I managed to finish weaving the last of the 50 bindweed pods a couple of weeks ago. Then I had to start thinking about how to suspend them.
My original idea was to use a metal grid, which would be robust enough not to bend. But my friend Magdalen suggested that it would be better to use natural materials to fit in with the bindweed. So I decided to weave a spiral out of cane. This would help with the positioning of the pods and also be pale so as not to stand out too much.
How long is a piece of string?
Then it was down to calculating the lengths of the strings for suspending the pods. My plan was for the longest string to be in the centre, with the other strings spiralling round, getting shorter towards the top. The spiral had to be anticlockwise, to reflect how bindweed grows in an anticlockwise direction.
I’d originally been told that the height of the ceiling in the gallery was 2.89 metres. Luckily, just before I did the trial hanging, I received an email from the exhibition team saying that the height of the gallery was 2.59 metres. On looking at photos of the gallery, I also noticed that the ceiling was sloping. The cane holder had to be level, so this would mean shaving off another few cm of height!
So I cut the longest string at 2.45m and tied it to the centre of the cane holder. Each subsequent string was 5cm shorter, and I tied them on as I went along so that I didn’t get them muddled up.
Ever Supportive Partner screwed two hooks into the frame of a pair of dividing doors between our two reception rooms, and I attached the cane holder with the strings hanging down. Then I threaded each string through a bindweed pod and put a wooden peg on the inside to hold it in place. This meant that I could easily vary the length of each string – vital if I wasn’t to spend lots of time untying and retying!
My original visualisation of the finished piece was of an open spiral, with the pods not touching. However, the combination of limited height and tight spiral meant that touching was inevitable, producing a continuous spiral. Although it wasn’t what I planned, I liked the effect – a happy accident.
I left the spiral up for a few days to check that everything held together. This made it a bit tricky moving from room to room, but we got used to it. 😉 Then one morning I woke with a jolt and the terrible realisation that the spiral was circling in the wrong direction. It was clockwise, not anticlockwise!
So I removed all the pods and turned the cane holder upside down, checking that this reversed the direction of the spiral to anticlockwise. I then pulled all the strings through to the other side. But I didn’t rehang it, as there wasn’t time – it was off to the gallery for the real thing.
Hanging in the gallery
Magdalen agreed to come with me the the Art Pavilion in Mile End, east London, to help install the piece. Luckily, the bindweed pods and the cane holder are very light, so we could go by public transport.
I’d taken some extra hooks with me to help sort out the sloping ceiling problem. But when we arrived I was told that I could only use the single hook already in the ceiling. After a few unsuccessful attempts at keeping the cane hanger level with fishing line, we finally succeeded by using wire instead.
After that the installation went relatively smoothly.
I managed to take a few other pics of the gallery during setting up.
“In Search of Possibilities” runs at the Art Pavilion, Mile End, London E3 4QY, from 21 to 31 October. Open daily 11am-6pm, free entry, no booking needed.
I’ll be there stewarding on Friday 22 October, if you want to come and say hello!