Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Exhibitions & more exhibitions.

Last Sunday was the end of the 'Lines in the Land' exhibition at the Beetroot Tree for which I had made a set of work and Big Ant made a video. That means that this week is set up week in the main area and it is the remarkable African textiles from the collection of John Gillow and the South West Chinese Tribal textiles and thread books from Martin Conlan's collection which form the backbone of the display - always a pleasure! It is more than the textures, more than the remarkably contemporary patterns and designs, more even than the unusual materials and dyes used in the textiles - mostly it is the smell! There is a distinct aroma to antique textiles, especially I think, those from Africa and the East. The smell is that of the fibres themselves - I can't describe it, but if you have ever handled Kuba cloths and the like, you will know what I mean!

The 2 Continents exhibition during set up week
Ndop Cloth from Cameroon
Human Hair Jacket from Cameroon

John has sent examples from Uganda, Tunisia, Cameroon, Ghana, Congo, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Benin.
Martin Conlan concentrates his collection on the Miao, Dai, Dong and Yao tribes from South West China.
He has also sent a mixture of modern clothing including shirts, aprons, trousers and jackets made with local styles and hemp cloth. 
In a few days (give us a chance to get it sorted!), check the Beetroot Tree exhibitions page for more details.

Art Supplies for Sale

And ... over the weekend Stevie (who oversees our art materials at the Beetroot Tree) and I were at the Uttoxeter quilt show with an art supplies sales table. This the mad dying session in the previous post - and the scrim sold so well we need to do another pretty soon, before our next outings. Find out where we are selling art supplies here (click the 'Out and About' Tab).

Jennifer Collier
Waxed Boots
It was lovely to catch up with friends and meet new creative textile people - just a couple to mention here:

Jennifer Collier has established a reputation for her waxed teabag creations, has just opened a new studio space (Unit 12)and spent a very busy weekend supervising her 'have a go' waxed teabag card making, which both Stevie and I managed to go and join in with.
Annette's' work
Annette in conversation
We were next to the delightful Annette Emms whose 'Pixie Boot' article in Stich magazine a while ago inspired my Mum to make us all pairs for Christmas. And as it happens -she liked our scrim and the 'tacky bead mats' which are also one of my favorite gadgets. These bead mats were one of those 'wow -I need one of those' items from the first time I saw them!
African Collar by Lillian Owen

Detail of collar
 Another treat from the show was to catch up with Lillian who had attended one of my Day Schools (Fossil Evidence - using silk papers, stitch and reactive metal paints) and the techniques suited her project so well that she made this piece - and was the only person to sell her work from the embroidery section -well done!

I was also working hard on finishing the Thread Booklet for the Living Threads Group Exhibition. Which I did (just), and took to leave the team there setting up. I'll get you some images when that is all ready. It is usually a varied exhibition of traditional and modern, quilts, lace, wearable etc.

After all of that I was quite pleased to get a good walk out with the dogs, luckily they missed the hare streaking across the field behind them. The weather has been beautiful, warmer than Greece the last two days the weathermen say - long may it contine - there is plenty to do in the garden before the May Day Bank Holiday and the garden being on show for the annual 'Arts and Gardens Festival' around the village, so back to the weeds now ...

Monday, 11 April 2011

My hands look human again at last!

Silk fibres soaking
Dyebaths full in the studio
I hate wearing gloves when I am dyeing don't you?
Somehow being able to get my hands into the dyebath and squeeze the liquid through the fabrics and threads is all part of the experience.
However, it also means that by the time I have been at it all day, my hands look like some weird alien prunes!

Scrim Muslin all dried
Linen fibres ready to pack
The occasion is a show coming up at the weekend. The Beetroot Tree is having a stand for the first time at The Uttoxeter Quilt show and we have just had the fibres and fabrics arrive which we then colour and package. Both Stevie and I are teaching mini-workshops and there will be loads of interesting people to meet and fantastic quilts to enjoy - I will let you know more next week.
As it was such a sunny day (makes a change) we took advantage and converted the cafe courtyard into a drying room, spreading all of the colourful fibres and threads over the chairs and tables when they were not in use by customers.

The courtyard became drying area
Dyed paper
As I didn't want to waste any of the dye (don't you feel sad when rinsing all of the colours down the sink?) I placed papers on top of the baths and they took the colour in fantastic patterns. I had to be very careful not to rip the papers when lifting them out as they become (inevitably) very fragile. I tried with photo paper also, which created a lovely finish, but the paper is even more liable to ripping when wet than printer card and so if you have a go -take great care.

Harrogate in the spring time
I also took a trip up to Harrogate to the British Trade Craft Fair on Tuesday. This is a trade fair with a difference -hundreds of individual makers and artists are there to show galleries and show their 'wares'. There are many more commercial trade fairs with large businesses and importers, but this is my favourite for meeting the makers and finding new work for the Beetroot Tree. Unfortunately I only had a couple of hours and had to run around rather quickly, but as ever there was inspiring and excellent quality work.

Tracey Birchwood
Tracey's jewellery
For several years, I took a stand at the show and it was a hard decision not to continue, but I realised that I don't enjoy the process of making multiples and repeats to order, so now I concentrate upon one-off and developing new works and am much happier for it.
However some of the exhibitors are friends and others are artists whose work you will find at the Beetroot Tree, such as Tracey Birchwood, whose simple porcelain and
wire wrapped jewellery is always a

... off now to finish preparing for the Quilt show and my teaching there...

Friday, 8 April 2011

See all about it ...

Steve at Big Ant Video has just finished his video of my work for the current exhibition at the Beetroot Tree. And what a fantastic job he has done - beautiful layered and flowing images of the inspiration, the work being made and displayed, along with a soundscape which he has composed especially.

Have a look. Then let me know your thoughts.

'The' video