Category Archives: embroidery

Wild flowers and strange times

It’s been a day of getting on with things – workshops to prepare and exhibition dates looming – but all with the threat of postponement or cancellation as the Corvid19 virus swirls around the globe.

I read a very lovely article by someone who has to stay home most of the time for health reasons, advisng on good practice for people new to self isolation or working from home. My big tip after a stressful weekend is to limit news and social media viewing – so I can get on with making rather than fretting! ( Bimblings by Josie George if you’re interested)

So today I have got all ready for a workshop with 60 children tomorrow (I know- right!) We’re going to be silk painting lovely, colourful scenes that the children have designed. So that’s 60 frames filled with silk, 30 pipettes filled with gutta, silk paints packed, palettes and fine brushes packed, samples made and some of my work packed because I’m also going to do a short presentation to the whole school about my work as an artist – they’re on a two week Arts focus – lovely to see!

This afternoon I’ve been hand stitching different elements of my next (Extended) Urban Efflorescence piece – this is one of the words I’m including

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and of course it took me right back to thinking about the crazy ongoing situation where people maybe aren’t thinking about sharing enough as they stockpile toilet paper and bread flour! Wouldn’t it be lovely if we came out of this crazy period as expert bakers! I like the idea of the nation spending their time in self isolation learning the magic of sour dough and plaited loaves! My street has set up a Whatsapp group so we can help each other out if necessary – I’m sure baking tips will soon be flying about but today’s chat was mainly about whether you cn buy a guillotine in Lidl and who in the street might be up for knitting by said guillotine! Needless to say – I’ve had to mute the conversation so I can get on with some work!

Here’s another word that seems relevant  – trying to be content with the shrinking focus of things, I have lots of books to read, sketchbooks to fill and threads to use so that will keep me content!

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We’ve had to postpone a pretty big event we’d planned for the weekend so we’re trying to remain content with the knowledge that it is just a postponement and not a cancellation – at least I’ve got more time to finish the bunting I’ve been making!

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The work I do in hospitals is being postponed too, understandably hospitals are trying to reduce footfall where possible. So, I’m going to post some project ideas on the Facebook page for the organisation I work for – why don’t you bob over and take a look? Its @RoomforYouArtsinHealth you never know, there might be something you’d like to share or have a go at making to keep you contented as we go through this strange time 🙂

 

Do Your Own Thing..

Tuesday was such a lovely day! My first public workshop of 2020 – held at the lovely Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead.

I started out early so I could squeeze in my regular Tuesday swim before the workshop and managed a kilometre even though I forgot my goggles 🥽- tried swimming with my eyes shut NOT a good idea when you’re swimming in lanes !

The workshop was designed to share methods to help develop unique and personal approaches to creating art – in textiles or other media. First, a talk about how looking at other artists work can help us to make progress with our own work. Then some practical drawing exercises.

Working with a lovely group,I talked about what is ‘Critical for Creativity’ using a methodology I learnt in my first teaching post  – last century!!  We explored how to follow up when a piece of art catches our attention, using a bit of detective work to find out more about artwork and artist – no stalking! I used an example from my own experience – talking about how my love of Vincent van Gogh’s work influenced the creation of  my piece ‘Shingle and Stars’

Shingle and Stars

Shingle and Stars, the influence of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Having talked through how to analyse an artwork – and spend longer than 15 seconds looking  at it! We went through to the gallery and everyone chose a piece of work that appealed to then to try the methodology themselves. I then talked a little more about how I continue to use this methodology and how it helps me to develop as an artist – stressing the importance of continuing to ‘feed’ ones creativity and imagination by learning from other artists. I shared the impact that more recent art ‘crushes’ have had on my own work such as Joan Eardley . The power and scale of her work has encouraged me to work bigger, and her use of collage encourages me in my choice of processes.

Then it was time to tackle drawing – now I know from my experience with students and workshop participants that those who stitch often say they can not draw! But I want to encourage drawing as a way of developing ideas, experimenting and… enjoying the process! So, I put together a series of tasks that would encourage the group to engage with their chosen subject matter and think about what exactly they needed to get from a drawing.

We started by working very quickly, with a range of media and NO Rubbers! When there is only a minute to draw, what do you focus on? The form, the texture? Mark making? Working on sketches for a minute or two can be surprising – it’s amazing how much information you can capture and, as you’ve only spent 60 seconds you don’t feel that pressure for it to be ‘good’ or look ‘right’. I encourage participants to make notes about the drawing experience as we go on …. what works, how it feels, what ideas pop into their heads whilst doing the drawing, the process of drawing can help to clarify the ideas of the artwork to come.

We finished the afternoon with a more extended piece – but drawing using collage – a process that really helps me in my applique and free motion embroidery work.

As with any workshop – I wouldn’t ask participants to do anything I haven’t done myself! So here is one of my 5 minute sketches – and the developing textile work. Once again, the magic of drawing has helped me extend the ideas I have for a piece of work and set me off down another creative pathway…lets see where this one leads to!

Weeds

A continuous line drawing – 5 minutes

 

Weeds

Weeds transferred to soluble film and ready to stitch

Weeds - stitched

Free motion embroidery and applique ready to wash off

I think that I will do several fragments in this way to add further layers to my Urban Efflorescence pieces. I only hope the participants got as much out of the workshop as I did!

I will be running more workshops this year, at the Shipley and independantly, please get in touch if you’d be interested in booking a workshop for your group – and head over to my workshop page for upcoming events!

 

 

Exhibition Season begins 

The last few days have been taken up with setting up and previewing the Fusion Textile Artists Network exhibition at Gallery45 in Felton. 

The first of almost monthly events I’m involved in this year, the Fusion show is called Connections.  Ten artists are exhibiting new textile artwork developed in response to that one word title. 

As with any exhibition, there are little hiccoughs…getting everyone and everything to the gallery on the right day and at the same time,  working out the hanging system, finding all the labels and stock sheets…if you’ve ever had to do it you’ll know what I mean! 


Unwrapping and sorting the work is always pleasing, seeing what my talented colleagues have created. Underneath the protective layers of cloth and bubble wrap lie examples of hand and machine stitch, beading, dyeing and more.

With only a few hours to get the job done, we clear the space and put the work out around the room. 


We try out groupings, thinking about how each work relates to the next and settle upon an order where more muted, tonal pieces gradually lead on to stronger colour palettes.

Then it’s time for the serious step work out – up and down the step ladders hanging and adjusting pieces, using the spirit level to check things are straight and grouping by ‘eye’. Up the ladder, adjust, down the ladder, step back and review…back up the ladder- no wonder my legs feel like they’ve climbed a mountain! 

I headed off to do school run duties and print out the labels on card, leaving the others to do final tweaks. I think, we were all pretty pleased with the end result.


The opening event was on Saturday, we got there early to put up the labels and sort out last minute bits and pieces. Then it was time to celebrate with tea and cake 😊. It was lovely to meet and greet people and share the ideas behind the work. 

The exhibition shows great variety, demonstrating the versatility of textile media. Fabric, thread and mixed media are used to create abstract, representational, 2D and 3D pieces. 


So, that’s the first show of the season up – now I’m back on to preparing for the trade fair at the start of next month. 

‘Connections’ is on until the 5th May. If you get to see it please leave a comment in the visitors book- we look forward to reading your views! 

Grand Designs Workshop

One of the great things about being a textile artist is being able to share my passion for creativity with others, I offer a range of workshops and talks that can be tailored to meet the needs of all ages and abilities.

I’ve just spent a lovely couple of days in North Yorkshire.  The fabulous Snape Textile Group invited me down to teach my workshop on making 3D beach huts and garden sheds.

 

The village itself is gorgeous  – reached via an avenue of lime trees with a carpet of snowdrops and aconites.The village hall, right in the centre of the village, was a perfect venue.

Lots of room to spread out and the newly refurbished kitchen meant hot food and plenty of cuppas were available – big thanks to Mary and Sarah! Having lunch together was a great way to find out more about the group’s interests – even if it did go a bit off topic sometimes (murder and mayhem with your apple sponge anyone!!)

So working with a group of 12 each day we got cracking on converting old tin cans into ‘des res’ on a miniature scale.

The main elements of these pieces are the building (obviously!) the side panel that wraps around the tin and the ‘ground’ that the building sits on. its important to have a good plan of what the finished piece will look like , so that each of the elements will harmonise and make a complimentary whole. Other than that, its up to the maker as to what the finished item will look like – a beach retreat? a gardener’s hide away? There’s lots of fun to be had working out how to make miniature features to perfect the scene – this time I shared top tips for making bunting…and cabbages!

It was lovely to see everyone get stuck in and really engage with the project. I’d sent down a materials list prior to the workshop and I always bring a lot of supplies to help people along, so the hall was soon a colourful hub full of beads, threads, fabrics and tins! (Frist job; check that the templates fit around your chosen tin – if not – adapt them!)

It is easiest to customise the building before it is constructed, so people added doors and windows, embroidered flowers and made bunting. Similarly, the roof can be one piece of fabric, or can be layered with tiles and finished with rick rack or ribbon. Decisions, decisions!!

 

The side panel wraps around the tin lets you ‘set the scene’ of the building, this weekend we had pebbles, flower gardens, fish and boats decorating the surfaces.

After a full day of stitching and constructing we had some very nearly complete Grand Designs, the plan is that the group will get their pieces completed for their annual show at the end of August…I can’t wait to see the final results!

 

Pondering whilst hand stitching. 

With each piece I get so far with machine stitching and then discern the need for the marks that only hand stitch can make. 

I guess it’s the first indication that a piece is nearly complete. 


The act of hand stitching slows things down and gives me time to ponder on the piece in hand; what does it need to resolve it? It’s like adding the final seasoning in cooking!

I also find my thoughts move onto what’s next – a new piece on the same theme, a change of idea, a return to sketchbook observation. So, whilst I used to find hand stitching frustratingly slow, I’m growing to appreciate the pause and reflection it encourages (just don’t tell anyone😉)


Those Cheviot Hills – 2017 

Connecting with Landscape

2017 has rolled in with strange weather. One day freezing, the next double digit temperatures. Winter weather alternating with, what feel like, cool English Summer days. Goodness knows how nature will cope with these crazy days. 


It has given me chance to get out walking in the hills and at the coast, feeling a connection with the landscape. The more society disappoints me the greater the appeal of land and sea. 


A sense of space, peace. A feeling that nature will still be there; serene, powerful, beautiful, long, long after this political posturing that makes me so distraught . I walk in the landscape; amongst the hills, by the sea, seeking affinity, looking for signs of continuity, harmony. Walking thinking, looking and recording. What makes it beautiful, what will endure? 

New work emerges in sketchbook and sample form, getting more deeply engrossed in the detail of landscape, connecting colour, texture and form to understand, better, the nature of a place. 


Working with blue; weathered and worn, like flaky paint on coastal huts, layered like sky loaded with clouds bearing weather in many guises, textured like waves, building and crashing, thrusting spray and foam across rocks and shoreline.


Trying to capture the essence in colour and stitch. A new focus and challenge for new challenging times. 

Great North Art Show

Tomorrow is delivery day for the Great North Art Show!! So my bank holiday is being spent adding mirror plates and searching for bubble wrap!

I’m taking five pieces to the show – but I think one of them is still in Edinburgh so there may have to be a last minute substitution….

I’m hoping  to take Glimpses of Summer

Glimpses of Summer

Sometimes the sun breaks through the clouds.

Arran Breeze

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Stonechat Lands

Stonechat cropped square

(I’ve just had this one re-framed and added in some sneaky extra details! Can you spot the difference?

There’ll be some more images soon of the show itself, I’m so looking forward to it!