A series of works dedicated to Birth, Sex and Death.
Handspun and crafted by self taught fibre artist - Hellena Post
Shown for the first time at Urban Paradise Gallery in Brisbane
from the 15th of March till the 5th of April, 2019
I have journeyed the incredible multidimensional lands,
of growing and birthing eight humans from my womb.
Brushing against and nearby Birth, Sex and Death throughout and around those deep experiences.
I hold these three archetypes,
foundational, transformational, and initiatory,
Indivisible flipsides of a three sided coin,
mirror image of each other,
all are present when each are enacted.
Ancient cycles shimmer through everything
that is born, lives and dies.
Physical, metaphysical, literal, metaphoric,
thought forms, concepts, morals, ideals.
These pieces in particular, represent my sanity, meditation, and self help therapy, during an exceptionally
dark and light filled time.
They are the exact equal and opposite,
of the terror and trauma, that ensued
on finding out that our 7th son had leukaemia.
And our journey into a three year integrated healing plan.
The alchemical and magical nature of these creations,
and their desire to be born, was so strong,
that the beloved midwife of our last home born baby,
moved just around the corner for the months of gestation.
And midwifed these creations out of and with me,
leaving just after they were born.
Every yarn spun from all different fleeces,
all of them traveling through my hands four times,
spinning then plying then balling then crocheting,
with my conscious intentions and memories twined in.
Once born, I really wanted to share them,
and the yarns from which they came.
Reflections from the deeps within me,
woven into every form.
They were birthed to the public in my first solo exhibition,
a dream ten years in the making.
Wondering what my creations would look like,
all together in one gallery space, with room to unfurl.
That space on the wall between the solid sculptures above,
(incidentally they're called 'Sister' by artist Frederic Berjot),
was the space where I projected my slideshows.
Showing many photos taken by Ana Jol in gallery and cemetary, with me and Steph as the models,
in accompaniment to the words I tried to express with.
The first one 'Crochet Birth' near the beginning above,
and Birth Sex and Death just below.
And here is a short video I did
showing my creations in a bit more detail...
Description of 'Birth'
‘Birth’ is a crochet wearable pregnancy suit that is tied on,
with a birthable baby, umbilical cord, and placenta inside the womb, underneath a big round belly with the belly button sticking out.
The belly is attached to rather generous breasts,
which also have perhaps the first ever insertable crocheted breast implants, to help hold the generous shape, for those who are less boobily endowed.
The ties holding the belly on, turn into a chain tail at their ends,
as homage to our mammalian nature, especially when birthing.
And the straps from the breasts criss cross over the back to connect also.
All of these elements have been hand dyed by my man,
and then hand spun by me
using both a traditional and electric spinning wheel,
creating a balance between us in their creation.
They have been dyed with Landscape commercial wool dyes in a chaos bath, and are a variety of gifted tops and bought sheep fleeces.
They were then crocheted using traditional and self taught techniques,
(I’m particularly happy with the shaping of the baby.....it’s ALIVE!),
with tools that I mostly made myself.
The yarn that makes the baby is undyed,
spun in the grease sheep fleece from my fairy fibre mother.
The elements that needed padding were stuffed with
raw alpaca from my friends herd.
And the placenta has fine crochet for the veins,
that have been needle felted into place.
It grew quite literally like a metaphysical pregnancy,
and was crafted while being ‘midwifed’
by the beloved midwife of my 8th child,
who through incredible serendipity,
was living around the corner for the entire duration of it’s creation.
One of the most significant moments of this journey,
was when she was sitting on my bed with me,
cradling my crocheted baby,
just like she’d cradled my physical baby seven years before.
‘Birth’ is a tactile yarn from deep within me,
paying homage to this sacred trinity of the most
transformational, initiatory and foundational experiences of our lives.
Indivisible and intrinsic
as well as our greatest fears and taboos,
every birth is a death,
every death is a birth,
and without sex,
neither would happen.
Description of 'Sex'
‘Sex’ is two large cushions, that are in the shape of genitals, that I call the Willy Pilly and the Cunt Cushion. (Cunt is used in the most respectful way in this context, from the root word Kunti who was a goddess, and source of the most excellent word, Cunctipotent)
Created to represent the balance in what the majority of us experience as sex, along the lines of Yin and Yang as well as the Equal and Opposite.
Both are made from handspun mohair, which in my opinion, is the
most sensual handspun fibre, with a very special story to it.
The extremely long, silky, curly and lustrous fibres of the Angora goat, can only be truly experienced by being handspun. Commercially, mohair fleeces are bobbled around a thread and then ripped to give the fuzzy effect, but when handspun, the staples retain their integrity, and gently pull out to fuzz and curl up the more they are stroked and worn. And retain their life to act like the fur you have without having killed anything, even curling up into tight ringlets in the rain.
Incidentally, many traditional Spinners and Weavers Guild members
would tell you that you can NEVER spin mohair on it’s own,it has to be blended, and if you did happen to spin it alone, you could NEVER spin it single ply. Which I do. Luckily, I had no rules to learn and break
as I followed my own path into my chosen craft.
The Willy Pilly was originally inspired while watching a documentary
about the Bespoke movement in Australia on the ABC, where they interviewed a woman who made cunt cushions, who had just sold out to a busload of lesbians, and made a statement about how
‘you couldn’t make cushions from PENISES!’
with a look of abject horror and disgust on her face.
To which my mind replied ‘game ON!’,
and I started to work out how I could make a cushion
that was indeed a penis. With balls and a soft foreskin to cuddle up to.
After making a Willy Pilly prototype, when I started to see the series of
Birth, Sex and Death coming, I knew I wanted to make not only a Willy Pilly but also it’s counterpart, the Cunt Cushion, in lush mohair.
Handspun while meditating on sex and all that it means to me,
the Willy Pilly is crocheted with naturally coloured grey mohair yarn,
with a knitted foreskin, held up by a drawstring of handspun
Angora rabbit fleece, the softest cloud of fluff in the world,
sourced from a friend at Ixchel Yarns and Fibres in it’s raw form.
There is a drip coming from the head of the Willy Pilly in handspun bunny also. The foreskin can be drawn down to display the sculpted head,
or closed up with the drawstring, making it look like a drip.
This idea was inspired by the crochet artist Jack Davis from San Fransisco, who’s been crocheting them that way since the 70’s.
Stuffed loosely with alpaca from my friends herd.
The Cunt Cushion is also handspun mohair,
gained from a meditation on sex, with kid mohair being used for the
cunt and arse, where your fingers can slip into incredible softness.
There are also inner and outer lips and a clitoris, with luscious locks of handspun naturally coloured black alpaca pubes. On the reverse of the
Cunt Cushion is a handspun gold mohair disc of crochet,
that can be rested on also, looking very similar to goddess symbols.
And between the cunt and the disc are the holes that your fingers can journey, between stuffing of alpaca from my friends herd.
These two pieces, the Equal and Opposite,
are my homage to the delicious sex that creates both birth and death.
And they are both completely functional
as cuddly, softly stuffed pillows to snuggle with.
Description of 'Death'
‘Death’ is a wearable Death Vale head dress,
crocheted from handspun naturally coloured alpaca,
and wrapped over the form of a Triskelion within a Trefoil symbol, representing the indivisible and transformational nature of
Birth, Sex and Death, along with many other sacred trinities.
The large Trefoil makes the head dress big enough that
just about any body shape could hide behind it’s graceful folds
and feel their grief was private.
The two leaves of the Trefoil that don’t contain the Triskelion,
are geometrically crocheted, where instead of increasing,
a larger hook is used to size up, meaning that there are the
same amount of stitches in the middle as there are at the edges.
The size of the loops in the veil are large enough to see through,
but still remain mysterious behind.
And the yarn was spun on my electric spinning wheel,
as a meditation on death, and all its elements that have touched me.
My Viking ancestors would mourn birth and celebrate death.
When we are born here, we die to home, alas.
But when we die here, we are born back home! Huzzah!
After journeying through 8 births, with all the fear facing that entailed,
I was always aware of death walking alongside my birthing experiences. With the birth by caesarean of my 5th child,
when we would have both died without medical assistance,
I grew increasingly fascinated by death as it had passed so near,
and asked everyone I knew what they thought about it.
Rich soul food indeed.
And more recently, on finding out that my 7th son had Leukaemia,
death stopped walking alongside me,
and took up residence in the spare room.
We went from a free range lifestyle in hippy heaven,
to spending 8 weeks solid on the 11th floor of the children’s hospital.
Death stalked the halls.
And helped to confirm a deep belief I have,
in the Law of the Equal and Opposite.
As terrifying and traumatic as this experience has been,
it’s only equal is the unadulterated joy and life,
brought by the people and events that swung in as the equal and opposite.
This underground journey to the deeps has sprung up into the
incredibly potent creation of this piece,
as part of a series of works that has burst to be born.
The midwife from the birth of my 8th child was serendipitously
living just around the corner while I was creating this whole series,
and as well as midwifing the birthing suit,
she also helped me conceptualise how I was going to represent death.
I would love the opportunity to
bring these works to you!
I'm very interested and willing to bring along the
Birth, Sex and Death series,
and create a sacred space to talk about these
amazing, foundational, transformational and feared taboos.
We'll try on and feel out and dance in the handspun series,
while sharing our stories about all three archetypes.
I'll have journals dedicated to Birth, Sex and Death with me,
for people to read and add their stories to, if they choose to share.
I prefer for these sessions to be self organising,
and to operate on a donation basis instead of any fixed price,
as homage to my pilgrimage and dedication to
Birth, Sex, Death, and all their attendant lessons.