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.
On 29th April I visited the Colchester and Colne branch of The Embroiderers’ Guild to hear Amanda Clayton’s talk My blue suitcase and as I sat on the train on my way home l looked at an everyday item that I had carried with me all day – my train ticket.
Next morning, in my workroom, I decided I would try to add odd items from my snippets box to make something unique which I could add to my ideas book.
The ticket was too shiny so I gave it a good rub with some emery paper and painted it with cold tea. In the box I found a piece of calico from the edge of an unsuccessful collagraph print and some pieces of organdie. I worked two parallel lines of running stitch along the edge of the calico and ruched it up slightly so it fitted on the ticket and I tore the organdie in two and frayed it. I held the fabric on the ticket with a line of open chain stitch using an un-dyed linen thread. I thought the open chain stitch looked a bit like the railway lines but the line was broken to represent the fractured return journey.
I further enhanced the ticket with some strands of bronze thread, a couple of daisies from a ribbon and a button which hid the ticket logo – just a few hours playing which will help me to remember an inspiring Saturday morning.
JOSEF FRANK – PATTERNS – FURNITURE – PAINTING
Room setting with at least 7 different prints
The work of the designer and artist Josef Frank (1885-1967) is shown in the first-ever UK exhibition of his textiles. The Austrian-born architect moved to Sweden in 1933, where he developed his colourful brand of modernism, working with Estrid Ericson on furniture, glassware, lighting and interior design ideas. Together they redefined what is regarded as Swedish Modern. This exhibition in association with Millesgården, Stockholm highlights Frank’s vibrant fabric designs for Svenskt Tenn alongside a number of his previously unknown watercolours.
Huge colourful pink and orange flowers burst across the wall as you enter the show, and it’s difficult not to smile.
Following through one is encompassed by large drapes of colourful and exciting colour and pattern.
Close up all the detail can be seen.
Josef Frank was a mid century architect, furniture designer and fabric print designer. This show focuses on Joseph’s prints, along with a selection of his watercolours upstairs. When Frank retired he turned to watercolour painting instead. These were not so much to my taste; a contrast to the rich flora and fauna of his textiles, but from here a dramatic view of the prints below.
Images courtesy of The Fashion and Textiles Museum
Looking for a change of direction I have been visiting some exhibitions lately in the hope of finding inspiration.
A recent visit to the NCCD at Sleaford with Lorna where we met up with Mary Sleigh to see two exhibitions, the first of some wonderful weavings. Sadly no photography was allowed so no pictures here to show you. The second exhibition – ‘Soft Engineering: Textiles Taking Shape’ showed some wonderful skill and artistry, Alison Ellen’s creative knitting, Ann Richard’s wonderful woven Jewellery, although maybe better described as body sculpture. Ann uses a variety of mediums in her pieces metal, silk,linen and polyester to name but a few. She uses the different way each material reacts to wet finishing to create the twisted, pleated finish. Deidre Woods weavings, using a narrow loom to weave braid-like pieces which she then combines with folding to make complex forms.
My second outing was to attend Jane Callender’s book launch at the Warner Textile Archive in Braintree. Jane is an acknowledged expert on Indigo and Shibori dyeing. I have been making some very inexpert attempts at Shibori recently, particularly attending a class with Jude Kingshott using stitched Shibori on previously Procion dyed fabric which is then overdyed with Indigo, and find myself fascinated by the technique. So maybe this is the way to go.
The final image here is pole wrapped Shibori on fabric pre-dyed with Pottasium Permanganate and then Indigo.
You never know what to Expect!
In recent years I have found it easier to face the “trauma” of aging by marking my birthday with an interesting arty experience. This year four generations – my mum, daughter, grandson and myself visited the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to view Regarding Africa – Contemporary Art and Afro – Futurism.
The term Afro – futurism refers to music that grew during the 1960s among Afro – Americans as well as to the poetry, comics, cinema and art that developed later. Today it applies to a wide range of art that reflects an African version of futurism. The initial works were created during the post – colonial period: the 1960s-70s, called Africa’s “Decade of Independence”.
Today Israel has a growing community (known as Little Africa) of immigrant workers and asylum seekers from Africa. Some of the works presented in this exhibition were created by artists from within this Tel Aviv community and expressed various aspects of the Africa – Israelconnection and of the way Africa has assimilated into the Israeli imagination, fantasy and reality.
I expected that this exhibition would have political overtones but was surprised to discover the work of artist Adjani Okpu-Egbe, born 1979 Cameroon: lives and works in London. His piece titled “The Politics of Mary Seacole” grabbed my attention not only because of the bright vivid colours- red, green and black (colours of the pan-African flag) but because of the astonishing text in the painting “Michael Gove, hands off”. It appears that Mary Seacole was born 1805 in Jamaica to a Jamaican mother and Scottish father. When the Crimean War
broke out in 1853 Mary opened an independent hotel in England to treat battlefield wounded with the secrets of herbal medicine she had learned from her mother.
Mary was forgotten for many years but more recently she has become the object of renewed attention though some have claimed that her importance is being exaggerated in the name of political correctness. It appears that Michael Gove, as former Secretary of State for Education wanted to remove Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum. This opened a renewed debate about the place and role of a black woman in British history.
I had never heard of Mary Seacole’s story and controversy. It was so unexpected to come across art work in Tel Aviv inspired, albeit in a negative light, by recent UKpolitics. As is so often the case when you visit a really good and interesting exhibition, I left this one with many questions, ideas and thoughts to explore.
In order to improve my drawing skills I have been going to watercolour classes(!) and while everyone else has battled with colour I have focused on light and shade with pencil, charcoal, pen and ink. Some of my efforts have reached my Following a Thread sketch book whilst others, although I have kept them, really should be binned.
The skill on which I have tried to focus, is to look at how the light falls on the object. It seems fairly obvious really but I haven’t always found it easy to void areas and then work around them. When I first began the City and Guilds course (quite a while ago) we did lots of mark making exercises using different media and I found it a lot easier when the marks didn’t have to resemble anything. Now I am expected to recreate nature’s bounty in two dimensions.
As you can see from the pictures below, a rose and a shoe made it to the sketchbook as did a hollyhock and a dried poppy seed head.
This close-up of an acorn has yet to find a home.
Last weekend I spent three days – well two and a half actually because I had to look around the Textile Gallery – on the Embroiderers’ Guild stand at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show.
The Guild exhibited in the King’s Suite, a gallery which was opened at the show for the first time and turned out to be a large, wonderful space. Anyone visiting the Learning Curve had to pass by, and there was a lot to see: the Graduate Showcase, the Capability Brown project, items from the Collection, small pieces from old textiles and books and magazines to buy. There was also the opportunity to join the Guild and several members of the public did so.
I spent most of the time encouraging the passers by to add to the longest embroidery which stands at six hundred and five metres in length and was begun in 2003. Needless-to-say only about eight metres was on show at any one time but people were able to find plenty of space to add their stitches. One fourteen year old girl reckoned she had never sewn before but she produced an immaculate line of straight stitching roughly twenty centimetres long which she wove through. I managed to persuade a couple of husbands to add some stitches and the boyfriend of a stitch enthusiast added some marks in recognition of an earlier weekend with his girlfriend at a motor show.
I know that many of the EASTies are members of the Embroiderers’ Guild attending different branches in the Eastern Region, and like me, I’m sure, would have been impressed by the display presented, due in no small way to the hard work and commitment of Anthea Godfrey, the Artistic Director of the Guild and, of course, our mentor. However, she wasn’t alone. Pat Tempest, Annette Collinge, Alex Messenger, Amanda Smith and Liz Smith from the Guild also gave their time and enthusiasm to make it a very successful weekend.
I had a brilliant time and I have posted three images – one of the White Walker who spent the weekend in Hall C and I helped to dismantle, and two from the Capability Brown Project – a detail from work by Sian Martin and Diana Springall.
The White Walker and
and a detail from Sian Martin’s and
Diane Springall’s work for the Capability Brown project.