Thursday, 4 December 2014

Personal Statements workshop



My last workshop in the UK for 2014 was at the Art Van Go studio in Knebworth. We spent two days using metal cloths in copper, brass, bronze and steel. It was coloured, printed, embossed and layered with Lutradur (not necessarily all on the same piece), then patched, pieced and collaged into a new panel. The initial idea is to have a favourite phrase or saying to work around, though as ever, everyone goes off on their individual journeys and produces pieces they are happy with. Experience levels varied but everyone produced lovely, unique work. 


Detail from a piece made using mostly distressed Lutradur. Lovely layering and gentle colours.

Coming on well, especially as Jen spent a large part of the time either at the emergency dentist or in pain. Hope you are better!

Going to be a lamp cover inspired by the lamp in 'Stitch Fibre, Metal and Mixed Media'. Lovely monoprinting in the centre.

Great colours and beginning to integrate the layers and patterns


From a spinner with no previous experience of free machining or mixed media work. I have always said anyone can do it.
Susie concentrated on the gorgeous textures and colours in the steel cloth.


This silver river morphed into an urban canal feel.
Rich, Victorian perhaps. Began life as an Alice in Wonderland theme!
One piece becomes many -the more you do the more you play, the better your feel for the materials etc.
A gentle, considered piece. Apparently not running true to type, so each step was harder than working in familiar ways. But just look at the result!

Another newbie to mixed media textiles and free stitching. Fabulous.

Detail from above. See the use of automatic writing for the words. Use the tools you have.

It was fantastic to be able to see so many friends and new faces, I'm back now in New Zealand and putting up the Christmas tree, lights and decorations in the sunshine and off to the beach with the dogs.. 
Happy Christmas and bye for now.

Sharing at the Knitting and Stitching Show.



Winter was nearly there in the UK but at least there was no snow yet this year! The weather was typically northern late autumn mornings which are misty and damp. I have been in Harrogate for ‘The Knitting and Stitching Show’. This year I was not in my usual spot but have opted to join the ‘Artist in Action’ stand where we are given a studio space to work in. The whole space is sponsored by Art Van Go providers of fabulous art materials, they are generous, knowledgeable, helpful, so if ever you need art materials, give them a call! In an atmosphere of sharing in this area, there were feltmakers, paper textiles, printers, stitchers and more, all throwing materials at each other to see what could be done using another artists ideas and knowledge. The thousands of visitors, often 4 or 5 deep in front of the work tables, were eager to see what we were up to. I was making a start on new ideas with seedpods, but also spent a fair bit of time discussing the use of metal and metal cloths in textiles as well as the development process. A big thanks to Janome for the lend of a sewing machine.

The view from my table when I had a chance to see across the Artist in Action area

Alison Hulme busy working on screen prints, gelli prints and more.

The time passed so incredibly quickly that it seems to have gone before it has really begun.
I managed a couple of very fleeting walks around the many exhibits and stands and bought a selection of new Aurifill threads to try as recommended by Dionne Swift. I am looking forward to working with those soon.
A few of the exhibitions which have stayed with me were:
Between the Lines by E.A.S.T. (East Anglian Stitched Textiles). Though I am about up to my ears with WW1 memorabilia, services, remembrances etc., this being the centenary year of the start of the war. I was very impressed by these thoughtful, well executed and explained pieces.

Mary Flynn from the Isle of Wight has collected the detritus from her local beaches and creates hangings, quilts, banners and sculptures from these as a comment on the waste and littering in our seas, they are also strong, vibrant art pieces. I have a long standing affinity to the sea from my Marine Biology days and also an awareness of the problems in our environment. I can still recall what has to be my ‘awakening’ to the environmental impact that humans have on the planet from reading Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ in my teenage years. 

Mary Flynn modelling her detritus jewellery

Mary Flynn banners created from waste washed up on the beach
 There were many more exhibitions, and only time to see and mention such a few. 
Ann Small and Sue Walton exhibited work they described as magical, curious and slightly scary.

Work by Ann Small

Work by Sue Walton

Work by Sue Walton

 The Graduate showcase is always of interest, the graduate students are of many ages and often have previous lives and careers behind them, a great mix of lives drawn together through creative textiles. It is also interesting to talk to the students about their experience of travelling around with the Knitting and Stitching show. Often this is their first out of college experience of showing work. They always find it an eye opener, and it can be a great boost to their confidence. But also they are at a stage where they are considering where to go and how to develop their work. A common failing in art courses is to give the students experience and ideas of their post graduation options or an understanding of the business perspective of their chosen direction. What do they want from their studies and how might they achieve that are questions they are often left to discover for themselves. I feel pretty strongly that this fails them and students should hit the ground running once they graduate. Good luck to them all.


Helen Sill

Georgina Bellamy




Harrogate certainly knows how to put on a great display for Christmas. 








Including this use of the knitted copper tubes I sometimes use in my pieces
An elegant town, famous for Betty’s tea shop (might be great for tea, but I can’t recommend the coffee), plenty of restaurants including the lovely little Salsa Posada and fabulous Mexican coffee with tequila, kahula, lemon and cinnamon which is perfect for the cold evenings – a treat I try to repeat on each visit.   


A warning that the parking attendants can be a little officious, I had to wriggle out of a fine for the heinous offence of not writing my car registration number onto all of my permits. How terrible am I?


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Around the World Blog Hop




I have been invited to take part in the Around the World Blog Hop by Judy Coates Perez, whom I met in Australia earlier this year. Thanks for the invite Judy, it was great to read your blog, the answers to the questions we are asked to consider were answered intelligently and informatively, I hope that in my slightly tired ‘post very long flight’ state that I am able to make some attempt, though it is utilitarian in nature and without the lovely images Judy added.


The q&a session:

1. What am I working on? 

Currently I am at a natural break point, having recently finished a series of work called ‘Negative Spaces’, a sculpture called ‘Change’, I have just returned from a teaching trip to the UK and Christmas is coming. Therefore new work will develop, but probably not until after the holiday season as family and social activities are piling up. I am however beginning to work towards two new five day long workshops in which participants will be working in a similar way to the way I develop pieces. This could possibly be described as a process of deconstruction and reconstruction. It will mean some study, some close observation, some abstracting of forms and then slowly reconstructing the elements to create a work. It would not be an unexpected outcome of developing these courses for me to also have new work for myself. I am certainly interested and intrigued by both concepts for the workshops.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

If my genre can broadly be described as ‘contemporary textile art’ then I am not sure that my work is so different in use of techniques or materials to many other artists. I suppose that my use of metal and metal cloth as a main material is reasonably unusual. I would hope that my approach and the resulting pieces create distinctive work which is appropriate to the subject matter I am exploring in the pieces; this in itself shouldn’t be different to that of other makers, though the end result certainly should be unique to me.
3. Why do I write/create what I do? 

Just because! Or because if I don’t I wouldn’t know who I am. I have stitched and painted for so many years that I think my identity is tied to textile art.
4. How does my writing/creating process work?

Though I can work ‘off the cuff’, I prefer to have a ‘raison d’etre’ for each series of work. This might mean investigating any associations, any cultural, historical personal or other links, connections, thoughts and so on to a subject. I will spend time in sketch studies and playing with development exercises. Alongside this I usually will also begin to narrow down the techniques, surfaces, colours, materials I want to use or which reflect the nature of the ideas. Eventually the two come together and I can begin to work on the actual pieces. 


I am inviting you to see the blogs of Kim Thittichai, a larger than life textile and mixed media artist, who will need no explanation in advance, and Pete Mosley, whose blog is a slight sideline, being a maker, but more importantly, he is vastly experienced in the art of being in business as a maker and artist. He mentors, researches and writes. Unfortunately, my third choice is still ‘pending’, and I am not sure what that does for the Blog Hop, perhaps not a lot in the long run. I hope you enjoy the postings of these two talents.