Friday, 25 July 2014

A weekend in Llanidloes




A week ago now, Ian and I headed off for a long weekend in Llanidloes for the 'Meet the Artist' event associated with Cwilt Cmyru exhibition 'Connection' at Minerva Arts  Centre. We're getting better now at  acclimatising to peace and quiet relatively quickly. We struck gold in our B&B, the Coach and Horses - we were in the Owl Suite on the top floor  with views out over the fields (below)  with excellent hosts, facilities and breakfasts. The  main sound was that of the swifts swooping around after insects ( makes a change from planes descending into Heathrow and the elevated section of the M4!)
I particularly liked the old  Welsh woollen quilts in the summer show at Minerva, the examples above made from tailors samples and from Welsh flannel  and I found some peeling doors to photo!  Saturday was very leisurely - a couple of pints (from the Waen Brewery ) and lunch in the Old Mill reading the  Saturday Grauniad  and a wander round the town including the museum and the old market hall  with its exhibition on half-timbered buildings.
Perhaps because  the preview had been the previous weekend, we didn't have too many visitors to 'Meet the Artists'  but those who did come were very interested in our work. This meant we had more time to look at the quilts: the antique ones: the interesting arctic pieces  by Sandra Meech  and seeing each others work in the flesh having only seen it in photos on Dropbox. Everyone's work is different  and distinctive but shows the same degree of  professionalism and thought, I'm very proud to have been asked to be a member.  Being quiet it was great to catch up and plan our next exhibition.  
Ian meanwhile was very happy to re-visit the Old Mill and the Angel and read his book  which tied in nicely with seeing the display on the Chartists  in the Museum ( I was more interested in the display on flannel weaving and the old Welsh quilt in the Victorian parlour).
On our return ,the train from Caersws ( just about learnt how to pronounce this!) was delayed by half an hour because of 'police assistance' required at Machynlleth so we were in need of refreshment from the trolley - The Rev James for Ian , coffee and bara brith for me.  I'd bought Welsh cakes from the bakers to take back for work - they disappeared very quickly before I'd had a chance to taste them myself!
It was refreshing to be in a place where everything wasn't  open 24/7 and the shops weren't chain stores.  Staying over on Sunday night it was just as well we like curry as that was all that was available. We look forward to our next visit.  

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Dislocation Dejection

I was rather disappointed not to have my entry' Hidden Fractures'  selected for the CQ 'Dislocation' challenge to be exhibited at the  Festival of quilts but with 79 submitted and space for only 44, and an incredibly diverse selection ( see the website here), the judges had a  tough job!  My quilt was also difficult to photograph well being so dark and with a  floating organza layer which gave almost a 3d effect, much  more intriguing in the flesh. With more and more quilt exhibition juried by photo it leaves me with a dilemma . This quilt was an experiment, trying out new techniques and effects  and I'm increasingly using indigo fabrics where the colours and tones are subtle and often difficult to get good photographs. With juried exhibitions selecting from photos looking for impact, do I  really want to make work specifically that  will photograph well at the expense of working to my own criteria?
Anyway  a bit  about the quilt. It was  inspired by marks on cloth: this piece of cloth from bought from Jo Lovelock, and  a piece of my own  indigo arashi shibori  dyed brown silk organza.  Searching the internet for photos linked with dislocation brought up various MRI  scans and X-rays of dislocated bones which these fabrics reminded me of. A few years ago I had a 'mallet injury' of my left hand pinkie  and  had a sneaky look at my x-rays  on the way between hospitals.   It was a very peculiar angle and required splinted strapping for 6 weeks. I briefly considered that as a quilt but decided on something more abstract related to it.

I cut up the fabric and rearranged it  and after a bit of a search managed to track down the right colour of blue threads to machine stitch with
Once  quilted ( I particularly liked the 12wt Wonderfil ) I  took photos of  the 4 different permutations of the indigo organza over the top, spending quite a while deciding which I liked best.

Deciding how to 'float' the organza over the top was quite a challenge - I tried samples with machine stitching the edges or raw and then  decided on hand rolling ( I used to be quite an expert when I made my own scarves from yardage) - time consuming given I was running against a tight deadline  but I'm getting to be a bit of a perfectionist. And then I had  to work out how to attach it by stitching it into the facing ( the bottom took 3 attempts, 1 too loose, 1 too tight!)
Artist Statement:

Inspired by accidental marks on cloth reminiscent of bone fractures and dislocations revealed through X-rays and MRI scans.
Even with modern scanning techniques, detection depends on the experience and interpretation of the viewer.

Tray-dyed cotton sateen fabric dyed by Jo Lovelock cut up and reassembled, machine stitched with 12wt and 40wt cotton threads. Floating top layer of silk organza with hand-rolled hems, attached at top and bottom, hand-dyed with indigo using arashi shibori.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Cwilt Cmyru Connections Opens at Minerva

 I was stitching this little 8 inch sample  made from scraps  while I was sitting in waiting rooms ( my Mother -in- Law has been in hospital ) and it drew a lot of attention from passers by. One conversation with a nurse was how her grandmother had made 2 hexagon quilts - 1 each for herself and her brother and how she mended hers  recently, proud to have matched the small stitching. It made me remember that outside the quilters guild circle I belong to there are so many people who have connections to quilts.
 So it's appropriate I was making it to mount on a small canvas for display when I'm demonstrating techniques at 'Meet the Artists' day next Sunday 20th July associated with the Cwilt Cmyru 'Connections' Exhibition at Minerva Art Centre, Llanidloes. I like the back almost as much.
Today was the preview which unfortunately  I couldn't get to but we're very much looking forward to spending a few days in the town ( including investigating the micro brewery...)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Remembering 7/7

 
I've  been making Journal Quilts since 2003  and so  in recent talks to quilt groups on this subject , I can speak from experience  about all the ways they can be used, from  samples for larger quilts, trying out techniques, to more personal records of events important in my life.
This  small quilt from July 2005 falls in that category. It has at its centre a copy of my train ticket from  7/7 - I was travelling to a meeting in Peterborough and this was the last train out of Kings Cross  just  as the bombs went off. Our meeting was cut short as the horrific  news broke and we were all frantically trying to contact family and friends. The next problem was how to get home - all the trains were  terminating at Peterborough. In the end a  colleague travelling back to Newbury took several of us in his car and then got a train  to Ealing, arriving home very late. Ian also  had a long journey, walking right across London to get a train from Paddington. But we were  both home ,safe.  I'd been taking a lot of photos from trains  at speed using my  new digital camera  and  happened to be  travel the same train route just a week later so took photos of my journey, remembering the week before  and my lucky escape - others were less fortunate.
We had tickets for the first night of the proms that year - a more sombre occasion than usual. Willard White singing in Tippet's 'A Child of Our Time' was particularly poignant, referring to man's inhumanity to man,  and it still leaves a lump in my throat when I hear it. In memory of  the victims and survivors of 7/7.  

 
 

RA Summer Exhibition 2014

 913 Chris Wilkinson RA
 
739 Varvara Shavrova



 752-754 Hughie O'Donoghue RA
 

111 Carol Wyss

 505, 691 Michael  Pollard

 140,144 Jo Garner


165, 171 Sara Lee
303 Carol Wilhide


305,336 Johanna Melvin 
 569 Carol Hodder
579 Peter Austin


577 Midge Naylor 

218 Liz Rideal
 
I'll be adding more details and links to this post at a later time with some reflections on my choices but meanwhile I thought you'd like a preview of my highlights from the RA Summer Exhibition. 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Hidden Treasure




I've been using  over-loved antique quilts as the basis of my own work for many years, giving them a new lease of life.  It started with  a rather tatty grey white Durham quilt that  I used to use as a door curtain and then became my canvas for  painting with acrylics : 'Bexhill Breakwaters' and 'Rich as Honesty' were 2 of these. Then having run out of large size pieces , I started buying 'cutter' quilts from ebay : a red and white strippy coverlet formed the basis of 4 quilts.
Planning on dying some of my finds in an indigo vat later this summer, I've been buying quite a few more recently.   I obtained this blue wavy medallion for a very reasonable price as the red areas of the quilts are  disintegrating. The quilting is fairly crude and the backing is perfect tight weave for painting on so as is my practice, I put it in the washing machine on a gentle wash.
When it came out of the machine the areas of disintegration were more marked and  several seams were giving way. Which is when I found that instead of wadding, old fabrics had been used,  a few fairly coarse cottons  but  principally  what looks  like a very fine wool paisley striped shawl  in pale greens and browns.  I will do a bit more careful unpicking but what a  find, my own  'Boro'!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Hidden Gem Prints


I'm a big fan of lino prints( including  artists such as Australian printmaker GW BOT ), liking the distinctive, varied marks made by the cuts depending on the degree of touch. I've even had a go myself .  So I'm happy to  bring the work of Fran Graham to your attention. I've known Fran and her husband Robin   for some years - they both worked at  Kew.  Fran is now working for the  Yorkshire Dales National Parks as an ecologist, and she's really brought that sense of place and knowledge of plants to her delightful prints. I've suggested they might look good on fabric ( well I would , wouldn't I!)