Cross Stitch & Digression

My new toy these days is Cross Stitch, which I’ve found to be as addictive as Angry Birds except instead of ending up with RSI you end up with RSI and a thing!

In these stitchin’ and bitchin’ days I find it odd how difficult it is to find a cross-stitched thing I’d actually want though. Possibly there is a community of cross stitchin’ punks out there, and please leave a comment if you know of any.

To date I’ve found these, which are great but for the fact that they don’t give you the right amount of thread in the kits – I’ve way too much green, nowhere near enough grey and they didn’t  put in any thread for the sky. Also in retrospect it might have been a tad ambitious to take this on as my first ever project given that the image isn’t printed on the fabric – you have to count each coloured stitch. Each stitch is about 1 millimetre across. So when I say they’re great…

Anyway. A bit about Battersea Power Station, now half-owned by the Irish people, via NAMA the National Assets Management Agency.

photo by Reuters

I lived in London briefly in the ‘90’s and would see the power station most days on my way into work. I was very fond of it. I vaguely remeber seeing the Pink Floyd album Animals at home, my sister was a fan, but I think I responded more to the aesthetic of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s great brick cathedral, described as “A Temple of Power”.

Funnily enough, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott also designed the iconic K2 red telephone box. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, To design one London landmark may be regarded as luck, to design two looks like talent.

Photo by Steven Dalton, from the 1996 Thames and Hudson book, London Minimum by Herbert Ypma.

Work started on Battersea Power Station in 1929, with Sir Giles Gilbert Scott brought in a little later to assuage public worries that the station, which occupies a 15 acre (61,000m sq) site, would be an eyesore. In fact it has had an enduring popularity.

In 1975 the A station was closed, following falling ouput and rising costs. (There are two connected stations; B was built shortly after the second world war)

Michael Heseltine declared it a heritage site in 1980 with a Grade 11 listing which denotes buildings that are of ‘special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them’.

In 2007 the listing was upgraded to Grade 11* a listing given to ‘particularly important buildings of more than special interest’.

As my cross stitching took shape (and it’s been a looong time coming) it started to remind me of Charles Sheeler. Sheeler was an American photographer and painter whose methods and subject matter hymned the Machine Age. His best known photographic work is his River Rouge Ford plant series.

Criss-Crossed Conveyors, River Rouge Plant, Ford Motor Company, 1927 Charles Sheeler

He achieved an equivalent photographic quality in his paintings and even his abstracts had a sort of machine-like precision.

Charles Sheeler, “On a Shaker Theme #2” (1956) From Hyper Allergic Labs Tumblr site

His subject matter should not be seen as one-dimensional however. Yes he depicted an urban and exurban world of work, often empty of people, but it is “Work” rather than ”Industry” that is glorified by Sheeler. In addition to his factories and foundries he painted and photographed Amish barns; between 1926 and 1934 he produced a series of interiors that depict his home in South Salem, New York filled with Shaker furniture and simple ceramics.

Here are some images of Sheeler’s to remind us all of a time when “The makers of things” as Barack Obama had it, and the places in which they worked were accorded a dignity forgotten for a while, but hopefully experiencing a renaissance.

Classic Landscape, Oil on Canvas, 1931
Side of White Barn, Bucks County, Gelatin Silver Print, 1915
American Interior, Oil on Canvas, 1934

Click here to see the work I do for my soul and not for “The Man” (man).

Classic Landscape, White Barn and American Interior from Area of Design



Filed under Architecture, Art, Cross Stitch

2 responses to “Cross Stitch & Digression

  1. Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog! I’ve enjoyed reading yours – very interesting! There are some great subversive cross stitchers out there. Try looking up Steotch, Subversive Cross Stitch (Julie Jackson), Mr. X Stitch (Jamie Chalmers), and beefranck to start. Trust me, though, there are tons more. Try looking on Etsy and Flickr and you will find enough to last a lifetime! Good luck – Rebecca (@StitchEmporium)

  2. Thanks Rebecca! I’ll give those a look!

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