Exploring human frailty and strength
I am probably best described as a visual artist, whose practice straddles the boundary between art and craft. My work is produced, not for any aesthetic or material quality, but to serve an underlying concept. Materials, substrate, stand, title, or a combination of these elements seek to assist the viewer to explore deeper relationships. The main stimulus of my work is an exploration of human frailty and strength.
While wet felting techniques are rooted in history and may seem old fashioned, they are my favorite processes. I produce contemporary fibre work, incorporating drawing, painting, stitching, knotting, and weaving, which results in unusual textured surfaces. Natural fibers predominate, manipulated to integrate with many other materials. This has enabled me to give visual expression to my feelings, whilst also testing the boundaries of felt as my chosen medium. Although the work is labor intensive, repetitive and meditative, my work is showing respect for tradition, but is free from traditional categorization, following a more academic, modern, expressive approach.
The work reflects my personal experience and the influences of nature. Physical limitations inform, and much is as a result of the need to create alternative methods to achieve my aim. I am also consumed by the need to restrict my impact on the planet’s resources, and to respect nature.
Finding effective visual strategies for expression of ideas is critical. My interest in fiber lies in tactile value and interaction with space. Surface imagery, with little repetitive patterning, has played an important role. I make one-off pieces from which I can derive personal challenge, whilst also imparting knowledge to the viewer. While wool is my main medium, anything goes, as long as it achieves structure or embellishment.
Most of my work has been hung in galleries in the East Midlands and West Yorkshire, and represents ideas which may in themselves have taken two to three years to develop before the making process begins. I take time to consider the materials, and what will or will not be possible. Felting many different fibers is fun, as the result is not assured, and often during felting new ideas spring to life, and the work becomes organic. The end result must convey the concept, and allow others to explore their own reactions and interpretations.
It is paramount that people should be able to touch and interact with the felt work, which in itself provides added dimension due to the tactile quality of wool. Often, viewer expectations differ from effect, making the end result a success not only in meeting the challenge, but also in providing entertainment and education.
Moira’s current work will feature in a solo exhibition in September, and further information on this and much more may be found on her website, www.moirawestfelt.com