Monday, 27 July 2015

New look.....

Finally found the time to put one of my embroidery designs up as wallpaper for the blog. So much better than the default version. Will now have to see if I can do these things from the I Pad rather than the clunky PC!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Through our Hands - "The Liberated Quilt" Pt. 2

This is a purely personal response to the works exhibited and my perceptions of the practice of the artists. As with most things, no two people perceive the same work, landscape, architecture or artefact in quite the same way. With textiles I find my responses tinged and coloured by my own practice and the impact that colour in particular have on me.

My response to Sandra Meech's "Level Flood 1 & 2" is very influenced by my knowledge of the Somerset Levels through visits and by the huge media attention that the recent floods received. I felt very moved my the images and even produced a piece of work myself on this theme. 
I love the spare quality of the above pair, this place can be bleak and elemental when the weather is poor and I feel that Sandra Meech's work captures this so well.

Sue Benner's " Mesh 1" is visually grabbing. Strong abstract imagery strikes one from a distance and draws one in. At first glance I was struck by the feeling that I was transported inside the downtown of a major city, surrounded by skyscrapers reflecting the light and the surrounding buildings so strong were the vertical lines and the grid of windows. Only on reading her blurb did I understand my mistake.
This work draws one in, having been grabbed from afar you see more and more as you get closer to the work and perceive the different surfaces of each element, the raw edges of the silk and finally the wavy stitched mesh of the quilting. I could happily live with this and find a new element to concentrate on each day!

Deirdre Adams "Tracings 4" has the opposite impact to me. From the other side of the gallery I could have passed this piece by, but at close quarters the textile artist in me was completely fascinated by the close up detail and pondering the construction and materials that made this piece.
Just look at these detail edits.

They force one to examine the tiniest details and ask a range of questions. When was the colour applied; how many layers of colour are overlaid; has color been removed; was it acrylic wax that produced this effect? It's the technician in me which is responding to this work and I spent a disproportionate amount of time in front of this piece!
There are things to say about all the work shown but these are may strongest responses and the elements which will live with me for the longest time.
It is very refreshing to see an exhibition curated with such attention to the variety of talent and approach of modern stitched textile artists. I must applaud Annabel Rainbow's skill at doing this and her humour which is reflected in her piece "Murder" which for some reason escaped my camera!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Through Our Hands - The Liberated Quilt

I finally made it to Bilston to see this exhibition! From all that I had heard, it seemed that this would be an interesting and thought provoking show. I was not disappointed!
I must praise the Bilston Craft Gallery, the gallery space is stunning with oodles of natural light, a high ceiling and plenty of places to perch to enjoy studying the pieces. Also impressive in the present financial climate was the availability of a free show guide. I hope they had really strong footfall for this important textile collection.

Fabric and thread has so much potential, and the breadth of approaches here really made you think, from almost ethereal hangings to challenging nails each piece deserved consideration. Twenty four artist's work was hung.

I am interested in the different way in which I seem to approach textile art from other genres. I suspect that my largely absent art education leaves me without a vocabulary or a knowledge base to discuss the artist's processes whereas faced with textiles I am able to understand a great deal more about the process. Hence three stages in my viewing: 
*take in the piece as a whole; what is saying; how do I feel about it. 
*Colour and texture - materials, shape and balance. Why does this work.
*How has the artist created this piece and what does this teach me about how I might work.
I am fascinated by the use of materials and the choices the artist makes.

I do so hope that the audience for this show was not entirely confined to those already committed to seeing textiles as art on the same footing as painting and sculpture.  It surely deserved to move the debate a long was forward.

In my next post I'll talk about some of the pieces I was fascinated by.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Working in Series - article for CQ Magazine

For years my work has developed along a number of paths reflecting the exploration of more and more techniques, so each new piece has taken me off in a slightly different direction. For a long while I was happy with this, but I now realise its limitations but have lacked the techniques and confidence to develop a sustained collection of work. If I didn't veer off at a tangent each time I was offered a new bag of tricks, what would the alternative be?
Initially Bren Boardman's tutorship got me to develop pieces related to images I brought back from Jordan but I relapsed back into old ways.  The real change happened as a result of pure serendipity, I signed up for a short  course at the Portsmouth AGM where I spent an eye opening day with Christine Restall who awoke in me an understanding of how to begin to create abstract images which came from a concrete starting point and a three day masterclass with Sandra Meech where I was encouraged to see how a small collection of images could be translated into several linked pieces of work. 
I started small. My 2014 JQs were abstractions of three photographs. At the end of each four month period I had a mini series of four pieces each based on one photograph. They were the first tentative steps in working in series. It was liberating and edgy, some were more effective than others but I felt I had begun to grasp the essentials.  I looked through the recent quilts that I had felt happy with and tried to analyse why they seemed to work. I realised that they all involved a significant amount of hand stitch and surface texture, that without this they were not "my work". In addition to abstraction another element of my voice was in place.

Casares abstractions 

Casares Inspiration 

I'm using my 2015 JQs to continue to try and work in series, by this time taking a theme - The Fenlands - and creating a piece related to the theme each month. Again I have divided the year into three segments, the first containing pieces related to the landscape as a whole, the second detailed views of different aspects of Fenland and the last group being abstractions of Fenland images. 
Both these ventures were made less daunting because of the the small size of the pieces. Now I have to find a way to scale up so that I can begin to create a series of larger pieces. It's the abstraction that has captivated me!
I think I have found a style of quilt that I really like constructing and which has the capacity to be used in a number of ways. I went to A3 size first, again small enough to bin if all went awry and I'm really happy that the methodology created pieces that are recognisably related but sufficiently different not be clones. Can I scale it up again? I'm using the "Elements" challenge to try this out. It's larger than the earlier pieces and not quite a big quilt. Taking this step by step, trying to learn as I go along and develop a style that is repeatable and which also becomes " my voice". 
Having a forum in which to get feedback and critique is invaluable and I'm so grateful to the CQ Weedon Bec group, "Threaded Together"and "Layered"  for giving me fora in which this creative journey can flourish. I hope through these talented and knowledgeable women many of my yet unanswered questions and dilemmas will be discussed, chewed over and resolutions proposed and attempted.
I know none of the above is rocket science, I'm sharing it here because I suspect that there may be a few creative stitchery who, like me ,are developing their voice and their ability to produce a series of connected pieces who might be interested. It's also a way of thanking Christine Restall and Sandra Meech for sharing their practice and encouraging the development of others, without whom I would not be in the good place I feel I have reached. The road ahead is still a long one but I'm confident now, that I can sustain the journey.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Travelling Books (again)

I have been working on a quilt for the Contemporary Quilt Group Challenge - Elements, and it has been very focused on the use of hand stitch embellishments.
I must have made three or four sample pieces before I was happy with the combination of fabrics, threads and stitches. In addition to my working samples we had to submit a 20cm handling sample to showcase the quilt, this, along with photographs would be used to Jury quilts into the show at Festival of Quilts this year.
Once the quilt was complete and dispatched, I was wondering what to with my samples when I remembered my Travelling Book for July. I have tidied up one of the samples and it is now ready to be mounted into the book.

My handling sample for the "Fire and Ice" quilt is shown below.

"All washed up" pt 2

I have been really engaged with the stitch work this last week. I think I have the makings of two pieces of work from my whah up cloths.
The random, sponge wipe, cloth will form a background quilt on which I can place a strp pieced quilt.

The remaining purple cloth is forming a background quilt for the gelli plate wipings, stamp clean up samples.

I have created a tiny strip pieced section which I have inserted into the purple and then quilted the whole piece which I'm really pleased with given the randomness of its inception!
My floating quilt is strip pieced and quilted, hand stitch embellishments are still to be added.

Sadly all the quilting doesn't show up in this photo!
I've got some finishing up to do before Festival of Quilts so completing these may be delayed a little.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

"All washed up"

I came away from a couple of days "playing" with block printing and gelli pad experimenting with a number of cloths created from cleaning up sponges, blocks, plates and pads, collected together in plastic bags and a piece of well creased cotton on which I had gently wiped my sponges to remove the excess dye.
Now what?
They were ,of course , all colour related and along with some trial prints, blended together beautifully and I thought, "try and make a quilt!"
These were my raw materials.

It's going to be a quilt on a quilt and my first piece if stitching was to tear strips off some of the cloths and join them, by stitch and flip onto a backing and wadding.

Now I have to construct the layer this will sit on.
More of that later!