Thursday, 20 March 2014

Nothing is so beautiful as spring –

Thought I would start with a picture of another vase of lovely flowers – these I made last year and were sold in Cirencester, so perhaps they are gracing someone else’s windowsill.   

Last week with the improvement in the weather and light I have been dyeing lot of fabric to replenish my stock - I always like to dye my own fabrics for my work and I particularly like using calico, mostly medium or lightweight, or old textiles such as table clothes. I use Procion dyes and Manutex, a thickener (starts off as a powder – a bit like wallpaper paste) which can be used as a resist or dye can be added so that you have more control over the dye (the Manutex should be made up using the chemical water you normally use for dyeing (urea and soda ash) if you are going to add dye to it). I mainly like to use the Manutex as a resist so that you have areas of white or lighter areas in the dyed fabric, perhaps they are areas in a landscape which reflect light or is it a flock of birds in a field or perhaps sheep.

This is a photograph I took last year whilst walking along the seafront, looking inland, from Frinton to Clacton.  I like the little flecks of white and yellow and the diffferent shades of green and the lovely large circles in the harvested field - good images to inspire me when dyeing fabrics.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Chelmsford Young Embroiderers

Last weekend I ran my last workshop for Chelmsford Young Embroiderers which is part of Chelmsford Embroiderers’ Guild.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wish all its members and helpers and the new Leader, Liz Nicholls, all the best for the future.  The project that I finished on was to embroider a burger, bun and salad and then to make it up into a purse.  The Embroiderers Guild Regional competition later this year is to make an accessory and this could just be the thing!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Art and Life

Just over a week ago I went to the exhibition "Art and Life 1920 - 1931" at the gallery at Kettles Yard in Cambridge.  I had been looking forward to this exhibition very much and I was not disappointed.  The exhibition "examines the artistic partnership of Ben Nicholson and Winifred Nicholson in the 1920s and their friendship and collaboration with Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis and the potter William Staite Murray".
Kettles Yard gallery is quite a small exhibition space but well worth visiting and not too exhausting to get round (in comparison to say the Paul Klee exhibition at Tate Modern which was fabulous but with 17 rooms you needed stamina).  Having visited Cornwall many times I am familiar with the work of Ben and Winifred Nicholson and Alfred Wallis but less familiar with the work of Christopher Wood or William Staite Murray (the gallery at Kettles Yard had an exhibition last year on the work of Christopher Wood).  It is the naive style of these paintings that I particularly enjoy and that I look to for inspiration.  The exhibition shows how Alfred Wallis' (an untrained artist) style of painting influenced Ben and Winifred Nicholson at this time.  Often Ben and Winifred painted the same landscape and in one example shown in the exhibition there are three paintings of the same view - Northrigg Hill in Cumberland - two by the Nicholsons and one by Christopher Wood.  Of the three I think I prefer Christopher Wood's warmer colours or Winifred's softer shades to the cooler colours of Ben Nicholson's version.  Later Ben Nicholson's work becomes more abstract which I am less keen on (his marriage to Winifred ends and in 1938 he marries the sculptor Barbara Hepworth).  That is not to say I do not like any of his paintings, my favourite in this exhibition is “Plate, Cup and Jug” which can be found in the Kettles Yard database .
If you go to the bottom of the page of the Kettles Yard website you will find a collections database, select the artist whose work you would like to see and you will find some of the work by these artists.  Some of the paintings in the exhibition are from private collections so you won't find these on the database.  What I found particularly exciting is that the database holds a very large number of paintings by Alfred Wallis and, although he is known largely for his boat and harbour paintings, I really like his tree and landscape pictures which you don't see very often.
Whilst visiting Kettles Yard I purchased the book produced to accompany the "Art and Life" exhibition which I thought very thorough and good value at just under £20.  The exhibition is on until 11th May, 2014 and admission is free.
The picture below shows a collage of fabrics and papers and which also includes an Alfred Wallis house that I have cut from a postcard.  The collage represents snippets of letters/conversations exchanged between friends.  The Alfred Wallis postcard I have used I have purchased many times, the original picture White Houses - Hales Down near St. Ives is in this exhibition and is also on the database.