It has been a few weeks since I have updated my blog but since Yorkshire I have had a wonderfully creative time starting with a weekend with EAST at the Zinc Factory in Chipping Ongar, visiting the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition at the Tate Modern (and watched the BBC Imagine programme about her which was on the day after), visited the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham, had a creative day with the Billericay Girls, made progress on my altered book about Emily Dickinson, visited Anglesey Abbey and visited Gallery in the Garden where I purchased a picture. All very exciting.
The creative weekend with the members of EAST at the Zinc Factory in Chipping Ongar, which we hired from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, was I thought, very successful. The facilities are excellent, staff very helpful and we had plenty of space, plus we had decided to invite Diana Bates to get us inspired and send us off in a different direction. In all there were fifteen of us, we each had our own en suite bedrooms and we decided that as the room allocated to us for dining was so big we would have the whole workshop and food all in the one room. We had the use of a small kitchen, photocopying facilities and all our meals provided - so no cooking, no interruptions - the mobile phone signal was very poor - which was also good - just experiment, create, eat, sleep and shower.
We started the Friday evening really with some loosening up exercises to get us relaxed and detach our minds from issues at home which is a really good idea. We did two exercises drawing circles and straight lines, cutting out shapes, bringing in colour and construction. It really didn't matter what you did but it was interesting afterwards looking at the different approaches to the exercises. All of this we put to one side the following day as we started to look at our source material and blow up, isolate, draw, cut and layer.
The two experimental pieces that resulted for me are still landscape based but are free standing, 3 dimensional, although it is difficult to see this on the photographs. They are constructed in paper at this stage - they will obviously evolve further as I solve the technical and material issues. My starting point was some photographs I had taken at Anglesey Abbey in early spring while the trees were still bare, some photographs I had taken a year or two ago in Cornwall and a painting by Paul Nash titled Wood on the Downs 1929.
I started by blowing up one of my photos to A4 size and cutting it into random shapes. Then I tore lots of strips of different papers, some heavy, some fine, from magazines, sketchbooks, etc. adding colour and piling up these strips and sewing them together. I repeated this several times and started to place them together.
I then traced some shapes from my photographs, tore round them, removed some, overlaid others and gradually I could see a landscape emerge.
I had a longer piece of paper at the bottom of the papers and wanting to get it out of the way, so I folded it into a triangle and then I realised the piece could stand on its own.
The next day I decided to cut out a small wood in tracing paper - I love the transparency as if they are ghost trees that have been cut down and reminding me of what was once there. I repeated the tearing, layering and stitching of papers and this time, Lorna who was sitting opposite me, offered me some of her beautiful Japanese papers some of which have little bits of gold foil in them.
I am always amazed when something like this evolves, it was so unexpected and I think they have great potential.
It was amazing how the time flew by and how tired we all were - most of us worked to about 8 or 9 o'clock. Some were very good and went for an early morning walk before we started work, although I have to say the Zinc Factory is near a busy roundabout so there isn't any nice park or bridleway to walk along. The workshop finished at 4 o'clock on the Sunday afternoon before which we had a group crit. - the results were wonderfully varied as were the subjects.
Since returning home I have been determined to get on with my latest landscape I had been working on before the Zinc weekend. What is nice is that I took a photograph of the piece quite early on when I had selected the fabrics and started placing and layering the fabrics.
Gradually it has evolved and I think the final stitch has been added.
Finally, before I did the summer school in Yorkshire I prepared yet another landscape this time inspired by a painting by the Scottish artist Samuel John Peploe which had appeared in the Daily Telegraph and my friend Rene had sent me the cutting. Samuel John Peploe R.S.A. lived from 1871 to 1935 and the particular painting was of Iona Abbey. This time all the fabrics I selected were habotai silk and again I had dyed these fabrics in shades of blue and yellow. I could see a small inlet or bay right to the left of the piece and could see that perhaps there were a few cottages or a coastal village, the scene moves inland the further to the right it goes. Again I have collaged and layered pieces of fabric which could be quite long in size to small little scraps.