Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Boro at Somerset House

 
More than 2 weeks since my last post, very busy at work as our lab was a winner in the Intellectual Property Office 'Fast Forward' Competition. Plus 2 weekends ago Susan and Glyn came to stay, lovely to catch up, and hearing Susan talk from behind her pile of quilts at  Quilters Guild Regional day . Last Friday, Ian and I went to the 'Vikings' exhibition at British Museum - very crowded and lots of people with BO!( end of week? unsuitable clothes in warmer weather?) so I  moved quickly to the larger area where the impressive boat was. I also enjoyed the interpretation more in this area , concentrating on how they lived, their belief systems  (which had me looking again through excellent book on amulets  when I got home).
Earlier on I'd taken the afternoon off work to go to see the  Boro exhibition at Somerset House, deeply satisfying at so many levels. Several bloggers have written excellent posts on their experiences: Helen; Susan; Margaret: here and here.   
First of all the setting was spacious allowing you to step back from the pieces and also to examine them in detail  at leisure. The pieces were mainly mounted on canvas, very much to be viewed as abstract art pieces. The  minimal mounted boards of explanatory text ( repeated in the catalogue) made reference to  a wide range of artists including 'outsider art' those that used ephemera  and more  mainstream artists such as  Picasso and Paul Klee ( having seen the recent exhibition I can definitely see the links there). But the fabric and stitch gave a whole other dimension. The catalogue  also showed in some instances the same piece in different orientations -  that many looked equally good although different showed just how powerful  these pieces are.   Difficult to choose favourites,  (although  2 out of 3 had been sold so I obviously have good taste!) my preference was for those that had a bit of light to leaven the indigo and with some interesting stitch and patterns.  I concentrated to taking photos of some of the details as these weren't so represented in the catalogue



Taking photos from  beneath or to the side in raked light revealed some interesting textures and clues to how fabrics had been layered.


Holes 
I loved the  almost vessel like quality , variation in stitch (with some sashiko) and evidence of multiple layers in this piece (no 3)
And the reverse applique ovoids  in no 18 (below)

Seams 
 
Fray

Rips

Tacks
 
This was so reminiscent of blind stitching  but then it's probably the back, the 'unconscious side' with neater stitching of the front hidden.
When I got home I fished out the 'cutter' quilts I've bought, thinking I could be even more daring than I was 'darning' and putting together my 'Red Remnants' quilt. Watch this space!
UpdateJudy has asked about details of the catalogue. It's ISBN 978-2-9536279-3-0 Boro Threads of Life Japanese Indigo Patched Textiles 2014  Gordon Reece & Philippe Boudin. Do take a look at the  Mingei Arts Gallery  and Gordon Reece websites  for some of the pictures that feature in the book.


Sunday, 30 March 2014

CQ AGM, Journals Quilts and an indulgance

 
Yesterday was the annual meeting of Contemporary Quilt in Central London, an event I look forward to eagerly each year with its opportunity to catch up with so many quilting friends. I picked up my copies of the 'Horizons' Catalogue ( Thanks Hilary), thrilled to find mine is on the front cover!
This was a very successful exhibition  and it's about to go to the Prague Patchwork Meeting.
 
The afternoon talk was by Elizabeth Tarr, not a textile artist I was aware of,  she works a lot with indigo (particularly on paper), now buying Chinese shibori pleated skirts from Slow Loris rather than dyeing her own. A lot of the pieces she showed on slides was very dark and difficult to photograph- the example she'd brought with her showed better the richness and depth she achieves. With indigo  I go for marks rather then the intensity she aims for - just shows how versatile a dye it is, more determined than ever to set up a vat this summer.  She did a whole series around painting' Las Meninas' by Velazquez of the Spanish Infanta, admitting this style of painting wasn't really her thing but adapting images from it to tell her own stories. It made me think of the courses I did at the National Gallery,  finding links to pictures in all kinds of unexpected ways which I am still processing.  
 



Bringing small quilts to the meeting was my incentive to finish off some journal quilts: 2 based on my surroundings at Rydal ('Rydal Colours' and 'Rydal Beck') and 1 an  experiment with all kinds of red marks: pen, stitch and finger painting!
Finally a wander around Covent Garden indulging myself  in London Graphic Centre with a box of  100 Fabriano Medievalis  cards as used on 'Human Marks' class. I'd told myself that I could easily make them myself from watercolour paper but actually because they're mould-made with a  slightly thinner area on the fold, they work much better in  handmade books of  marks. I'm planning to take some ( along with colour catchers, paints and threads ) when we go to Crete in  less than 4 weeks.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Leeds City Art Gallery and train stitching

There's something about seeing a favourite artwork for the first time in the flesh  after only seeing it in  print/on the web.  My treat on Wednesday while in Leeds for  a meeting  was seeing Paul Nash's 'The Shore(1923) ' in the City Art Gallery  in the 20 minutes I had  spare before catching my train. I'd gone to see 'Winter Sea' again  but I think I have a false memory  of seeing it there as the postcard I have is from York!
 
  
'The Shore' and various other works  based on Dymchurch, gave me a lot of inspiration on compositions when I was working on 'Bexhill Breakwaters'
 
On the train home, stitching with my snarled, enlarged tangle of threads ( it keeps getting added to!) pulling out colours for one of the journal quilts made of scraps inspired by Rydal, thinking of the  main type of sewing I do on trains, planning my indigo vat this summer

 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Spring Knit and Stitch, Olympia

A week has now gone by since the Spring Knit and Stitch Show at Olympia  and I've just about recovered! On the Saturday I went with my mother-in -law Sheila to have a good look round  but Sunday was stewarding day.

I went in early before it was open to the public  so I could take photos of the TVCT 'Halfway Between' stand. It looked fantastic and I'm so pleased that my dolls house mock-up proved useful .

It was quiet to begin with but soon there were lots of interested people having a look around. The show attracted quite a wide  range of  knitters and stitchers and I think our stand with it's variety of textiles appealed to that audience.
No photography allowed(we encouraged people to buy the catalogue)  but in a quiet time I got Sue to take a snap of me with  my 'Fleet Mudflats' ( as used  in advertising and  show catalogue!) .
There's still the opportunity to see 'Halfway Between' at the National Needlework Archive
I spent the Sunday afternoon with my white gloves on , stewarding the 70 or so  quilts of Contemporary Quilt Specialist Group of Quilters Guild Of British Isles. Lovely to see such a wide range of quilts (including older ones) made by my friends and with my white gloves having a  fine time sneaking a look at their backs. I've written a post for the 'fire' blog on this topic. 

A little retail therapy did not go amiss - some fabrics to dye with indigo later in the summer and a range of threads including luscious linen ones from  Namolio.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

British Drawing: 1600 to Present Day

After a stimulating  Kew/NHM  networking day at the Natural History Museum on Monday ( 79 'lightening' talks of 2 slides in less than 5 minutes!!), with my head still buzzing, I went over the road to the V&A, finally getting round to see the exhibition of British drawings. It was a joy to be reminded of the work of Samuel Palmer - the catalogue from the 2005 exhibition was the first thing off my bookshelves when I got home. Besides his 'black works', perhaps because they reminded me of the rubbings of bark I made at Rydal, I particularly liked his drawings of tree trunks capturing the different textures, obviously enjoying the  marks made with his pen.  
More impressive marks made by David Connrean in 'Mappa Mundi: drawing to the extent of the body'  capturing the evolution of a line as its is copied imperfectly. I've tried something similar and can attest to how absorbing it is as an exercise  but never on this monumental scale where he used his whole body!
A different set of marks again in this charcoal drawing 'Head Study Two'  by Alison Lambert, almost sculptural  with  its patches of paper added  and drawn into.
I was also intrigued by the methods of Jane Dixon -  making paintings of photographs, then rubbings of the textured paintings on graph paper with graphite. Thought provoking studies making me wonder how I might take further the ideas I started working through in my daily art last year.

Despite buying several exhibition catalogues lately, I'm sure I'll be buying this  book  soon.
Meanwhile I couldn't resist this colourful kantha scarf in the shop - well it is my birthday next month and I'm currently researching and writing some blog posts on hand stitch for the 'And Then We Set It On Fire' Blog.  I'm sure it counts as 'reference material'!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Buy a Plank!

 
I love African fabrics  and have bought a lot from Magie Relph  of the  African Fabric Shop over the years ( I was her first customer! ). I especially like the kola and indigo fabrics that Musa produces, using quite a lot of it in my 'Tunisian Door' made especially for 'Under African Skies' exhibition.  So I was sorry to have missed out on the opportunity of buying a piece of Helen Conway's quilt when she cut it up.   However the artists that  did obtain a 'plank' have produced a wonderfully diverse selection of quilts which are now up for auction on the 'buy a plank' auction website. I urge you to visit  and consider bidding  for a worthwhile cause. I know which one I'd like to own!

Thanks to Nina-Marie  for asking so nicely if she could use this as inspiration for her colour palette!

I also used  some of Musa's fabrics in my 'Fleet Mudflats' piece (below) for TVCT 'Halfway Between'  exhibition which opens at Spring Knit and Stitch show at Olympia, stand F60, tomorrow. I'll  be visiting on Saturday, stewarding on Sunday  so if you see me, do say hello - I love to meet people who read my blog!



Monday, 10 March 2014

Turner and the Sea at NMM and Contemporary Textiles Fair

John Sell Cotman A dismasted Brig
 
 On Saturday, after stocking up at the farmers market, Ian and I headed off to Greenwich to see 'Turner  and the Sea ' at the National Maritime Museum. It was fun to go on the DLR , a bit like a roller coaster at times, adding to the sensation of a having a day out!   It was an interesting exhibition showing the full range of Turners engagement with the sea and all things marine, with paintings by other artists (particularly Dutch)  that influenced  him or were the prevalent style around the same time. I was  struck by the watercolour by John Sell Cotman with its distinctive broad regular washes of colour -  reminding me of the large indigo piece I'm working on at the moment .

I've long admired Turners watercolours - I've misplaced my copy of  'Hockney on Turner Watercolours ' book  but I have a quote to hand which resonates for me:
 "They're fresh because you can see how he has made them. You can sense the trace of his arm, ......painting has to be about this sense of gesture and movement, the sheer physicality of making a picture"
Makes me want to  grab my watercolours and just play with stokes and washes of colour!

JMW Turner  A study of the sea 
JMW Turner Ship at Sea 
JMW Turner Sea Piece with figures in the foreground
 
Master of invention, once others had started to copy his style, he moved on, always experimenting, carrying a lot of  the energy in his sketches to his larger oils.  It  is this  later work I really admire, with added insight after sketching  at The National Gallery .  So I look forward  to the exhibition 'Painting Set Free'  at Tate Britain later in the year.  We kept thinking of the Turner ,Whistler, Monet exhibition -  sign of a good exhibition that we still remember it 9 years on! (pre-blog days)


JMW Turner Breaking Against The Wind (oil)
 
On Friday evening, I went after work to the Contemporary Textiles Fair At Landmark Arts Centre, always a diverse  selection of textile pieces.
My purchases were relatively modest - a pair of purple acrylic laser cut earrings from Mandy Nash , although seriously tempted by the silver and hand stitched silk thread jewellery of Liz Willis.  I  spent some time talking to Lucy Ann Harding about her quirky textile illustrations based on life as a milkman's daughter and  to Anna Obese-Acquaah. I loved her complex and vibrant marks on cloth.