Category Archives: embroidery

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 ­čśŐ. 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. ┬áThe fabulous Snape Textile Group invited me down to teach my workshop on making 3D beach huts and garden sheds.

 

The village itself is gorgeous ┬á– 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┬áof 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┬ácomplete┬áGrand 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 anyone­čśë)


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 ┬áto take Glimpses of┬áSummer

Glimpses of Summer

Sometimes the sun breaks through the clouds.

Arran Breeze

P1020133

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!

 

 

Summer Time and the stitching is…

The stitching is mostly being fitted around the daughters on school holiday ­čÖé

We all went to the Last Shift Banner picnic on Saturday afternoon. It was great to see the school banner on display with its bigger brothers and sisters from local collieries!

The picnic was in full swing when we got there, with brass band, folk singing, rapper dancing and shuggy boats. A wonderful way to finish off the festival.

So now its time to get on and develop new work for Autumn shows and exhibitions. I’m really taken with the idea of doing some pieces based on hedgerow flowers. Has anyone else noticed how beautiful, and prolific, the wildflowers are this year? It would be lovely to capture them in stitch and cloth. I’ve been sketching and photographing for a while so I think its time to start experimenting now. Perhaps with soluble fabric as I think the spaces and layers between the plants are important.

These lovely flowers are on the bike route into town, a great border between the bike and foot paths!

I’ve had some time out to see the textiles art that local branches of the Embroiderers’ Guild have displayed to celebrate Capability Brown’s 300th birthday. The teatowel display at Gibside looked gorgeous, blowing in the breeze in the walled garden. There are more pieces on display in the chapel, and another collection at Wallington too. Well done to all my friends taking part in this – we had fun spotting all your work!

 

The Last Shift – all done!

I have so enjoyed  this project, meeting and working with the children at the Primary School and using their designs to complete the banner.

Last Shift Finished

So now you can see how it has all fitted together, I’ll have to add a picture of the reverse but this is the front. There was a lovely ‘Oooh’ from the children and visitors when the banner was unveiled at school last Thursday.

It’s always nerve wracking to take in a finished piece – will they/ won’t they like it?? Its safe to say I was a bit anxious as I drove over to the school, luckily, I think this was a hit!

The central panel is created from those details I shared in my last post, making a stylised view of Greenside and it’s Colliery past. I wanted to use features of the traditional banners, so the children’s block prints form strong contrasting borders and the school name is on a scroll at the top. The panel that shows ‘Today’s Children’ reads ‘Tomorrow’s Future’ on the reverse – a phrase found on the reverse of the updated Greenside colliery banner.

The back is covered in the block prints made by Key Stage 3 classes, arranged in stripes that link to the striped brickwork in the Miners’ Cottages in the village.

All of the children’s prints have been included – if they are not on the main banner then they are stitched like prayer flags to the streamers that hang from the sides. This banner truly represents all of the children in school!

The banner will get its first official outing at The Last Shift Picnic next Saturday, 23rd July. I hope the rest of the village like it as much as the children and teachers!

Many thanks to the Banner Tales team and Greenside Primary School for giving me the opportunity to work on this lovely community project!