Sunday, 14 December 2014

Revising and rethinking

My work for Pick & Mix has caused me worries this week. After agonising over the shade of red used for the cross stitching I came to a realisation that it was all wrong. I was unhappy with the red, unsure about the presentation and disappointed with the look of the whole thing. I think also I have been worried about whether this piece is truly representative of my own practice.


I was pretty miserable about the project and felt like throwing in the towel. However I took a step back to reflect and consider my options. One idea that had been floating in the back of my mind was to use the stitched paper as a negative for a cyanotype print. So I did some very quick sampling and was really happy with the results.




I feel the quality of mark achieved is delicate and ghostly; a mere trace. It looks much more interesting and develops the original weave drafts and lifting plans I was studying into something that is a more personal response. By taking the designs through another process they become increasingly vague and unreadable; one of the points of the work is to portray the disappearance of specialist technical knowledge.

So now the shade of red no longer matters but I still have so much work to do.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

New Workshops for 2015

I have been putting the finishing touches to my workshops for spring / summer 2015. You can now find all the details on my website.


The year starts with Scrap Magic and Repair & Disrepair workshops. These workshops take different approaches to working with scraps and secondhand materials. Cut, slash, stitch and manipulate to create a whole variety of surfaces.

This year I will be teaching a variety of workshops from my studio in Saltaire, West Yorkshire. These include stitch, mixed media and cyanotype techniques. For the first time I will be teaching a two-day Inspiration from Historical Textiles course, taking ideas from antique textile and using hand stitch and cyanotype to create original art pieces.

The ever popular Cyanotype Essentials workshop runs on 25th April and for those who have already learnt the essentials there will be a Cyanotype Experimental Day (16th May) to extend your ideas and individual projects.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Rhythms and patterns

Over the last couple of weeks I have been trying to settle into new rhythms and patterns in my life. We have a lovely new addition to the household in the form of a four year-old greyhound called Henry. For all of us adjusting to new routines and ways of doing things has been a challenge. For one thing walking is becoming more frequent but has a different focus. Henry made his first visit to the studio yesterday and enjoyed the scenic view (below).

In my studio I am also learning to work differently. The work for the 'Pick & Mix' exhibition is making very slow progress and I am finding the counted cross stitch tedious and fiddly, especially given that I am stitching on tracing paper. I am not used to working in such a constrained way, within grids and to a pre-ordained pattern but perhaps the discipline will be good for me. I may just have to break free at some point though.




Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Hopping

I have never been one for chain letters and such like but my friend and fellow textile lover Claire Wellesley-Smith asked me if I would take part in a 'blog hop', so I thought why not throw caution to the wind.

This blog has always been about reflecting on my practice and so it is always useful to have a few prompts in order to step back and take stock. Here goes...

What am I working on?
Just now I have a couple of projects on the go. In fact they are both works that have been on and off for a while with shifting deadlines. Firstly I am working on a project with the Bradford Textile Archive, which involves a wide spectrum of artists creating responses to the collection. My work responds to some weave designs which will be translated as hand stitch on paper (image below). The exhibition, called 'Pick & Mix', opens 13th January 2015 at the new Dye House Gallery, Bradford.


The other project I am finishing off is my 'Linear Mapping' installation work, which I have written about previously here, here and here. The work involves creating a series of threads that each represent walks. I have the finishing touches to complete before that heads down to One Church Street Gallery, Buckinghamshire for 'Pinpoint II' in February 2015.


How does my work differ from others of it's genre?
I find this a tricky question as my work is so varied. In my practice I explore very varied subjects and ideas (as you see in the above two projects), I have no single technique or material that characterises my practice although it is all grounded in a sort of vocabulary of textiles. Using stitch, natural dye, cyanotype, applique and print I find ways to make marks, echoes and traces. My work has sometimes been referred to as ghostly and, whilst this isn't exactly a quality I am looking for, I think my work often has an ethereal quality; something that might fade away, the invisible made barely visible.

Why do I do what I do?
I suppose I feel that there are some things that are difficult to articulate with verbal language, so for me art is a way of expressing but also recording an idea. I am also acutely aware of the transience of life, of moments that slip away, of fragile objects that disintegrate; making can be a way of attempting to capture this fragility, futile though this might be.



How does my process work?
My creative process is much more about immersing myself in the subject matter, than in a specific technique or material. In particular walking has an important role in my practice.  It forms part of my research process, enabling me to observe and experience my environment. Making similar walks at different times and seasons I observe subtle changes in myself and the landscape. The speed of my walking might be influenced by weather conditions and the observed flora and fauna may vary from day to day. Capturing the things I observe, trying to contain my thoughts and feelings I use a variety of materials and techniques. Often my ideas are 'contained' within a particular object or form as a kind of vessel.

So that's all from me, and I pass on the blogging baton to someone with very different work, which I admire greatly; award winning photographer and studio buddy Carolyn Mendelsohn.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Time to work, time to think

It's been a while since I was in the studio properly doing my own work. But the combination of forthcoming deadlines and some focussed time to myself means I have been doing a little sampling. These (below) are ideas being explored for a an exhibition in association with the Bradford Textile Archive, early next year.



I was also reminded this week of the need for reflective thinking and writing. Trying to foster reflective journal writing in my students has given me the opportunity to look back over some of my own journals from way back. The need to work and then pause, step back, take stock is as important now as it ever was when I was a student. The need to record it, even more important when working time is so fragmented.

I have been thinking about the relationships between woven textiles and stitch; repetition, grids and connections understood through material associations.





Thursday, 16 October 2014

Tangled up in blue

The last couple of weeks have been frantic. I have found myself dashing across the country in a whirlwind of blue, traveling, teaching and networking.

I was lucky enough to visit The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Manchester last week with my Bradford students. I had a quick chat with the talented Julia Jowett, a natter with Viv of Hen's Teeth, and a catch up with my ex-student Kate Whitehead. Travelling over to Stafford I met up with Jennifer Collier and over to Unit Twelve to teach a cyanotype workshop with 12 lovely ladies. In a tangle of blue I headed east to Grimsby and the Fishing Heritage Centre to teach another workshop for The 62 Group, coinciding with Ebb & Flow.

Tangled and tired, I am having a little rest now, but it was so lovely to see you all.







Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Festival Finds

In the past year or two during Saltaire Festival and Saltaire Arts Trail I have found myself demonstrating or exhibiting and therefore missing out on the festivities. This year I didn't get round to planning anything in the studio, so apologies to anyone who popped in t the butterfly rooms looking for me.

Instead I have had a little look around and found myself a few treasures yesterday with some lovely finds from the Rose & Brown Vintage Fair. Many of these lovely old sewing silk reels are in perfect condition, as good as the day they were made.


I have been searching for locally produced sewing thread reels for a little while, since I came across a reference to the magnitude of the local thread industry. Lister's mill in Bradford were 'world leaders' in sewing silks and exported them all around the world. But from what I can gather by the 1930's production of sewing threads at Lister's had ceased due to competition from their nearest rivals. Around this time many smaller mills were taken over by larger concerns or pushed out of the market, so that only a few companies remained.


I find it odd that this aspect of the textile industry is seldom mentioned locally, where the focus is usually on Worsted production. So it is really special to find these little treasures, that would usually be overlooked. I will be doing a little more 'digging' into this subject for  future project so any intersting pointers would be gratefully received.

If you are also a lover of old cotton reels you might find this thought provoking.

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