THE INTEGRATED FABRIC
Art project by Marta Fofi and Francesca Nicchi – Gubbio, Umbria, Italy – From December 19 to January 6
I WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN
DECEMBER 15, 2014
I’m back. I’m happy to be back in the place where I was born and raised and that welcomes me each time with open arms. Busy and cheerfully I receive tons of advice from dear friends and family; I’m willing to let it all flow without putting up resistance.
I wake up early each morning and I really enjoy the long days running endless errands together with Francesca. What would have been arduous tasks to carry out alone become lightened simply by sharing them with her and with all the other persons that have supported us in the past few months without asking anything in return.
I believe in magic!
I believe that if we give with sincerity and altruism, life will repay us. It works!
From out of nowhere, angels appear to help out and everything is so much easier together. I walk into a number of offices smiling and I casually “strike up a conversation” with strangers. The moment has arrived to set up the exhibition and see the results. It’s a very important moment for any artist, the moment you unveil and expose yourself.
Through my work, I like to tell stories, often with irony, of everyday life; at first, the stories are mine but once they are displayed, they belong to those that observe them.
It’s a mirror.
I like to hear the comments and the criticisms because they are an incredible growth opportunity and after such an intense experience, I will never be the same again.
IT’S ONLY JUST BEGUN
DECEMBER 10, 2014
There is that sensation when one year feels like many years… and the number of things that have happened, both inner and outer. There are inner earthquakes that others do not see; that they cannot perceive. They do not know. There are new actions and salvaged ones that are visible to all. This is how 2014 has been for me. Hectic, intense, difficult, and surprising. Reflective and expressive.
Willingly or unwillingly, I had to look at my reflection in the mirror to come to terms with the events in my life, to satisfy an inner need. To be able to face myself. At the same time, I worked at expressing myself, bringing things to light, revealing myself. My inner challenge is to let things happen on their own.
Letting others see you through your work is like your reflection in a mirror. The outer reflection is the actual realisation of my vocation using materials, colours, the exhibition room, working with Marta on this project….
I would like to talk about my work in a sweeter, clearer way so that those that are reading this text are intrigued. All that I can say however is that many of the materials I used somehow found their way onto my worktable. Pages from books and diaries arrogantly made their way next to the other materials. This just goes to prove the presence of thousands of thoughts that clutter the air and the very breaths we take. Paper, side by side with the coloured fabrics, having its say.
At times, my paintbrushes had a will of their own even though I would have wanted to take a different road. I would start out with a well-defined direction in mind, a road I thought I could travel and that I was familiar with. This illusion was short-lived however as seen by the numerous deviations I took. Now I do not want to linger on passing judgement on the work I’ve done. It simply happened and perhaps there just isn’t anything else to say. There is that sensation though that I’ve only just begun. That this century-long year began yesterday and that I haven’t had enough time to reach the finish line.
In just a few days, Marta and I will be setting up our exhibition and The Integrated Fabric Art Project will be ready to embrace the many gifts it has received. It would appear to be the end of a journey and yet I feel that it’s only just begun.
WITH A BIT OF LUCK
DECEMBER 2, 2014
At the beginning of November, after months of “Ibizan” isolation, I received an email from an artist/gallerist friend of mine who asked me to participate in an art fair in northern Italy. Without thinking twice, I packed my bags and my artwork and jammed everything into Beppe’s van (my life and often travel partner).
I bought the tickets and within 24 hours, we found ourselves aboard the ship Alhucemas, heading towards Barcelona. After almost two days of travelling, we arrived in Turin where the Art Week was beginning in a warm autumn season brimming with cultural events.
I took part in the fair and I met new people. I asked for people’s opinions; I listened, looked, observed. It was a series of aperitifs, openings, conversations, visits to art shows in galleries, at the fair and in unusual venues. I saw the same faces even two or three times in the same day and quick presentations were made. After a week all the frenzy ended, everything closed and all that was left of the contacts that had been made were a couple of business cards.
This brings to mind the sound advice that the director of Flash Art often repeated: in order to be successful (in any field, might I add), three things are important: first, a fierce determination; second, meeting the right people; third, a bit of luck.
At times, my determination wobbles and it’s not always easy to meet the right people. . . I guess I just have to count on that bit of good luck!
NOVEMBER 10, 2014
What I like about artistic-creative work is that kind of alienation that lets something else take hold of the reins of “your work”.
In this way, if you work without thinking about the end result and you are in a “just let it happen” state of mind, you’ll find that time has an unusual dimension … it may have slowed down.
The creative process is that which is beautiful in all this. At least it is for me. At least it is for now. I’m happier when I do not judge my own work and everything seems to run like clockwork. It’s like leaving the door open because you know someone is coming but you’re not exactly sure who it is. Anyways whoever it is will find it open.
I always need a few days before I am able to actually see what I have created. Children know what I’m talking about. As they play, all they care about is that they are playing.
They don’t worry about how the game will end. They’ll find out at the end. It’s a little like The Integrated Fabric Art Project.
EXPERIENCES ARE IMPORTANT
NOVEMBER 6, 2014
This past July, I went to Poland to take a course in textile painting. I went with the intention to learn new techniques to use in my work but looking back, I can see that the experience was far more complex. Before leaving, I was worried about going to a new country, speaking a new language, meeting new people. I needed an alibi so I wouldn’t have to leave my comfort zone. What if I suddenly came down with the flu … Not very probable in the summer.
What if my neighbour asked me to look after her cat … Even less probable since we barely speak to one another. I finally found the courage I needed, I left home on a positive note, and I went to a Travel Agency to book my flight.
I was the last one to arrive at the Airport of Warsaw and found everyone else there waiting for me. I introduced myself and felt relieved that I was not the only one with a huge suitcase! Except for one guy who had just a backpack and hand luggage in which he had even managed to pack a coffeepot, all the other women, even those older than me had enormous suitcases!
We took a group photo in front of the student residence located in the former Jewish ghetto of the city Lodz. During the next few days, we concentrated on the shibori dyeing technique. All my worries vanished and I spent two weeks working intensely, experimenting and allowing myself to be inspired by this sad, melancholic yet fascinating city.
The finished piece has a dark background that resembles the atmosphere we breathe in this part of the city, and brightly coloured details that reflect the place where I live and that is part of me.
Experiences are far more important than any kind of worries that prevent you from actually living out those experiences.
I PUT MY TRUST IN THE WIND
OCTOBER 27, 2014
It must be the autumn, but at times, I feel like a leaf in the wind. I don’t know where I’ll end up. I am helpless and all I can do is let the wind carry me.
It is useless to fight back but at the same time, I am tempted to do so. The fear of not knowing and not having certainties prevents me from enjoying the ride.
Some days I feel I want to lead the way even when it is impossible, and I cannot and I will not let myself be guided.
This interior rebellion generates discouragement and exhaustion.
The autumn sweeps away all the leaves and the wind does not even ask permission. It is best just to enjoy the new colours that have appeared recently, the new landscapes, and this new and diverse state. It is best not to think where and how the wind will drop me off. I have decided to enjoy the ride, which I still haven’t given a name to, and to put my trust in the wind.
THE PLACE WHERE I LIVE
OCTOBER 20, 2014
Try closing your eyes for a moment and picture yourself sitting comfortably sipping your favourite drink. It’s sunset and before you there is a calm sea and the sun… red, immense and still warm, colouring you inside and out. People who just like you are enjoying this moment of relaxation surround you. They’re all speaking different languages yet they all hear the same thing.
There is a sense of belonging to the same place and a feeling of being special simply because you are there and are part of Nature’s bold mise-en-scène. Add some background music, the kind that is suitable for creating a dream-like lyrical atmosphere; the kind of dreams that are so beautiful you do not want to wake up.
This is how I felt when I arrived on the island of Ibiza for the first time, and his is what the tourists are hoping to find when they come here on vacation. A vacation spot where people just want to have fun, relax, and pretend they’re someone else even if only for a few days.
I began to play around with collage-making and I discovered that Ibiza could still surprise and inspire me even after years of living here. A lot of time has gone by since I first arrived and I still believe that anything can happen here by just pushing a button.
Red button or blue button? It’s up to you!
THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS
OCTOBER 13, 2014
When the Integrated Fabric Project came to be, a far-reaching motion was the driving force behind Marta and myself. We felt the need to inspire one another, and it came naturally to us to imagine numerous hands around a table all having the same intent to concretely reflect and consider the possibility of binding together yet nevertheless remaining individuals.
The need to verify through a creative act the strength and fullness of mending rips and tears and adjusting pieces that seem to make no sense when left standing alone. Multiplicity in one single potential object. Just as the different races around the world and the infinite number of animal and vegetable species, stroll together around Mother Earth.
I consider the concept of unity as a strength not a constriction. One must decide freely and responsibly to participate.
It feels good to know that we can count on ourselves and on all those who freely decide to participate. However, who are they if not our own selves mirrored in the subtle shadows that fall from our infinite gazes.
Marta and I are aware that our project can give way to a surprise ending, not knowing how it will turn out. What will the Integrated Fabric be in the end? How many and what kinds of stitches will there be; how many and what kinds of relationships will evolve; how many emotions will be restored?
For the time being it is just Marta and I in this space open to surprises; others are joining us now and some will do so shortly; others may not be interested at all in joining us. Each one will enrich the other and together we will bear testimony to the strength of unity.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
ALL WILL END WELL
OCTOBER 6, 2014
I cannot remember exactly when it happened and what it was that set in motion the need for change and the overwhelming need to take charge of my life.
From that moment on, I feel different. I find myself feeling surprisingly happy without a reason. I would go so far as to describe myself as an optimist, which was unthinkable up to now.
I feel so happy that I go into a shop and buy myself a pink dress.
Yes, I do believe I have changed! I’m a new person and I feel an energy in me that I haven’t felt in years leading me towards unchartered shores without fear.
What I once thought was impossible is now a step a way.
I feel the need to explore and to go beyond all that is familiar.
The evening following the purchase of the pink dress, I dream of a white horse. I wake up the next morning thinking about this magnificent animal. I consult the “Medicine Cards” and discover that the horse-totem represents taking responsibility for your life.
As I reflect upon this, a sparrow enters my room through an open window. I’m certain his merry chirping is a sign that all will end well.
One of my latest works, “Return to Pink”, is the consequence of these numerous experiences. Pink is the contrary of who I am and how I see myself. It represents my feminine side; pink is harmony with the world.
Somewhere between dreams and reality, I go back to work feeling optimistic.
ABOVE ALL, YOU CAN CLIMB IT
SEPTEMBER 29, 2014
It is such a clear day, the kind that makes you happy to be alive. The sun is incredibly beautiful, silently lighting up everything. All that is green is profoundly green, and I feel more authentic.Is it possible that the day can find its fulfilment on a sunny September morning at the foot of a tower?
Is it possible that a magical place, powerful and reeking of centuries of existence, has appeared to make me feel part of its very existence?
For work purposes, I find myself visiting the beautiful Benedictine Abbey of Montelabate near Perugia. The Abbey tower has a message for the surrounding valley and for myself as well. A tower protects, watches, gives warning, rises up, scrutinizes, and hides. A tower breathes through its loopholes and glances up at the sky without fear. The tower helps to change perspective. The tower is a meaningful symbol, it is one of the Tarot cards, and I find myself building one, literally, with blocks of fabric, joining one piece to the other using needle and thread.
The creative process is mysterious yet at the same time, surprisingly simple.
Without having imagined it, I create a tapestry dedicated to all towers…To the tower as a symbol and to the message it has been sending for
centuries. Be courageous! It tells me. You can climb it if you want to; you can change perspective if you want to. You can stand at its foot if you want to. You can gaze at the sky through its loopholes if you want to, protected by its embrace.
Above all, you can climb it if you want to.
MOUNTAINS OF EMOTIONS
SEPTEMBER 22, 2014
What Francesca considers a swing of emotions, I see as a mountain, or at least I did until a short time ago. Mountains… either you timidly contemplate them from afar or you try to climb them facing the unknown with courage and without thinking twice. If you decide to climb them, you certainly cannot wear a pair of flip-flops; rather you must choose strong, comfortable shoes.
In the past few years, I’ve learned to tackle these mountains wearing the right shoes, often making it to the top and resting a bit to contemplate the horizon. This moment however does not last long due to my restless nature; the fleeting moment that we are all chasing after.
As I think back to the shoes I’ve worn, I listen to a song by Beck and a sentence captures my attention: “I’ve been drifting along in the same stale old shoes”.
I finally realize that it is not only a matter of which shoes to wear, rather it’s being able to throw out the old ones that are so worn I couldn’t walk in them even to the supermarket near home.
Today I feel free enough to throw away my old shoes and to put on a pair of high heels.
Just in case, I always bring a spare pair of shoes!
NO ONE WEARS A FROWN ON A SWING
SEPTEMBER 12, 2014
As a child, one of my favourite games was to go on a swing – a strong push with your legs, the wind in your hair, that sinking feeling in your stomach as you’re coming down and just for a moment, being suspended in the emptiness, before coming down again. I was smiling of course because no one wears a frown on a swing.
When the idea first emerged to have an art exhibit with Marta and to include “the integrated fabric” project, it was like going on a swing. At first, you see it from a distance, and if there is no one on it, you know it’s waiting for you. You climb on and give yourself small pushes until it gets going. Ideas need to be tweaked, you focus and as you do, you begin to go higher, faster! Working towards the exhibit, I swing from one side to the other, my legs and my body constantly pushing.
Some days I work harder than others. But now I’m wearing a smile.This project is messing up my hair; the air is cool on my skin and the back and forth motion is keeping the beat of my work. I know that the sense of freedom and lightness is what makes me laugh, going back and forth between the folds of myself.
MY FIRST POST EVER
SEPTEMBER 1, 2014
I am very excited, my heart is beating fast, and my hands are shaking like a first date, or an important job interview, or the opening of my first exhibit. Some of the things I write in the intimate dimension of my secret diary will cross over to the public domain where anyone can read it – a thought that often doesn’t make its way on paper but stays in my head and after a few days gets lost in other thoughts.
I want to immortalize it rendering it a tangible idea and not only a vague memory. I will make it concrete as I render myself concrete as well.
Choosing the colours, and in this case, the fabrics and the threads to use, is one of the most beautiful moments when I begin a new project.
Once completed, I go on to the second phase, which is to create a balanced composition, and I decide to include female legs that are often present in my work.
The rest of the time is dedicated to sewing, unstitching, embroidering, adding and removing, until I find the balance that is perfect for me…
THE OTTER, A TINY CHARON
AUGUST 24, 2014
The otter is an animal that lives both on land and in the water. It builds its den on land but always near a body of water. It plays, relaxes and procures its food in water. It is familiar with both above and below. It is a small, elegant animal but as it swims, it stretches out completely. It is a sort of tiny Charon that ferries itself back and forth between two different dimensions.
The otter flows through life. I like it. I like it because it reminds me of the daily exercise we all partake in, between our inner self and our outer self. Between exposing ourselves, taking risks, giving and taking, recuperating strength, finding solace and nutrition. It is the perpetual exercise of our heart. Contracting and expanding, expanding and contracting, pumping life.
The otter teaches me to be flexible; it teaches me to cross over between different states without fear, and to take on challenges with simplicity.
It teaches me to take all the time I need to play, to express my natural vivaciousness and to be calm and serene, all at the same time. This is how my tapestry came to be, from my thoughts about this tiny animal and about myself.
THIS IS HOW I SEE YOU…
JUNE 9, 2014
The two artists look at each other’s work and style, and they reflect on the reasons behind the “Integrated Fabric” art project. The sewing needle as a means to closing wounds and helping to heal.
Marta’s way of expressing herself is similar to mine; hence, here we are organizing an art exhibit together. I admire the clean lines, balance and harmony of her artwork. What I like most is that her perfectly executed artwork tells a story that enthrals you and you can identify with.
I like the way Francesca mixes and overlaps different types of fabrics without worrying about the finishing; her work is spontaneous, made of gestures. The opposite of mine that is clean and precise.
“I admire the balance and harmony of her artwork” (Francesca)
She lets herself go whereas I restrain myself. I feel there can be a great exchange of knowledge and overcoming the limits that we mysteriously set for ourselves from this project of integration. I feel that this project is another great opportunity for growth and I cannot wait to work together in this joint effort. I agree our styles are different, but what we do have in common and what made us decide to work together, is the sense that we give to the artistic act in itself. We both live our art as a form of therapy and we consider the use of the sewing needle as a means to closing wounds and helping to heal.
Traduzioni di Sara Jane Ceccarelli