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I would like to finish with a comment I made to some feltmakers at a conference some years back but which I still try to hold to myself: ‘I firmly believe that drawing, painting and observation have contributed more to my work in felt than has the medium itself, or rather they have allowed me to continue with felt beyond the point where I would otherwise have left it, by suggesting avenues of inquiry. I am sure that all feltmakers of however long acquaintance know of the excitement of discovery and the beauty which the medium brings, so easily, and will agree that a balance is required between allowing the medium its head and making it do what is wanted. An argument against the use of felt is that it ‘gives’ of itself too much, and therefore, if reliance on that ‘gift’ is too great. all work in felt becomes similar, banal. It must be made to behave, beautifully why not, but in a controlled way. It must be fed with ideas, not allowed to be fixed in its own past. Felt is a brilliant teacher; it tells us of colour mixing, it tells us of graduated colour, it tells us of collage, it shows us that develoment can, if necessary take the form of destruction and reconstruction. They are valuable lessons, but too many of these things together can become a riot of decoration. What is needed is a reason for being, a simple statement.’

Jenny Cowern 2004


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