Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Drawing Tuesday at the Brunei Gallery SOAS

 On Tuesday, the drawing group (10 of us!)  met in the comparative calm of the Brunei  Gallery of  SOAS  to sketch the current exhibition ' Embroidered tales and woven dreams'. Being half term , London was packed with excited children !  It took a long time to settle , surrounded by such gorgeous textiles, but in the end attempted to capture the different textures of  the fabric, basketry, wood and shadows of these stools from Baluchistan.

  I didn't get the perspective right in the quick sketch so instead  spent my time on the details of the stool legs using various hardnesses of pencil  and 'reverse drawing' with erasers ( better in some areas than others ....) 

 I definitely need to return to study the exhibition in more detail and perhaps even get round to using the coloured pencils and pens I'd brought with me to record them
I left relatively  early to return to Faversham, meeting up  with Ian   for an early dinner at ASK  before heading to the Alexander Centre for recording of 'Gardeners Question Time' . The modest ticket price included a glass of wine and  if you wished you could write out a question for the panel.
 It was both great fun and informative. They were recording 2 episodes and for each chose 8-9 questions from those submitted including mine on suggestions for wildlife friendly garden when you only have thin turf over rubble and serious soil envy! It will be broadcast on 24  March.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Traces, Places

 January 2017
After a lot of cogitating,  ' Traces,Places' is the theme I've chosen for CQ Journal Challenge  2017 , hopefully broad enough to encompass  interpretations of  my surroundings in scraps and old quilts. I have big plans ! and  intend to use these as samplers   and try-outs for larger pieces , partly working towards  Cwilt Cymru's next exhibition ( the theme being 'traces')   but also  entries for  other  competitions and exhibitions as well as building up a series of work  based on the breakwaters and sea defenses at Birchington.  

Postcard textile  sketches
  It always takes me a while after I've been doing  an art course  and been bombarded with ideas and techniques to see what sticks, to see what I can take and use in my own work. There was  a lot of useful stuff covered in 'Advanced Painting'  particularly in strategies for starting; choice of colour   and 'steal like an artist ' looking at others work , pinching ideas and making it your own .
Paul Nash

John Piper
 One of the lessons was on using Photoshop or similar, not only at the start  but to look at your own work differently ( eg  reviewing tone, increasing saturation or contrast) and try different scenarios out.  As I've been thinking for a while of using the back of an old red and white log cabin ( I love the holey 'marks'!) ,I'd already been playing with images  using  the 'conte' filter .  The images above are manipulated artwork of Paul Nash and John Piper  while the image below is one of my photos of Birchington

And then manipulated  copies of my own work 'Bexhill Breakwaters'
 When CQ  Kent group came to visit ( there were 10 of us  packed in the lounge!) I gave a very quick demo of the acrylic  techniques I used ( summarised in a series of posts I did for 'And then we set it on fire... 'blog).  I'd forgotten  the delights of painting over old stitching samples ( below)  

So I'm currently  revising the methods I was using and working on some samples to  try painting on ( a lot of stitching from the back  of a gessoed section of quilt with Perle thread in the bobbin) . Watch this space!

Monday, 6 February 2017

A Day Out in Bermondsey

 On Friday  I met up with my friend Sue  ( who I haven't seen for months)  in Bermondsey. It's not an area I've visited for a very long time, the focus for the visit was the exhibition at the White Cube of Anselm Kiefer, but there's  lots of interest in the area including  this  delightful community sculpture 'The Shared'  that Sue spotted down an alley!
 'Walhalla' was the theme and the title of much of the work in this Anselm Kiefer  exhibition and  so much lead was used that you had to read a health and safety notice  about it's toxicity  before you entered!  I'd thought the work in the exhibition at the RA in 2014 was monumental but  this was of an even larger magnitude.  
Although thought-provoking I didn't particularly like the lead beds (and walls!) and other installations  but loved the paintings: the scale, the colours, most of all the incredible textures and surfaces achieved with variety of unusual media used.

 The huge 'books' of photographs with  clay  were wonderful .
 The close up (below) of this painting  give an idea of  how layers are curled back from the surface.

 Interesting unusual composition with the darkest areas at the top.
 The use of luminous colours  (especially the blue) and the sheen of shellac   gave a lift to these paintings ( which are huge!)
 Sue and I had a discussion about how on earth he made  such huge pieces and how  large his studio could be - the answer is apparently 200 acres!

  After a delicious long lunch at the Fashion and Textile Museum, we    visited the London Glassblowing   gallery. This spectacular, sculptural piece ( with its' shadows)  by Jochen Ott  was my favourite  but   difficult  to choose  amongst so much gorgeous work!
 Finished up at the Eames gallery  where I'd noticed on my way past  there was  an exhibition on 'Discovering Samuel Palmer' whose work I've long admired ( the exhibition at the British Museum  was exceptional)   It turned out to be even more interesting  as  his prints formed the basis of  varied interpretations by  a range of contemporary printmakers, rather a contrast in scale to the Anselm Kiefer up the road!

CQ Suitcase Collection : Indigo Hill Arches ( Henry Moore)

 The ' Suitcase Collections ' of Contemporary Quilt  are very popular and give the opportunity for all kinds of groups or individuals who borrow them  to see a  diverse selection of work.   I submitted  pieces for 2 previous  collections and  for the latest,  'My Favourite Artist'  I chose  Henry Moore. 
So difficult to choose a favourite artist, I like so many! I had intended to do a piece based on the  paintings of Wilhelmina Barnes- Graham  as I'd done  several exercises inspired by her work as part of online class with Elizabeth Barton on  Abstract Art for Quiltmakers . But with the deadline looming, I decided to  cut-down and re-use a piece I made several years ago based on depicting multiple viewpoints of a sculpture.

The Henry Moore sculpture that inspired me , ‘Hill Arches’ ,was part of an exhibition at Kew Gardens in 2007. At the time I as working there as a botanist and I loved having access to these sculptures over many months, able to view them in different lights and viewpoints.  I made several journal quilts exploring ways of  interpreting  a 3D piece in 2D textiles( see below)  I liked how the sculptures and their environment interacted and the marks on many of the bronzes reminded me of stitches.

Two black and white images  of  'Hill Arches' sculpture by Henry Moore  were combined in  Photoshop. This was inkjet printed using 'poster printing' function to split an image over 4 A4 sheets onto hand dyed indigo cotton and silk treated with 'BubbleJet Set'.  Machine quilted with variegated threads, hand stitched with cotton perle thread  

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Wind Me In The Sea: Daily Stitching Project

 At a Rydal Hall retreat a few years ago when were  sharing books that inspired us ,  an entry in the 'History of the World  in 100 Objects'   set off a discussion about winding cloths and burial practices.  I've had it in mind for a while to construct a double sided  installation piece  using indigo scraps , partly inspired by work  by Masai Bamba   seen at Cloth and memory 2 and Beverly Ayling-Smith at the Whitworth.
 I've got so into stitching on the train that I wanted  a project  that could be worked   in sections , easily portable.    So on January 1st I made a start, sewing my first scrap to   a  piece of  1/2 width kasuri kimono fabric ( a semi-transparent gauze).  I've been adding pieces alternatively to each side, selecting and pinning a few strips at a time. 

Very soon I was getting very excited about the interaction of the stitches - both sides are of equal importance   and then  when you hold it  against the light, it has  yet another dimension.  I'm calling it 'Wind me in the sea' - I don't know  yet quite how large it's going to be or what changes I'll make along the way  but it's addictive daily stitching.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Tate Britain: Drawing Tuesday

  Last week's 'Drawing Tuesday' was at Tate Britain  where I followed the exercise we'd done there when I  visited with advanced painting group.  I concentrated mainly on work in the galleries  from  end of 19th beginning of 20th Century . Canadian  artist Elizabeth Forbes  was new to me -  what drew my eye was the interesting composition  and her treatment of  the subject matter ( we've a lot of marshes and channels in the 'land between' around here ) Although quite a gentle palette of colours, I liked the use of light outlining of dark and the brushmarks follow the contours

 Dora Carringtons' 'Farm at Watendlath'  is an old favourite , it really does capture the  Lake District , the lines of the walls and the monumental nature of the fells. It's basically a palette of greens and greys   but with strong contrasts of dark and light. The figures add a sense of mystery.

Whistlers ' Nocturne Blue and Silver  Chelsea'  was an interesting challenge in trying to analyse the colours  in such a subtle piece ( and also  a lesson in accuracy or not in reproduction) The top image is from the Tate website, the photo below what I took with my phone which show how much more varied and subtle the colours and tones were.  It  demonstrates  how important it is to see artworks in the flesh. The  bushstrokes were very evident - it looks like glazes over a darker ground  and the boat looked like paint had been removed . Lovely murkiness ! It reminded me how much I enjoyed the exhibition 'Turner, Whistler,Monet' and had me returning to the catalogue!  
 I only realised a bit later that all 3 examples I chose to examine had high horizon lines - obviously a subliminal preference of mine that I should take heed of .
After lunch in the  Djanogly cafĂ© ( a bit peeved that  unlike  V&A and British Museum, you don't get a  discount in their restaurants  for being a member ) , I revisited the Paul Nash exhibition and  drew a few pieces of work, it really makes you  see what's going on.

Meanwhile,  I've finally finished painting the dining room , it looks so much lighter and  warmer (it's North facing and the coldest room in the house). I'm  pleased with my work, particularly that I haven't lost the knack with skirting boards. When I worked  in a  Youth Hostel  30+  years ago, we were closed for a month for repairs and repainting - I did miles of skirting in the dormitories, hard on the knees  with no carpet and no heating.