Mark Aurel Stein in the course of his travels on the Silk Road at the beginning of the 20th gathered bundles of rags, textile fragments, paper remains and temple detritus. Dating back as far as 100 BC, they are amazing. I love the scale and the isolation of each often modest element in the online catalogue, without a context of a dusty floor or a forgotten cupboard where it would have been originally. Each piece is enhanced through the process of mounting the remains, making each piece a small whole, and each spread out group of a single damaged piece look like a carefully planned design in itself.
What are the off cuts from? Did they make flags for processions? Line the inside of a jacket or a religious artefact? Keep someone warm or ornament the environment? What depth was the colour originally? What was the scale of the piece it has been cut or fallen from? Any maker gathers scraps and bundles and these are sometimes faded and jumbled, sometimes alarmingly bright, odd pieces of texture sticking out or clasping the whole together. The on line display sends thoughts scuttling across time.
To capture a sense of bound bundles of fragments I am mixing stiff textures with soft, paper twine with wool, wire with thread. The modern influence is Sheila Hicks.
The Stein Collection
V&A collection reference number(s):
Stein 68, 173,493,532,133