Here’s the ark curtain I’ve been agonising over for a year.
Sometimes large pieces take a long time because of the time it takes to physically complete them, and sometimes it’s the existential crisis that takes the time. This piece was particularly hard-fought, and took lots of both.
The initial design fell together really quickly, and the applique went very easily. I decided to see what it looked like at that point in the ark, even though it felt unresolved.
I wanted to combine elements which reflected the community’s place within the Scottish and Jewish artistic landscape. There are nods to trade union and suffragette banners as well as elements of the Scottish Arts and Crafts movements.
The skeleton of it was right, but it needed more texture and movement.
I was particularly pleased with the banner, the silk is gorgeously papery in feel, and lets me give a feeling of flutter into the text, but that contrasted with the flatness of the tree.
I stitched things, I picked them out again. I added hundreds of seed stitches to the French knots in the etrogim (yellow things like monster lemons). I pondered quilting techniques, tone on tone embroidery, trapunto, and finally did a little tentative leaf embroidery.
I stood back, I looked up close. I hung it on a door, I laid it on the floor. I took photos in black and white, and in colour. I haunted Pinterest, I copied Art Nouveau drawings, paintings and furniture. Finally, I decided on the only sure thing and applied an Arbitrary Deadline, Little Lion’s baby blessing.
I think it’s worked in the end. At any rate, I now have a template to base the other pieces on, so hopefully I’ve paid my debt to my muse in advance.
Ark design and construction: Sorell
Metalwork design: Lauren Fox