It's over a month since I last posted here. How embarrassing! I've had a few problems with technology and a few distractions, but I'm finally back to work in the studio.
During the summer I have been exploring some new work based on my visit to Sunny Bank Mills near Leeds. Taking my direction from stacks of samples in the mill archives and also from the buildings and site plans. The patterns of woven stripes and plaids, windows, mill rooftops, shadow lines and industrial features; the work is taking it's cue from variations on grids and blocks. Naturally that has leant itself to patchwork.
I am never certain if it is best to learn the rules and then work out how to break them, or to start without any rules and take your own line. This is something I have been pondering as I read through Sherri Wood's wonderful book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters; is it better to be a beginner with no knowledge of traditional quilt patterns or to know the back catalogue and enjoy the thrill of tearing it up? As it happens I wouldn't quite consider myself at either end of that spectrum, but certainly more of a novice. As with so many things I know a little bit about a lot!
I like the idea of improvisation; working from a given starting point and then exploring out from it. So I have been working from Sherri Wood's 'tumbling blocks' score, playing with my own set of rules, adding, subtracting... playing! It's been a lot of fun and I could keep going for ever. But as with most projects there comes a point when things need to be brought to a conclusion. It's time to make some decisions and play at being the editor. More on that another day. Here are a few photos of some earlier work
Finally getting some time in the studio I have been working on some new ideas. Based on some initial research I did at Sunny Bank Mills earlier this year I have been exploring patchwork, stitch, drawing and composition. I am allowing my making to help with thinking, and for thinking to inform my making. That might sound obvious but I am enjoying allowing things to unfold organically.
I recently spent some time at my Mum's house, helping her sort things out in preparation for a house move. She has unwittingly become the inheritor of generations of 'stuff'. You can interpret that word as you like, but I see it as a positive word. As an example we found this rather lovely envelope in my Grandmother's hand:
In case you can't make it out, it reads 'Grandad Lovejoys Treasures from his pockets'. So that would be my Great, great grandfather I suppose.
There can be no doubt that my interest in found objects comes from my Mum's side of the family.
I have also claimed a pair of simple jet earrings that belonged to my great, great grandmother Ellen Lickman (below). In fact I think she is wearing them in this photo. I have never really owned any old jewellery before, and I really feel the weight of history wearing them. I am rather interested in that sensation... possibly something to explore.
I must admit I laughed when I read the title of my last blog post. Although I am embarrassed it is so long since I last posted, I can't help but feel that 'rest' is the last thing I have been doing. As is normal for me at this time of year, the academic roller coaster reaches full speed and I am dragged along with it.
Although I have been stupidly busy, it has also been a wonderful period of blossoming talent that has seen my embroidery students complete their final collections for the Bradford summer show and all the excitement of New Designers. You can see a sample of their work Here. Amanda Woollard and Denise Jordan also have portfolios on Arts Thread. It has been a great pleasure to see things come together for exhibition and, as usual, the standard of work is wonderful.
While in London I was fortune to steal a few moments at the British Library to see Cornelia Parker's Magna Carta (An Embroidery), which was fascinating to see in person, having heard so much about it. It is such a clever project, but also the scale of the actual piece struck me; that a thing can be so much bigger than it's actual size... not sure that makes sense, but I think I mean the idea, meaning or story of something can be so much bigger than the original object.
I am really pleased to have another chance to show Linear Mapping, this time in my own studio during Saltaire Arts Trail. It's always an interesting challenge to reconfigure an installation of components. I have no fixed arrangement, so we shall see how it works in this new space.
My studio at the Butterfly Rooms will be open 10 - 5 on Saturday 23rd May, 10 - 4 Sunday 24th and Monday 25th. I hope you will pop by and have a look...
This time last year I was part way through my project called 'Linear Mapping'. The project involved recording or mapping a series of short walks in the local countryside and also some in my native Chilterns. I was reflecting on this yesterday while I was out walking. Since then my walking habits have changed a bit, with a dog to take with me on my journeys. We don't always want to stop and 'sniff around' in the same spots but are learning some give and take. Being out walking at different times has given me some wonderful encounters with nature. Yesterday while I was taking photos of bluebells we were both startled by a pair of deer thundering past us just a few feet away.
Linear Mapping is on my mind a lot at the moment as I will be showing the work during Saltaire Arts Trail in a few weeks. To accompany this I am currently in the process of putting together an artist's edition, that documents the project. I am enjoying the process of bringing all the different strands together and finishing the process of documentation. With any luck these editions should be ready in time for the trail... not long now!