Monday, 28 April 2014

From Parts to a Whole

I have just returned today from a workshop with textile artist Matthew Harris, someone who I first discovered when visiting The Devon Guild of Craftsmen at the gallery in Bovey Tracy, Riverside Mill, Devon, mentioned in my previous post.  It was one of those occasions when we (my husband and I) were on our way to Cornwall and we stopped at the gallery for a break in the drive down and on seeing Matthew's work I was so pleased we had decided to stop.  I cannot remember the precise name of the collection of work he was showing at that time but I very much liked the abstract marks, colour and texture of his work and his minimal use of stitch (his website address is - Matthew is based in Stroud, Gloucestershire).  I always kept a look out for his work and any articles about him over the years so you can imagine my delight when I saw that he was giving a 2 day workshop at Bobby Britnell's Moor Hall studio in Shropshire and that I managed to book a place.  Apparently there was a long waiting list so I think I must have spotted the workshop quite soon after it went up on Bobby's website -

I enjoyed the workshop so much - I always approach a workshop with an open mind and that it may or may not work for me but to just enjoy the experience and invariably something goes "click".  I feel you have to relate the workshop very loosely to the subject you are working on at the time so that you then don't just go home and put it all away.  I feel I have come home with so much and my mind is buzzing with ideas on how I can take these ideas forward.

The basic idea of the workshop was to explore ways in which to stimulate new ideas through drawing and the process of making by working within the parameters of a set of rules that constrain and limit choices - "The use of chance operations facilitates a by-passing of overly conscious, aesthetic decision making ...".  Working through a short list of exercises any decisions that needed to be made were governed by the throwing of dice.

The Bring List was actually quite brief, the main consideration being to bring an item or items to take apart.  The item needed to have a mixture of hard and soft elements and I don't know why but the item that popped into my mind was an umbrella, although thinking about it most of its parts are hard.  I thought it would be nice to find an old umbrella and by luck I found a very distressed one at an Antiques and Collectibles fair in Norwich a couple of weeks ago.  So very briefly after taking our item apart into as many pieces as possible and studying the qualities of each part, we then had to number each item and then the dice throwing commenced!!

Below are a few photographs of some of the results of the exercises I worked through.

While in Shropshire I booked B&B at New House Farm in Clun - - a short drive away from Moor Hall and which is run by Miriam Ellison where it was lovely to return to after a tiring day to turn myself back into a "silk purse".  The B&B is situated in an idyllic spot and in itself fed the imagination.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sheep On Clifftop

As mentioned in my previous post, I went to Norfolk to the Pinkfoot Gallery in Cley to pick up Sheep on Clifftop, a stoneware piece that stands about 35 cm high, by Blandine Anderson - picture below.  I really like the unusual shape and the sheep crowded together on the cliff top.   

Looking at Blandine's profile I see she is from North Devon and is a member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen which is based in a lovely gallery in Bovey Tracy and which I have visited many times.  I often go to Cornwall and I can't pass through Devon without a visit to the gallery at Bovey Tracy which is in a former watermill at the bottom of the town.  They also have a Terrace Cafe which makes two good reasons to stop.  I see there current exhibition is called "Beyond Books" - ten artists using books as their medium, the special qualities of the book explored through a variety of formats from photographs to sculpture, installations and jewellery.  It is on until 8th June 2014.  

I also had another trip to Norfolk on Good Friday to the Antiques and Collectables Fair at the Norfolk showground.  I didn't really go for anything in particular and it was perishingly cold so spent most of the day inside but was very pleased to find a leather scissor and thimble case, some old French pins, a shoe pin cushion and a little cast metal figure of a First World War soldier - the little collection is pictured below.  I have recently been working on textile pieces for the EAST exhibition called "Between the Lines", one of which is a Memory Box.  I have still to make the box but have made the contents which will be textile envelopes which represent letters that may have been the last contact with a loved one.  I thought this collection of sewing accoutrements and the little metal figure of the soldier would be perfect for this Memory Box.

I have also continued to stitch my latest Rolling Landscape and now have to dye the backing fabric.   This picture shows a trodden path through the field.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

So Much Inspiration

Thought I would take this opportunity to update my blog after my minor accident at the weekend when my head met pavement while walking in Frinton!   I sat quietly stitching yesterday - hands and brain still working if the mouth and hearing a bit restricted and neck a bit crunchy.  I have been stitching trees as you can see below.

                                                     The leaves are just starting to open on the trees.

I can't believe it is nearly a month since I did the Rolling Landscape Workshop for a group of textile enthusiasts from Dover called the Material Girls.  The group booked the Churchill Hotel for a 2-3 day workshop in mid-March and booked the sunny weather as well.  Below are a few photographs of some of the results which were all beautiful and reflected the personalities of the makers.

                                                 I thought it a lovely idea to incorporate dried flowers.

                                                   Loved the little house and the colour combination.

                                                               House on a slope with grey tree.

                                                                      Strong dramatic colours.

                                                 A field system all tacked down and ready for sewing!!

                                                                             Stormy hillside

Since then I have had a trip to Cornwall and a trip to Norfolk, both of which were very inspiring and refreshing.  Although the weather was very wet in Cornwall this didn't prevent me from visiting the galleries in St. Ives, particularly the Porthminster Gallery which had exhibitions on "Quay and Coast" and "The Language of Sculpture".  My three favourite artists exhibiting there were Tony Scrivener, Anne Davies and Craig Underhill - all three can be found on the internet.

I love anything that has little houses in and Anne Davies paintings are so stitchy, they capture St. Ives perfectly with its narrow streets - I really like the delicate colour combinations as well.  Her paintings very much remind me of the quayside pictures by Alfred Wallis.

Tony Scrivener, the Dorset based artist, not the London based artist, has a very good YouTube video - - I think I will look at this many time to listen to his words of wisdom. 

And Craig Underhill is a ceramicist from Scotland who also has a very good website with a couple of little videos on it - I love his shapes and his minimalist marks evoking a landscape.

I also visited the Gallery at Trelowarren and discovered another ceramicist - Paul Jackson - particularly like his Waveform pots - and see that he is exhibiting at Art Unequalled and Ceramics at the The Athenaeum in Bury St. Edmunds from 3rd to 5th May, 2014 and also at Art in Clay at Hatfield House from 4th to 6th July, 2014 - I must get along to at least one of these.

However, whilst in Norfolk we visited the Pinkfoot Gallery in Cley and this is where I finally succumbed to a small stoneware sculpture by Blandine Anderson called Sheep on a Clifftop. Hoping to collect this on Thursday if my head is feeling better by then.  Thought this would sit very prettily by one of my Rolling Landscapes!  I will post a picture of it next week in my next blog.