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Contemporary Art Archive - Tbilisi

Archive of Academic Writings

2021 Edition of the Project is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth of Georgia

The book of Patterns


Tamar Chabashvili

woodblocks, plywood
15x15 cm.

The Book of Patterns

‘Cloth, like clothing, provided a fine place for social messages. Patterned cloth in particular is infinitely variable and, like language, can encode arbitrarily any message whatever. What did ancient people try to accomplish when they deliberately made cloth bear meaning? (...) It can be used to mark or announce information, (...) to record events and other data, (...) to invoke “magic”. ‘

Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years - Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times, Elizabeth Wayland Barber, 1994

Taking traditional Blue Tablecloth as one of my reference points I focus on the existing gap between ‘tradition’ and ‘everyday life’. The patterns on the Blue Tablecloth tell old stories. They are attributes to the rituals active in the past. At present the patterns carry a decorative function, endlessly retelling old narratives. For me they represent conventional socio-cultural patterns that tend to influence and often violate our lives. In order to question this role of the patterns, I deconstruct the traditional form of the Blue Tablecloth to its components (fabric, patterns, colors). By doing so, my attempt is to reintegrate the function and the technique charged with new content into our present social context.

The work focuses on the lives of women with all their daily duties and uses collection of photographs of women conducting daily activities and rituals as its source.  I collected those images from Internet. I started to trace the silhouettes of the women’s bodies and abstract them from their original context. Turning them into signs (patterns) engraved individually on the woodblock. The woodblock stamps as abstracted forms outline the layer that I want to communicate. It speaks about social daily problems of those women, which remains mostly underrepresented or unnoticed.

If in traditional Blue Tablecloth the attention goes to the larger narrative, in my work I focus on individual patterns and create enough space for each of them to tell their own story. By means of woodblock printing technique I construct a nonlinear narrative in the form of a book to bring all those stories together.

‘The book of patterns’ can be produced, multiplied and shared upon individual demand.

I would like to thank all those photographers, whose images i have taken from Internet, friends and colleagues who have encouraged me and supported me all along the process.

The Project is realized in the frames of the ‘Regional Art and Culture Program in the South Caucasus’ with financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).