My interview for the Whitley Bay Carnival Lockdown Art Market.
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’
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!
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!
Gallery 45 is a gorgeous venue in Felton, Northumberland. From Saturday, the gallery will be holding the latest exhibition of Textile Art made by members of the Fusion Textile Artists Network. The exhibition is called ‘Connections’. The theme has been freely interpreted by the members of the network, so there will be a wide range of subject matter and textile processes to view.
We spent a weekend working with Textile Artist Shelley Rhodes in the Long Room at the gallery last Autumn. Some of the pieces in this new exhibition have developed from that workshop.
The work will be exhibited in the main gallery and in the Long Room and will be on display from March 4th until May 5th. There will be an opening event where you will be able to meet some of the artists this Saturday, 4th March, from 11am – 1pm – refreshments will be available!
The gallery itself is open from 10 – 5 Tuesday to Saturday and 11-4 on Sunday.
For my part, I’ve been exploring the connection one feels with the landscape; how that natural space can be healing and soothing. I love the feeling of being somewhere that is so open, beautiful and powerful. The landscape precedes us and will continue long after we are gone. There is much research to show that connecting with nature is beneficial to our health and well being. I have been visiting and recording the landscapes of Northumberland and Scotland and it is this work that I will be including in the exhibition.
All the pieces are created using hand coloured fabrics and free machine embroidery. It is quite a slow process but it encourages contemplation and I like the painterly effect it achieves.
As part of the exhibition programme, I will be running my Tin Can Metamorphis Workshop on Saturday 25th March. If you’d like to come along to this please contact the gallery direct!
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!
I have so enjoyed this project, meeting and working with the children at the Primary School and using their designs to complete the banner.
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!
All the workshops are done, so now it’s time to transform piles of print and spiral dyed fabric into a brilliant banner.
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.
I’m off to do hospital workshops tomorrow – a silk painted sea, amongst other things …so more updates on Thursday 😊
Safely back from the excitements of Essex and Carters Steam Fair (more to follow soon!) Monday was the first day of the ‘Last Shift Project’ to make a primary school banner – and what a busy day it was!
Working with toddlers (and their grown ups!), two nursery classes and a reception class, we ‘spiral dyed’ the fabric that will be used to make the banner. I wanted to use spiral dyeing as it produces similar results to Tie Dye -without the need for knots!
As the project is inspired by the time span of the Greenside Pit – from 1906 to 1966, the spiral dyeing linked to the Sixties. I’ll be linking print and design ideas to the other decades, with the help of older children in the school.
On arrival at school I quickly got set up in the hall and added the auxiliaries to the dye powders in the bottles. The dye becomes ‘active’ once the chemical water and washing soda solutions are added. So for best results the dyes need to be used on the day they’re mixed. Trying to use them a day or two later results in faded colours.
Spiral dyeing is a great project to do with little ones as once the dye is mixed in sports cap bottles the children just have to choose colours and add a few drops to the fabric spirals.
I was kept busy ‘spiralling’ the pieces of white cotton throughout the day, I think there are over sixty of them! But the hardest task was getting little hands into adult sized vinyl gloves! We managed it though, everyone wore gloves and aprons and, as far as I know (!) most of the children kept their hands, and uniforms, free of dye!
Once the children had finished adding the dye to their pieces of cloth, the spirals were carefully placed in clear plastic bags and kept in a plastic crate. The dye needs to ‘cure’ in the fabric for about 24 hours before washing off to ensure bright colours – its also a good idea to prewash the fabric to remove any industrial finish that might impede the uptake of the dye and then to soak the fabric in chemical water before adding the dye. The chemical water helps the fabric stay damp for longer, so the dyes have more time to react with the fabric fibres.
I took all of the fabrics back to my workshop and rinsed them off the following day.
As you can see its important to wear rubber gloves as quite a lot of dye comes off when the fabrics are rinsed. It’s always nerve wracking – will there be any colour left?? Will the spirals look exciting??
Well, take a look…
All the squares will be ironed and then I’ll take them back to school next week so the children can see what they made. Then it’ll be time for designing and printing…after a few more days of sketchbook work for me!
Surging towards a market next Saturday 28th May – Newcastle ArtsFest organised by the Lovely Lesley! My ‘transport co-ordinator’ loves it because he gets to drive up to Gray’s Monument in Newcastle city centre! So, I’m busy finishing some new pieces and planning the set up. It’s always lovely to be in the centre of Toon, lots of people to chat too and lots of lovely artwork to admire – get yourselves there if you’re in the area!
These two are awaiting their frames, the weather has turned a little stormy! I’ve been developing ideas with my hand dyed fabrics, trying to emphasise mood and texture.
Meanwhile, it’s all a bit shipshape at the Arts in Health project I work on too – this time its all about boats. Those owls we made are lovely but maybe a bit Autumnal? So I thought we could all sail away on a seaside theme over Summer, redoing our window display with a new installation.
One relative on the Chemo’ ward kindly donated some old map books, so the pages are going to be repurposed as sails. I have sterilised lots of bits of driftwood and disassembled a roll of willow edging (Poundland !) So this week we’ll be making driftwood boats to sail over the seven seas. Then we’ll add needle-felted lettering across the top of the scene and a silk painted ocean at the bottom. That should keep us all busy for a few weeks!
I’ll post more images as the project develops. (And if you want to know how to sterilise driftwood – you need to boil it in a very big pan for several hours, changing the water a few times too! Steamy!!)
It seems to be a Spring time of finishing projects! The Chilli Road Proggy Rug project was commissioned a couple of years ago now, as part of the celebrations of the school’s 120th birthday!
The project is another triptych – even bigger than My Journey! My role was to work with the children to develop the design, to introduce children and parents to the craft of rug making and to oversee the development of the three panels – each of which is about 2m x 1m. The panels go around a column that juts out into the main school entrance corridor – the back of the old stove chimney! It is now a huggable wall feature!
This is the top part of the panel, there’s the metro line heading out to the sea from Chilli’ Rd metro station. Then below that, there’s Chillingham Road, with a lovely red fire engine racing towards the ‘Thunder Thursday’ canoeist.Below that are some more Heaton landmarks and then you get into our lovely parks, you can just see one of our regular ‘Proggers’ Helen the ace cake baker next to a tree on the left!
The brilliant Proggy team decided to get into the rug, as it were, so they pop up in scenes on this panel! Well done to Della, Heather, Helen, Ingrid, Jude, Kate and Meera for their hard work on this final panel. Can you guess who’s who in the following images – and yes – they did me too!
Now all that’s left to do is get it fixed to the wall next to the others! Luckily that’s not my job!
Now I’m off to prepare driftwood boats whilst its sunny – an artist’s life is never dull!
A different sort of project! Working on the theme of insects, the group I work with on Wednesday have been using silk paints to create beautifully coloured insects in circular motifs. Why circles? Well, I’m doing a bit of up-cycling…a certain Swedish store sells a scarf tidy, I found one in a charity shop and disassembled it. This gave me a lot of string and a whole load of plastic rings. Haven’t thought of a use for the string… yet, but the rings are going to be used to frame these insects – are you with me so far?
Remember these guts? The Wise Birds I posted about a little while ago? Well, there’s another window next to them that’s looking a little bare. So the insect display is going to go up there. The idea is that the insects will all be flying around a central panel (see below) showing a Spring time garden. The panel is all ready for the colour to be applied. It’s a relaxing way to pass the time whilst receiving treatment – and as several people can work around the table at once its a good way to encourage peer support.
I’ll post more images when it’s all finished.
It’s been a nice change from stitching for me too! Although, you know what…I am almost ready to get back on the machine – maybe I’ll just keep drawing ’til the sunny spell we’re having here is over though!