Murmur by Patricia Casey, July 2015
Patricia Casey – Artist Statement – MURMUR
Murmur – soft indistinct phonation
- condition relating to the heart
My experience of the landscape is mediated through my body before my mind is engaged. The more I am out in the natural world, the more I become inside/inward.
Murmur combines landscape with the figure to explore the concept of sense memory. Everything we perceive, interpret and feel is filtered through the five senses and stored away as an experience mediated through the body. Murmur captures the moment that an experience of the natural world is imprinted on the body. The memory of that moment in the natural world will ripple and murmur into the future.
The act of working with the needle and thread transforms my hands into instruments of memory, as muscle memory and the rhythm of the repetitive nature of the work itself takes over. There is a meditative quality to the production as the hands have a certain tacit knowing and can continue to work while the mind contemplates. Murmur is the most heavily embroidered to date with the metallic threads glittering and dancing across the surface of the photographic elements. My practice requires patience and a stillness of mind. This translates into the work to produce images that draw the viewer ever close to examine the complexity of not only the artworks themselves, but also the marks made with the needle and thread.
My work is primarily located within photography yet it combines embroidery and crochet to create works that produce a unique combination of high end digital technology and old world craft skills.
Photography is a medium that does not make evident the ‘artist’s hand’. My use of drawing and embroidery involves direct physical actions.
In 2007 I began printing photographic montages on materials such as Georgette or watercolour paper and more recently on archival cotton. I then embroider specific areas of the image plane with cotton or metallic threads disrupting what philosopher Roland Barthes referred to as the punctum of a photographic image.
I question the veracity of photography. It is intrinsically linked with memory and nostalgia. It is an unreliable medium in relation to ‘truth’. I draw attention to the fragile, slippery nature of memory itself. My photographs are often out of focus or manipulated. By using embroidery I open up a triangular dialogue between stitching (a form of drawing in the way I use it), the photograph and the viewer. I have a particular interest in the struggle between absence and presence existing in a photograph. My images are open-ended and have a similar tension between beauty and unease.
The strange marriage of materials emerges from my conceptual concerns. I have an interest in interior worlds and intimate spaces, memory, imagination, dreams and the unconscious. My work revels in secret worlds and private spaces. The subjects portrayed are caught in a moment of private reverie and are veiled by elements of the natural world. In a combination of portraiture and landscape photography, the familiar is transformed into a dreamlike tableau.
I start by sketching a composition. I then collect landscape imagery during field trips, particularly on the South Coast of New South Wales in Australia and when travelling overseas. In the computer I combine the images of young people with the landscapes. Some images involve 15 or 20 layers as I construct the composition. I often desaturate my images and recolour them by painting in Photoshop. I then produce test prints to see how the image is working on fabric. After a period living with the image I ‘intuit’ which segments to stitch and which style of stitch to use. The embroidered elements of the work can take up to 40 hours to complete. There is a meditative quality to the production as the hands have a certain tacit knowing. My practice requires patience and a stillness of mind.
The photographic composites are reproduced in editions of five. While I follow a stitching plan for each image, an exact copy is impossible, which means that each embroidered print in the edition is essentially unique.