Tuesday, 7 November 2017

From Conception to Creation and on to Caring Hands

Creating work with limited resources sometimes leads to an unexpected outcomes.
Board in studio photo by Richard Torble photography 

As we move through to Autumn I am drawn to the fact that not only are the days getting colder but also the available daylight is lessening in intensity and time. I like to stitch and do my colour work in daytime so need to manage my time effectively. Working with restrictions on my space, time and even materials can, in fact, liberate rather than constrict my ideas and lead to unexpected outcomes. This is discussed in more detail on my recent article  From Conception to Creation on Textile Artist as part of a series of interviews looking behind the artist's process.

Sometimes these limitations are out of our control or choice I recently worked on a project with ‘at risk’ and homeless  adults in partnership with Caring Hands and Nucleus Arts in the Medway Towns. The project, situated in Chatham provide vulnerable people with  access to the essentials required for them to survive, from food to showers to advice and activities.  A friendly hand of help to those who need it.

We made ‘Note tins’ to provide individuals with a small waterproof notebook or even sketchbook at the same time participants were also able to engage and chat across the table whilst learning new skills. Thankyou to a few individuals and the manager at Argos in Maidstone who provided some of the materials required (some of you bright eyed amongst may recognise some former copies of WOW magazine which were published in the Medway towns until recently by Emma Dewhurst). Thrilled to say that Art Textile Made in Britain opens their exhibition Concealed at Maidstone Museum Next month bringing their work to the South for the first time. Will report on this in a future blog.
Recent cycle rides through the park on my way to teach at my local Adult Education Centre draws my attention back to the trees as I enjoy the bones of their trunks and branches against the glow of leaves and mist. Certainly colder. 

Some of these ideas may even figure in my next publication with Batsford due out next year. More news to follow.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Knitting and Stitching Show, Page 17 and Campaign for Creativity

I visited the Knitting and Stitching Show over the Weekend (which is next at Harrogate) and was able to take in Page 17 organised by the Embroiderer's Guild. A unique body of work by members who bring the words of Page 17 of their current favourite book to life. This is a unique and exciting display of work which was proving popular with the visitors. A few snippets are included below (apologies for not naming the artists and work, there are so many pieces)

Edges of Australia. (my Page 17)

One of the most compelling exhibits in terms of need was the Campaign for Creativity organised by Twisted Thread and supported by the Embroiderer's Guild. Anthea Godfrey, Artistic Director of The Embroiderers' Guild, said: “The rigid nature of the national curriculum provides little opportunity or time for children to express themselves creatively, artistically or professionally. Creativity is vital to child development, not only as a means of expression and communication but to support life skills such as problem-solving, strategic thinking and resilience. Creative thinkers hold the key to the UK’s future success, not just in culture and the arts but across business and industry too. To enable creative students to have opportunities to select, embrace and qualify in creative subjects incrementally in the same pathway development as scientists, lawyers, doctors and others is vital in their long term development.” I urge you sign the petition. (Read more about the campaign here.)

Finally, but not least, a little about the galleries. There are many including Ann Small, Jo Beattie, Diana Harrison, Rachael Howard,  Haf Weighton, Sarah Waters, Studio 21,The Graduate Showcase and Royal School of Needlework. You can see more on the Harrogate listing. I had little time to visit so once again a report on the few I was able to take in.

Studio 21 presented a personal favourite, The Sewing Machine Project.The group worked on this theme for two years and subjects range from sewing machine mechanics, decoration and operation to personal, cultural, political and social histories. A comprehensive body of work that reflects their personal interest in this transformational machine.
 Denise Jones
 Liz Heywood
 Sandra Meech
Debbie Lyddon

Diana Harrison presented a selection of past exhibition projects, together with a new collection in her sublime exhibition Traces in Cloth which demonstrated the depth of her research and process. 

Next door was Rachael Howard's vibrant 'Red Work' exhibition of large-scale figurative work inspired by 19th century redwork story quilts – for her, the Instagram of their day.. 
The day went quickly. It was good to catch up with friends, see some stuff and have a day of not doing things that 'had to be done'.  All too soon I was winding my way to the rail station.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Beam Me Up Scotty

Finally I can put my suitcase in store for a while. It seems appropriate on International Podcast Day (30 September) that I announce my live podcast on Stitchery Stories interviewed by the wonderful Susan Weeks. Want to know how Star Trek links to landscape and creativity have a listen and also  hear other amazing tales of stitch on this weekly Podcast series. 

September started in a very wet France with Crafty Retreats. The workshop was wonderfully hosted and participants worked hard and produced fabulous works but at times, with the weather, you could have really 'Beamed me up Scotty'. There is only one place left on my course next year but with so many good artists courses on offer it is well worth checking out. 

Unfolding Landscapes Course at Crafty Retreats, Participants work in progress
During one afternoon when the sun shined we went to Oradour-sur-Glane, A village in France where the ghosts of the past live on in the shattered ruins which stand monument to the crimes which happen during war. I was hesitant to share this in my blog however the specific poignancy of seeing the rusting sewing machines which had made clothes for family and loved ones serve as sentinels to the lives that were lost.  I have friends from all over Europe so understand for a number of reasons this is a sensitive area for discussion yet I have equally grown in admiration for those friends of all nationalities who have continued to seek to heal the rifts and build on our 'humanity' (rather than the opposite.) 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing' Edmund Burke. 

We also went to the historic papermaking and print museum Moulin Du Got where I could not only indulge in my love for paper but also see a fascinating exhibition of  costumes made entirely out of paper in Le Papier a du Style

September ended with a wonderful trip to the Wester Ross in Scotland with friends after three days of workshops with Diva Design Studio
 Loch Maree from Gleny Docherty
A few images of student work in progress on the course 

I am looking forward to a the Knitting and Stitching Show and although working will find the time for a brief visit. I am delighted to be taking part in the Embroiderers'  Guild Show Page 17 – a specially created exhibition of textile artistry where each piece takes a book as its inspiration. Using colour and form, design and texture, members have created works which span the contemporary, the literal and the symbolic. Your imagination will be intrigued as it follows the thread across the surface, and marvels at how the combination of cloth and thread is both a medium and metaphor, bringing to life images hidden amongst words. Delighted to have my piece 'The Edges of Australia' included. Come and see the exhibit at stand TG18

Finally, and not least, I am delighted to review Interpreting Themes in Textile Art, the new book by Cherilyn Martin and Els Van Baarle by Batsford which explores the varied ways of interpreting ideas in cloth. I have admired both artists work for quite a number of years and this beautifully illustrated book of their work and processes clearly lays out ideas for you to explore..

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Unfolding Landscape, Reconnecting, Remapping and Refreshed

The temperature is a little cooler and I am reminded that Autumn is fast approaching. I preparing for my next courses in the UK  which include a two day and one day workshop with Diva Design Studio, Logie Steading near Inverness on the 23-25 September and  Shadowlands at High Wycombe with Anglia Leisure Learning on the 6-8 October.
I have lived in and out of a suitcase over the Summer and have just returned from two weeks of  workshops with the  Alpine Experience where we basked in summer sunshine and showered in the odd storm, and also at West Dean Summer School (I will be running courses with both venues over the next year). I am also preparing for my last overseas course with Crafty Retreats next month. (I am back with them next July).

I am scheduling my time two to three years ahead now which is scary and I am determined to slow down a bit if I can....we shall see. My father called me 'mile a minute' and my Romany blood keeps me moving. This is no good if I cannot sit and see the flowers grow and watch the wonderful landscape around me changing. Such as the rainbow and purple larkspur? over the mountains at Les Carroz

A student finding the time to sketch
and the amazing colours in Annecy not dimmed by the dismal weather.
Below are a few images of the work in progress (some by compliments of the Alpine Experience)

A quick turnaround found me at West Dean for the summer school which started alongside the Chilli Festival. I do not think I have ever seen the grand old building in this light before and the grounds were at their best for the Unfolding Landscapes course.

A full class explored, discovered and became alchemists with media and materials as we used the stunning backdrop of West Dean Gardens as our stimulus.
 Christine Lemon
Deborah Richards
 Jacquie Nunn
 Jane Adams
 Mary Klaber
 Philippa Clarke
 Sabine De Preese
We also took in two local exhibitions, The  Land at Candida Stevens Gallery in Chichester  which features the work West Dean tutor  Kate Boucher (who is also Artist in Residence)
and 'All That Remains', with works by artists responding to the Titanic  This is open by invitation only (further details on exhibitions link)
 Maureen Brigden

 All That Remains Cas Holmes
Kate Boucher
Hop-Kins Cas Holmes

I was delighted to support  Through Our Hands at the Festival of Quilts in the Portrait Shuffle. They raised over £2000 for Save The Children. I am looking forward to receiving my swap soon. Enjoy the rest of your summer...I have some book editing to do now.
For details of other workshops and exhibitions please see relevant sections on this blog.