar to individual frames of Muybridge stop motion photographs.

I think hummingbirds are in my subconscious as there is a small wooden one hanging up in our bathroom; a souvenir from a holiday in Cuba. To emphasise the Air theme I wanted the images to be ghost like and transparent.

Techniques used to make the piece

I began by drawing the 6 images. These were then photocopied onto sheets of organza and cotton which can be run through an inkjet printer. The base layer is large piece of plain white cotton. I layered the sheets of printed cotton in place and then hand stitched over all of the lines in the image. Once the image was defined the excess areas of the printed sheets were cut away. On top of this layer I added a large piece of Procion dyed silk. The printed organza sheets were placed on top of this, repeating the stitching and cutting back. The layers were stretched over a canvas and finally fragments of sheer fabric was stitched loosely in place with invisible thread.

The finished piece is framed (not shown) and measures 86cm x 61cm.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *