The most frequently reoccurring thought which arose or haunted me throughout the past year was the most complex – namely, the reason for reproductions. I have been mulling over it for months, trying to come up with an explanation of why I make reproductions. Not an apology but a concise reason beyond the unknown force which compels me to do it. I have been asked, “Why?” over and over again for years, usually by someone with a puzzled expression on his or her face, and usually after I have received compliments on my work, which puzzles me as to why I am being asked that question. I addressed this issue in a previous post on this blog but that was written after a long tiring weekend of presentations and I was not in the best of moods. (http://historyknits.blogspot.com/2008/07/why-did-you-knit-that-strange-thing.html)
So why do I practice a type of reverse-material culture, making reproductions for no particular reason or whether or not they are to be worn or sold or used in demonstrations? First of all, intellectual curiosity. History has been my passion since I was very young and I view almost everything through its eyes. I work in its field, and as I enjoy books, music, dance, art, architecture, clothing, needlework and old films, I do so through their relation to history as much as their own virtues. Another reason is that I happen to be good at research and will sometimes spend years in pursuit of an object in terms of images, descriptions, working out its pattern, trying out potential materials or locating surviving examples, should I be so lucky. Then there is artistic curiosity. I have a talent for handwork, and I think the need to create with materials, yarns, threads is an innate one just as writers need to write, artists to paint, scientists to experiment, etc. By attempting to recreate something from the past, combining all of these reasons, and even with substituted materials, I also feel as though I am stealing a glimpse through a curtain into another time and, perhaps, holding, not a real thing but a shadow of that time in my hands, made by me. The entire process, from research to recreation, no matter how lengthy, frustrating or physically painful, is ultimately enjoyable and richly rewarding, on so many levels, in most of its results.
Can all of that be so very strange?