Friday, 1 March 2019

Coromandel calling

Wyuna Bay as the sun rises, looking across to Coromandel Town and Castle Rock with classic rows of post boxes!

How hard can life be? To have to visit one of the loveliest spots in New Zealand and spend a couple of days with a bunch of lively, interested, fun and willing ladies. Someone has to do the hard work!!

For this outing we were looking at the origami-like Zhen Xian Bao Thread booklets, interpreted in papers, silk, cotton, linen, Lutradur and Evolon. We also had time to discover the joys of the 'embellisher' machine to make some interesting covers, edges and cords for the booklets.

Thread Booklet Interpretations mentored by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden: Beautiful silk combination

Thread Booklet Interpretations mentored by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden: Great textures highlighted by gilt wax

Thread Booklet Interpretations mentored by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden: The practice pieces were in papers

Thread Booklet Interpretations mentored by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden: Lovely papers and pen decorations

Thread Booklet Interpretations mentored by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden: Unusual and creative combination and layout for this one

Thread Booklet Interpretations mentored by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden: Gorgeous Dupion Silks

Thread Booklet Interpretations mentored by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden: Looking forward to seeing this one completed - denim, scrim, kozo paper and possibly fish skins later!

Thread Booklet Interpretations mentored by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden: Linen with added stitching.
Thread Booklet Interpretations mentored by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden: Perfect Chinese brocades

Thread Booklet Interpretations mentored by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden: Time to play with Lutradur and Evolon
Thread Booklet Interpretations mentored by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden: Stunning embellishing on denim for the cover to compliment the red silk.
These are but a few of the booklets which are well underway by the end of day 2.

Coromandel stitchers, party on!
Thank you for inviting me, I look forward to returning and Happy Birthday Shirleen!

If you are interested in any of the workshops I offer to groups, see

To find where and what I am teaching in 2019 including retreats and workshops at my studio:

Cheers girls.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Going Down Under 2019

In the midst of  hours of paperwork sorting out my antipodean travelling for 2019, I thought that I would like to thank all of the organisers of the Australian retreats which I am visiting this year. When I think about the amount of paperwork and checking I do just for me - imagine the job of conference convenors for all of the fabulous events and symposiums that are arranged for you and I to participate in! I think a huge 'CHEERS' should go to all of you. THANK YOU again for asking me to join your events. It is wonderful and I love it. (I don't love filling out visa applications, but that's a small price!)

In 2019 I have 2 trips to Australia covering 5 venues. I am looking forward to seeing lots of new places and meeting new people and possibly learning some new vernacular. (Doona sticks in my mind from the last visit)

My first trip to Tasmania - I've been told lots of fabulous things and met a few wonderful people from Tasmania. I'm teaching with Stitching and Beyond from the 6th to the 9th April.

Then a little hop over to an event which I confidently expect to be creative as all heck - Fibre Arts Australia at Ballarat. From the 11th to the 18th April I'm excited to be joining a host of skilled tutors at this event. I'll be looking at ways to be more spontaneous, to observe but not get bogged down in the detail and to enjoy the flow of lines in pen and stitch.

After a sojourn back in NZ, I have a longer flight to Perth. How amazing to be going to the Fibres West event . It looks as though I'm full, but it's never a waste to get on a waiting list as things do happen!
And, several years into the planning, I am finally getting to visit Moira at Evocative Arts in Adelaide. I was super excited watching a house programme about Adelaide recently knowing that I'd get to see it for real pretty soon! This is a specially created, busy, bright and fun technique based workshop called Rich and Lustrous Surfaces from the 15th to the 18th July.

Then a hop and a skip back cross country to Newcastle and a 3 day event on the 20, 21 and 22 July at Timeless Textiles. We will be thinking about space, stitch and pattern.

Beach Pebble Form study by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Anyhow, back to that visa application!!!

Monday, 17 December 2018

TTFN UK and Kia Ora NZ

I find that this afternoon is free to sit quietly and round up the last of my weeks in the UK for 2018. It has been a full and wonderful trip. Thank you to all for inviting me, hosting me, feeding me, adding a few glasses of wine, telling me your stories and allowing me to show you some of my work and favourite techniques for designing and making.

After the Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show I have been to Oxford Embroiderers’ Guild, the Granary Studio (Winchester), back to Oxford, to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate and to Jersey. 
'The Space Between' at The Granary Studio

The Space Between with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

The Space Between with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

The Space Between with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

The Space Between with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

I am back at the Granary Studio with the 'Meetings with Metals' course in November 2019, contact Sue for full details.
In Jersey at the Harbour Gallery we jaunted through 3 days, looking at 'Draw and Stitch Permutations', 'The Crown Jewels Gone Mad' and 'Slash and Burn'.
Draw and Stitch Permutations with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Draw and Stitch Permutations with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Draw and Stitch Permutations with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Draw and Stitch Permutations with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Draw and Stitch Permutations with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Draw and Stitch Permutations with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

The Crown Jewels Gone Mad with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

The Crown Jewels Gone Mad with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Combined Draw and Stitch and The Crown Jewels Gone Mad with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

The Crown Jewels Gone Mad with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Combined Draw and Stitch and The Crown Jewels Gone Mad with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

The Crown Jewels Gone Mad with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
Slash and Burn with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Slash and Burn with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Slash and Burn with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
If you are interested in workshops in Jersey, contact the Harbour Gallery for dates in 2019, mine and other tutors. 
I also managed an overnight to London to see a couple of fabulous exhibitions – AnniAlbers (Tate Modern) and Fashioned from Nature (Victoria and Albert). Both of these were engrossing in completely different ways. As I’m not a weaver, the technicalities of Anni’s work were a little beyond my grasp, but I loved the inclusion of the development drawings, the student notes, exercises and artefacts from her days at the Black Mountain College. Amazing that many of the design exercises she used are still so relevant, and the cognisance of upcycling for the jewellery was probably before it's time.

The Fashioned from Nature exhibition at the V&A was also absorbing. The fashion was presented in context with the material and design origins and was aimed at making the visitor consider the impact of the clothing we have work through the ages. The social and environmental costs of clothing and fashion were foremost. Definitely an exhibition which you can’t leave without having a changed view of what we choose to wear and why in this era of increasing concerns about the cost our choices make for the Earth. That a venerable institution such as the V&A is making such a strong statement is perhaps an indicator of the changing consciousness of our times.

I’m often asked – what do I miss most about the UK? And when leaving the country in the grey half light of a mizzly December day, I have to say, one thing I don’t miss is days like that! By contrast, the glorious clear blue skies and sharp frosts are definitely very special. It goes without saying that family, friends and relationships built over many years are always high on that list and I really appreciate catching up with as many people as I can during my sojourns in the UK.
What else is on the ‘missing’ list? Springing to mind right now are being able to visit great cities and small villages, each with their special vibes. The fabulous exhibitions, historical vistas and places, and unexpectedly - comedy whether live or on the radio (we now spend our Saturday morning catching up with the Friday Radio 4 6.30pm comedy), walks and hikes on the numerous public pathways through spectacular countryside (with the dogs too in many cases – something which is not so possible in New Zealand); the Nottingham Climbing Centre, and other things I can’t bring to mind right now. However, new homes, new vistas, new experiences, new people are all wonderful too, and when I am asked the  question ‘which country do you prefer?’, my answer is that the two countries and people in both are simply different parts of my life – a wider community and that the well known adage that you take yourself with you wherever you are, is true. In other words, I am ‘bi-continental’.

Being away from the day to day home life also allows time for reflection. In fact, it almost demands it. The mind runs to ‘what next?’, ‘how can I work better?’, ‘where should I be putting my efforts next?’, ‘what is important to me personally and creatively?’. Indeed, I have quite a full notebook of ideas for new work, developments and changes I would like to pursue. After the hiatus of Christmas I will have energy and time to devote to at least some of these. In the meantime I have a quilt to make for my daughter which was promised 6 months ago, gardening to get on top of again, a new sewing machine to get to know (ooh, what a treat!), catching up with the other Fabricated Narratives artists to review the UK exhibition and see where we might go next and Christmas activities.

One part of the plan for the ‘2019 UK tour’ which I can release is that there are more workshop events to be held at the Risley Village Hall in late October. These booked up really quickly this year, so if you are interested, please do message me to reserve your place.

Here are the details:

1.       The Space Between 

Dates: 28 and 29 October

When we observe objects, we usually choose to concentrate on the object itself, however there are many interesting lines and patterns in the lines along edges of the objects or the junctions between objects (often known as ‘negative spaces’).
In this course you will be led through the development of patterns derived from the gaps between spaces created by repeating, reversing and otherwise modifying the original forms. This becomes a design process which I devised to create intricate overlaying patterns. It can be used to develop patterns and lines for interpretation in many techniques.

You will also explore a variety of materials and techniques to express your work starting with drawn lines, prints and collage, then developing through fabrics, wires, fibres and stitch. In the extended course you have a choice to concentrate on paper, on fabrics or on metals and metal cloths. Each providing exciting results. Bringing together the materials and your designs is when you will build a layered and intensively worked piece.

This course does not require any prior design or drawing skills. It assumes that if you wish to use a sewing machine that you have a working knowledge of the machine. You can choose to work in many ways, and hand or machine stitch is a personal choice for the participant.

One of my pieces using this technique won the Bernina Award for the most innovative use of a sewing machine, the highest award at ‘Changing Threads’, New Zealand’s premiere contemporary textile art exhibition.

The Space Between with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

2.        Autumnal Surfaces and Textures

Take inspiration from the colours, textures, shapes and marks seen in autumnal leaves to develop surfaces in a variety of media. The glorious, vibrant colours and textures we associate with the autumn will be translated through the media of metals, recycled coffee pods, needlefelting, wirework, heat reactive surfaces, stitching and beading to create a panel or free standing sculpture.

This workshop includes a rich mixture of methods to record and translate your subject matter. These will then be combined and developed into a personal piece which uses your favourite techniques from those we have sampled. It will also leave you with a range of techniques which can be adapted for use in your own designs later.

Machine stitch is recommended though it is possible to work entirely in hand stitch if you desire to.

This is a modification of the project developed for WOWBook 2 (June 2018). 

Autumnal Surfaces and Textures with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

General Information for courses

Venue: Risley Village Hall, Derby Road, Risley, Derbyshire (just off J25 M1)
Cost: £100.00/2 days
If book 4 days £180.00
Time: 10am - 4pm

Bring your own lunch, refreshments provided.

Materials and Equipment lists will be provided in advance.

Payment: Bank transfer, cheque or PAYPAL (details will be sent when you ask to book).

If I have not received your payment and the place is requested by another person, I will email you with 24 hours to complete the transfer to retain your place.

If the course is cancelled I will request your bank details to refund you the whole course cost.

If you cancel and I cannot refill your place, your fee will be retained.

Places to stay: If you would like to know more about places to stay or eat, please let me know.

If you require further information, please get in touch.

I’ll leave you now, with best wishes for a fabulous festive season wherever you are, but look out for the 2019 workshop list being posted very soon.


A welcome back to NZ sunset.

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.