Sunday 28 December 2014

International Threads Sketch - Anavriti Blue

One of the  recent 'International Threads' group challenges  was set by Gillian Travis - to base the 40 x 80 cm quilt on a sketch. Having enjoyed putting together the change of scale door piece, I thought I'd base  it on one of my   many watercolours of  crumbly Greek doors. This particular one was done in 1998 in a village at the top of the Anavriti Gorge near Sparta.   I've long wanted to use this particular drawing as inspiration  - it was one I  also worked on during an Elizabeth Barton masterclass - simplifying the shapes and looking at it tonally was a very useful exercise.  

 So I've spent the  last few days trawling through my stash, sewing together strips.

 I've just finished the piecing and am very pleased  with how it's turned out.
Question- should I include the blue grey scaffolding pole on the left or not? It wasn't in the original sketch but when I saw  the same doorway again a few years ago on a return visit in 2006 , there were poles in position that I thought enhanced the composition.  Interested to hear what you think.

Red Daub Fingerprinting

 Earlier this year, one of my journal quilts  was a trial trying out different marks with pen and paint  on a gessoed section  of one of my older quilts 'Which Way Now'.  It's been on my mind for a while to  see how it would work scaled up so the first day of my Xmas creative break I sewed together some  gessoed offcuts and scraps and braced the chill of the conservatory.

 I had a fine time mixing together  acrylic paints with my fingers and applying to the fabric!

The overall effect was a bit blobby so I laid it flat and applied trickles of red acrylic ink horizontally  in an attempt to unify the surface.
With  daylight fading I stopped. I'm not sure this piece is going anywhere  although probably  I'll strengthen the marks to emphasise the horizontal arrow at the bottom but I had a wonderful therapeutic time doing it!

Monday 15 December 2014

Shore Marks

 A difficult week coming to terms with the fact that  one month of my notice has gone already, increasingly anxious  about finishing off everything I need to in the remaining few weeks.  The annual Kew Carol Service  was a joy, especially singing  O Radiant Dawn, but underscored  with sadness, especially thinking about Nigel Veitch, our choir conductor to whom the service was dedicated .  I won't be part of it next year and it's proving  increasingly hard to  have to tell people that I'm leaving Kew and cope with their reactions and questions.
So I spent some time over the weekend absorbed in the solace of stitching, piecing together  one of my quilts for 'International Threads'  exhibition in Prague in April 2015.  
This  quilt is for the theme on 'Creating visual texture with repetition'.   I started out with a  kola shibori dyed  piece of  damask cloth bought from African Fabric Shop  and a piece of the same fabric that I'd put in the indigo vat. The repetition is from the lines, the  underlying patterns on the damask and from the accidental marks of indigo left on the original cloth  which I will emphasise  with  indigo stitch marks. I feel the need for some hand stitching at the moment to keep me anchored.   

Faversham Christmas Lights

 2 weeks ago we visited Faversham again, to explore a different area of the  town for  potential houses and to experience the switching on of the Christmas lights. After  a delicious good value lunch at the  Railway Hotel  we wandered around the  'Knole' and  roads off  Bysing Wood Road before  settling in the comfort of the Phoenix Inn  with  a pint and our Kindles waiting for the  festivities to commence ( and the market to pack up early to be replaced by the special Xmas market). There were hundreds of people in the market square for the  countdown with  what looked like every adult male with a child on his shoulders. Things didn't go quite to plan which was rather endearing but the lights came on eventually and very  nice they are. Appropriately enough the 3 kings were on the way back to the railway station.

 I couldn't resist these pink weathered doors.

Saturday 6 December 2014

Scrap Experiments - 2014 Journal Quilts

 The bonus quilts

It's always intriguing looking  at a years Journal Quilts combined  and to see how interesting they look in different combinations.  This year the JQ challenge for Contemporary Quilt  was 8 x 8 inches( 20x 20cm) with a line across the quilt from one edge to another. I initially thought it was too small a format to be worthwhile - in past years I enjoyed the 12 x 12 inch format most. But having decided to mainly use scraps and leftovers I've had a ball,  given myself permission to just play, producing 'bonus' ones  and also using some mounted on 8 inch canvases for sale. I still have lots of ideas and may well continue using this size in addition to whatever next years challenge is.  It's made no impression on my scrap stash!
Several of them have been composed and stitched on train journeys - the perfect travel project  and the majority reflect my interests and concerns at  the time, in many cases using bits leftover from larger quilts and projects or  memories of particular times and places. Some people plan the whole 12 months in one go so that it's a cohesive  piece. Not my way - I'm fascinated to see links between pieces (all those wavy shibori -like lines!)  and also the shift in colour palette from vibrant reds to subtle neutrals, no coincidence that  while starting my year  with optimism it is ending on a sombre  note.

Artworks as triggers of memory

A day off work  to finally get to see the Anselm Kiefer exhibition at the Royal Academy ( fitting in a few more exhibitions at National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery for good measure). Amazing, monumental and thought provoking. After starting with a display of books, the 'Attic' paintings are powerful  and I love how the wood grain effects are continued throughout his work - the woodblock prints used in the  'forest' of the last room (below) were fantastic. 
The materials he uses are diverse : straw, mud, sunflowers and seeds   and they have meaning for him. The way he uses lead is fascinating - I particularly liked the books 'under the linden '  and large pieces studded with diamonds were just magical in how they caught the light.
The pieces that I spent most time with were in room 5: ' sands from the urns' (below) based on the clay brick ziggurats of Mesopotamia. Hand -pressed mud was used for  clay tablets and bricks and he is quoted as perceiving " a secret connection between writing and building"  wondering whether bricks , like tablet, could hold memories of people , of events, of time.
I was reminded of our visit to Syria  almost exactly ten years ago,   visiting Ugarit , Dura Europas and Mari , in awe of being somewhere where the ancient past is tangible  and hugely saddened by  what's happening there now .  

Ziggurats of Pastries in Hama
After  treating myself to a delicious lunch at Savoir Faire, I headed off to  the National Gallery  to see the 2  very different seascape inspired displays.   I've long admired the dramatic  paintings of  Maggi Hambling  but I was rather disappointed with these 'Walls of Water' .  Lots of lively marks and use of paint but   for me  all pattern and lacking in content and composition.  Her  monotypes on this theme  like they might be more interesting
Whereas the paintings by Peder Balke  were far more inspiring especially the smaller sketches. I liked how often the waves were suggested quite simply  - it looked like he might have used a painting knife in a similar way as  demonstrated by Susan Gray on my Slapton painting courses.  

On my way home I popped into the National Portrait Gallery  next door to see the Grayson Perry exhibit ' Who are you' .
You could hardly get near his  'self portrait'  City of Days  for people staring intently and giggling. Complex, funny and profound,  like the Reith lectures and  'Tomb of the The Unknown Artist'.
The 'comfort blanket' a tapestry  in the shape of a bank note   was witty but the most powerful pieces were the ceramics  displayed among the Gallery's collections

I spent a lot of time in front of the  beautiful  yet disturbing 'Memory jar', representing memories torn into shards through Alzheimers.