Like the whole population who live in eastern England we have snow. Not just one downfall which will disappear in a couple of hours – it has been snowing on and off, and mainly on, all morning.
For me, Wednesday is the one day of the week when I get all the boring household jobs done with a weekly sortie into Bury St. Edmunds to shop but today the only sensible thing to do is raid the freezer and hunker down for twenty-four hours.
There’s no point in clearing the path to my workroom because the footsteps that Briar and I made when we went off for the morning walk are completely covered, so I thought I would write an EAST blog.
However, I’ve not done anything particularly noteworthy recently except continue with my design work for Power of Stitch and make the next square, or in my case, book for the Suffolk West Embroiderers’ Guild March meeting tomorrow which has just been cancelled. The colour this month was indigo so my book contains some indigo patterns which can be achieved with dyeing.
One of the members of SWEG discovered this proclamation and duly circulated it. I thought it would be a good place here to remind ourselves of the correct sewing procedures which we all observe!
Hope it gives you all a chuckle: it certainly did me.
Does anyone have any spare French chalk?
Modigliani – more than just the nudes!
Even though I am past counting candles on a birthday cake, I am not past “insisting” on an enjoyable day out to celebrate another year. I was sure the Modigliani exhibition would be an appropriate treat and I was not disappointed!
Modigliani is a complex character. Born in Italy to a Jewish family, he spent most of his working career in Paris, including the years of WW1. This and a prolonged childhood illness greatly influenced his art. At times during his life Modigliani’s art was scorned as unsophisticated and simplistic. Yet when you enter the first room of this exhibition, that opinion is completely overturned. The colour palette is both sensual and absorbing, the images distinctive and engaging.
Most people are familiar with the distinctive wide eyed, narrow – faced nudes that Modigliani perfected during his short turbulent lifetime, (he died aged 36).
However, like many artists, Modigliani went through various periods and changes. The work I was least expecting was a room of his hypnotic sculpture heads. Whilst living in Paris, Modigliani had an intense two-year period where he focused almost exclusively on sculpture (1911 – 1913). The figures are both beautiful and powerful, many resembling Caryatids (the classic female figure), which reputedly had a “religious” like meaning to Modigliani. African art played a huge influence on Modigliani and his fellow Paris contemporaries, such as Gaugin, Matisse and Picasso. Sculpture had been an early passion of his and it is unclear why he so abruptly abandoned this medium. Poor health is the most likely explanation plus a growing confidence in his 2D work.
By the time of his premature death, Modigliani was a confident portrait painter. However, like so many other renowned artists of the C20th he too is mostly preoccupied in capturing the “essence” of the person rather than tight representation or likeness of character. Modigliani sits securely in an extensive line of artists who have been interested in non-European sources, (e.g. African) that has inevitably extended and developed the western canon of art
At the end of this exhibition I felt privileged and grateful to have seen such an extended array of Modigliani’s work. It was both exciting and thought provoking particularly as Modigliani died so tragically. To leave such a legacy is awe inspiring and moving.
The exhibition continues until April 2nd, so you still have time to enjoy this “must see” exhibition at Tate Modern.
It was such a momentous occasion – all the EAST members, and Anthea,
were all present at our January 2018 meeting – so we had to have a group photo.
(Back row) – Felicity, Lorna, Libby, Janette, Margaret, Julie, Jenny and newest member Kay
(Middle Row) – Ellen, Anthea, Carol and Melinda
(Front Row) – Liz, Susan and Tricia
We are also pleased to announce that we now have an Instagram
account – so hopefully we will be able to share some of our work in progress. You can also find us on Facebook
– don’t forget to “like” our page to keep up to date with exhibitions and events.
A couple of years ago I joined the newly re-formed branch of the Suffolk West Embroiderers’ Guild. During this year (2017-18) the branch is running a project where each member embroiders a square in a specified colour – “Rainbow Squares”. The colours progress in the same sequence as the rainbow so the first square was red.
I wasn’t very excited by the prospect of decorating a square with red stitches but I soon realised that I could make an eight square centimetre, four page booklet and attach that to an appropriately coloured square.
I made the cover from torn scraps of fabric bonded to some felt, then integrated them with machine embroidery. I covered this with a piece of muslin which I had coloured several years ago when EAST had a weekend with Ruth Issett. I folded the cover in half, then added four pages inside which had a love poem, “Echo” by Carol Ann Duffy, embroidered on them.
The next square, for November, was to be orange. I made a list of orange things – a colour, a drink, a fruit, a principality, a butterfly etc. – and embroidered these onto scraps of orange silk which I applied to a zig-zag book. This I put inside a cover which had been made as before except with scraps of orange fabric.
The December square was yellow. I didn’t realise until I began to sew what a difficult colour yellow is to work with and how few fabrics and threads I owned in that colour. Nevertheless, I had decided that the book was to have images of shells inside so I raided my supplies.
The square to make for January is green so, hopefully, I will have more items to play with and the book will probably contain leaves – unless I get any better ideas.
I wish you all a very happy, healthy and productive 2018.
In May I posted pictures on our trip to Morocco and samples and ideas for a textile piece based on the wonderful Islamic tiles there. I was experimenting with natural pigments that can be found in the souks in Marrakesh.
So after 6 months I have finally finished two pieces of work block printed with natural pigments and then stitched in places… I wanted to suggest a gradual disintegrating of these ancient patterns. The top piece is almost twice the size of the second.
This one is a detail.
At the end of October I went to London to see the Prism exhibition ‘Another View’ this was first shown at the RSBA in Birmingham then in London at Hoxton Arches.
This was a very interesting exhibition as usual, many members of Prism took part exploring “different ways of looking, seeing and understanding; a chance to visualise the complexities and possibilities of people, places, events and the world we live in”. It was very interesting to see how members had interpreted their ideas from the title into textile.
I thought Jo Coombes’ work was really outstanding exploring human motives, both for individuals and nation states when values diverge and beliefs become irreconcilable. I was also drawn to Dee Thomas’s ‘Underfoot, showing the many small items on a beach which are trampled underfoot when out walking. Paulene Cattle’s work which showed, in black and red felt pieces, her impression of an unused and dilapidated post box. Dorothy Tucker’s mixed media landscapes showed a lovely mix of digital printing, paint and stitch while Jackie Langfeld’s decorated teaspoons were a delight.
Many pieces showed a wonderful interpretation of ideas, others were beautifully worked, so in all a great exhibition that was well worth the trek up to London.
Above image is of Jo Coombs’ piece
Above image is of Dee Thomas’ piece
Above image is of Paulene Cattle’s pieces
Jenny’s experiments with fermentation dyeing.
I think this must be the slowest form of dyeing as it is done cold. I started with weld which wasn’t very successful, but red cabbage has been very exciting.
I chopped up a quarter of a red cabbage very small and put it in a clean plastic milk bottle with the lid on. I shook it 3 times a day and let out the gasses, it was kept in the dark and after 4 days this was the result.
I know that red cabbage is very sensitive to the PH, so I tried painting the silk with washing soda, that is an alkaline ph.
This was quite a startling colour, and so far after a month it hasn’t changed. so then I tried lemon juice, this goes a very pretty pink, but it did tend to rinse out.
Iron water made from [ferrous sulphate] turn the silk blue and does seem colour fast at the moment.
finally I did a black berry leaf print, not such a good result.
I shall have to see how the colour lasts, red cabbage is notoriously good at fading, the idea is that the fermentation will help the colour to stay.
Now I have started 2 more one with buckthorn bark, I have kept the PH high by adding slaked lime, this took much longer about 3 weeks but I am pleased with the red colour.
I now have a birch bark vat going, it is supposed to make pink, but after nearly 3 weeks I am not sure yet.
At the beginning of September I went on a Jo Budd workshop in Eastbourne, although Jo comes from Bungay in Norfolk. Jo is a trained artist but works in textiles and has a method of working with Procyon dyes whereby she uses them like paints, mixing her colours in a palette using the thickener Manutex.
Every artist seems to have their own method of working with Procyon dyes and I find it useful, every now and again, to brush up on technique and ideas.
Jo makes up the basic dye powders with water and makes up the Manutex with chemical water. She then takes what she required from the dye pots to mix up the required secondary and tertiary colours and it is at this stage she uses the Manutex. She will also apply chemical water to her fabrics if she wishes to use them wet but quite often she applies the dyes to dry fabric – obviously you get different effects. She does not add chemical water direct when making up her basic dye colours as the “clock starts ticking” the minute you add the chemical water to the dye. So when she mixes a secondary or tertiary colour she uses the Manutex which contains the chemical water and then can create effects by applying, for example, the colour to a plastic surface to create a mono print or apply the dye direct to fabric using various brushes, sprays and mark making tools.
When I first did a workshop with Jo, besides adding soda ash as a fix for the dyes, she was also using a bullet steamer to fix the dyes. With limited space and facilities in Eastbourne Jo had simply bought a large electric water heater in which she has stood a trivet in the bottom so that the fabrics (wrapped around a cardboard tube) did not come into direct contact with the water. The fabrics were stood on the trivet and the water brought up to temperature and the fabrics steamed for three minutes before the fabrics were then rinsed. Alternatively you could steam iron the fabrics on both sides for three minutes before rinsing. Jo follows this method to ensure colour and light fastness.
The fabrics could be overdyed with unthickened dyes as required.
I composed the two landscapes below with the fabrics I’d dyed – think they have possibilities.
Southend has said goodbye to a sculpture commemorating the First World War – Poppies: Wave moved onto the next stop on a national tour. Poppies: Wave, by Paul Cummins (artist) and Tom Piper (designer), was installed at Barge Pier, in Gunners Park, part of the old ranges which has a long military history, and was a perfect setting for this art work. Most poignant was the playing of the last post every evening at sunset, well worth seeing if you should get the chance.
“Poppies: Wave, a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks, was originally seen at the Tower of London as part of the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. “
It can currently be seen at the CWGC Plymouth Naval Memorial until the 19th November, 2017.
What a fabulous day out at the Museum of East Anglian Life today – Carol, Lorna and ex EAST member June Carroll and myself went for a day out to see the exhibition Fabric Fields and French Knots. This exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of the Museum of East Anglian Life. To celebrate they have teamed up with members of local Embroiderers’ Guild groups in Suffolk and Essex to create new works inspired by the museum collections.
Among the artists exhibiting is our own Carol Dixon, along with such familiar names as Jan Lovell, Susan Cranwell, Malelaine Nightingale, Vendulka and Olivier Battais, Mary McIntosh to name just a few.
The exhibits are housed in various buildings on the site as well as in the Abbot’s Hall Gardens. You definitely need the little guide to find all 68 pieces and even after three hours we still did not get round it all, so make sure you allow plenty of time when you visit. For more details go to www.eastanglianlife.org.uk
The photographs below show a selection of the exhibits which hopefully will give a taster and make you want to go along to have a look.
The first exhibit below is to be found in the conservatory in the main Abbot’s Hall and is a joint effort.
Below if a detail from the tree above.
Winter Hedgerow by Carol Dixon
Winter Hedges by Madelaine Nightingale
Gypsy Caravan by Vendulka and Olivier Battais
Country Faces by Madelaine Nightingale
Steam Power byJan Lovell
Footplate Jan Lovell
Cedric – Suffolk Sheep by Susan Cranwell
Frieda – Suffolk Sheep by Susan Cranwell
Allan – Suffolk Sheep Lamb by Susan Cranwell
Edges by Madelaine Nightingale
Celebration Stitch by Gay Macbeth