Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Happy Christmas 2014

I thought I would end my first year of blogging with this picture below which is a collection of lovely things I have found over the last few months on the lead up to Christmas which are either hand made, are for a friend, remind me of friends or just nice finds. 

Happy Christmas to everyone who has visited and commented on my blog. 

Back row left to right

A lovely old, brown leather, collar box I found in an antique shop - this reminds me of new friends made in the STA and particularly Ann who is working on a piece that involves old collars.  

A picture of a bowl painted on linen by Cathy Cullis - a favourite of mine over the years - made a nice birthday present for my friend Rene.

The small jumping jack gypsy I found in Amor, a small gallery in Falmouth, and which led me on a trail whereby I found the pattern and instructions and made the Lord A Leaping (on the cotton reel) as this year’s contribution to my hand made Christmas decorations.

Two presents wrapped in green and red paper - I found these hand painted wrapping papers on one of my trips to Cornwall - wonder who the presents are for?

A cut paper Christmas card of a winter scene by Sue Blackwell which I found at the Devon Guild of  Craftsmen in Bovey Tracey.  www.sublackwell.co.uk

Front row left to right

Some fabric printed with rows and rows of tape measures - just couldn’t resist. 

Christmas reading - an old Modern Painters quarterly journal dated winter 1990/91 I found in a second hand book shop in Falmouth for 50p.  When I looked inside it had articles about Michael Rothenstein (a Bardfield artist), an advertisement for an exhibition of the work of Keith Vaughan who once lived in Toppesfield, an article on Gavin Fry and another article on the artist William Scott by Patrick Heron.  Some years ago my friend Rene sent me several post cards of his work and I made a collage with them.  All this and more in one magazine.  bookmark-online.co.uk

More Christmas reading - Extraordinary Sketchbook by Jane Stobart, also an ideal Christmas present for the arty type.  Jane Stobart is an artist-printmaker and features in the book along with numerous other, including Henry Moore.  This reminds me of my walking chums, Gill and Lynne, when we did a walk that took us through Perry Green and the Henry Moore Foundation.  www.henry-moore.org

A lovely illustrated diary full of little drawings by Edward Bawden, one of the Bardfield artists, which I bought from the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden.  The diary can be for any year, you just add the month.  www.fryartgallery.org

A picture from my sketchbook that became my Christmas card this year and which I had printed through moo.com. 

All to the music of Leonard Cohen - perfect. 

All sitting on a beautiful old table cloth I bid for on eBay and which is too nice to cut up.

Happy Christmas 2014  

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Stand and Stare

A few weeks ago I was looking for an appropriate poem for a piece of work and was reminded of this one by William Henry Davies.


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Since finding this poem we have been on a flying visit to Cornwall to visit family, been ill with a bug, developed a food allergy (which food I still don’t know), done the Christmas shopping and written and posted all the Christmas cards and done a myriad of chores that needed sorting.  So today I thought I would do a bit of standing and staring and take a few pictures of what I have been stitching and drawing.

While in Cornwall I did a few more paintings in my sketchbook and took a few photograph of the landscape near where we were staying in St Just in Roseland which is a beautiful and very peaceful part of Cornwall.  We stayed in a lovely house called Pebbles where the living accommodation is upstairs because of the lovely view and the sleeping accommodation is downstairs.  I had also taken some fabrics and threads with me and took the opportunity to cover my sketchbook as you can see below.  

Since I have been home I have continued to work on the little landscape I started in November which definitely has a November feel to it.  It has been worked on "the edge" of a table cloth and you can see the little red laundry mark still on the corner.  I have been on eBay bidding for more old table clothes with a nice wide, double edge which is lovely to stitch on.  I like the idea of recycling and using old, damaged fabrics and giving them a new life.  This little landscape I think will be one of my Rolling Landscapes rather than a framed piece.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Colour and Light

After a busy time with the EAST exhibition in Harrogate last week, I decided I would take it relatively easy this week and on Wednesday went to see the film Mr. Turner, a biopic of the artist known as “the painter of light”.  I am so pleased that I found the time to go and see it, I felt totally absorbed and moved by the film that depicted Turner’s life and the times in which he lived and all its harshness and ugliness set between 1826 to 1851 when he died.  I know it might not be everybody’s cup of tea but I genuinely enjoyed it.  I saw a very good description by Nigel Andrews that put it in a nutshell “Artists don’t personify the ideal or dazzling worlds they envision. They are the workshop, not the work. So it’s right, in a biopic, that we see the mess of the creative life.”

The next day I went for another walk with my friends in the North Essex countryside and took this photograph of this beautiful tree in the fading November light - a lovely splash of colour on a grey day, although the sun did break through for a while.

I finished the week taking photographs of a few pages of my sketch book and the piece of work I am stitching at the moment.     

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Between the Lines Exhibition- EAST at the Knitting and Stitching Show 2014

October 2014 saw the launch of the latest EAST exhibition “Between the Lines”  (a response to the centenary of the start of the First World War) at the Knitting and Stitching Show which for us was a huge success.  We were given a 20 metre wall on which to display the exhibition in the West Corridor which was the first stand on entering the K&S Show which was an excellent position.  We started hanging the exhibits on Monday afternoon and continued this on Tuesday along with final adjustments, lighting, titles, words, brochures and postcards had been printed, etc. ready for the opening on Wednesday.   The K&S this year was open for five days instead of four as in the past and Thursday evening it stayed open until 7 o’clock.  We had a wonderful response from people, some very emotional, our visitor's book is full of lovely comments, suggestions and requests.

On Tuesday next week, 18th November, we set off for Harrogate for the second showing of the exhibition at the Knitting and Stitching Show.  After this the exhibition goes on to Braintree Museum and opens on 10th January, 2015, with a talk by EAST at the Museum on the afternoon of 21st January at 3 pm.  The exhibition finishes at Braintree Museum on 13th March, 2015, when it will be packed up ready for its journey to the next venue at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester when the exhibition will open on the 20th March -  phew - it will be a busy time.

Below are a few of the exhibits.

These vases were made by Anne Norton.

The exploding teapot and the bombs were made by Tricia North.

The bullet hole riddled cloth and the barbed wire were made by Margaret Talbot and June Carroll.

And my Remembrance Landscapes

Sunday, 26 October 2014

New Pot - Old Flowers

This week my thoughts have been on paper and coming up with an idea to fit with my work  for the "On the Edge" exhibition next year.   It was requested that one piece should be made from paper - before I joined Stitch Textile Artists they had a day making paper which had been very successful.  I have made paper many times in the past mainly for making bowls but I wanted this piece to relate to the work I have already done for the exhibition (if selected).  

I did several pieces of paper, some I pressed lace into, others I left plain, all had lovely natural edges.  When it came to the design I wanted to base it on landscape but I feel much better working a three dimensional piece rather than a flat piece.   Played around with several ideas, placing papers against each other, rolling paper, folding and pleating but nothing really hit the spot.   

On Thursday I went for a beautiful walk with my friends Lynne and Gill in Long Melford and after a wonderful day in the North Essex countryside and much encouragement, the next day when I picked up the papers again, things just fell into place.  Result below - three different views of the pot.

Thought the pot would fit nicely with my Alfred Wallis inspired pieces that I have been working on, this is the third piece in the series and my favourite so far.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Sheep are Back

Went for a walk back in September with friends Lynne and Gill - it was Gill’s turn to suggest a walk on a beautiful sunny day.  Whilst on the walk we crossed a bridge over a river into a field that had a sign that said something like - please keep dogs on leads as “the sheep are back”.  There was a gentle breeze and the pale grass was long and at first I couldn’t see the sheep but the lens on my camera soon detected them.  Also took a photograph of lovely broken old tree.

With these picture in my mind an idea came together for an embroidered frame - could be a mirror or picture frame - but also it could be a clock that would give the correct time just twice a day!!  The photograph has been printed onto fabric and collaged with painted organdie and calico, the tree has been appliqu├ęd and details picked out in embroidery.  The next stage is the construction stage and I am hoping to use part of a vintage, whitework tablecloth - damaged I hasten to add. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

On the Corner on the Edge

Last week I decided to get on with my second piece for the "On the Edge" exhibition planned for August 2015.  Felt after the TSG Summer School that I was happy with how this piece was going and so I set to and finished it - see below.  There is just enough fabric left for me to do one more piece "on the edge of a tablecloth"  which I have already started to lay out.  Feel it will be after I have completed the third piece that I will go back to the large piece I started at the TSG Summer School and decide whether to continue with it or not.

Also this week, after my visit to the Fry Gallery in Saffron Walden where I saw the work of artist Keith Vaughan, I thought I would let myself have a play with some scraps of fabric and put together the collage below.  I was really surprised at how effective it is - nothing as wonderful as KV's work, of course, but it is a start to looking at how he worked.  He probably wouldnt have used these colours either.  At this stage I haven't added any stitching.   KV liked Essex for its undramatic landscape, honing it down to the shapes he saw.  He lived and worked in Toppesfield, Essex, during the 1960's and 1970's taking his own life in about 1976 after being diagnosed with cancer.  Toppesfield is one of  my favourite villages - a very quiet place, on the way to nowhere, very rural.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Patterning the Land

At the end of July I spent a wonderful five days at the TSG (Textile Study Group) Summer School which, for the first time, was held at the Farncombe Estate in the Cotswolds.  And what a wonderful place - a 400 acre country estate - the rooms were definitely better than the student accommodation at Harper Adams and the food was excellent even if we had to walk down a steep hill to get it - we worked off the calories after every meal climbing back up the hill!!   (The accommodation and studio blocks were separate to the restaurant and bar block.)  The nearest town/village is Broadway and I realised I had been here before a few years ago when on my way back from Cornwall. 

The tutors for the three workshops were Sarah Burgess, Jan Evans and Qwen Hedley and all three workshops were based on landscape - my tutor was Qwen Hedley (standing in for Jenny Bullen).  Our first mission at the beginning of the workshop was to go outside and draw, very quickly, four images from the landscape which we would then turn into print blocks.  We then printed with these blocks on paper and fabrics using acrylic paints.  The fabric we had been asked to bring was cotton organdie which I had not really used before, I also printed on silk sari ribbon and calico. 

Day two started with more printing and I used the umbrella handle that I had used to print with on the Matt Harris workshop and some spot print blocks and the edge of a piece of card.   Also we were asked to create a rhythm using our prints.  At the beginning of the workshop we had also started a new A5 sketch book in which we could record results, make notes, etc.

Not sure I achieved a rhythm but I had brought with me the remains of an old tablecloth and I found myself collaging my bits of print along the edge.  I had not used this part of the tablecloth because it is heavily embroidered in places and Qwen very cleverly suggested that I should bring the embroidery on the tablecloth through to the printed fabrics that I had added.  This could end up being a rather large piece of work.  I think I will probably put this to one side when I get home and go back to it later - I find putting a little distance between me and the embroidery gives me a better or more balanced view of it.

This is a page from the sketch book and the above is a small part of the large piece.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Patterning the Land

On this coming Sunday I am setting off for the TSG summer school being held this year at Farncombe, Worcestershire - yet another treat - and I will be doing Gwen Hedley's workshop "Patterning the Land".  I am really looking forward to spending 4 days of having to think about nothing else but being creative and hopefully coming home with a few new ideas.

This last couple of weeks I have been working on a new "On the Edge" piece which as you will see is far from finished but I am really pleased with the dyed fabric that I have done.   

Also I had some left over paper from the torn paper landscape I did in June so thought I would have another go - I think the result is quite fun - I like the pile of folded towels in front of the house!

And lastly the fields around Rayne have changed colour from earlier in the year when they were bright yellow, now we have lavender coloured fields which I believe is borage.    

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Birthday Treat

On visiting Cornwall earlier in the year I went to the Porthminster Gallery in St. Ives and discovered the work of Anne Davies.  I love her landscape inspired pictures, the colour combinations and patterns so when the subject of my birthday came up I instantly knew what I desired.  On going onto Anne's website I saw that her work is also sold by Birchams Gallery in Holt, Norfolk, which is a bit closer than nipping down to Cornwall.  I telephoned and said I would like "Tangles", pictured below, and then had a lovely day out in Holt when we went to collect it.  

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

On The Edge

The STA (Stitch Textile Artists of which I am a new member) are putting together an exhibition for next year entitled "On The Edge" - my particular interpretation of this is "on the edge of an old table cloth".  I have been working on the subject of landscape for at least the last couple of years and I am inspired by the Cornish artist Alfred Wallis, in particular his landscapes - most people associate him with boat and harbour scenes.

Below is my first piece which is stitched on the remaining edge section of an old table cloth.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

All in the Roll of a Dice

As a new member of STA - Stitch Textile Artists - who meet at Ammerdown in Radstock - I had my first weekend meeting where we started with our weekend challenge.  The challenge was split into two exercises:

The first exercise

tear coloured/patterned papers and divide them into six numbered piles, then roll a dice to decide from which pile a piece of paper should be taken from the top and applied to a blank sheet of paper.  Repeat this as many times as you like, add doodles to make connections or pick out what you see, add further papers.  One of my results is below (I've had to split the picture into two) which I thought I might be able to develop.

The second exercise

collect at least 6 items (we collected items from the garden - I picked up rubbish, things like bits of broken plastic, part of an old tennis ball, a bit of hose, a piece of wire, a piece of sponge, a small plastic disc) and number each item.  Again roll the dice to decide which item you will draw an edge from or around and then repeat this until you have a interesting line.  I transferred my line onto fabric, cut along it, frayed it, rolled it, stitched some of the lines from the first exercise and came up with the result below that gives a starting point to develop and take on. 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Arrival of the Soldiers

I was very excited to receive my 4 hollow cast lead WW1 toy soldiers through the post yesterday.  I came across the first hollow cast toy soldier when I went to the Norwich Antique and Collectibles Fair on the cold Easter weekend in April and thought it would be perfect for the Memory Boxes.  With the letter, the item of sewing accoutrement and the toy soldier I felt it was just right so went onto eBay to see if I could find any more soldiers and to my delight I successfully bid for 4 more.  I liked that the soldiers were tarnished/had bits of paint missing.  Below I have laid out and photographed the three additional Memory Boxes.  The boxes I have made are covered with fabric I have printed using an old document. 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Between the Lines

This week I managed to finish the first of four Memory Boxes for the EAST exhibition “Between the Lines”, the first venue for which is at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in October 2014. 

The idea for the four Memory Boxes came about whilst researching the poet Edward Thomas and reading from his daughter’s autobiography, One of These Fine Days, the account of receiving the  news of his death.

“On that bright April day after Easter, when mother was sewing and I was awkwardly filling in the pricked dots on postcard with coloured wool, embroidering a wild duck to send to France, I saw the telegraph boy learn his red bicycle against the fence. Mother stood reading the message with a face of stone. "No answer" came like a croak, and the boy rode away.”
Edward Thomas enlisted in the Artists Rifles in 1915 and was killed by a shell in an advance on the German line at Arras in 1917.  Another book that I have started to read is “A Conscious Englishman“ by Margaret Keeping which is a novel about Edward and Helen Thomas, their relationship, his depression and his motivation for enlisting.
The Memory Boxes will each contain a letter home kept as a precious memory of a loved one who may not have returned inspired by the account by Myfanwy Thomas of when her mother received the news of her father’s death when they were sitting together sewing. 

After researching and working on the pieces for the exhibition it was really nice a few Saturdays past to go and see the stage version of War Horse and to see the backdrop created by Rae Smith.  I came across the sketches on the National Theatre website last year which gave me the idea for creating the Rolling Landscapes Novembering/Remembering.  The simple pencil sketches of a rural English landscape which gradually changes to a landscape of war - explosions, burnt and blackened trees and destruction projected onto the torn paper shaped backdrop was very effective and worked in harmony with the amazing puppets.

In addition to the Rolling Landscapes and the Memory Boxes I have also created two stitched fabric collages showing a stitched, blackened tree as a memorial to the fallen and the sketchy impression of poppies created by using the reverse of a block printed fabric.