These Restless Hands

Year of release: 2012
Original format: digital video frames
Running time: loop
Screening format: digital screening versions available (silent)
Credits: A film by Kayla Parker
Thanks: Stuart Moore, Jonni Parker
Production: Sundog Media
Distribution and sales: Sundog Media

My mother crochets a scarf. Her hands twist this way and that in her lap, looping the fluffy yarn around her crochet hook to create stitch after stitch. She is making a woollen scarf, for no one in particular. When she is finished, she will unravel all her stitches, and start again.

These Restless Hands from Kayla Parker on Vimeo.

She sits in her living room beneath a lamp in a shower of light, the clicking dance of her crochet needle diving and hooking the yarn as her hands turn in and out. My mother’s hands have been busy stitching since she was a young girl. She learned her craft from her mother, a gifted professional seamstress, who taught her first to hand-sew using scraps of old bedsheets. My grandmother showed her daughter how to seam, to mend, to darn and embroider, and to knit and crochet clothes for her doll; as my mother taught me…

Production notes
The film is constructed from a series of frames, extracted from a short piece of filming shot as QuickTime video on a stills camera. My filming frames my mother’s hands in her lap, as she was crocheting a woollen scarf early one evening, shortly after moving home in autumn 2007. When she had finished making, my mother pulled out her stitches and unravelled the scarf, reconstituting the yarn into a ball of wool once again.

To create the film, I printed out 143 PAL digital video frames (720 x 576) onto sheets of white A4 copier paper, in landscape format, using a laser printer with its (black) toner cartridge running out. I re-photographed each still image on an animation rostrum with a Canon 60-D DSLR. Then I imported the jpgs onto the QuickTime timeline to ‘stitch together’ the sequence as a moving image stream, with a duration of 6 frames per image and a one frame overlap at the beginning and end of the series. This sequence is looped, endlessly, and shows my mother’s hands repetitively making and unmaking.

Publication and comments
A set of six postcards, printed from a selection of video frames, is available to accompany the exhibition of the moving image artwork.

Being Human exhibition, Plymouth Art Weekender; Mills Bakery Building, Royal William Yard, Plymouth; with Rachael Allain, Laura Hopes, Juliet Middleton-Batts, and Karen Pearson (23 to 25 September 2016, 10am to 5pm)

Drawn exhibition, Royal West of England Academy Queen’s Road, Clifton, Bristol (23 March to 2 June 2013)
Unfolding Narrative (from middles to beginnings to endless loops) film art symposium, Jill Craigie Cinema, Plymouth University (24 May 2013)
Land/Water exhibition, Scott Building, University of Plymouth (4 March to 17 April 2013)
I also screened These Restless Hands during my Sewing film presentations to Theatre, Dance and Performance (24 January) and art + sound (6 February) research groups, and for my Animating the place of memory paper to the Land/Water and the Visual Arts research group (8 May), University of Plymouth

Manifestations of Place, exhibition of postgraduate research by Lu La Buzz, Gabrielle Llewellin, Kayla Parker, and Yan Preston.
Supported by Land/Water and the Visual Arts research group, and the Centre for Media, Art and Design Research, University of Plymouth. Second floor corridor, Scott Building, University of Plymouth. Screened from looped DVD on flatscreen monitor, wall mounted at my head height (14 to 23 March 2012)