Transformation was the theme for our recent exhibition. 

Here are some tantalising snippets from each members pieces of work along with images, 
thoughts and notes from sketchbooks.  

Click on images to enlarge

Detail: 'Curious' - Susan Canfield

What was the inspiration for the EAST artists Transformation exhibition?

In my current work  “Marking the Journey”, the sea remains a prominent inspiration.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote, “how inappropriate to call the planet Earth when it is clearly ocean”. The Pacific Ocean, the most majestic of all waterbodies, covers one third of the earth’s surface.

I have lived significant periods of my life on different continents and my journeys are mapped not by land but by sea.

The oceans are the maps that mark my passage of travel and  transforms the stages of my life into a flowing current of movement.

Building new roads impacts the environment and one of the positive impacts of the lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic was the quieter, less polluted atmosphere. 

We have the opportunity to explore how we travel and make changes that benefit us individually and the world.
I am researching the relationship between fields, roads, and bicycles.

Where do we go from here? responds to ideas of time, communication and learning, including how these have been impacted through a global pandemic. The work began with an autobiographical timeline.  It transformed into a study of themes relating to important milestones – time, communication, and lifetime learning. 

This research took a path that incorporated diverse elements such as French marriage globes, The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse and the complexities of linguistics.  There was a particular focus on the creation of new languages, particularly Solresol which uses colour and sound. Favourite techniques of beadwork, 3D textiles and bookmaking have been used to create colourful displays with layers of meaning.

For the 2021 exhibition I began a sketchbook which I called Curious and I endeavoured to add cut-outs and flaps to each page to engage the viewer in a curious manner. 

This led to the idea, which I began to work on for this exhibition, based, very roughly, on the idea of the Rubik cube where each side has to be turned to the relevant colour.

My nine cubes have to be rotated to make up one of six designs all based on books where the title included the word curious.

I have been looking closely at lichen and fungi, the ancient and often over looked small organisms that live in wild places in Great Britain. 

They are fascinating because they often grow on what might seem to be something degenerating, like old brick work, stones or wood. But in fact they are an important part of a transformative process, where the original substance; rock or wood is gradually broken down and formed into something new for example forest litter that forms the building blocks for new growth, perhaps a young tree.

I am excited by this natural process of regeneration in the natural world as I think it shows a parallel process to that of human development and healing where something that looks frightening, perhaps depressing, could be the start of something new.

I am experimenting with dry shibori and natural dyes to try to form lichen, fungi and wood for this work.     

Looking at the precious elements of minerals and metals which are essential for maintaining our life force.

My current body of work ‘Mersea Floriligeum’ is focused on exploring the flora of the saltmarsh, these delicate natural forms and their network of roots ‘mesh’ together our fragile coastline, reducing the destructive energy of the sea as it flows in and around them.

I have found an analogy, during lockdown between these root networks and the ‘world wide web’ keeping us connected with our loved ones and have stitched printed binary code into my textile panels to symbolise these connections.

The transformation of my work has been a gradual move to another genre, from landscape to still life. 

Two years ago I decided to look for an alternative source of inspiration for my textile work by taking up pottery.

At the time I really didn’t know if it would help or in which direction it would take me but I found I loved working with clay, I enjoyed the different processes and I discovered the still life artist Giorgio Morandi.

Quote from Grayson Perry:
“I love a good shrine. Shrines to me embody the essence of what I do. I put significant artefacts in a special place for us to contemplate. The special place could be in your pocket, in a corner of your house or by a roadside……….”

In the course of my research I have visited well know shrines such as Postman's Park, Crossbones Graveyard and the Bone Church in Kutna Hora.

For this body of work I have transformed thick plain cardboard (greyboard) into a group of rusted wood/metal effect style shrines which will hold objects related to the chosen theme. Objects which I hope will be either thought provoking, will evoke an old memory or cause a smile.

I have also transformed an old wooden case into a shrine commemorating the lost boys of Postman's Park.

In my recent work I continue to transform recycled fabrics into interesting texture and then into sculptured objects.

I am still at the research stage and still experimenting with various thickness of fabric and thread and hoping that the samples will result in usable work with a pleasing appearance.

A collection of small items - hats pins, button hooks, glove stretchers, rubber buttons, fans, sugar tongs and many others all of which we don’t seem to use now were the starting point of my research.

This led me to a renewed interest in millinery and related items.

The Alchemy of Grief is based on states or stages of grieving.  These six three-dimensional, interactive pieces reflect my experience of grief through mixed media, using a range of materials and methods, including lights and motion sensors

.I invite the viewer to wave at the motion sensors to set them off so that the integral lights come on, echoing the triggering of emotions and the pain of loss in its many forms and sources.

My inspiration came from reading about a doctor describing grief by sketching a gradually shrinking ball in a box containing a ‘pain button’ that gets triggered less over time. The ball hits the button less often and more randomly as it shrinks, but the pain can still be intense.  I love the way this illustrates how feelings surrounding loss can change over time and are unpredictable.

In this work, my exploration of grief is intended to acknowledge not only the pain of loss, but that grief is a necessary part of a healing and transformative process.

The series of pieces I am working on currently for Transformation, deal with my mother’s life, illness and death.

I did a lot of drawings of my mother in her last years. It was a way of being with her, since the dementia made it impossible to have a normal conversation.

I started to work on these drawings during a recent residency. Subsequently, I started to work on a series of ‘fabric books’ using them to experiment with imagery much as you would use a sketch book. I am also now working on a triptych of specific early events in my mother’s life.

This is a journey, the end destination is still not clear.

COVID has made everybody have to think about society’s attitude toward the elderly. Do elderly people, toward the end of their life, have any value? Are they dispensable? Although my mother died well before the pandemic I am using my personal experience to look at the general question brought up by the situation we are all confronting now.

My mother’s death marked the last of that generation in my family, making me now, the elder that is facing the question of my value in society. What is left for me at the last stages of my life? What is my life worth?