Thursday, 12 December 2019

Lift off, flying high.

As we approach the end of the year, I want to share a lovely collection of images from workshops held in New Zealand, Tasmania, Australia, Jersey and England and a list of workshops I am booked to lead in 2020. I do hope that you will be able to join me on at least one of them. Or if not, enjoy these images and keep making your own work.

One of the joys of visiting groups and events is that I get to meet people with fascinating backgrounds and life stories, and tutors whose work is amazing, expert, thoughtful and inspiring. I am so very thankful for this part of my life, it gives me great joy. Thank you to everyone whose efforts make these events happen. Without massive energy and commitment in the background these workshops and events would not take place. At times organisers get the sticky end of the stick for things which may not go quite to plan rather than thanks for everything that goes right. SO … Three cheers to organisers, participants, artists and ‘biletteers’ (I made that word up, meaning the ladies or families who volunteer to put me up whilst I am with their group - especially ones with wine cellars to taste from!)
Here are just a small selection:

Martien van Zuilen, Fibres West convenor


Tasmanian biletteers; Andrea and Popcorn
Auckland Quilt Symposium: Some of the organisers.

After a few creative retreats at my Studio for visiting groups during April, I travelled to Tasmania. This was a first for me and an island I definitely want to re-visit as a tourist, maybe even allowing my husband along! The historical buildings still in evidence mixed with modern developments, the restorations and reuse of old factory and dock buildings give Hobart a lovely atmosphere. The Arts Centre, the Salamanca Craft market, the Sunday Farmer’s market, the abundance of artisanal food businesses all made for enjoyable additions to my trip. You don’t have to look far in Tasmania for fabulous inspiration. I took the ferry over to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). What more can I say, MONA is a pretty unique art museum and gallery. A sentiment echoed by everyone who is able to visit. 

Hobart, Tasmania


MONA, Tasmania

I visited to work with the energetic and skilled ‘Stitching and Beyond’ group. For 2 days I introduced metal and other surfaces such as Lutradur, burning chiffons, stitch, felting, silk papers and more. These surfaces were then considered by the members and individual work was developed over the next 2 days. An intensive time, but long enough to really start to get to grips with the ideas and begin to create pieces which translated the techniques into personal responses to the brief of looking at geological formation.

Natural Layers workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden, for Stitching and Beyond, Tasmania

Natural Layers workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden, for Stitching and Beyond, Tasmania

Natural Layers workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden, for Stitching and Beyond, Tasmania

Flying back to mainland Australia I joined the Fibre Arts Australia team for the Ballarat April 2019 event. Not having been to Ballarat before, it was a pleasure to have time to walk around the lake, spotting a pelican, and to visit the Art Gallery/Museum. In addition to several absorbing exhibitions, I can thoroughly recommend the food there! Ballarat gave me the chance to expand to 5 days a design based course called ‘Draw and Stitch Permutations’, during which we developed work in a reactive, improvisational manner through the use of marks on paper, stains, print, burning, metal fabrics and manipulated wires. The benefit of a longer course is that that everyone was able to push themselves further and to develop in personal ways. 

Draw and Stitch Permutations, tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Fibre Arts Australia
Draw and Stitch Permutations, tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Fibre Arts Australia
Draw and Stitch Permutations, tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Fibre Arts Australia

Draw and Stitch Permutations, tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Fibre Arts Australia
Draw and Stitch Permutations, tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Fibre Arts Australia

Travelling gives a chance to experience new environments, flora and fauna. In Tasmania I met Pademelons (small, desperately cute marsupials) which were completely new to me, and in Riddells Creek near Melbourne, I was able to put a tick on my bucket list when I met a wild Koala bear. Such a thrill! (Though I am absolutely sure the Koala was not bothered one way or the other about me).


Andrea (my host in Hobart) made the suggestion that I read a book about pre-colonial indigenous life and agricultural practices, ‘Dark Emu’ by Bruce Pascoe (ISBN 9781921248016). It was a very interesting, sobering read and being in Australia at the same time, it really encouraged me to consider the environment surrounding me in Australia and perhaps the future too. I would recommend it to you.
The 50th Creative Fibre Event in Palmerston North, New Zealand came hot on the heels of Australia. I suspect I was selected as the ‘off the wall’ tutor. Nestled amongst classes on weaving, spinning, knitting and other fibre crafts and events, I spent the weekend using Angelina fibres and weaving with metal, wire, fibre and beads and generally burning stuff. 

Creative Fibre, NZ Workshops

Workshop 'Wild Wire Weaving' for Creative Fibre, NZ, by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Workshop 'Wild Wire Weaving' for Creative Fibre, NZ, by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
May brought a week of workshops and art based events to our local village in the form of Creative Matakana. My contribution this year was to consider a different pace of working, placing the emphasis on ‘slow’ stitching, reusing fabric and creating (mostly) functional items influenced by Japanese Boro, Indian Kantha, European darning and visible mending. 

Creative Matakana, 'Visible Mending'. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
 'Visible Mending' for Creative Matakana by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

 'Visible Mending' for Creative Matakana by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

In July I hopped back on a plane to Australia, firstly to Perth for the awesome Fibres West event, to Evocative Arts in Adelaide and to Timeless Textiles in Newcastle.
At Fibres West we considered the process of drawing, printing, stitching and fabrics as an iterative developmental process called ‘The Space Between’, whilst surrounded by displays, talks and Bollywood parties. Fabulous. 


Fibres West girls 2019

The Space Between Workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Fibres West


The Space Between Workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Fibres West

The Space Between Workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Fibres West




The Space Between Workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Fibres West
The Space Between Workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Fibres West

Interactive sculpture and impromptu performance. Artist: Tania Spencer (at the front here)
Bollywood Down Under Style at Fibres West
At Evocative Arts we approached many mixed media and fibre surfaces, sampling from Angelina fibres, paint effects, gilding and more. 
For Evocative Arts, Adelaide

For Evocative Arts, Adelaide

For Evocative Arts, Adelaide

For Evocative Arts, Adelaide

And for Timeless Textiles we developed repeat patterns and negative space patterns using printing and stitching to develop work.

The Space Between by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Timeless Textiles, Newcastle, Australia

The Space Between by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Timeless Textiles, Newcastle, Australia

The Space Between by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden for Timeless Textiles, Newcastle, Australia

Newcastle sunset
During June, August and most of September I took time in the studio beginning the process of developing new work which I hope will become something worth showing. I enjoyed it anyway!
At the end of September, I hosted the one and only Kim Thittichai for a couple of days before the Auckland Quilt Symposium, during which we were both tutors. My teaching at the Symposium was a whirlwind of busy-ness, messiness and colour spending just 2 day stitching onto metal to develop three dimensional vessels and then three days ‘Rusting and Gnarling’. A full house of enthusiasm, experimentation and cross fertilisation. Well done all, especially the 2 who had never done anything similar before and had a blast!

Auckland Quilt Symposium 2019


Rusty and Gnarly for the Auckland Quilt Symposium by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden


Rusty and Gnarly for the Auckland Quilt Symposium by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Metal Vessel for the Auckland Quilt Symposium by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Metal Vessel for the Auckland Quilt Symposium by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Metal Vessel for the Auckland Quilt Symposium by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Just a week to repack and I was UK bound. I first flew across to Jersey for four separate days of different media and approaches including line, wire, gilding, burning, staining and stitching. 

My Taking Textiles Further Workshops were again held near to Nottingham. These I organise myself, and if you are interested in being on my mailing list to find out more, contact me and let me know. Also look out for the Facebook events with details for 2020 as soon as they are available. This year we developed repeat patterns with negative spaces (The Space Between) and made rich, textured panels thinking about Autumnal Surfaces in felt, metal, shrink plastic, wires and beads.

Autumnal Surfaces workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Autumnal Surfaces workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Autumnal Surfaces workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Autumnal Surfaces workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Soon after at the Stitched Up and Fleeced Studio, Sheffield, we made felted and stitched baubles and hangings and used applique techniques with Angelina fibres.
Angelic Applique workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

At the Windsor and Maidenhead Embroiderer’s Guild we used soluble fabric and metal to create wall art in just 1 day.
Metal panel in a day workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Metal panel in a day workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Metal panel in a day workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

 At Craft Arena in Billericay we deconstructed photographic images to look at perspective and memories then interpreted these in needle felt, metal fabric, image transfer and burning techniques. 
Craft Arena, Essex

Textures and Memories Workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Textures and Memories Workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Textures and Memories Workshop by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Then a wonderful and poignant visit to Art Van Go in Knebworth for more ‘Draw and Stitch Permutations’. I say poignant as Viv and Kev, who are absolute icons of the textile art scene in the UK, have made a decision to slow down and may well not be open by the end of 2020. Many of us are feeling mixed emotions about this – delighted that Viv and Kev who are the hardest working couple I can think of, with great grace, patience and knowledge, will be able to enjoy life in a new way, but sad that a go-to place for materials, exhibitions, workshops and advice won’t be available to us for much longer.
After a few days of consolidation and social catch-ups (another fabulous part of my UK visits) there was a day using Angelina fibres with Lutterworth Stitchers, a day working with the East Midlands Region of the Embroiderer’s Guild looking at ways to interpret the prose or poetry of local authors, and finally a day at the Artist in Action Stand at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show which as usual was a great opportunity to talk to visitors about the materials I use and how I manipulate them to create finished pieces.

Towards the end of this visit the days were really drawing in, the rain kept falling and if it wasn’t raining, there was frost! I invested in a new coat and jumper and was glad of a little Vitamin D boost back in New Zealand.
My diary for 2020 is filling up; April and September see me in Australia, May and July are in New Zealand and October and November are being spent in the UK again. Though that might sound busy, there are still some spaces in which I could travel to your group or you come to me. Please do get in touch if you are interested and we will see what works. Check out the list below for details of where I am so far.
For full details check out the ‘Out and About’ page. If you are interested in an information letter once or twice a year, send me an email or keep up on FB  and Instagram.
There are still several dates which we are working on, and I’ll add those as soon as I have confirmations! Keep your eyes open and ears peeled!
2020 Australia
1-6 April. Fibre Arts, Ballarat 
2020 New Zealand
4-8 May. Creative Matakana
9-10 and 16-17 May. Open Studios
23-24 May. Selwyn College
13-16 July. ANZEG 
2020 Australia
29 August – 1 September. Evocative Arts, Adelaide
5-7 September. Timeless Textiles 
2020 UK
15 - 17 October. Merioneth Textiles, Wales. Contact: Pat Gibson pat.textile@gmail.com 
21- 22 October. Taking Textiles Further. Risley Village Hall, near Nottingham. Contact: Alysn at takingtextilesfurther@gmail.com for more details
24 October. Avalon, Somerset Contact:
jo.hyam@talk21.com
30 - 31 October. Wolverhampton EG. Contact:
wolverhamptonchair@embroiderersguild.co.uk
1 November. Taking Textiles Further. Risley Village Hall, near Nottingham. Contact Alysn at takingtextilesfurther@gmail.com for more details
4 - 5 November. Taking Textiles Further. Risley Village Hall, near Nottingham. Contact Alysn at takingtextilesfurther@gmail.com for more details
7 - 8 November. Stitched Up and Fleeced, Sheffield
14 November. Lincolnshire Embroiderers’ Guild
17 - 19 November. Granary Studio, Winchester 
20 - 22 November. Craft Arena, Essex 

Finally a couple of words from you:
‘On behalf of all the members of the Mixed Media Junkies, I like to say thanks so much for your generous tutorage and fabulous hospitality. Alysn you gave us such a variety of techniques. This was truly appreciated.’
‘I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the workshop at Art Van Go last week, we had such a blast. I’m busily hand stitching so I can finish the piece, and will use you as my very inspirational textile artist for my Advance Texture and Stitch course’

Me enjoying the beautiful coast of Newcastle, Australia