Wednesday 31 August 2016

Drawing Tuesday: Pots at the Petrie

A glorious afternoon drawing at the Petrie  Museum - a bit tricky to find buried in the depths of  the University of London  ( battling past hoards of gowned graduates and their families).  So many treasures crammed into a  small space, the amount of ceramics  was overwhelming, in the end I chose 1 shelf and looked closely at the contents and tried out    a range of different drawing media   
Lovely swirly patterns  of decoration
  A lovely bowl  that Margaret spotted before I did ( next time ...)
 I liked the difference between the cracks and gaps and the vague inscribed marks and used sanguine and sepia pens over an earlier 'blind drawing' of other subjects 

  But I concentrated mainly on this little black broken vase with it's  scored  white marks. I   'drew these first with a leadless propelling pencil  and then rubbed graphite over the top.
  We indulged in coffee and cakes , sitting outside  with wide ranging  talk  on a variety of subjects.  I hope we go back soon!

Sunday 28 August 2016

Green Quilts: I think I've Done Now.

'Lost in the Reeds

 Yesterday I finished my quilt on the theme of 'Green'  for International Threads  exhibiting group.  I think this  is the final piece in a fabric journey starting in 2003  with a weeks class in France at 'La Maison du Patchwork' near  Limoge with Alison Schwabe

It was a challenging  time for me - I'd just started on anti- depressants   and was finding it   difficult to adjust but being fed and watered in lovely surrounding with expert tuition from Alison was just what I needed. She taught  us a variety of piecing and design techniques - I still use her method of curved piecing and inserting strips  slightly adapted to incorporate those used by Charlotte Yde on a later workshop. I'd brought masses of green fabrics with the idea of making a double sized quilt and made  loads of blocks which I'd started to join together with Alison's help. I completed the top on my return  and layered it with wadding ready to quilt - then left it untouched until 2015!

 Grass Clippings at FoQ 2004

I did however get very excited and inspired by all the scraps left over from cutting down the blocks  and made 2  small quilts ' Grass Clippings' and 'Grass Cuttings'  . The first was accepted for   CQ  exhibition at the fabulous Nature in Art museum near Gloucester  and subsequently in a white gallery space at festival of quilts 2004( above) .  In 2006 it went on its travels to Japan when I went with Susan Briscoe along with 'Serifos Storm' my first indigo piece.
Grass Clippings in Japan 2006

Grass Cuttings  at work

When I changed desks at work and had space to display a quilt, I chose 'grass cuttings' as being appropriate - it was much admired and prompted conversations about what I was doing with textiles as well as plants.
When a colleague had his first child I had great fun making a baby quilt using the 'lego' piecing technique.  His second child arrived after I'd left Kew  last year and with most of my things in storage/packed up  as we were about to move  I wanted to do something that wouldn't require too much work. So  deciding that after 12 years I was unlikely to quilt my double green quilt, I   removed the wadding and backing ,  partially picked apart and reassembled a section of the top and quilted it - a suitable quilt for a botanists child!

Samuel's Quilt

I still had two-thirds of the quilt left and  for  Cwilt Cymru's  next exhibition 'Cynefin ' ( roughly translated as a sense of place, of belonging) I wanted to commemorate losing my wedding and engagement rings on Catfield Fen! Lots of cutting apart and reassembling  and insertion of strips of Jo Lovelocks dyed fabric as well as some photos printed on fabric of the Fen Orchid and its habitat.

Catfield Fen: Gifts to The Gods

For the theme 'Green' for International Threads, it seemed appropriate to use up what was left and try some slightly different ideas out for 'Lost in the Reeds' (below)

Besides using scraps for the Grass Cuttings/Clippings  quilts, I've made several Journal quilts /samples over the years
JQ  June 2003

JQ  September 2015

Gifts to the Gods Sample


I've recently been posting postcards on Facebook 'sketchbooks and experiments for textiles 'group, zig-zagging together offcuts  when cutting  quilts down to size. I love playing with scraps! I still have a few bit left of blocks and trimmings  but I think I'm done with green now!

Saturday 27 August 2016

Festival of Quilts 2016: The more you look the more you see

 In contrast to the simplicity  of  Claire Benn's lines  I also enjoyed several pieces of work  with very rich surfaces and content, some using recycled fabrics.   In the 'Art textile : made in Britain 'Gallery I was again drawn to the work of Louise Baldwin .  particularly those piece where she 'excavates' to the  layers below.  We'd planned than Ian would join me on the Saturday as it was our wedding anniversary but he was still recovering from surgery. I contacted him by phone and Skype to ask for his approval in purchasing  a small piece by Louise ( which I'll share another time when it's framed) It will look very well in our newly decorated sitting room.
 This piece  by Suzette Smart  was  very much about the detail - it  was  made from an old dress  with fragments of embroideries from sketchbooks, a very personal journey.  Incidentally the dark line  in the picture above  is not part of the piece but the shadow of a wooden strut, such a shame)

  I've admired the work of Anne Smith  for  a long time, she regularly get her work into Quilt National bu tit's only fairly recently she's exhibited at FoQ   in the Fine Art quilt Masters. She came to talk to CQ  a  few years ago and shared her working practices - working on an iron board , pinning up her work in progress on the backs of doors, on the floor , collecting   her fabrics from  charity shops.  Her work is so lively and painterly , it reminds of a slightly wilder Edrica Huws    

 Old recycled fabric also featured  in this piece  by Maria Thomas   who talks in her statement of ' mending, fixing, parenting cloth'
 What I liked about  Helen Parrott's ' Nine yards or thereabouts'  was the exquisite attention to detail in something so monumenta1. Inspired by the 1773 Mary Ware  notebook,  some sections were modern interpretations, others replicas of original stitching.  How much skill it takes to  show  imperfections and  subtle changes in stitch in such   intricate sections as these. I could have looked at it for ages.

 In the Contemporary  Quilt section   2 quilts showed  different responses  to  the awful things going on in the world. 
Caroline Wilkinsons'  colourful  work ' Not much sunshine plenty of shadow'  had as it's catalyst the terror attacks of last year, emphasising the need for love and respect.
While  in Uta Lenks' ' Capsized (text message 8)'   the image of a migrant boat in the moment of capsizing is  slowly revealed under words relating to migration.  Truly the more you look, the more you see .

Etel Adnan: the weight of the world

Last Sunday we  finally made it to one of the Proms that we booked earlier in the year -  because of Ian's surgery we missed 2 and Hampton Court flower Show . We had a voucher for ASK so went early and them wandered around Hyde Park afterwards, visiting the Serpentine Sackler gallery to see the exhibition by Etel Adnan.  
  I particularly liked her earlier work where the texture of the paint and the brush strokes are more evident

 Her artists books ( mainly concertina format ) were interesting with different views evident depending on what side you looked at them

 There were several tapestries on display  where the woven texture created a different kind of mark

 The Tuesday drawing group had visited the gallery a little while ago  -  I can see why these deceptively simple  colour studies of circles and other shapes inspired Margaret.  

  It made me pay more attention to the  structures in the Albert Hall !  Will probably  revisit the  exhibition  when we have our final Prom visit on the 4th  September ( Simon Bolivar Orchestra!)   but we might be slightly sore of head as we're intending to go to Faversham's 'Hop Festival'  on  Saturday.

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Festival of Quilts 2016: Lines, Simplicity and Hand Stitch

 One of the outstanding galleries for me at FoQ  was that showing work by Claire Benn and  Ingrid Press, I loved the simplicity of colour, line and texture ( achieved with hand stitch in Claire's pieces). It was really interesting to hear Claire  talk about her inspirations and processes, much of which resonated  with me after my City Lit painting course. The importance of space, not being slave to your image ( either looking at it then putting it away or as in painting course, obliterating what isn't of interest) . She mentioned  work by Dorothy Caldwell several times  and I  thought I could  see some of Dorothy's influence in Gail Parkers  work in the 6th European Quilt Triennial  ( Gail was in Puglia  at the same time as me)

 I like  the discharge  marks  in the centre and the quirky border/binding. Most of all I  love the hand stitching - kantha in the centre and fly stitch(?) all over the background, it makes such an interesting textured surface.   Nice to see when there's so much (to me) soulless precision machine quilting.

Monday 22 August 2016

Festival of Quilts 2016: The Rydal Hall Effect?

 The Festival of Quilts and annual  retreat in the Lake District at Rydal Hall  are the highlights of my year.  Both Julie Bunter and Leah Higgins from  exhibiting group 'Etcetera' and our Rydal Hall retreat group  had  work juried into 'Fine Art Quilt Masters' at  FoQ this year.  Leah also won 1st prize in the 'Art  Quilt ' competition category ( the winners list is here) .She was working on this at Rydal, sewing for hours at a time , while her neighbour Jean Marshall  was building up layer upon layer of subtle colour and stitch on  her 'Coral Reef' entry for CQ On the Edge.  She was part of the 'Salon des Refuses'  ( a place I'm familiar with!)  but won 2nd prize in the 'Art Quilt'  !!  
 Julie meanwhile was experimenting  with stitching exquisite small structures  and Karen Hurrell was  gradually building up  her carousel of brightly coloured ponies which won the Sue Ridgewell  challenge at the QGBI  conference at Llandudno.

We always have a wonderful time at Rydal, working hard but with a lot of laughter. This year  it's gone up a gear - it's a privilege to work alongside such talented  people, I hope a bit of the stardust brushes off ....

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Festival of Quilts 2016: Free Motion Stitching From Life

Lots of posts to write on my 4 days at the Festival of Quilts   starting  with the one day class  on Wednesday  with Susan Chapman   drawing with the sewing machine. I had a 4.30 am start  from London  but fueled by  coffee I didn't flag too much  until the afternoon.
On  loaned Bernina B330  machines (luckily   not too dissimilar  to my Activa 125 )  we started with some warm up exercises on  2  layers of medium calico : feed dogs up, stitch length zero, fast feet, slow hands, shoulders back , breathe!! 
After some scribbles  and writing our names, we 'drew' various machine feet and gadgets with continuous line.  Who knew they could be so interesting!! We then drew our neighbour - Judith made a very good job of drawing me reading my Kindle - mine of her was less successful.  We both agreed it's much easier drawing people   who are wearing glasses.

In the afternoon Bailey  patiently sat   in 3  different half hour poses  wearing a variety of different clothes and accessories - hat was good, the scarf very difficult.
Then in contrast to normal life classes where you have quick poses then a more sustained  session, we had Bailey standing  for 5 minutes. These were my favourite sketches - no time to overthink, I love the energetic lines produced.
A very satisfying afternoon's work ! Other used scraps of fabric and added  coloured details to some of their drawings - I'd run out of steam after my early start,

  Susan was an excellent tutor and I loved her figures in the 'Quilt Creations' section of the show and the sentiments behind it; ' Communion' is a vision of the world where all nationalities and cultures will stand together. There will be no hatred of people simply because of colour , religion or culture  but an understanding and tolerance of their differences. Amen to that.
I also spent some considerable time with the stitched pieces by Rosie James in the 'Art Textiles:Made in Britain ' gallery, looking with even more admiration now I'd had a go at the technique myself.

This afternoon I wanted to have a go at home on my own machine while the instruction  was fresh in my mind. Ian was a  willing if fidgety model - I'll make a better job of his head next time, it definitely did not show my handsome husband at his best!

The ' selfie' I did in the mirror, as Penny pointed out on Facebook, made me look cross ( it's the concentration)  but with addition of  the bits of  collar from a favourite shirt that has decided to disintegrate, I'll make the deadline for August's Journal Quilt!!