Friday, 30 December 2016

It has not been 'a Walk in The Park' .

As we reflect on 2016 we can truly say, for most, it has not been 'a Walk in the Park'. A year of extremes to say the least. It has been a fulfilling year full of friendship which has countered some difficult things on both a personal and global level. So let me begin by wishing you all the best for 2017 for all..we could do with it. 

I ended the year, as I started with drawing which has continued to be a focus this year. Thankyou to Helen Frost for supplying this lovely image of my hands hard at work at West Dean College.  where I was teaching earlier this month.
I heavy cold meant hearth and home over the Christmas season. By boxing day I was itching to get out and well wrapped up went for a walk in my local park.









I was thrilled to start the year as the cover girl for Cloth Paper Scissors before my guest exhibition at Visions Art Museum in San Diego.
This was followed by exhibitions with Art Textiles Made in Britain at the Festival of Quilts and a project Stuff For Thought a shared project of textile artist Heidi Drahota and the Human Rights Office of the City of Nuremberg.

As the Autumn turned to winter I exhibited locally in Kent and London.  While exhibiting with Books Pavilion  I was informed that all of my publications were going into reprint again at the same time. Loved the installation  of Tea Flora Tales from 'In the Pilgrim's Footsteps 'exhibition  (seen here with my Red Trees) at St Mary's Church Burham,  organised by textile artist Rosie James  


Detail of Tea Flora Tales. Thankyou to the individuals,  groups and Embroiderer's Guild members who have continued to  create pieces to support this project.

I gave short courses from as far afield as San Diego, France and Ireland as well as locally and nationally, including conservation linked projects with the Kent Wildlife Trust. As we move into 2017 workshops and exhibitions remain the core of my work.
I continue to enjoy the challenges these set for me and the opportunity to meet with new ideas, people and makers as well as re-affirm existing professional friendships. Thankyou to all who continue to support my work and bless you all with as many  new and exciting projects you wish for and the health of your family and friends.
Time for a cuppa.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Coming Home

This is the time of year when coming home to a warm house and comfort is welcome after a walk or cycle in the cold. For many today, this is also a time when the hard weather bites deeper and harder when they have no home or for whom home feels far away. Maidstone Museum in their exhibition Coming Home, Conflict and Care reflects the First World War with an array of items, sounds and images based on two paintings in the museum’s collections by the artist Frank Hyde.

The ‘Arrival of a Convoy of Wounded Soldiers at Maidstone East’ (above) tells the story of the home front. Images and objects such as prosthetic limbs, medical uniforms and equipment, and even a wedding dress reveal the lives of the injured returning home and of the people who remained at home. I am delighted to have 'Rouge Remembrance' included in this exhibition.
As we mark the last month of the Battle of the Somme, standing Sentinal, this piece marks the friendship hard won between European Nations and our nearest neighbour France. People re-tell their own stories in small cards clipped above a hospital bed.
Nurses uniforms and embroidered handkerchiefs reminds us of the individual and personal cost of conflict and no less so today when millions are still seeking to cross borders to escape than it was 100 years ago. Will we ever learn?


I promised this would not be a 'preachy' blog. I know only to well I can 'bang-on' about the things I care about. I leave that to a soldier serving on the front line whose words have startling resonance today.
The second painting by Frank Hyde, ‘Trones Wood’ is accompanied by an array of items, sounds and images from the conflict. Uniform and military equipment used by the soldiers are shown, including a Lewis gun (which enabled the 7th Queen’s Own to hold Trones Wood). The exhibition continues until 7th January 2017 and is well worth a visit.
Thankyou to all the visitors who came to see my exhibition at Tyland Barn and who contributed to Tea Flora Tales.  Delighted that several small pieces sold including Canterbury Bells featured above.

I am planning projects, workshops and events well into 2018 and will update as they progress.  (please note, my course in December at West Dean is full. Another is scheduled for February.)
Meanwhile you can see further information on the exhibitions and workshops section of this blog including a return to Norfolk, Wales and the Netherlands,  as well as workshops in France and Switzerland in late summer.



Friday, 16 September 2016

A Growing Concern..Textiles and Community

In common with many artists I enjoy the challenge of creating pieces with relevance to given situations, audiences and locations and an association of over thirty five years with community and public arts keep me motivated and interested in the exchange and learning with others as part of this process.
Leaf Sculpture, Broad Oak Nature Reserve.

Much of my early work was in the Medway Towns and Kent working as a Community Artist with organisations such as Spiral Arts and Shape on projects with hospitals, in education and even with the prison service.  This interaction taught me to explore all kinds of materials from bamboo, willow and cloth used in the making of giant puppets to projects and installations with natural materials and found resources reflecting nature and the world around us. This featured article by Textileartist gives you more detail of this work and some handy hints if you want to engage with other people and work outdoors as part of the process.

Makes a human and emotional connection between environment and landscape through stitch is the domain of many artists who work in textile and the pieces of Australian artists Glenys Mann  featured below) and Holly Story as well as British artist Rosalind Davis also feature in the article talking about the fragility of this relationship.


Glenys Mann, Waiting #16 Bundled

https://nmsteachingmuseum.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/norwich-shawl.jpg
This connection to people and place is marked in exhibitions I am currently featuring in, Stuff for Thought (see previous blog) with its focus on Human Rights and the textile trade.  'Madder' (detail featured below), has been accepted for an exhibition Norwich Shawls: Past Glory, Present Inspiration,in the City famous for its cloth industry (my family home). Madder marks the importance of the dye in Norwich Red and at the same time, taken as adjective, Madder comments on the hard work and often poorly paid employment in the textile industry using fragments gathered in India and Pakistan. The exhibition is on from 1st to 15th October 2016. and is chance to see rarely-seen Norwich Shawls held in private collections alongside contemporary responses in the fine Hostry at Norwich Cathedral. This event is organised by the Costume and Textile Association of the Norfolk Museums Service.
Closer to home I will have a piece on loan to Maidstone Museum in the exhibition Coming Home, Conflict and Care. This includes pieces from the collection based on two paintings in the museum’s collections by artist Frank Hyde
http://museum.maidstone.gov.uk/whats-on/events/coming-home-conflict-care-1916/


Arrival of a Convoy of Wounded Soldiers at Maidstone Station, Kent, 1916
In October my one person show at Kent Wildlife, Tyland Barn opens and I will also be at the Pavilion Bookshop in Covent Garden from the 5th with a book signing on the 22nd October from 2-4. Please pop in if you can.
Finally I am delighted to be included in short article by  Down Under Textiles Magazine 
with some pieces marking my strong connection with the small things of daily life I love about that Big Country. All updates on exhibitions and workshops can be seen in the drop down pages on my blogsite.






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