This is a short film about the work I do with Room For You , providing creative workshops for cancer patients and their families. Let me know what you think!
This is a short film about the work I do with Room For You , providing creative workshops for cancer patients and their families. Let me know what you think!
This Saturday sees my final selling event of 2019 – catch me and about a dozen other lovely artists at the Queens Hall in Hexham from 10 am – 4pm
For now, I’m joining in with the fabulous Just A Card campaign and then I’ll be spending December making some new work – and maybe getting a little bit festive!
Work has been a whirlwind of workshops lately- added to my usual Wednesdays of hospital art I’ve worked in three different primary schools, had a return visit to a textile group and held my first workshop in the wonderful Shipley Art Gallery
Participants have transformed tin cans, stitched scenes of The Great War, used silk paints, made African inspired textiles, crocheted flowers hooked rugs and hand stitched beach hut scenes.
(Quite a lot of prep work has been involved 😅)
The workshop at the Shipley was a first experience for several reasons- working in the venue, adapting one of my workshops to be sewing machine free, and working with two different groups of 20 participants in the course of the day !
The Shipley staff planned a day where participants could work with two different artists in one day ( Hello, Marian Hernandez Villada a colourful painter and lovely human 😄). One group would do a watercolour painting whilst another would stitch, after a short lunch break they swapped over. So workshop projects had to be achievable in just a couple of hours!
I began making these little beach hut scenes right at the start of my career as a full time artist. I must have made dozens by now- but always using at least 2 sewing machines with a little bit of hand sewing! Adapting them for hand stitch took a little bit of experimentation. I decided that the CAD stitched huts were key, so I made several batches of these- I’ve got the stitch design worked out so that I can stitch six at a time – changing the colours as I go. So I prepared about 60 little huts in different colour ways for participants to choose from.
Each little hut sits in its own mini landscape, so I needed to work out how to convert this from my machine stitched appliqué to hand stitch – and to make sure I had enough of the recycled ‘matching game’ cards that each little scene is framed on.
Luckily, now that I run workshops regularly I have a ridiculous amount of embroidery hoops to access ( thank you Barnyarns for getting 40 hoops to me very quickly- and then another 20 🤣 I’m sure I could do a very ‘Anthropologie‘ style display with them all at some point!)
40 hoops were fitted with squares of my hand dyed fabric in shades of blue. A quick count up showed there were just enough card pieces in my ‘random stuff that will be useful one day store’ ! There were definitely enough fabric scraps, buttons, beads and trims available (have you SEEN my workroom 🤣)
I felt it was important, also, to have a worksheet for guidance – 20 participants for just over 2 hours equals not a lot of individual tutoring! Having a worksheet listing stages in development, plus a template helps keep people going with the task.
I definitely thought I’d done the ‘Belt and Braces’ approach to workshop planning- and I think the day did go well although next time I’ll make sure my other half leaves me a car KEY 🔑 as well as the car so I don’t have to book a last minute taxi with a big boot!
The day was great fun, participants jumped into the task. A lovely crowd of women of all ages, with a couple of familiar faces 😊. I hope I was doing my ‘swan’ impression – you know; looking serene on the surface whilst frantically ‘paddling’ to keep things on track. (Thank you Kerry for insisting I had 10 minutes off site to eat lunch 😊).
It was interesting to see that there was a difference in the way the morning and afternoon groups worked – the morning group took a little longer planning out their beach hut scenes, the afternoon group dived straight in – creative muscles warmed up by their morning of painting? Just about everyone completed their pieces- a few took away the driftwood and wires to make hangers but the scenes were stitched in the session 🧵😄
By 4.30 pm I was all packed up and ready for home – just a short wait for my very apologetic OH to show up – he made the supper that night 🤣
Thank you to everyone who came to the workshop, to the Shipley for providing such a lovely venue and to Kerry Cook of Tyne & Wear Museums and Archives for letting me loose in there ! (Hope we didn’t leave any pins behind!)
And… they’re letting me back in! So do check the Shipley Art Gallery website for their next series of workshops in the Spring!
Oh and in the meantime- come and see me here on November 30th!
Saturday was workshop day. This time I headed down the A1 to meet with Snape Textiles Group – a great bunch of women who meet regularly in their gorgeous village hall to share and extend the knowledge of textiles.
I first met the group a couple of years ago when they tackled my ‘Grand Designs’ workshop with enthusiasm- they must have enjoyed it because here I am again!
Grand Designs Beach Hut
The Grand Designs project uses a tuna or sweetie tin as the base for a 3D scene – for Tin Can Metamorphosis we were starting with mackerel tins of varying sizes, plus a few sturdy cardboard boxes.
The first task is to have an idea of the scene you want to capture and ‘treasure’ in this way – my piece shows a little bit of the North Yorkshire coast. It’s best to have an image to work from, drawing or photos. Then choose what details will make the composition- a little planning and a rough template makes it easier to complete the project!
Once the design work is sorted its time to collage the tin – I like to use old maps or reference books – cookery and gardening themes work well!
The collage can dry off whilst textile work commenced. Here’s one balanced precariously on a glue stick – well away from the fabric and delicious homemade tea loaf !
Because the pieces are small, scraps of fabric are all that’s needed to build up the image- so they are great for a bit of stash busting 😊
I bring materials and equipment to share but this group have lots of lovely fabric and samples from previous sessions to use
We have a break at lunchtime- special thanks to Mary for an excellent feast – Bread And Butter pudding!! (That’s her landscape above!)
It’s a nice opportunity to find out more about each other – the group are having an exhibition later in the year and I hope some of these pieces will feature in it.
June’s scene was inspired by a visit to ‘Leafy Buckinghamshire’. She’s used letter stamps and needle felting to create details in her scene.
Some participants like to use machine stitching and others prefer hand embroidery- either will work – just be aware that lots of hand stitching may mean it takes longer to finish the piece!
Barbara preferred not to stitch at all!
Karen was excited to find a way to repurpose a strong cardboard box with a hinged lid- it’s going to be a travel memories box – and has inspired ideas for a workshop with children at a school in India!
This one was inspired by a beautiful French stamp. There might be tiny letters flying over the top of the tin when it’s finished.
Kathryn’s will have laundry blowing over a windy North Berwick scene…when it’s finished!
Philippa is planning to add some poppies on the outside of her tin.
Allison covered her box with an image of the exterior of a cottage so she made the interior image in applique, Sarah appliqued a beautiful cottage with a garden full of Hollyhocks – she’ll be hand stitching those later…
We tried different methods of supporting the embroideries in the tins – using old felting blocks and actually needle felting recycled fibre fill to make more solid forms.
I hope that some participants will inspired to carry on and transform more tin cans into lovely stitched mementos.
Thanks Snape Textile Group for being such lovely students- hope I’ll get to work with you again before too long!
Autumn is creeping in, with September gone after soaring temperatures followed by torrential rainfalls. The season change has caused us to pause and reflect on changes in our lives here in Newcastle. Dealing with loss of loved ones leads to recallibration of priorities and needs, and so my partner has cut down his hours and I have altered mine leaving us both free to spend Mondays walking in the beautiful North East landscape. If you get the opportunity, I can recommend walking for wellbeing.
Each week we have picked a route of around 10km, in different locations; coastal, moorland, riversides and woodland. Incredibly, all the routes so far have also included remarkably good cafes! (More on that later!) I haven’t stopped to get out my sketchbook yet but have been busy with my camera and collecting bag.
The walks have provided thinking time to mull over project ideas and the landscape is certainly proving inspirational.
Week 1: From Craster to Low Newton and back, via Dunstanburgh Castle
We started this walk with tea and toast at the Shoreline Cafe in Craster, truly excellent toast!
We found this spider hanging outside one of the little cottages on the dunes near Low Newton- beautiful markings
On our return the temperature seemed to have warmed up enough to get these little frogs hopping- we had to be very careful where we put our feet!
Dunstanburgh Castle looking dramatic against the sky line,
Lunch at the Ship Inn, Low Newton. It had to be crab sandwiches and kipper fish cakes!
A mad dash back to Newcastle saw us reach Grey Street in time to catch the end of stage 3 of the Gour of Britain bike race – think we overtook them when the riders got stuck at the level crossing in Widdrington!
Week 2: Allendale around Stobbs Cross
This walk started with a visit to an art gallery…and cafe- can you see a routine forming 🤣
I found this walk quite hard, the landscape seemed bleak to me and the wind was fierce
Lower down the route, hedgerows were covered with rose hips, hawthorn berries and the last few blackberries.
We saw several beautiful brown butterflies whilst we were on the moor – I need to check if this caterpillar was related to them!
Week 3: Derwent Valley from Swalwell to Thornley Woods
We couldn’t go too far from home today- kid taxi duty later – but this gorgeous walk is only 9 miles away- so lucky to live where we do.
We walked a whole mile from the car park before ‘accidentally’ finding Land of Oak and Iron a heritage centre that just happens to have a lovely cafe attached 🤣 more toast and tea tested- 👍👍👍
We walked across the viaduct and then went down to follow the river.
Wasn’t quite so impressed to find this-almost as big as my foot!
Thornley Woods has an accessible sculpture trail- and another cafe! These walks are all easy to reach by bus from Newcastle too!
Week 4 Alnmouth to Lesbury,Bilton and Hipsburn and back
Heading up the A1 this week, calling at Swarland for…yes, tea and toast – you really need to try Nelsons in the Park 4 slices!!
I love Alnmouth, a village full of art and cafes right on the coast- this time though it was all about the river. So after a short walk along the beach we turned inland to find the Aln.
This little hut features in one of my miniature scenes
We walked through the golf course and across a field warning of bulls – luckily they seemed to be elsewhere.
This little robin was quite fierce- he flew right up to my face twice as we tried to pass him- surely it’s the wrong time of year for nesting?
Another viaduct- this trainspotter just missed the 1 o’clock to Edinburgh going overhead!
And after all those steps? A vegan spicy cauliflower pie fromScott’s of Alnmouth
I hope we can continue these walks as the weather turns, we’ve been lucky so far but if it does get grim, we might switch to urban walks with (more) cafes and cinemas!
Saturday was one of the wet days – in a ‘maybe we should build an ark?’ way – torrential rain, grey skies, strong winds – British Summer at its ‘finest’! So I took the opportunity to go and see an exhibition and to check out a possible future event to take part in – both in Yorkshire !
Exhibition – The 62 Group
Always inspiring, an exhibition by the 62 Group never fails to get me thinking. The work of some of the group is on display at the wonderful Sunny Bank Mills Gallery in Farsley, near Leeds. The Gallery itself was fabulous (there’s a little cafe and a shop selling gorgeous things too – hello Michele Daykin, Charlotte Whitmore both fantastic jewellers! ) The Mill closed in 2008 but now the buildings are used by small and creative businesses – there’s a fantastic Scrap Store that’s open to the public – it has everything from shuttlecocks to fabric sample books, and there’s an eco store inside too!Dawn Dupree, Jeanette Appleton, Hannah Lamb, Caroline Bartlett and more. Showing textile print, stitch, assemblage, appliqué. The interpretations of the title were individual. So the work is brilliantly varied. Some artists were inspired by the mill itself – it used to make military fabrics I think, so Nigel Cheney‘s piece ‘Whortleberry Blue’ seem very apt. Debbie Lyddon‘s piece seemed very at home against the colour of the mill floor.
An art fair take over of an animal auction mart – fantastic! Each artist/maker gets a pen which they then ‘dress’ to become their own unique gallery space for the 2 day event.
There were over 200 artists selling work from a few pounds to thousands. There were jewellers, (hello Magnolia Restrepo ! Stunning jewellry combining precious metals and gemstones – so delicate and detailed) ceramicists, painters, print makers, textile artists, metal workers, wood carvers and more. I saw some familiar faces (hello Ceri at Oakwood Soaperie ! gorgeous hand made soaps and wonderful new ecoprinted range of textiles) from the North East and found some new art to love (hello Liz Salter beautiful paintings and sketchbook work so evocative of the weather and landscapes of Northern hills).
I was supposed to be wandering around with my work head on but my art lover’s heart kept interupting. My dear pal KPH got some good practical suggestions in – looking at how participants had made their 3 x 2m stands into gorgeous temporary galleries – and she got some shopping done too 🙂 I had asked the family present to check things out but the junior artist got distracted by the Art Shop on site – think that one’s going to be a portrait artist! Whilst the team driver was too overcome by the meat pie and mushy peas he got in the cafe!
It did look like a very well organised event, and I will definitely add it to my list of applications!
So here I am engrossed in teaching needlefelting. A workshop I often run for patients I work with in hospitals. We had the great news this week that funding will continue for another year. So I can continue to dream up crazy installation ideas like this recent one…
Patients wrote on the rainbow to share what or who helped them get through Radiotherapy, we needlefelted rainbow coloured raindrops to add to the pom pom clouds – patients always find needle felting therapeutic 😉
New work is my focus, I’m applying for several, larger shows so I’ll need work to display (& sell!) I’ll let you know which shows if I get accepte!
I would like to make larger pieces but these are obviously time consuming, and more difficult to transport. So, I’ve decided to focus on 40×40 landscapes for a while- my plan is to get 4 done in the next 6 weeks 😱 that’ll keep me out of mischief (but p’raps not too busy for school and national politics 😉)
Our family week in Wales was fantastic- why did none of you tell me sooner how gorgeous West Wales is??
In between sea swimming and ice creams there were cliff walks on the beautiful Pembroke Coastal Path and visits to Tenby and St David’s. My sketchbook didn’t get quite as much use as I’d hoped but my mind is full of experiences and my photo album is full to bursting.
So this week I’m sketching out the four images that I’m hoping to develop. I’m drawing them to the chosen scale and taking a quick tracing of the main composition to help with building up the appliqué.
Then I get the paints out. I’m using watercolour, water based dyes, inktense and some acrylic. When I paint, it is never the final stage- it is very definitely part of my process; painting allows me to assess how I am going to construct a piece. I can think about colour, texture and composition.
When I’m mark making with brush or pencil I’m thinking about how to transfer it to cloth and stitch. When I apply colour I’m thinking about what fabric and threads I’ll need (thanks Oliver Twists for the threads 😉) The process of painting and drawing helps me to develop my composition ideas into textiles and work through any issues.
I’m pleased with the two images I’ve developed so far, now I’m deciding whether to crack on with these in fabric, or to focus on getting the other two designs developed to paint stage. I’m tempted to start the textiles but I think it would be interesting to get the 4 designs done and then work on the four pieces.
What would you do?
On Friday I took a break from the workshop and exhibition prep’ to get some fresh air and family time.
Taking a break can seem like the worse thing to do when schedules are bursting- it certainly took a lot of persuasion to get the revising one away from her books- but it helps us recalibrate and make more progress.
Sometimes a trip to the local park is all that I have time for but a walk through green spaces, listening to the birds and spotting the wild flowers really helps to untie the knots in my thoughts- and my neck muscles!
On Friday, we took off in search of better weather. It was damp and dreary here but looked promising further south, so we headed to Runswick Bay in North Yorkshire.
I’d been working on this in the morning
And then went walking here in the afternoon
The tide was at its highest when we arrived so we decided to explore the cliff walk. A ravine leads from the south end of the bay up a steep, stepped path to the cliffs, it’s part of the Cleveland Coastal Path – we could have walked all the way to Whitby but we had tweenagers with us !
The cliff path is gorgeous, on our right a field of barley (?) was swaying mesmerically in the breeze with skylarks singing their hearts out high above. On our left, the cliff tumbled down to the North Sea, showing its rusty stripes of iron ore, through recent rock fall scars. Terns flew below us, plummeting into the sea to catch fish before bursting out into the breeze again.
Wildflowers broke the green path lines with brilliant colour – speedwell, stitchwort, pink campion, violets, gorse and birds foot trefoil.
We walked as far as Kettleness before turning to retrace our steps and catch last orders for the cafe in Runswick Bay.
So now I have ideas and images to think about and develop; large scale cliff top scenes and smaller studies of wildflowers to add to the Efflorescence series. Time to get back to the workshop now the Yorkshire sea breezes have blown some clarity into my head .
(And I’ll finish that tiny version of Runswick too!)