Rock-a-Stack

Rock-a-Stack, wool, idye, cotton, thread, plaster, dyrect dyes, wood, made in collaboration with Hannah Dinsdale
Sinking in, cotton, linen, idye, dyrect dyes, foam, wood, paint, metal, speakers, wool, an interactive piece made in collaboration with Hannah Dinsdale with a sound piece playing by Hannah

going under, going over, idye, cotton, linen, dyrect dyes, plaster, made in collaboration with Hannah Dinsdale

Video of Josh in ‘Sinking in’ with clip of Hannah’s audio piece playing.

Text written by Hannah Dinsdale & I for the show:

It started with Hannah wanting to make a doughnut cushion—soft, plump, bulging, tactile—to support a body.

Then it became about the Rock-A-Stack, a children’s toy with colourful doughnut shapes stacked on a pole. 

The child plays with the Rock-A-Stack by building and layering, learning hand-eye coordination, and connecting in a tactile and sensory way to the material world. With the cushion in mind, we thought that textile’s work in the same way: adding, building, layering, latticing, and joining by hand or machine.

We learned that doughnut shape is called a ‘torus’.

Torus-shaped weights shaped from clay or stone were hung on ancient looms to keep the warp threads taught, meaning the torus has had a crucial social function in the creation of fibres, linens, clothes, and tapestries going back tens of thousands of years.

Other objects shaped like the torus: curtain hoops, swim rings, earrings, bangles, rings, tyres, life buoys, wreaths, onion rings, bagels, froot loops, bundt cake, rubber rings, hula hoops. 

Hannah made drawings of donuts shaped cushions that look like rubber rings. Objects used for buoyancy and balance. The weight of water allows us to understand where our bodies are in space.

We thought about the job of the holes in these objects: to hang, to ‘go through’, to support, to decorate, to eat, to get us places.

The body sinks into the torus cushion Hannah made. The hole of the torus, the opening, the gap, is what allows a connection between body and object. It allows things to pass through, interlink, join up. The curtain loops connect, stitches link, and all the materials we used in the show are joined together by loops. By weaving and sewing and knitting, these loops and hoops are entangled and knotted to create surfaces.  

We thought about how the body fits into spaces and sinks into fibres, both surface and filling, in public and private spaces; and how comfy, how awkward this is. We consider these materials today: what will the space feel like when made of these materials? How will it make people feel? 

We thought about the noises we made as we dyed, sewed, stitched, and wove, a fully sensory experience of wet, heavy fabrics along with the tingling sounds of dripping water and squelching fabric. We kept going round in circles, like a torus, thinking what to do with them. We made a sound piece that takes on ASMR-like qualities – the personal, affective noises of making. 

We both come from painting backgrounds but have moved away from this, first into the expanded field, and then introducing craft processes and materials. For us, elements of painting, such as colour, form, and composition, become dispersed and treated sculpturally. This approach is process-led and open to chance and reactions, meaning that the work hinges on the materiality and methods of its making. 

We shared and collated images, texts and references through Zoom, whatsapp voice notes and sometimes via post throughout the lockdowns. A stream of messages of visuals that are exchanged, shared, and built upon.