As through the deep glens of a parched mountainside rageth wondrous-blazing fire, and the deep forest burneth, and the wind as it driveth it on whirleth the flame everywhither, even so raged he everywhither with his spear, like some god, ever pressing hard upon them that he slew; and the black earth ran with blood (Hom. II. 20)
From the earliest examples of humanity, fire is known as a profoundly crippling elemental force and a vital tool of existence. Even now fire is fundamental to civilization, yet frequently pours into the destructive manifestations of architectural blazes or wildfires spread across vast swathes of land.
My interest in incorporating fire into my practice is borne from curiosity, labour and trepidation - the flame is volatile in any scenario with inadequate management. I've made small stellular networks in fibres with lit incense sticks - it was a laborious effort stubbing and relighting the smouldering tip with each depression. But now, I conspired, it was time to make the upgrade beyond the firelighter to the miniature butane torch. With the help of my Dad, we applied a jet of controlled flame to the fabric, intermittently tracking charred paths and perforations at up to a blue 1300 degrees Celsius. These markings underpin events and metaphors for my practice-led research on anxiety and sanative making.
In the Illiad, Homer's aggrieved and raging Achilles is likened to a fire meeting ruin to any in his path. Here, on a sunny July, under the auspices of the old gum tree and familiar hedges, I worked into the white cotton fabric, with the awareness of a calamitous and salutary elemental balance. In applying the flame, the known experience of physical contact with fire is evoked, as well as the burning sensation of anxiety boring holes into the body. The flame is destructive, much like art - an often instinctual push and pull between what is taken and what is left alone. This controlled combustion of textile art is a part of learning and the transferral of knowledge. The flame is transformative, shifting one visual and haptic mechanism to the next phase. The flame is sanative, a force for moulding materiality - a distraction from and a reflection of the anxious experience. Fire is an indication of the surrounding environment and the desires and patterns of those close to it.