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.

Friday, 16 May 2014

The House at Kettle's Yard

Yesterday I went back to Kettle's Yard Gallery in Cambridge and, although there wasn't an exhibition on, the house, which sits alongside the gallery and was the former home of Jim and Helen Ede between 1958 and 1973, was open after being closed for refurbishment.  Jim Ede studied art and became a painter but gave up painting when he was appointed curator at the Tate Gallery in the 1920-30s.  The Ede's moved to Cambridge in 1956 and renovated four derelict cottages to create Kettle's Yard which, besides being their home, also houses their collection of artworks, furnishings and natural objects.  The vision was that the house would become a place in which art could be enjoyed as part of everyday life - and oh what a lovely vision - you are surrounded by art from paintings to simple domestic objects, sculpture, books, wonderful furniture and fittings, stones and shells - everything perfectly placed.  One visit is certainly not enough to take in everything from the beautifully distressed light fittings to the piece of wood riddled with holes propped up by the window downstairs which on enquiry turned out to be an old broom head - fabulous.

Photography is allowed and also you are allowed to sit in any of the chairs (which are an eclectic mix of wonderful shapes) - some of the art is displayed in quite low positions so sitting down allows you to get a better view of some items and to just enjoy the atmosphere of the house.  

The house is full of character and natural and domestic objects sit perfectly displayed alongside paintings and sculpture, together with the light, space and simplicity it is a lovely place to visit.  

Of course, one of the reasons I love going to Kettle's Yard is to see the paintings by Alfred Wallis and to my delight there were some of his paintings in the library extension.  I particularly like his landscapes and his trees rather than his boat and harbour paintings for which he is mostly known - it was really good to actually see the original paintings. 

Before this visit I had prepared a new note book cum ideas/photo/sketch book and had decorated the cover using a postcard of a painting by Alfred Wallis, together with papers and fabrics (pictured below).  First of all I removed about a quarter of the hard book cover from the front of the book so that the pages behind will be revealed/become part of the cover.  Then using my sewing machine (without thread) I stitch round each of the little houses with the needle to create perforations so that they could be removed without using scissors.  I then assemble and stitch and apply my collage of fabrics, papers, etc. to the hard book cover.  On the pages behind the cover I have applied part of an old, original, mortgage document (dated around 1800) and behind that is a copy of a print I designed and printed when EAST hired the print room at Gainsborough House in Sudbury.  

                                                                                   My book cover

                                            My print which I did at Gainsborough House in Sudbury

                                                                 The original plate that I prepared

I have also started yet another rolling landscape inspired by Alfred Wallis trees (see below) and after today my mind is, once again, buzzing with ideas - so much to do, so little time.

                            The start of my new Rolling Landscape based on the trees of Alfred Wallis.