‘Ariadne’s Threads’

‘Ariadne’s Threads’

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A gorgeous world map in an old National Geographic Atlas – hopelessly out of date, but so full of colour and potential. I followed the folds in the paper with pink threads and navigated my way around the globe by simply sewing along the lines of latitude, of which there are many. The stitching journey felt like a long way and, because of the loopy stitching I’d chosen, woven using three spools of thread, there are literally metres of it – the scale equivalent of thousands and thousands of miles.


It struck me when making this piece that the pathways across and around the world were almost embracing it, like a love affair or an obsession and it reminded me of the tale of Theseus and Ariadne, better known as ‘Theseus and the Minotaur’.

In the Greek legend, Ariadne fell in love with Theseus, and saved his life by giving him a magic thread, which he unwound as he entered the labyrinth in Crete to face the deadly no-one’s-ever-survived-meeting-before minotaur. In the deepest part of the maze, Theseus bravely slew the minotaur, but only found his way back out again by following Ariadne’s enchanted red thread.


By killing the minotaur, Theseus ended the need for regular sacrificial deaths to appease it and of course became an instant hero. On the way home to break the joyous news to his father, the not-so-trustworthy Theseus broke his promise to marry Ariadne and instead abandoned her on an island (so long and thanks for all the fish!).

However, this all worked out better for her – she missed the boat, which changed her destiny, and she later married a god, so became universally important. She’s the real hero of this story, not Theseus – she worked out how to solve the labyrinth, using her creative practicality, intuition and intelligence.

Reflecting on this myth and looking at this already-outdated political world map and the threads enfolding it, it seems the solutions we need to keep our world in balance are not necessarily the obvious, bold and heroic ones but probably the less showy, softer and more trusting actions – motivated by love, like Ariadne’s were.

Collage: map page (Bartholomew World Atlas) & stitching on paper

h 52.4 x w 106 cm, 2015

Framing: Floating foamcore mount in white wood box frame with TruView non-reflective glass


‘Ariadne’s Threads’ was last modified: July 23rd, 2020 by Michelle Rumney