Friday 30 May 2014

John Virtue Seascapes and Prism textiles

 Taking a days flexi leave ( being nearly 12 hours in hand )  I treated myself to an afternoon of galleries in central London as a reward for cleaning my studio in preparation for friend Maggie coming to stay ( making sure there were no pins on the floor).
I was absorbed by the monochrome seascapes of John Virtue at the Malborough Fine Art Gallery . The  huge canvases gave a  sense of being within the landscape, particularly when you could see several at once and I liked the subtle brush marks in what looked initially like a flat black area.  But  I preferred the smaller works on paper ( still about 1m wide), the variety of marks  more dynamic. Much as I love colour, there's something about the rigour of a limited monochrome palatte that appeals.

Earlier I'd been to see the latest exhibition by Prism at the Mall Galleries . I applied to join a few years ago but wasn't accepted  - probably just as well given the limited time I can devote to textiles at the moment. I  enjoy seeing the variety of work produced by this group - Amanda Hislop, Liz Harding, Alice Fox and Consuela Simpson  were my favourites , mainly I think as they all base their work on marks from the landscape.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking about a potential piece for latest CQ challenge 'Dislocation' using  both the front and back of a very tatty log cabin quilt. There's a bit too much of the red at the moment - I like the flecks of colour that show through the holes in the backing but not sure about the solid red areas ( although I can always paint them .... )

Saddened to hear of the death of Robert Genn  - I've subscribed to his twice weekly letters 'Painters Keys' for several years, his  insights into artists practice have given me a lot of pleasure and food for thought. It's good to hear his daughter is continuing with them.

Scrap Journal Quilts - honouring precious bits

Lots of fun had composing 3 journal quilts( 8 x 8 inches)  from  offcuts made trimming down quilts. some going back a long way too precious to use - until now.   Zigzagged together and a thin red couched line added. Influenced by seascapes from  Elounda.

Bank Holiday Monoprinting

I had a creative time over the bank  this weekend with Ian being down at his parents - not getting showered and dressed until lunch time with being so absorbed in my playtime.  Only trouble  was settling on one thing  after months of not really doing anything, my mind  whirring with possibilities.  I ended up working on 4 design boards ,some monoprinting using selectasine printing inks,and 3 journal quilts.
After my monoprinting experience in Crete, we bought a 'balcony dryer'  which doubles as a print drying rack. It's a while since I've used the selectasine inks - I'd forgotten how concentrated the pigments are and it's a bit more fiddly to use than acrylics but worth it for the slower drying times and the retention of marks.
Marks with wood graining tool
Marks from roller 

Various brush marks 

The acetate sheet afterwards! Unlike acrylics this is now permanently stained .
Checking on the prints on the rack also involved looking round the garden - lots of bees fighting over the perennial cornflowers!

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Wren Racket and Rosemary Beetle Crushing

 Wrens are among my favourite birds - they're  feisty and  you'd never believe such a loud variety of sound could  come from such a  small bird. And I love their apt  latin name 'Troglodytes troglodytes'  hiding as they do among the ivy ! Mum made this hand quilted wren piece which I treasure - being called Jennie, they had significance for her ( I suppose it should be magpies for Mags  but I don't feel the same affinity....) 
With the lovely weather, on Sunday we had all meals  outside (including breakfast ), enjoying  the greens of our garden and the borrowed vista of trees in the small park  beyond. 
A couple of years ago I was  amused by a  group of 4 fledglings literally bouncing up and down on a tree branch in next doors garden  using it like a trampoline, so I was delighted yesterday to catch glimpses of some   fledglings at the bottom of our garden and their harassed parents trying to keep them in order.  The combined sound I can only describe as a racket it was so loud!
 This evening there  was a lot of activity nearer the house  among the scrambling rose that's done so well now the bay tree has gone ( and just look how that fig is taking off!). Sparrows had nested there earlier in the year so it's obviously a des res! We ate indoors with the door open and they almost drowned out the sound of the television.

 The  pink cistus I brought  as a cutting from my previous garden is doing very well, as is the fuchsia which was already in the garden when we moved in. Most of  our gardening involves hacking things down - I had a good go at the Kerria thicket which has allowed the Macleaya to grow unimpeded and I finally got round to planting  the 'Black Lace' elder I bought at Hampton Court Flower Show in the space I cleared.
 Not everything is welcome in the garden however.  Beautiful as these Rosemary Beetles are with their shiny red and green stripes, I'm following the advice of the RHS and picking them  off and stamping on them  before they cause too much damage.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Quilts returned and a curation exercise

On  Saturday I went to  a meeting of Thames Valley Contemporary Textiles ( arriving an hour  late because of booking my BBC Proms tickets !)Besides being an interesting meeting, I also collected 2 quilts that have been away for a while in different exhibitions. I unfurled them  as soon as I got home, good to see them again in situ!

'Nautical Dawn' was part of the CQ 'Horizons' exhibition, going to FoQ, Ledbury and Prague.
 'Fleet mudflats'   was in the open competition at FoQ and then  in 'Halfway Between' by TVCT exhibited at  Knit and Stitch Olympia (where it was used in the advertising !) and the National Needlework Archive

In the afternoon of the TVCT meeting, we had the chance to look through the latest CQ suitcase collection 'All in days work'. Some fascinating pieces, made more powerful by the stories associated  with them.  We then had a curation exercise,  working to  a theme, choosing just 10 -15  from the 40+.  A valuable experience, and  as someone pointed out, reassuring  to think that if your work is rejected it might be nothing to do with the quality of work but because it doesn't meet the brief or work with other pieces chosen.
I did make me grateful that 'Nautical Dawn'  was included in the Horizons  exhibitions - it was so singular in it's  colour  that it was displayed on  it's own at FoQ, it could easily have been rejected. 
The model Jane and I had constructed for  Halfway Between had another airing as I attempted to explain  my thought processes. I had  initially chosen  groups of 2 or 3 pieces that worked together ( theme, contrast,  colour , shapes, sizes) and then worked  at getting a pleasing flow  not forgetting  practicalities like where the entrance  was, sightlines and electrical points. A lot of it  seemed intuition or gut reaction but  wasn't . I've probably been analysing   what works or not from all the exhibitions I've been to  and treated it like any other  composition.  

Thursday 15 May 2014

Book of Elounda - Textures and Patterns

Some pages from my 'Book of Marks' from Elounda, Crete.

Compiled on site  from: watercolours and sketches on Fabriano Medievalis cards ; colour catchers  with frottage and acrylic paint monoprints ; fabrics brought with me -my own indigo and  hand dyes from Alter Ego (I'm also the lucky owner of one of Jo's sketchbooks thanks to a birthday present from Sue!) .

Inspired by the local landscape ( especially the clouds and sunrises over Spinalonga peninsula) and the textures of the flora and peeling doors.

Elounda Watercolours

I took the Roberson watercolour book I'd worked on last time I was in Crete(more images here, here and here) to Elounda   and enjoyed adding some more pages, trying to capture the elusive colours of the lansdscape and sunrises.  But after the Dorothy Caldwell workshop and my last Rydal Hall retreat, I think I prefer working with individual sheets of paper, colour catchers and fabric and putting together my own memory journal of my visit.