My recent sculptures are made from combed wool (called roving) which I felt over a wire sub-structure. The wool that I use is from a ‘long-wool’ sheep known as Romney, a breed originating in England whose history can be traced back over 700 years. Un-dyed, the natural wool comes in a great variety of neutral colors: white, cream, black, brown, gray, silver, variegated.
Felted wool is created when individual hair fibers interlock or become matted together. Matting happens naturally on an animal over time but also can be mechanically produced with sheared wool by using various methods, ancient to modern. I use two small tools – one with 5 needles and one with 3 needles; these felting needles are barbed along the shaft to facilitate the catching and interlocking of the fibers. The process of needle-felting, especially on a large scale, has a kind of insistence about it – a dogged stubbornness of repeated action, day after day, to bring inspiration into being.
Inspiration accosts me in the guise of everyday objects that we regularly use for sustenance (bodily or aesthetic): fruit, vegetables, flowers. In translating these common forms into sculpture, I alter the scale, frustrate the material expectations, change the context. The resulting entities feel familiar yet alien, soft and enticing yet slightly disturbing.
These sculptures demand a fully experiential interaction, engaging both the intellect and the senses. Their form and material evoke memory – of touch and use – and reference desire. They ask us to be aware of our selves and our relationship to the world. At times, and fleetingly, they become metaphors for human conditions.