Monthly Archives: October 2017

Reading list

I am an avid reader, I love getting lost in a good book- whether it be a novel or factual. Books can influence how my art develops, giving an insight to a theme or suggesting new locations for sketchbook work. I love it when different strands of life give me new reading pathways to explore.

Urban Efflorescence- my new series inspired by wild flowers in the city (see Etsy ) has set me on a trail of reading and research into nature in urban environments.

It seemed prescient that my weekend paper recently had an article about this, giving me a booklist to work through and, as always one book leads to another…

I want to include some collage elements in smaller sample pieces, so this lovely old wildflower reference book will be put to good use. An eBay bargain, I love the illustrations and information. It is hard sometimes to identify the plants I discovered on the cycle path from the black and white images but once I have put names to blooms I will endeavour to include the appropriate pages in the textile pieces.

Esther Woolfson’s book ‘Field notes from a hidden city’ looks into the nature and wildlife of Aberdeen.

She records nature and wildlife activity around Aberdeen over the course of a year, writing about how nature adapts to survive in the city environment. Plants and animals, birds and insects use hidden corners of the city as their habitats. I want to find and record these spaces in my city; to celebrate this ingenuity.

Melissa Harrison writes novels that explore contemporary issues; where the natural world becomes another character in the story impacting on the behaviour of the people.

In ‘Clay’ the natural spaces provide hope and respite. In ‘At Hawthorn Time’ the natural world endured where human life expires.

Next on my list is Alys Fowler’s book ‘Hidden Nature- A voyage of discovery’ although the book seems to have hidden itself in the library as although listed as in stock it can’t be traced! So before I read about Birmingham’s secret nature I’ll be following Simon Armitage’s trail along the South West Coast Path in ‘Walking Away’.

This seemingly endless list of nature books is guiding my research and convincing me that this is a valid theme to investigate. That it’s not just me seeing the value of these urban spaces where nature thrives. So when I have completed my current commission I will be hunting for the wild spaces in my city, starting with that cycle path.

From small beginnings….

Being part of a textile network is so important for me. As part of Fusion, I get to exhibit, talk textiles and take part in workshops. All of this gives me motivation to keep creating and try new ideas.

This weekend has been spent in the company of my Fusionista pals being tutored by the wonderful Alison King

The aim of the workshop was to develop ideas from studying and drawing small natural forms. I took a basket full of inspiration but chose to work with a tiny fragment of seaweed that has been on the shelf in my workroom for some time. I like the tonal contrast, the curving form and the link to my beloved coast.

Our first task was to draw a detailed section of our chosen object

The biro really captured the rhythm and strong tonal contrast in the seaweed. Working small and detailed isn’t my usual style but it was good to have the opportunity to focus on drawing- I always aim to draw regularly but work, family life and deadlines interfere!

This was the drawing that inspired all the work from the weekend. We progressed to working with ink and sticks – I love working this way – the marks are so bold -and there’s that element of risk brought about by using something quite inflexible.

Alison wanted each participant to follow their own route from the initial start point- so I ended up outside with a 6 ft length of paper and my paint brush lashed to a stick !

It was a bit breezy but luckily not raining. It felt very free to work in this way in this scale. It was good to be reminded that I relish working on a large scale.

My next task was to try and convey these expressive marks in fabric and stitch.

After an intensive, immersive weekend I have a full sketchbook and lots of ideas bubbling in my mind….large scale pieces to follow.