Friday, 16 November 2018

Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show 2018



Though it felt like an early start setting off from Kilbaha to Dublin, it was mostly only that the mornings are darker now that we are in November. A goodbye to the rural, west coast and a hello to the big city. Quite a different vibe.
Almost morning in Kilbaha


As it was the second time Marianda and I had set up the Fabricated Narratives gallery, it did come together more easily, and as every exhibition is a different space, we deliberately hung the pieces with altered associations to each other.

So a mere 3 hours and we were set. 
Fabricated Narratives at Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show

Fabricated Narratives at Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show

Fabricated Narratives at Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show

Fabricated Narratives at Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show

Fabricated Narratives at Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show


Again it was a joyful experience to talk to visitors about the work, to hear their reactions and comments. All praise gratefully received, and any critique is taken on board seriously as it can help us to understand our work or how it is seen by others more fully.

There is also the social side to the show. Quiet spaces during the day are spent with other artists, as are the evenings. These are times which are precious as it is not often that I get a chance to talk to others about their lives and work, to get to know new and interesting people. This is important to me, whatever the trials. Many thanks to Sue Chapman, Wendy Gardiner, Marianda Twydell, Jenni Dutton, Dionne Swift and others for your excellent company.

Once the show was over and the work packed safely and on it’s way to Harrogate for the third part of it’s tour, I had a day to spend in Dublin. It is a lovely city to visit and for much of the time I simply ambled through streets and alleyways. 
Wandering through Dublin

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin

Wandering through Dublin, Temple Bar

Wandering through Dublin, Castle Garden

A Beetroot Tree

Wandering through Dublin, Dublin Castle

Wandering through Dublin, guess what is made here?

I did have a visit to the book of Kells as a high priority, and had a fabulous time at the visitor centre of Trinity College.

The information in form of displays, information boards and videos which put this fabulous medieval illustrated bible into context were great. Using modern craftspeople to show how the book was made really helped to bring it to life.

The slightly disappointing aspect was that the book itself and the other bibles were all held in one small display case, with lots of people crowding around to see. This meant that realistically you felt rather claustrophobic and pressured, and so couldn’t spend very much time really seeing the books. Maybe separate cabinets and more space around, and a magnifying lens over the top would have been an improvement. However, it’s one checked off my bucket list and I am very glad to have seen it after many years of reading about Celtic illuminated works.

Goodbye for now to Dublin.

Monday, 12 November 2018

The hospitality of strangers and friends.

My UK odyssey has continued for another week and a bit, this time it can also be termed 'international', though thanks to the open borders in Europe, achieving this was not at all difficult.
I flew to Belfast to spend a weekend with the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild. Looked after by a generous host with many stories to tell of life in Northern Ireland. As you will know, Northern Ireland has had it's share of unrest, and talking about those times with people who have lived through them can help to widen the perspective of an outsider to whom the only understanding of the events was through the lens of the news media. The times are quieter now, though not perfectly calm.
After a morning talk about the work I have created since moving to New Zealand (called 'Down Under and Left a Bit'), we spent the afternoon using the non-fusible or Standard Angelina fibre. By gradually building up a layered background on which stitch can be added, we had fun. It was a joy to hear new connections and friendships developing during the workshop, after all, that is a significant reason to join groups of like-minded people.

Not So Standard Angelina short workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden at the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild

Not So Standard Angelina short workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden at the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild

Not So Standard Angelina short workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden at the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild

Not So Standard Angelina short workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden at the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild

Not So Standard Angelina short workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden at the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild

Not So Standard Angelina short workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden at the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild


Not So Standard Angelina short workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden at the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild

Not So Standard Angelina short workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden at the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild
Not So Standard Angelina short workshop with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden at the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild
Somehow the autumnal tones in the metallic fibres suited the season, drawing thoughts of the dropping leaves outside.
The next day we ramped up the heat using 'fusible' or 'hot-fix' Angelina fibres. The course was 'The Crown Jewels Gone Mad', an Angelina and heat tool fest! It was a particular pleasure that (through unfortunate circumstances) the Guild had had to change venues for the day, and we were housed in the Men's Council Chamber of the local Golf Club. Leaving a few sneaky glittering strands of fibre for the next council meeting might be considered a (very) small nod in the direction of equality! Sadly the light in the room didn't allow for good images. You will simply have to trust me that we had yet more fun, solved some historic problems in the best use of these fibres and added a few more Angelina addicts to the world.

'The Crown Jewels Gone Mad' workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild

'The Crown Jewels Gone Mad' workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild

'The Crown Jewels Gone Mad' workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild
Lots of samples and ideas for work were created, and nothing caught fire!!

I then had a little adventure on the buses across the border and out to the wilds of County Clare. I was to spend a couple of days catching up with Kim Thittichai who now lives in a gorgeous location and has a studio space and accomodation for guests and to run workshops at Sonas Studio. It was so good of her to give up her time to look after me. One of the great things about my life is fitting in visits to see people and places I would have found hard to manage otherwise, and I do try to make the most of any opportunities to catch up with friends when I am anywhere near (even 6 hours on a bus couldn't stop me!)

Kim Thittichai at home

Atlantic drama

Looking out from the Sonas Studio windows - plenty of inspiration and space for thought and experimentation

The Bridge of Ross

Geology and more geology

If the weather had allowed, I would have loved to see more of the dramatic cliffs, waves and sealife. Instead a glass or two of wine, a cozy fire and the company of an incredibly sweet dog and her owner were more than sufficient pleasures.

Cheers from Sonas Studio, Kilbaha, Ireland
The next instalment coming very soon will be the drive to Dublin for the Knitting and Stitching Show second airing of 'Fabricated Narratives'.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

UK tour 2018


In addition to the Fabricated Narratives exhibition, during my visit to the UK I lead workshops and speak to groups about my work. So far this has encompassed Norwich Embroiderers Guild, The Granary Studio (Winchester), Art Van Go (Knebworth) and East Surrey Embroiderers Guild. The workshops are exciting as always for me as I watch participants learn new skills and create works based on my suggestions, but in their own style. 
As usual, please bear in mind that these are the partly finished works, not completed.


In Norwich we worked on ‘Slash and Burn’. Using metal fabric as the base and adding layers of melted chiffons to this, then revealing the metal fabric by cutting away with scissors and soldering irons. These lovely surfaces are ready for stitching and beading in just a day. Even more impressive was that these were created without samples as they had decided to hide from me until I returned from the workshop - oops, but in actual fact, it worked so well, I may consider it again!



Slash and Burn workshop at Norwich EG
Slash and Burn workshop at Norwich EG

Slash and Burn workshop at Norwich EG

Slash and Burn workshop at Norwich EG

Slash and Burn workshop at Norwich EG

Slash and Burn workshop at Norwich EG

Slash and Burn workshop at Norwich EG
At the Granary Studio we pursued ideas which involved more consideration of negative spaces and repeats to create a surface design with a 2 day version of my workshop ‘The Space Between’. These patterns and lines were then interpreted in print, metal fabric and wires. Again, 2 days is only just time to begin to discover the direction a piece might take, but we were well on the way and I was very pleased with the journey. I will be back at the Granary Studios in November 2019, do contact Sue  if you are interested in booking.

The Space Between workshop at The Granary Studio

The Space Between workshop at The Granary Studio
The Space Between workshop at The Granary Studio

The Space Between workshop at The Granary Studio





My thanks to Denise who brought in a piece she made on her last workshop with me 2 years ago. This was called ‘Vain Devices’. In this we examined (mostly) Elizabethan decorated and slashed clothing with it’s over the top splendour, then in velvet, metal, metal fabric and Angelina fibres, we developed an abstract version of the original, concentrating on textures and forms, not whole clothing pieces.

Vain Devices workshop result by Denise

Jane brought her piece to share. This was started last year on the ‘Starting from Seeds’ workshop. Developing a design from forms in seedpods, and interpretation in metal, metal cloth, reverse applique and embellishing stitch and beads. Here are the developments and the finished version:
Nigella seed pod as the starting point in 'Starting from Seeds' workshop

Development drawing


The final piece, a glorious textured mix of metal, metal cloth, velvet, stitch and beads

Starting from Seeds, detail

Thank you so much to Denise and Jane for sharing. It is really brilliant for me to see work which has left the confines of a workshop environment and grown into a personal, unique work.

Rusty and Gnarly


Some new workshop ideas explode into your mind, the excitement of the idea carries you along. Along the way they can become a bit of a monster. Thus it was with some trepidation that after 6 months of trials and development then parring down  options to develop a workable multi-day workshop that I took a trip to Knebworth and to Art Van Go’s studios. Here I was to give the (possibly) unsuspecting participants a whirlwind  ride of painting, spraying, dripping, burning, rusting, and more burning over 2 days with the theme of ‘Rusty and other Gnarly Stuff’. I was also due to run a 3 day version with my Taking Textile Further fabulous ladies the week after. I'd  like to share with you some of the amazing work they achieved.


Both groups dived in with enthusiasm and a degree of trust in both myself and the process they were asked to follow. I often aim to divorce the process from the ‘end game’, allowing the final works to grow through a connection with the papers and fabrics. To develop pieces with a few key words in mind based on images of rusted objects or peeling paint or ‘other gnarly old stuff’ was the aim in this case.
I increasingly find that showing final outcome examples early in a session can create a narrow tunnel vision for some people, so withholding visuals until very late in the day frees  the mind and allows for a more personal creative response to the ideas and techniques offered. However, I also know that this can be a hard journey for some, and am grateful of the trust that is placed in me to allow this to openness occur.

Both at Art Van Go and Taking Textiles Further at Risley we began with a blank, clean workspace and ended up with colour, texture, marks and ideas in paper, fabric, Tyvek, Lutradur, metal and wire before bringing these yummy piles of materials together as responsive works.
Great piles of loveliness! Painted, rusted, dripped, sprayed, burnt and more papers and fabrics from Rusty and Gnarly workshop from Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Great piles of loveliness! Painted, rusted, dripped, sprayed, burnt and more papers and fabrics from Rusty and Gnarly workshop from Alysn Midgelow-Marsden


Drying dyeing in the autumn sunshine at Art Van Go

Drying dyeing in the autumn sunshine at Art Van Go
Great piles of loveliness! Painted, rusted, dripped, sprayed, burnt and more papers and fabrics from Rusty and Gnarly workshop from Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Great piles of loveliness! Painted, rusted, dripped, sprayed, burnt and more papers and fabrics from Rusty and Gnarly workshop from Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden


Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Rusty and Gnarly with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden


In the end, the course worked brilliantly as you can see above. We developed new approaches, new (to some) techniques and great results underway. I can now sleep in peace having achieved the desired outcome!
Among the added benefits for me is participating and listening to the many supportive conversations through the days and watching the development of new friendships which I know will continue in the future for many of the special people I get to meet. Thank you all for giving your time and sharing with me and the others on your courses.
(I'm not going into details of the  Wolverhampton contingent's  evening excesses, except to say - why wasn't I invited?!!)
If you are excited by the idea of my workshops, please get in touch on the contact page, or fb for my 2019, 2020 (and beyond) availability anywhere in the world.
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