Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Portland Beach huts

Bitterly cold but well wrapped up we headed  by bus to Portland. The final stop was 'Avalanche Road' in Southwell  from where we walked along the coast path towards Portland Bill lighthouse, stopping for lunch at the Lobster House Cafe and a pint at the Pulpit. Taking photos with gloves on was a bit of a challenge but necessary - so many different aspects of stone and sea to record. The beach huts were a bonus (actually on the cliff above the sea with no beach around, apparently they go for around £30K ! )  and I loved the rusty stone lifting wynches scattered around the landscape - they'll definately feature in a post of their own!
Tomorrow we'll be returning to the Tout Quarry Sculpture Park and Cove House Inn

Sunday, 29 January 2012

New Direction Samples

Remember the new (or rather recycled ) piece I started  to meet submission deadlines when I forgot to read the rules? I cut a section off this old quilt of mine from the 1990's 'Which Way Now?'

I applied gesso (above) and then acrylic paint (below) to some samples. Inspired by Gerhard Richter I even used a squigee to move the paint around. Originally I thought of painting the whole thing white and having a simgle painted red arrow ,'New Direction'. Now I've gessoed the whole thing and am summoning up the courage to just paint and see  how it develops, covering some arrows over, emphasising others.

Not this weekend though - been  getting up to date with washing after delivery of a new machine (the old one ground to a halt 2 weeks ago) and sorting out packing for a few days in Weymouth . The owner has just emailed to say it's very cold but we'd already seen the forecast and packed thermals and hot water bottles. Looking forward to some brisk walks and cosy pub lunches. 

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Sketchbook Posted

 Just posted my 'Grey Side of Life' sketchbook to Brooklyn Art Library (the deadline was 31 January) after scanning it, taking photos  and saying goodbye ( but at least I might see it again when it tours to London )
 I was even later finishing it than last years  despite my best intentions - I rebound it with handmade and khadi papers months ago!! It contains an eclectic mix of 'proper' drawings  and experiments such as  ink blots and monoprints.

 Mainly though it is about mark making through stitch and copying the stitches in ink. One of the nice things about working on paper is that you get to see the patterns the stitches make on the back too.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Read the Rules

I've always been someone who  is motivated by deadlines ( at University my lab practicals and essays were always completed the night before) . I spend a lot of time thinking and planning but the final pulling together is done almost at the last minute.  With quilts, I often  have submission for  shows and exhibitions in mind when I'm planning and making a piece  so that I've got something to work towards and  I've learnt to build in time for taking photographs and filling in entry forms
I've had  this indigo shibori wave  piece on the go for a while and with deadlines for submission  in a few weeks I've been picking up the pace of my hand stitching so I can  trim and face it  one weekend photograph it the next and be in comfortable time ( for me anyway) to submit the entry.
So imagine my horror when I looked again at the entry rules this weekend  and found that this piece is too small!! (it's 150cm in length but narrow). I'm so cross with myself! It won't be wasted - I'll probably enter it in FoQ and having longer does mean that I can work further on it to make it more cohesive and link the various areas of concentrated stitching.
Meanwhile I'm looking at a larger older UFO to see whether I can do something radical to  it and still meet the submission deadline. I'm rather excited and it could go horribly wrong but nothing ventured etc...

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Help from the Quilt Doctors

Yesterday  the focus of  Thames Valley Contemporary Textile group meeting was ourselves - a chance to find out  more about the  work that members produce.
Time to sit and sew but mainly to show and share some wonderful varied textiles and techniques.
In the afternoon there was the opportunity to 'see the quilt doctor' to discuss work that was a bit stuck.
I'd took my 'red stick' piece along as I'd started to place pieces of fabric  and was happy with some areas but it still needed a lot of work.
I got such a lot of help and the 8 or so (!) people involved seemed to enjoy the  process too.
Taking bits off;hunting for new bits in the fabrics I'd taken along; holding it up in different orientations; debating the composition (some disagreements about where the reds should go); shifting all the pieces at the right hand  6 inches to the left (that made all the difference). There was a real buzz  as it started to come together. Still needs to marinade  on the design wall for a while and a bit of tweaking is required but major progress was made
Should do this more often , although I think it helps that I was  open to suggestions and happy to wield my scissors!  

Saturday, 14 January 2012

In Print Again!!

Just received my copy of 'Quilt & Zo' the Dutch quilt magazine which has the reworked  article and workshop first published in 'Patchwork Professional'. A slightly different selection of work shown and much larger pictures, it looks very attractive and makes me look at my work in a new way.
Also introduced me to the art quilts of Madelon de la Rive-Box - an artist new to me.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Glorious Skies

 I've been walking into work this week - the combination of Hammersmith Flyover being closed and emergency gasworks on South Ealing Road means I overtake the bus as the traffic is so slow.
I  was supposed to get in by 8 on Wednesday to set up a 6hr experiment but was a bit late distracted by the wonderful skies over the river. It almost (almost) makes  me think I  should get up earlier more often (and there's always the off-chance that might see  Colin Firth again as he drops  his kids off at school)

But then the colours of the evening  walking over Kew Bridge are almost as impressive.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Gerhard Richter -it's all in the detail

Last Night was late night opening at Tate Modern and I took the opportunity (along with half of London!) to catch the last few days of major retrospective of the work of Gerhard Richter. This included the 'Cage' paintings that so entranced me  but there was so much more! I  was very late to bed once I'd discovered his website (from which these images  from the exhibition come)

There were many pieces, such as the one above which were very large scale paintings of photos of tiny details  of textured paint. Seeing some of his resource material  and how he uses it as art in itself was fascinating (have a look at the 'atlas' section of the website) In 'Halifax 1978' (below) he photographed an abstract painting 128 times at different angles and distances resulting in a black and white work reminiscent of landscape
 Seascape (Sea-Sea), was based on a collage of two photographs of waves, one inverted over the other to suggest clouds. There were also several 'cloud' paintings in which again small swirls of paint were photographed and then painted at inflated sizes so they appeared like landscapes.
I liked  'Elbe' -  a series of monotypes where Richter was experimenting with the effects of a roller , juxtaposing accidental and intentional marks
 But most of all I loved  the deeply layered abstracts with paint applied then moved around with the squeegee. I could have gazed at them for  hours if not for the press of crowds behind me.

Button Journal Quilts

I've been making journal quilts for 9 years now so I was determined to finish  the last set for CQ challenge but  had to grit my teeth. I normally  use  journal quilts as testing grounds for larger pieces - with themes set this year that was rather more difficult and the earlier sets of 'circles' and 'text' were in the end stand alone with little  connection to my other work. I knew I would struggle with 'buttons' as  I couldn't help thinking of  Elizabeth Bartons' comments  on  embellishments - how so many people spend 3 minutes using their first idea, 3 months making it and then as it doesn't work, put beads on it!  

As I've been going through a phase  of curved piecing African and indigo fabrics , I used some of the scraps left over in the first JQ adding some mother of pearl buttons that also went in the indigo vat. I've been wanting to try curved piecing some other African kola and indigo fabrics  to suggest sand ripples so that was my second . I do feel that these pieces would work just as well or better without the buttons!
Then I remembered how I'd successfully conquered another embellishment  (pearls) earlier in the year and used a similar aproach for  the third and fourth examples. I scanned some mother of pearl buttons - some small ones and a few  very large ones that reflected light  and after a bit of manipulation in Photoshop , printed them on  indigo cotton, indigo silk and silk organza. I combined these with an altered photo of a shoreline and a fabric copy of one of my 'ghost' monoprints from city lit which used threads.
Much happier with these and in a  way they sum up  my creative year: seascapes  transparency, printing, indigo. 
Much happier too with this years Journal Quilt Challenge which has just been announced - a return to A4 and the theme of 'shades of... ' starting with red which is what I'm working with at the moment anyway. Hurrah!!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

2012 Looking Forward with Patience and Doubt

 Yesterday (last year!) , after 6 days of hibernation, we started the acclimatisation programme to the wider world with a visit to the British Museum for the Grayson Perry exhibition. As inspiring and as thought-provoking as I'd hoped and more. We love the British Museum (we had our first date there) the quote from Grayson on "coming on a journey ever time I visit"  resonates, there's always something new to see.  The selection of artifacts from the Museum that he had chosen (and his thoughts on these choices) along with his own work which referenced both them and his inner world  were a fascinating mix.
 I scribbled down phrases that caught my imagination especially on craftsmanship -" a  long and sympathetic hand-on relationship  with material,a relaxed, humble, ever-curious love of stuff"  . It particularly made me think about my own art practises and preferences.  I'd already been pondering on the importance of both using my own images and seeing the 'hand of the maker' in my own work , developing my own unique mark-making. Looking  forward with patience and doubt (in terms of questioning and curiosity) are good starting points for  considering this further although I need to develop my own power words.

 After a leisurely lunch at Savoir Faire (lovely to catch up with  Irene  in between her calculations on how she was going to fit 100 people in for the evening celebrations) we revisited the Museum with fresh eyes.
A slight misunderstanding on the differences between Assyria and Abyssinia led us  after  a detour to the Lion Hunt reliefs to the Egyptian galleries where there were covetable stone palettes in the shapes of animals (the hippo was my favourite) .
With that thought, time to get back to some painting and stitching
Wishing everyone a peaceful and productive 2012.