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.


  1. That sounds fascinating, a really interesting process. I look forward to hearing more when we meet up xx

  2. Sounds brilliant. Having recently returned from moor hall, doing a Ruth issett workshop, I know the venue is great and I'm a big fan of Matthew Harris

    1. Hi Pat, Thanks for your comment - yes it was an all round wonderful experience, location, tutor and a lovely atmosphere.