|Kathleen Murphy: Silva Populi woodland folk|
Her work is identified by a strong sense of narrative and through it’s application of colour, texture and use of reclaimed fabrics. The patina found on these materials add their own dimension to the final piece. A lot of the fabrics used have been previously disgarded or are given to Kathleen, scraps of cloth, twigs, ends of wool, by people who say, 'I saw this and thought of you'. This 'passing on' of materials chosen by someone else plays an important part, a challenge to work within, in Kathleen's work.
The root of the Shirt Collar Project has been based on this principle - challenging other artists to work within the boundary of using a material chosen by someone else.
"Once I had distributed the collars to the project artists I claimed what was left as my own - a pale blue one. I knew from the beginning that I didn't want the collar to be a wearable piece and the idea of making a colourful bird suspended in air was forming (inspired by the much-laundered curl of the collar).
Progress took an unexpected turn during my initial research. In March of this year I wrote of my discovery of the origin of the blue collars (see HERE), they were in fact made by Van Heusen for the RAF up until the 1960’s, in the latter years used by ground crew only."
While scouring the internet for the possibility of a personal testimony about these facts I came across the following arresting image of Squadron Leader Brian 'Sandy' Lane on a reflective blogpost by a contemporay RAF airman HERE."
|September 1940: Squadron Leader Brian 'Sandy' Lane (centre) aged 23 at Fowlmere nr Duxford c/o Imperial War Museum|
"A mere 23 when this photograph was taken and fresh from landing his plane during the Battle of Britain in 1940, I couldn't get this image of Brian Lane or the thought of those drowning pilots out of my mind. My original idea for a colourful, carefree bird was replaced with this sense of loss. Of a bird of peace being killed through friendly fire. Thus the collar was no longer going to be the bird but the shackle around it's neck. "
Friendly Fire: noun. Weapon fire coming from one's own side that causes accidental injury or death to one's own forces.
Oxford English Dictionary
"The body of the bird was made from a very old piece of linen onto which bandage type strips were hand stitched. Originally, white linen was going to be used for the bird but it looked too clean. It was replaced by a fabric which I had stained & rusted whilst on a course with Alice Fox. It was very pleasing to be able to make this connection in the piece with a fellow project member."
"I experimented with using thin plastic (from milk cartons) to strengthen beak, body & tail."
"The layers of stiffening fabric on the collar made it incredibly difficult to pierce with a needle. Attaching the collar to the bird took some time and would have been impossible without the help of pliers!"
|In situ at Shell House Gallery. Thank you to Gentlework for use of image.|