Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Stuff for Thought – marking Human Rights and Festival of Quilts

Artists have been invited to take part in Stuff for Thought a shared project of textile artist Heidi Drahota and the Human Rights Office of the City of Nuremberg September 9th – September 24th 2016. Journal:Remnants from Not so Ordinary Lives (below) is one of the pieces selected.

My grandmother a Romany Gypsy ,taught me to look at the world and to take responsibility for what we do and how we work. This piece uses fabrics, papers and printing blocks gathered on a research trip to India. I stitched images made on location at railway station where people were gathering for work, at a festival and on a workplace rooftop. All people need access to light, good water and fresh air. Our clothing needs to be made from sustainable sources, not adding to land fill and demanding as much from the land as it does from the makers.(Readers may have seen this piece in my first publication, The Found Object in Textile Art)

This work is in specific response to these two articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Background:With the awarding of the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award 2015 to the labor unionist of the textile industry in Bangladesh Amirul Haque Amin the city of Nuremberg gives the award to an activist for social and economic human rights for the first time.

The exhibition 'Stuff for thought' invited artists to submit work direct relating to 3 different topics:

1 First of all the awareness of the rights of workers in Bangladesh. It is very dangerous to be in a labor union there. The activists don’t only run the risk of losing their jobs when they fight against bad working conditions; they are also often harassed, threatened or arrested. The jury hopes that the award will give Mr. Amin and his allies the protection that they need to continue their work towards humane working conditions.

2 The jury also wants to call upon the consumer conscience and raise awareness for responsible consumption. The public has a right to know under what conditions their clothes are produced.

3 Last but not least the jury’s vote is embedded in an economic framework since global and fair trade without the adherence to social standards runs contrary to basic human needs.

Further details of the exhibitionin German

Art Textiles Made in Britain
This is our second show at the Festival and we will be presenting new work based upon the theme Concealed.This new body work includes work by two guest artists and equally has a strong connection to the human experience discussed above. Hidden meanings and emotions commenting on people and place, social and environmental conscience to personal stories and reflections.

We have produced this lovely catalogue which will be for sale in the Art Textiles gallery and then be available via Hilary Beattie's online shop for those that can't get to Festival. A few of my publications including Stitch Stories will also be available.

Finally, I am delighted to be supporting Hop Art one day exhibition in aid of the Air Ambulance on Bank Holiday Monday 29th August at the Hope Pole Inn, Nettlestead Green. Maidstone. I have donated a small original stitched and collage artwork Hortus, (framed it is 28x22cm). You can bid on this piece by emailing Pauline at Hop Art For details of the Hop Pole contact Mark at the Hop Pole (tel 01622816916.)

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Wildflowers at West Dean..back to nature

The relationship between landscape, nature, place and people have remained a constant in my practice and during a fleeting visit to West Dean last weekend the wonderful management of the gardens reminded me of what a delicate balance this is.

Whilst eating breakfast a friend (and student at the college) said to visit the Orchard mentioning that 'the wildflower meadows around the trees are just simple beautiful right now' and knowing my love for these pockets of nature suggested I make the time.

The gardens are  a little piece of horticultural heaven carefully managed by Head Gardener Jim Buckland  and a dedicated team of gardeners and volunteers for 25 years. The Victorian Glasshouses are a jewel in the gardens and an appeal to restore them is place.

Students drawing around the Glasshouses in sketchbook workshop.

Wildflowers and habitat are so important in places where our gardens and urban sprawl meet the greater landscape. Not least of all, they constantly provide inspiration and a 'place to breath' and just be and to draw.

Whilst in the middle of 'Summer' it is hard to think of winter. This time last year I was preparing for a visit to Australia where winter was in full swing. Equally beauty can be found in the winter landscape and with that in mind I am delighted to once again support the Big Heart Auction  for Chestnut Tree House.. Around 200 donated artworks will be auctioned from local, national and celebrity artists, illustrators and photographers as well as pieces by some of the children.

This piece,  'Winter Tree' , marks the beauty to be seen everyday in the shapes of winter trees.
I sign off with this wonderful interview by Textileartist discusses how community, nature, and art continues to shape and influence my work. (photograph compliments of Richard Torble Photography)
Cas Holmes studio, photo by Richard Torble

Friday, 29 April 2016

Visions and Favourite Things

I have been away most of the last few weeks in the South West of USA (reported on my Magpie blog) at the end of my tour I attended an opening of  'Stitch Stories' at Visions Art Museum earlier in April. This wonderful  not for profit museum managed by a brilliant staff team and volunteers is at NTC at Liberty Station in San Diego presents engaging programs that increase the appreciation of quilts, textiles and fiber as fine art. I am honoured to be have been invited as one of four gallery shows which include: The Jury is InRecurring Dream by Gay Lasher and Geometric,The Visions Members Challenge. I detail two images from the Stitch Stories installation below which included new works and pieces made within the last 5 years.

Tea Garden (photo credit Sue Benner)
Installation of Armchair Botanical (in background) and Wayside Weeds. 
I was able to catch up briefly with old friends and it was great to see pieces by two of my American textile friends Sue Benner  (below) and Patty Hawkins (above).
After a lovely weekend in Ireland on my return  I am preparing for my show as a guest exhibitor at the 7th Quiltfestival in Luxembourg from 5-8th May Image detail of Winter Grasses, I  will report on this on my return..
Art Textiles Made in Britain will be exhibiting 'Identity' (image from Festival of Quilts 2014) at the Minerva Gallery in Wales from 30 April until 30th May. This is accompanied by workshops (I will also be giving a workshop here 7-8 November 2016.)
  Identity Panels on show at Festival of Quilts 2014

Prescriptions has also opened at the Beaney in Canterbury. The exhibition focuses on the book art of Martha Hall, on loan from the University of New England,accompanied by a curated show of artists books responding to themes of art, empathy and wellbeing. Further links and details on all exhibitions here.
Florascript Cas Holmes
I am delighted to be in two publications this month. The 100th edition of Stitch Magazine with Favourite Things. This also happens to be Kathy Troup's last edition as Editor so I am doubly delighted to mark and celebrate her time on the magazine since its inception and wish her well as she passes on a strong legacy the new Editor.
Last but not least, I am equally delighted to be included in Textileartist's series of E publications in 'Textile Art Inspired by Nature'
I was one of the first interviews on this new blog way back in 2012 when I was interviewed at the Knitting and Stitching Show by Sam Pitcher for their featured artist series (To Do Different). Along with his brother Joe, the site continues to develop as a valuable resource and demonstrates we can never have enough writing about textile art either on line or in print.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Telling Stories

Over the winter I gave myself permission to 'hibernate' a bit and concentrated on research and developing new ideas for forthcoming shows. I grew up in a family which liked to tell stories so am thrilled to be a cover girl on the latest edition of Cloth, Paper, Scissors. The inside article looks at how you can create your own folding stitch-story from found materials.
As I order and re-order thing in preparation for another journey in March to the USA for my exhibition 'Stitch Stories' at Visions Art Museum  (reported in my previous blog) I am drawn to consider how I prepare for such events.I have been drawn to the 'lost' part of our landscape..the areas on the edges of our roads, railways and industrial areas we often  miss simply because we pass and not really look at them. Environmentally of value in our increasingly built upon and urbanised spaces

Spring Verge

 2016 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot "Capability" Brown, I wonder how he would have seen and remarked upon the changed post industrial landscape before him in light of the 'English Idyl'? You can get involved in marking this event through the Embroiderer's Guild who are a Capability Brown festival partner.
 In 1998 I was commissioned to work on a community collaboration at Compton Verney House to mark the multi faceted history of the house and gardens (designed by Capability Brown).This was part of the celebratory preview season marking the opening of the newly-restored ground floor rooms We worked high up in the attic space and the participants included the communities of Combrook and Kineton, Campion Youth Group and local training and educational centres. My ongoing project Tea Flora Tales appears in an article by Patchwork Professional.You can see the article and look at how to get involved here.


I use the time spent travelling to think, and to make connections between my home territory and the destination. I collect materials, take photographs, and make notes and sketches to record what I see.The images below are a few photographs captured through window on a damp day at West Dean College where I regularly teach.
A windy night led to a more physical response in red early in the morning ..a warm up exercise and sketch outside before workshops began.
At the same time, participants on my course, Personal Journals-sourcing inspiration for textiles were also looking at gardens for processing their own work
 Head down drawing
 Carol Sacha, walled garden
 Cherry Hirsh Sketchbook development
Lorna Goldsmith, back of work in progress(she records her process here)
Tracey Williams, detail of sample in progress

You can read more about up and coming workshops in the UK and USA on this link
Final news (but not least)is that the reprint of Stitch Stories is finally here and being distributed in the UK and beyond. Thankyou Batsford/Pavilion.

Monday, 4 January 2016

High Water reflections from the Old to the New Year

As I type this and the winds blow down pouring rain in Kent my sympathies lie with colleagues and friends in the North of England and Scotland who have fallen foul of Storm Frank (and indeed anyone who has been hit by what seems to be seasonal flooding). The Medway in Kent broke its banks and caused mayhem in Maidstone and outlying areas this time two years ago.
My father's name was Frank. He was a gentle man so I am unsure he would liked to have been associated by name to this storm. Now my Gran would have been another thing.
Below 'Winter Flood', part of the series 40 Yards  first shown at the European Patchwork Meeting

It seems appropriate a piece of my work, 'High Water' (detail left)  is currently touring in the 6th European Quilt-Triennial in Textilsammlung Max Berk/Kurpfälzisches Museum, Heidelberg (ends on the 10 January 2016) and subsequently  to Kreismuseum Zons in Germany,( 24 January - 28th March 2016)

I am preparing for travel to the USA in the Spring to the Sedona Arts Center  in March and then on San Diego in April on the invitation of San Diego Book Art  and one other venue for workshops (see workshops section on my blog for updates). I am thrilled to also be at Visions Art Museum for a one person show exhibition also entitled 'Stitch Stories'  
Back at West Dean College in 19-22 February looking at  Personal journals – sourcing inspiration for textiles
 As we look to the new I also reflect on 2015  a busy, fulfilling year full of friendship, making and travel. Finding the balance can be difficult and needing to at times to 'just be'.  Workshops and exhibitions have allowed me to meet with some amazing makers. A trip to the Mons with the Centre for Embroidery  at the early part of the year ended  with a trip to Le Mans at the end of 2015 where I was invited to exhibit by the city at the Parc Du Monod (a former army barracks).
Between that time I exhibited in Sent Switzerland, had a massive textile workshop tour to Australia (reported on my Magpie blog as 'The Edges of Australia). I saw some amazing things and so enjoyed the wonderful sunsets at my first temporary home in Queensland which contrasted with the industrial landscapes in Loy Yang which had a strange beauty of their own  and (thankyou Glenys to Fibre Arts Australia for helping with this) and so many more hosts and friends. know who you are

Longer hauls were matched short by equally vibrant and fruitful workshops with guilds and groups at home to a short workshop where I exhibited at the Prague Patchwork Meeting in April.  Last, but not least, Stitch Stories was published in late Summer.  It is currently being a big thankyou...none of this would have been possible without the support of some amazing people.
Using my portable toolkit photographed in the book by the wonderful Jacqui Hurst.

Wishing you all a peaceful and creative 2016 

You can keep up to date with my activities by following links to my blogs on  Cas Holmes Textiles and on facebook