I'm looking forward to spending a week in the studio at the splendid Nature in Art Museum and Gallery. I shall be working on another insect inspired piece with more "Lost Words" as a background.
Apologies for the infrequent postings but this afternoon I re-acquainted myself with my website.
I've been experimenting with more text as a background for stitching and have just finished a piece of work which will be exhibited in Weavers Gallery, Ledbury from 30th June to 10th July.
For many years now the gallery owner, who is also a textile artist, shows work by invited artists with a specific theme. I have been lucky to be asked to take part and always find the journey of researching a brief interesting and inspiring. Often it leads to further ideas.
This year the brief is Lost Words. I've taken the idea of losing words in a background of stitching and have chosen a few lines, written by a friend, about a rather beautiful Lime Hawk moth.
Those subtle olive shades
Wings ragged edged, disguising
What you are.
Hiding in plain sight
On mossy bark.
I found that overlapping the words created interesting bark like patterns. Some of these spaces were painted and others densely stitched. The moths have been painted directly onto fabric and then appliqued on the surface.
The work began as a way of using up a collection of reclaimed shirting fabrics in a "Skitch a day" style. It was a project to continue on a studio retreat. The idea was to make a little appliqued rectangle for every day of the year and at the end of the year join them all together to make one large quilt.
Initially subjects were chosen from domestic items found around the home that might fit neatly into the 2" x 6" format.
March came and the subject matter changed. I started to make portraits of noteables in the news, often politicians and these were interspersed with newspaper headlines, articles and activities mainly around my home.
Businesses shut, people were on furlough or worked from home and the irony of my chosen fabric became more significant.
I made a little applique pretty much every day. Some were more successful than others but the activity took on an obsessive quality. The images I've stitched are now a reminder of my own curtailed activities last year and what was happening around me.
My original idea was to only use the shirting poplin, but it became apparent that I needed more colour, so some fabric was also dyed and painted.
The resulting quilt consists of 366 different images and is backed with more patched shirting fabric. It was completed at the beginning of January 2021.
I will be showing it at my forthcoming exhibition in The Great Oak Hall, The National Arboretum, Westonbirt from October 5th to 10th.
Looking forward to this exhibition at Nature in Art, starting on June 20th. I will be artist in residence there from Tuesday June 20 th until Sunday June 25th. It will be an eclectic mix of the work I've been doing over the past 17 years or so. Many thanks too for the loan of pieces for the exhibition.
Before then I will be visiting Romsey Quilters, Hampshire, to give my talk -----
"Whatever floats your boat!"
I have tended to post work on my Facebook page but have now got back to my blog.
Here are my Journal Quilt experiments so far for 2016. Each little quilt is 8 " x 10". The brief also stipulates that the first four have a small amount of purple, the second four a small amount of green and the last four of the year a small amount of orange fabric.
I have been using Gelli plates, which you can get in different sizes or even make your own. Mine were a Christmas present. Essentially it is a mono printing technique so each print is different and I have been using cotton poplin and organzas to print onto. The paints are acrylics with an added fabric medium. I now have a plan for the rest of the year!
This has been an opportunity to use some commercial stencils which I have had for a while, play with some wooden Indian printing blocks and use up scraps of paper from an old book that were also used in my Winter Heliotrope piece, which is now on tour with the Contemporary Quilt Group Challenge "On the Edge".
There are a huge variety of grasses growing in the fields where I live. I collected some, attempted to identify them with varying luck and did some quick stitched sketches in grey thread on a yellow beige printed background. I divided the background fabric up so the shapes look a bit like the fields.
I wanted to try doing some printing on synthetic organza with a view to using the technique on a new piece of work. The organza livens up what previously was rather unpreposessing piece of cloth.
I like the way the shadows work on the layered organza. I collect leaves and bits of plants when Im out with the dog, which I press in heavy books under kitchen roll. I've also used leaves and plants on the gelli plates. Even the prints which look a bit blobby because of the bulk of plant material look ok over other layers.
The field closest to the house has a purple hue at the moment because of the knapweed. Earlier on in the year there were so many orchids, I've never seen that many in these fields. All the hay is being cut now. I must try and get a photo before it all gets bundled up into big black rolls.
Look what I found lurking under the clematis.Those colours!
This year is the 300th Anniversary of the birth of the 18th century garden designer Lancelot "Capability" Brown. Embroiderers' Guilds around the country have been taking part making pieces of work that celebrate the occasion and they are being exhibited at venues which have connecftions with the designer.
I made this small appliqued picture and it is displayed at Woodchester Mansion, Gloucestershire along with other members work from Stroud Embroiderers. Apparently Capability Brown did visit Woodchester Park, before he died. Of course the Mansion hadn't been built then and was never finished. I am hoping to be there for Big Stitch Day, on August 6th. Our work is displayed in a corridor in the house. The exhibition runs until October. This is an article from Cotswold Life August 2016.
Winter heliotrope: On the Edge.
This is a large hanging, 100 x60 cm which was submitted for inclusion for On the Edge, a touring exhibition run by the Contemporary Quilt Group. I took for my inspiration a piece of land covered with winter heliotrope plants which borders the side of the A417 and Edge Common and quarry.
When I visited it I was hoping to find interesting geology and lichens in the quarry, but it was a miserable wet and dull day and we waded through the undergrowth tryng to avoid rubbish which had been thrown from cars. I stitched the linen cloth with stone shapes, block printed the leaves and then appliqued waste paper leaves on the surface. It needed more texture so I stitched lichen like french knots over the stone shapes. It was rather hard on the fingers and I had to mount it on a tapestry frame. It will be shown at various venues during this year and next.
A Stitched Anthology
I always enjoying taking part in Weavers Gallery exhibition, Ledbury, which runs with the poetry festival. This year we could choose our own poem and I chose one of my father's poems which he wrote to my mother in 1941. I have been coming across bits of his verse in various obscure places. this was in a little pamphlet called Poetry Today. I find it rather poignant, especially given the present state of things. However, my father was always rather a melancholic sort of man!
I tied and stitched the background cotton poplin and over- dyed several times to get the circular planet - like shapes. The text was appliqued and the diagonal background stitching was done by hand with a variegated thread.
I was reminded of the technique while clearing up my shed. I found a piece of tie dyed fabric that I'd done in 1999, after designing one of my very first hangings. "One minute 38 seconds" which was about the solar eclipse.
I'm continuing to make little quilts to the Contemporary Quilt Group brief and post them online regularly. Here are September and October offerings.They are 12" x6" and all portrait in orientation.
I've been trying to look at existing samples and experiments and move them on into these "JQ's".
There were two pieces of collaged paper on my wall. One was made from laminated pages of an old book about Malvern that I had looked at then abandoned when making the Ledbury Malvern Hills piece. The other was made of sketchbook pen and ink scraps, and more old book pages which had been coloured with potassium permanganate so had gone a mucky brown. Pieces of muslin had been stitched across the paper to form a new piece of "cloth". I stitched both of these layers together with a felt backing and left it for a few days as I wanted to add another layer of something else.
An idea occurred while I was lacing up the lichen embroideries so I laced across the front with dish cloth cotton which was anchored down the centre with a single line of machine stitch.
I keep looking at the fragments of faces peering through the grid and think of the images of migrants every day on our screens, peering through yards of fences for a glimpse of better times beyond the wire.
I've called this piece Just Looking.
Just Looking (September Journal Quilt)
The next JQ is made from painted, crayoned and printed cotton scraps and paper, which are machine collaged together.
The quotation "stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight" is from The Listeners by Walter De La Mare. I used a piece of fabric which I had digitally printed for a previous piece of work called "Listen", added some scraps of builder's scrim and then a circle of organza to make a copper moon. I saw a glimpse of the eclipsed moon through the trees from my bedroom window.
I received an e mail in August 2014 from a textile artist in the US called Diane Savona.
She had seen my work on line and asked if I was interested in exhibiting in an exhibition to be held at Noyes Museum, New Jersey, which she was gong to curate.
The exhibition was to feature exhibits by textile artists inspired by scientific themes, "Scientifically Stitched".
Now, a year or so later, I have completed a further set of French knot embroideries inspired by lichen on Cotswold limestone walls. The design is one which started out as a large appliqué wall hanging nearly 10 years ago, but over the years I have used elements of it in different pieces of work, experimenting with various techniques.
Each embroidery is around 5 inches square and has around 10,000 little knots stitched in it. Further textures have been added by wrapping and stitching beads, jewelry jump rings and washers.
Cotton, linen, viscose and silk threads have been used. Some are commercially available threads - stranded cottons and perle and some I have dyed myself when doing a batch of cloth, so the colours are variegated.
The embroideries are now washed and stretched to straighten them up and I've laced them over heavy duty mount board ready to frame.
A friend will be taking them to the US with her in November and the exhibition will be running from May 20 th to September 11th 2016.
Noyes Museum of Art - Oceanville, New Jerseywww.noyesmuseum.org/
Here they all are!
I had a great time at Art in Action this year, with Nature in Art. There were lots of visitors over the four days and the weather stayed good - if sometimes rather warm in the glasshouse.
It was good to get home too, with no particular deadlines except for my French knot embroideries which are ongoing. Luckily I have until the Autumn to finish them.
I take part in the Contemporary Quilt Group journal challenge and have finished four more, May, June, July and August. these four pieces all use as a basis scraps of fabrics from previous pieces as their starting point. My challenge for has been to transform them into some sort of credible design and if possible reflect what is going around me at the time, in true Journal fashion.
This black and white landscape has a background of loosely collaged fabrics scraps of different materials and weights, with foliage machine stitched over the surface. It wasn't quite wide enough so a strip of white silk added on one side created more interest.
It reminds me of the view across the valley in the winter.
Here I've used offcuts from the Ledbury piece, Mists of Time. I used wools, cottons and linens and fused them to a calico backing. They were all looking a bit scrappy so I then stitched random straight lines over the surface, from the back of the fabric, so no distractions from the shapes on the front. One of the inspirations for Mists of Time was William Langland's Piers Plowman. I'm also interested in using calligraphy so I stitched distorted letter shapes from the poem within the grid. Still not too happy with it, I altered the background by adding a layer of cotton scrim. Swallows were wheeling and darting across the valley as they had decided to come back for a second chance of nesting in the garage. The lettering had the angular feel of the swallows wings, so they were an easy choice to appliqué on top.
I tend to save strips cut when straightening up squares for more geometric designs and I had a short length of fused fabric in shades of green, looking like fields if they were oriented horizontally.
In this piece I stitched elements from the landscape, leaves, trees, hedges and walls on to the background.
This time a buzzard was being mobbed by rooks so these were also appliquéd on top.
Mists of Time.
This is the latest piece made for the exhibition at Weavers Gallery, Ledbury, in conjunction with the Ledbury Poetry Festival. www.poetry-festival.co.uk/
The brief this year was the poetry of the Malvern Hills.
I pieced this, then appliquéd it on to a cotton canvas background, then added some words from William Langland's vision in Piers Plowman, probably written in 1300's.
"Ac on a May morwenynge on Malverne Hilles
Me befel a ferly, of Fairye me thoghte"
But on a May morning on Malvern Hills
I experienced a wonder, come from Fairy-power.
I researched a bit about the Geology of the hills, some of the most ancient rocks and constructed a geological map using rusted cotton, linens and wool.
Here is a detail of the lettering, which is machine stitched and gives an interesting but texture.
I've tried to keep this piece understated and simple in an attempt to reflect the Medieval aspect.
The exhibition Remembered Hills is well underway at Weaver's gallery Ledbury.
There are some lovely pieces and a variety of styles with pieces stitched, embellished, printed and embroidered with poetry written about The Malverns at the heart.
Last week I was stewarding and stitching my latest lichen embroidery. I had an interesting conversation with a visitor about life, juggling the needs of families and the piece I was working on.
The reverse is a jumble of threads and ends - crossing and re-crossing - knots and loops peppered with pin pricks of of ordered stitches amongst the chaos.
But turn it over to the "right side" the face shown to the world and it is quite precise and ordered.
The threads are contained in their neat little knot formations and wrapped carefully round washers and rings and bounded by the shapes, colours carefully considered, controlled.
Everything is where it is intended to be.
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