Monday, 26 February 2018


One of the fun things to do in the Basilica Cistern,  is to look for the Medusa heads!  There are two of them. Clearly they have been re-purposed from a former Roman era building & have had the important task of holding up pillars in the Cistern.

However....that's rather boring!

It is much more interesting instead to accept one of the myths.... believed to be from a family of Gorgons (& Gorgons being monsters of the underground world), the Medusas were placed in the Cistern to protect the precious waters there.  They are placed upside down so that they won't turn any of us to stone!  People throw coins into the pool that this head sits in, trying to win a little of that luck & protection for themselves.

I know that they are stone, so don't actually have feelings, but I found myself feeling sorry for the Medusas.  Having her head  upside down,  partially immersed in water & covered in green slime is not the most pleasant way to spend eternity!

How was I going  to capture this setting & environment with fabric & stitch....that became the question for my art project this week!

I know, I know....usually I start with paper & pen & some form of drawing.  However, yesterday, I just felt like trying something else!

I already had a sketch I'd done of one of the Medusa heads (currently sitting up the right way in the Archeological Museum Garden) whilst I was in Istanbul.  This could be printed onto fabric & turned upside down...but what else was I going to do with it.  I chose to start ripping a few pages out of a magazine, with the view of 'sketching' with collage.  The colours I chose were greens & blues to represent water.

I happened to just plop the strips I'd cut onto the Medusa head & have to acknowledge...I quite liked it like that!  However, it lacked intent & I so I tried a few variations...

The last one worked for me & I liked the way the sense of water was coming from above & dropping vertically,  as well as sitting in a horizontal position.  Now to attempt this ...or something like fabric!

One of the negative aspects of contemporary reverse applique, is that there are always a lot of scraps!  I keep a large proportion of mine & so it was too the scrap bins that I went to source the fabrics for this project.  I then needed to do a LOT of ironing!!!

For this style of work, I was endeavouring to build up & cut-back layer upon layer, instead of my usual method of having a full stack of fabrics at the start & them working down the whole lot layer by layer!  This style requires a bit of intuition & spontaneity ...not practices I'm very confident in!  At least I had my collage 'sketch' as a visual guide!

The layers were stacked, stitched & cut back, slowly building a sense of the water in this underground cavern & the way  Medusa is separate, yet a part of it.
I got to this stage & felt that it was enough, in terms of layering.  However, the head just wasn't working for me, at least not as well as it had earlier in the paper collage variation.  I could see that the proportions were wrong, I would have been better to have enlarged the head before printing it onto fabric, but there wasn't a lot I could do about that now...what did I need to do to make that head look a little more included in the environment??

Out came the fabric pens & I applied a little colour to her face!!  This works MUCH better!

If I were to do this piece again, I think I would change the proportions to this & I would have some of her head poking out of the 'water'.

Regardless of seeing the need for further improvement, I am happy with this outcome & I enjoyed working on this WAP. It is always good to step out of the usual routine & try something a little different!!

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