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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. 

Knitting and Stitching 2016

A lovely day of textile art, catching up with friends and buying things I really needed (not!😂)

An annual trip to Harrogate for the  Knitting and Stitching Show is one of my favourite things and I was really looking forward to this one, not least as the Textile Gallery was hosting shows by Alice Fox, Debbie Lyddon and Dionne Swift

The journey down showed winter is really on its way from frosty Newcastle via foggy York.

And in Harrogate even the statues were wearing hats and scarves!

Inside the show was glowing with colour, a real tonic. I was so excited to see new textile artwork and I wasn’t disappointed. Interlace textiles combination of colourful fabric and grey concrete immediately caught my eye, and I caught their’s – my orange and lime colour combo matched their Spectrum piece 😄

The lovely Alice Fox is spearheading a rusty revolution, her influence is spreading as her reputation grows. Found objects,beautifully altered and adapted, were displayed like museum treasures in her show. A sense of calm exuded from the work – seasoned with a pinch of ‘How did she do that?!’ So impressed that I had to get the book! 

Dionne Swift’s exhibition ‘Expressive Stitches’ was powerful, capturing the rawness and space of moorland. I love the way the stitched work echoes the drawn lines. Looking at this makes me desperate to get out with my sketchbook..( note to self- do it!!)

And then there was Debbie Lyddon. I’ve been following Debbie’s blog and enjoying the way she writes as much as the art she creates but to see the work firsthand was fabulous. So much so that, yes…

That’s my red dot! This is so redolent of the East Anglian coast near where I grew up. I feel like I can hear the clanking of masts and smell the salt marshes as I look at it . 

Cola pens…

A little something I learned about recently at a workshop run by the lovely Shelley Rhodes …

Cola pens are great mark makers, holding ink for longer than sticks and allowing thick and thin marks from the same ‘pen’

Take a drinks can and disassemble

Cut into rectangular sections and fold each in half.

Mark on the shape of the pen – vary the shape to see how it affects mark making. 

Cut out the shapes and tape each ‘nib’ to a drink stirrer/ lolly stick 

Dip the pen into ink or dye and get mark making! 


To the market

First Friday is Station Steamer day at Central Station in Newcastle. It’s always a good day but a crazy rush to get there.

The general business of the Station means we can only set up from 9 and trade from 10, and as I’m not usually there til 9.30 after doing the school run, well let’s say I’ve earned my elevenses! 

The market is right by the Station clock so we’re good and central, around 20 stalls of gorgeous North East art, craft and design.

So many people come through the Station meaning trade is usually brisk, this time people were loving my new work, especially High Strung Hills and Gallamaufrey- so much so that Gallamaufrey sold before lunchtime! 

So that’s me off to do more sketches and prep new work then! I’m really pleased by the response to the new work, people like the colour I’m developing with my hand dyed fabrics- and the birds seem to go down well too! 

I’m developing new pieces all the time now, in preparation for a couple of big events next year- more details later on this! My poor sewing machines are constantly whirring away- I’ll have to treat them to a service soon! 

I did do a little early Christmas shopping too whilst I was at the Steamer – thanks to the lovely Cath Hodson – one of her new laser cut birds is now hanging in my ‘Aviary’ porch and Jina Gelder’s animal artworks are so vivacious I couldn’t resist! 

Nipping into North Yorkshire


So there it is, all laid out and tagged ready to go up on the boards in Ripon Cathedral. The team for the Great North Art Show were so efficient we were all done by 11.30 and let loose to wander the lovely streets of Ripon.

I don’t know if lovely Wendy really recognised me by  my voice, or if she’s just very good at reading upside down(!) but my paperwork was swiftly found, work was allocated a row of seats to wait on and a very kind man tagged each piece with its coordinating number.

As these images show, its quite a mammoth task to organise from tagging and laying out all the artists’ work to covering the cathedral walls with display boards. However I think that years of experience have made it a smooth process. I was happy to leave the work and go explore Ripon – especially as Wendy also gave great tips on where to eat and how to find the bookshop (guess who was with me for the trip!)

Ripon is so pretty, and has the right balance of charity shops and bookshops to keep us amused 🙂 We had lunch at Lockwoods as recommended by Wendy. Fab food set us up for a browse around town…good labels in those charity shops 🙂

Took a detour through Leyburn on the way back, another gorgeous little town.  So we had to have afternoon tea!

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Bicycle sculptures from the Tour de Yorkshire, and look at that view!


We found this down a side alley too! (Some sort of water pump?)

And finally the staff in a lovely shop (Milners – I think) let me photograph this – a starting point for a new hospital arts project!!


Colourful cardboard fish mounted on driftwood…

So now I’m really looking forward to heading back down on Friday for the Preview night. Although after circus camping (its a long story) I may need an extra glass of something celebratory to keep me going! So here’s to Ripon and the Great North Art Show, I’ll raise my teacup and keep fingers crossed for sales!

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


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 🙂

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!


The Last Shift – embroidery challenge 

With the printing done and borders stitched, this week I’ve focused on  the central panel. The design is inspired by the print panels made by Y3-6. The base fabric collage is, again, made from the spiral dye fabrics made by the younger children. Because I work with strips of fabric I can isolate colours to build up the scene. 

Here’s the blue sky over Greenside. (Artistic license used for actual landscape features!)

The grey strips represent roads. There’s also going to be a detail of the underground mine working sat the base.

Features will be added by copying images from the printed postcards and turning them into appliqué and stitch- here’s some examples:

I love this image of the pit pony in the fields

Here he is in fabric and stitch

I think this pit pony deserves his time out in the fresh air! 

Here’s an iconic colliery image – one that features strongly on the original Greenside banner .

For the school building, I’ve combined details from two postcards- 

I’m deliberately not showing the whole design- that’s waiting for the grand unveiling at school on Thursday- but I’ll sneak you one more peek – I love this miner with his axe!

And now you’ll have to wait till the end of the week to see the whole banner- see you back here for the big reveal!!

The Last Shift

Construction begins…

All the workshops are done, so now it’s time to transform piles of print and spiral dyed fabric into a brilliant banner.

I’ve dyed the background fabric and the ribbon streamers.

All the scroll text is cut out. I cut the letters with bondaweb so they’ll stay in position when I stitch them.

The back panel has had its ‘first fix’ with postcard prints from years 3-6. I’ve used a brick wall pattern with stripes of different colours to echo the stripey brickwork in Greenside miners’ cottages.

This will make the back of the banner visually interesting as the children march along the street.

I’m off to do hospital workshops tomorrow – a silk painted sea, amongst other things …so more updates on Thursday 😊