I like to draw on Japanese tissue. It is very strong and soft, it doesn’t make horrible crackly noises as you handle it or give you paper cuts. It can also be ironed after I have laboured upon it for hours, creasing and crumpling my drawing as I go and embellishing it with dog-ears on each corner.
There is a fabric-like quality to this paper which is suggestive of textile arts. In the past, viewers have often mistaken my drawings for embroidery; it would therefore seem a natural extension to use some kind of thread work with the drawings.
However, this is not the reason I do it. The main reason is because I am not very good at sewing. It keeps me on my toes and surprises me. I have been drawing nearly every day since I was a toddler (not always grand, finished works - a lot of idle doodling goes on). I am now 58, so that adds up to a lot of practice, which means that most of the time I know what I’m doing.
Sewing, on the other hand, is not something I am good at. Domestic sciences at school failed to grasp; I spent more time in sewing and knitting class picking out faulty stitches and seams than actually putting anything together. The apogee of my skills in this respect was reached one time when I knitted a donkey with two noses . . .
I was about 10 years old. I really, really wanted that donkey and it had taken me all year to knit but when it came to sewing it up I was really struggling. Something was terribly wrong. My teacher came to my aid and when she set eyes on my poor, malformed, nuclear-fallout space-donkey she nearly burst trying not to laugh (fifty years on, I still cannot recall that day without literally laughing out loud myself).
In relation to my drawing, I like the fact that my stitch-work is unskilled and clumsy. I feel it gives the work an innocence and freshness. I can't tell what it's going to look like until it's done.
And I never know when that second nose is going to appear . . .
Thank you for reading,
A big cheery wave and best wishes to you all!
Heather Eliza Walker
Artist in Edinburgh, Scotland