Textile art work for the Crown Hotel Biggleswade, I have been lucky enough to get a commission to make a textile work for the Crown Hotel, it is being refurbished by Wetherspoons and will be re opening in about 2 weeks.
Its a big piece 40 inches wide by 30inches high and time was limited so it was a bit like running a stitching marathon.
They wanted some aspects to be local so the silhouette is of the high st Biggleswade and the windows indicate where the Crown Hotel is. Its called ‘Big Sky’ I was inspired by some Turner skies at the beginning of the year and I thought I’d love to try to capture something of the texture in textiles. Can you see the planes when I visited six weeks ago there were planes from the Shuttleworth collection in the sky.
Here is a close up.. perhaps you can see the kantha like stitching.
I used sketches of a stormy sky and of the high st to guide me.
The fabric is naturally dyed scrim and muslin.
Sometime last week I picked up a Cambridge Open Studio catalogue and flicking through it and thought I would visit a few artists the weekend just gone (15th/16th July) which actually was the third weekend out of the four that the studios were open. On looking through the artists, to my delight, I saw that a ceramics artist, Sarah Jenkins, who I much admire was opening her studio in North Essex. I think it was a couple of years ago I bought a piece of Sarah’s work from Bircham’s Gallery in Holt, Norfolk. I so love her style and her work just seems to get better and better. On reading about her it said
“Sarah’s journey has been unconventional, and includes: leaving her Fine Art degree; a long period working as a plasterer in the building trade; adult education classes; clay work with people with mental health problems; a lot of experimentation, including building more than one studio and raku kilns and a sabbatical in a Cape Town ceramic studio where Sarah was able to focus on consolidating technique.
Sarah’s ceramics are always hand built and fired several times. Currently, she likes to use simple slips and oxides with scant use of glaze.”
On meeting her on Saturday I found out that she had studied at Braintree College for two years and just happened to mention “Did she know Grayson Perry” as he had also studied at Braintree College. Her reply was “Yes, I was there the same time as he was although we haven’t stayed in contact.”
Her studio is lovely, close to her home and tucked down a narrow lane that went on and on until it came to a full stop with Sarah’s thatched cottage and studio. Her ceramics are very much a reflection of her and her experiences and I find them very inspiring – as of course they are all about landscape. The material may be different to what I use but I just love those simple marks and shapes that capture what I see around me.
This week I went to see the Paul Nash exhibition at the Sainsbury Visual Art Centre in Norwich which is on until 20th August, 2017. Paul Nash is best known as a war artist, in particular I associated him with the First World War but he was also a war artist again during the Second World War.
The exhibition starts with his brutal 1stWW landscapes and explains how he preferred to use symbolism to depict the devastation of war. From these paintings the exhibition then moves into his earlier dream like works, still of landscapes, influenced by the poetry of William Blake and the pre-Raphaelites. The exhibition also covers his work between the wars – during the 1920’s he suffered from depression and emotional shock as a results of his war experiences and moved the Dymchurch where he continued to paint – it is said throughout 1924 and 1925 he taught part-time at the Design School at the Royal College of Art, where his students included both Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden – two of our local Bardfield artists. During these inter-war years he explored other art movements such as abstraction, surrealism and modernism. “He was a founding member of the British modernist group Unit One which included painters, sculptors and architects such as John Armstrong, Barbara Hepworth, Tristram Hillier, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Edward Wadsworth” and the exhibition includes works by some of these artists.
Again at the start of the 2ndWW Paul Nash was appointed as a war artist and there are two large paintings in the exhibition, “Dead Sea” which depicts the vast wreckage of fighter planes at the Cowley Dump near Oxford as waves in an ocean and the second painting, which I believe is “Battle of Germany”, shows an aerial view of a town before being bombed on the lefthand side of the painting, the central section shows white spots representing parachutes coming down and then the devastation of an aerial attack on the righthand side of the painting. The exhibition then moves to the landscape paintings that he was working on leading up to his death in 1946.
Definitely an exhibition worth going to see.
When EAST hired the Zinc Art Centre in Ongar last year for a workshop I created this free standing, three dimensional landscape inspired by Paul Nash’s landscape, “Wood on the Downs” painted in 1929. It’s not a finished piece but just part of a journey.
Briar stewarding at The Pond Gallery, Snape.
She had a very busy day greeting all the visitors.
Roots Shoots and Leaves is an Eco Textile Exhibition developed from From the Earth, which was at the Mardleybury gallery in June 2016.
Caroline and I have been working with the Upstairs Gallery and we are very pleased to have new artists taking part as well as artist from last year.
This work by a new artist Ken Ager, his work is called Cedars.
To go with the exhibition I will be offering an indigo workshop making and using an environmentally friendly fructose vat.
Whilst on holiday in Shropshire earlier this year I found a lovely book of poems by Kate Innes titled “Flocks of Words” which is also the first poem in the book. It is so beautiful and is about how the changing words that describe a landscape as it moves through the seasons fly away, migrate like birds. It describes a naked landscape in winter and imagining “that land in spring and watching the words return” and putting them on “like fresh plumage or a newly laundered dress”. Definite inspiration for new work.
I love a good poem to get my creativity going and yesterday I was reminded of the work I did last year on Emily Dickinson. I put together a book about different aspects of her life and hand embroidered part of a poem on a double layer of silk organza, a technique I was taught by Rosalind Wyatt and is based on chain stitch. Whilst trying to master the technique Rosalind said it was not important that you could see the threads showing through from the back of the work and that also not to worry if you couldn’t read it very clearly, it is the overall impression of a handwriting, being able perhaps to pick out an occasional word and what it all might mean. I have used different shades of grey thread to give the impression of fading.
I’m currently on an alternative education MA course called TOMA in Southend, I enrolled on the course to push myself and engage my brain cells a little and its done that. We each have the opportunity to invite an artist to come and give us a lecture and so far we have had some stonkers, Bruce Mclean, Richard Wentworth and Griselda Pollock – by now my brain is engaged and slightly aching. I invited Hannah Leighton Boyce and she talked about her project Instruments of Industry https://www.a-n.co.uk/reviews/instruments-of-industry-interview-with-hannah-leighton-boyce
This piece involves the artist exploring tools and finding their resting pitch and making a music score from the results. Being very process driven, the discussion around tools really got that brain thinking again and I started looking at what is really going on with my tools when I’m not there. I used my kids digital microscope to start examining them and uncovered a secret world of colour and texture I never knew about.
The working surfaces were pitted and scored which, combined with the texture of the surface, created a scarred landscape worthy of Star Trek and contained spills, drips and oversprays of colour that reflects my clumsiness but created jewels and highlights that any happy accident would be extremely proud.
Hannah Leighton Boyce – Tools of Industry
My metal ruler
Colin, dog and I have come to spend a week in Northumberland to walk the Hadrian’s Wall path. We took the Metro to Wallsend where the path begins and the first day’s walking followed the Tyne into the centre of Newcastle. We passed a sign pointing towards Rome, 1,110 miles away, the footings which are all that is left of a Roman bath house, and warnings not to step onto the river bank as it is still polluted from the industrial waste which made the Victorian industrialists of Newcastle rich.
As we looked across the Tyne we could see the old flour mill which is now the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, then to our right upstream, the seven bridges crossing the Tyne appeared, one by one, beginning with the newest, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge which tilts and looks like a large blinking eye, then farther along the bank, the Tyne bridge which is home to a large group of kittiwakes, the furthest inland nesting colony in the world, and what a mess they make! We watched the birds fly around and perch on the nests which they have built on the metal struts of the bridge.
There were a couple of empty benches nearby and we turned to sit on them. I noticed that they had been made to mark the hundredth anniversary of World War I. I photographed them because it reminded me of our EAST “Between the Lines” project. Shown on the back rest of the bench the iconic figures of soldiers rendered in black metal, barbed wire and bright red poppies. Under each arm rest are black helmets and a dedication.
Another memorable piece of public art!
I recently attended several courses with the tutor Amanda Clayton who lives in Stafford.
We only worked in sheer and translucent fabrics in natural colours. She introduced us to at least ten different fabrics including crepoline, mousseline and pineapple cloth. We were encouraged to use at least eight different types of thread in neutral colours all supplied by Amanda for us to try.
After twenty-five years of stitching I learned so much from this very generous tutor and lovely person.
In April we had a lovely holiday in Morocco, We were in Marrakesh as well as the low Atlas mountains.
Here we are in the dyers souk in Marrakesh.
I loved the Islamic patterns and thought they could be useful inspiration for an exhibition coming up next year Kaleidoscope.
I started printing, this is acrylic on fabric to try out patterns. These results were good
I like to use naturally dyed fabric as I like the subtle colours and the sense of tradition but for this project brighter colours would be needed. So I have been experimenting with natural pigments, Many of these come from Morocco.
Unfortunately printing with these colours didn’t work as well, I have mixed the pigments, or I should say ground the pigments into soya milk and guar gum, I also tried gum tragacantha. I should say that prints with stencils and thermo fax screens did work well. This is a print on fabric dyed with avocado skins and pits, that has been soaked in soya milk.
However I like the faded look, I normally concentrate on organic patterns and asymmetric shapes so this is a new departure. This is the same print as above with satin stitch with some areas only partially stitched, I hope to create a faded, partially disintegrated look. This is a sample, I will be developing it into a new piece in the next few weeks or months. I will do another posting when it is finished so you can see.