On Edge (continued)

The Fibreworks Edge exhibition at the KZNSA Gallery in Durban has been a big success and has been extended for a week until 4 November 2018. The following photographs were taken by Liza du Plessis/@osmosisliza, the gallery’s professional photographer.

fibreworks liza pic1
photograph by Liza du Plessis

I was thrilled to see that my quilt Nature’s Book was hung so prominently. Thank you to the show’s curators. It was hard not to be able to go to the exhibition, so thank you too for the photographs on the website http://kznsagallery.co.za/exhibitions/edge.htm

fibreworks liza pic2
photograph by Liza du Plessis

This is another view of my “garden quilt” proudly showing its colours amidst the other works of art. (Doesn’t this view of all these beautiful textile works make one want to visit the exhibition!) I wrote about the making of this quilt in a previous blog Post # 18. On Gardens  where I explained that the quilt was inspired by Beth Armstrong’s metal sculpture Page which graces the gardens of the National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown. And talking of Grahamstown — here is a partial photograph of the work, Dance, of our town’s acclaimed artist, Sally Scott, on the wall above the exhibition’s title.

fibreworks liza pic3
photograph by Liza du Plessis

Again I am proud to say that my smaller piece, Birdsong, is the central tree in the group of three works on the wall. For more information on the making of this quilt, see  Post #6. On textiles and texture

After my last post on the forthcoming Edge exhibition and my being a bit on edge myself after returning from our Holiday of a Lifetime, I came across Ali Smith’s beautifully written, thought provoking words on the same subject in an essay titled (wait for it) “On Edge”.

Edge is the difference between one thing and another. It’s the brink. It suggests keenness and it suggests sharpness. It can wound. It can cut. It’s the blade – but it’s the blunt part of the knife too.

It’s the place where two sides of a solid thing come together. It means bitterness and it means irritability, edginess, and it means having the edge, having the advantage. It’s something we can go right over. It’s something we have on someone or something when we’re doing better than him or her or it. It’s something we can set teeth on. And if we take the edge off something, we’re making something more pleasant – but we’re also diminishing it.

There’s always an edge, in any dialogue, in any exchange. There’s even an edge in monologue, between the speaker and the silent listener. In fact there’s an edge in every meeting, between every thing about to come together with something beyond it.

Edges are magic, too; there’s a kind of forbidden magic on the borders of things, always a ceremony of crossing over, even if we ignore it or are unaware of it. In medieval times weddings didn’t take place inside churches but at their doors – thresholds as markers of the edge of things and place are loaded, framed spaces through which we pass from one state to another. In the eighteenth century people found that standing on the edge of a cliff or a sheer drop was a very good way to view what became known as the sublime: a hundred years later Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote about the edge as a force of psychological sublimity, how “the mind, mind has no mountains; cliffs of fall / Frightful, sheer no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap / May who ne’er hung there”; for the notion of edge is double-edged, involves notions of survival and a natural proximity to words like over the.

(p. 126-127 from the book Artful by Ali Smith, Penguin (2013))

I could go on quoting from this text. I found it quite astounding, made more so that it came my way when I had been musing on the idea of the edge. It has also made we want to revisit that powerful poem by Hopkins, which begins “No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief”. There are a clutch of these poems of despair, called The Terrible Sonnets. Another of them begins “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day”.

Rather a dark musing to end this week’s post. Just in case I have given the wrong impression — I am happy and excited at the prospect of a weekend of stitching.

7 thoughts on “On Edge (continued)

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