Monday, 18 May 2015

Sunshine after rain

Whether knowingly or not, the week conspired to send me positivity in bucket loads. 
So, a thank you to those of you who sent me messages about the last post, thank you to my regular Thursday class who were on great form last week, thank you to the buyer of one of my pieces from Mairangi Art Centre, thank you to the artist who carved a beautiful paddle which I fell in love with and which is now my first Maori art piece, thank you to the ladies from the Warkworth textile group who really got to grips with metal and machine stitching and at the same time made my weekend visit such fun (even introducing me to the delicious Lumberjack cake - I really need that recipe!).

Thanks to Gill for organising the weekend and looking after everyone so brilliantly

Gill's piece is combining a print she had made with coffee cups and some scraps from my box. This is going to be a lovely piece very soon!

Sari silk, wine bottle tops and a little metal fabric in this lively piece.
A book cover on the way, using sweet papers and an embossed aluminium food tray on a fabulous old blanket

One half of another book cover, embossed metal shim, metal cloth, velvet, rust dyed book cloth and hessian scrim. Going to be wonderful very soon.

Book covers were really in vogue this weekend. The copper curls are still under the soluble film, just a few beads and sequins to add now


Music ran deep in this family so the symbols are absolutely spot on.

More book covers ...

Margaret was the very first NZ embroiderer who contacted me, and despite claiming she had owned that sewing machine for 30 years, had used it about 10 times, and had never free stitched before  - see below ...

... this will be beautiful with more curls, beads and goldwork stitching. Well done Margaret.
It was Christine's brother's birthday that evening, and despite claiming that she had never stitched before, or sewn a bead on, she certainly made the most of this tin can picked up from outside the hall ...

... this is his birthday card!

And ... the sun really came out on Saturday morning via a phone call from Ronnie who organises the 'Changing Threads' exhibition in Nelson. My work (Negative Space II) has been awarded the best in show Bernina Award for the most creative entry using a sewing machine in the 'Changing Threads' Contemporary Fibre Art Awards.
The exhibition is held at the Refinery Artspace, Nelson, NZ from 16 May to 6th June 2015.
This show has gone from strength to strength over the last 7 years and is the most prestigious textile art show in New Zealand. Their mantra, 'Encouraging fibre & textile artists to produce creations which challenge the public perceptions of work that is traditionally associated with these media’, is one which I wholeheartedly agree with and suspect that you will too. The details will be on the exhibition website in a few days at:

Negative Space II by Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

This is the statement for the piece:
The work is one of a series which explore visualising the internal emotional environment entered into whilst developing work. These pieces can be viewed as meditative and quiet, calm and focused, pieces which depict the internal space entered into when concentrating on a subject or really connecting with mental processes for learning and creating, a positive, welcoming place, separate from other pressures in the external environment or an entrapped, immobile, negative space which is akin in some ways to the place retreated to during depressive, anxious times.
The depicted figures are fetally curled, backs turned, heads down and eyes closed. They are drawn in thread on backgrounds of patched, patterned and textured stainless steel cloth with patterns derived from the gaps between spaces created by repeating and reversing the figures.

What can I say - perhaps (with apologies to Kim T for pinching her catchphrase) -WOO HOO!!!
Wishing you all a good week too.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

On my high horse and an apology

I have been seething recently - not something I do a lot, generally being of a more accepting, level headed, easy going nature (I think), however ...
If you belong to a group which has a constitution and rules, then fair enough, abide by the rules or leave. If you belong to a group with a constitution and rules, which the group organisers then ignore and refuse to discuss with you, (maybe because it is easier for them not to as I am 12,000 miles away and emails are easy to ignore) then I feel entitled to an amount of righteous indignation.

The Living Threads Group is a broadly based group of embroiderers, quilters, knitters and mixed media textile artists, it encompasses both traditional and contemporary styles. It was founded by a group of textile teachers and now consists of over 70 members. There is an exhibition every other year and many workshops are run by members for the public. The group membership is by invitation, and I have been a member for a long time now, being involved as an exhibitor and a tutor.
When I decided to move to NZ I was asked by one of the Living Threads founders not to leave and to continue to offer workshops for them when I visit the UK and to exhibit in the shows. My mother agreed to take on the exhibition stewarding which members are expected to make time for during the exhibition. Delighted, I said, I would love to send new work to show and to continue to tutor as I have many great friends who regularly attend my workshops.
This Easter was the second exhibition I have sent work across the oceans to the  Living Threads exhibition, at a fair cost to myself (my choice, I know).
I then receive a curt email saying that the three main pieces would not be hung due to:
1. Health and Safety concerns.
2. The quality of work not being acceptable.

I obviously objected to this and asked that the  hanging group reconsider. I understand that the perspex backing to the pieces has a deliberately rough cut edge - but this has never been a problem at other galleries or with the buyers, and the most it could do would be to snag your jumper fibres, certainly it could not harm anyone.
The comment about the quality of the work made me see red. Whose opinion I asked? Who selected the selection committee, for an open entry members exhibition?

A flurry of emails back and forward resulted in no more satisfactory answer, simply a repeat that they had decided that the work was not up to standard.

This is where a group should adhere to it's own rules, or lack of rules.
If I send work to a selection committee, or a competition etc. then the choice of the selection board is what it is, whether I like the result or not. This is the case for many exhibitions I take part in. If I opt to send work to be selected by a panel or a judge, the decision is completely theirs.
In this case though, the constitution of Living Threads has no provision for selection of work on any grounds. This may be something the group need to look at for the future if they wish to have the right to select. The group then needs to consider who will make the selection. Who has the status and trust of the group members as a body to select what will be hung?
In this case they should have stuck to their rules, whether they liked it or not, and hung all entered work. Having run a gallery and worked with hundreds, probably thousands, of artists and been through many contractual niceties I know how this can catch you out, but still you have to be fair to your artists and work within your own conditions. I have asked that this be brought up at the next group meeting, but have had only a complete silence as a reply to date, which makes me doubt that my distant voice will be considered. This feeling is compounded by knowing that the founding members still have a strong hold on the running of the group and are resistant to any new thinking in other areas also.

As I had promised you that the work would be at the 'Textile Treasures' exhibition, and so had only shown details and teasers of the pieces in advance, and furthermore I know that some of you did go expecting to see the work and were disappointed not to find it all, the full images are here. I also hope to have them on show at the Knitting and Stitching Shows in October and November.

I await any further communication from the Living Threads committee before making any choices about my continued membership. I would very much miss the chance to spend time with the fabulous, fun, creative ladies and gents who book on my workshops through the group, and this is by far the largest consideration to me.

 Whatever you think of them, and that is beside the point of the discussion/rant I have just treated you to, these were the pieces I sent to be shown, and I can only offer my sincere apologies to you if you traveled to the exhibition to see the pieces, and not to find them on show.

Breaking Open (shown)

Rocky Shoreline series (shown)

Rocky Shoreline series (shown)

Rocky Shoreline series (shown)

Rocky Shoreline series (shown)
On the Run (not shown)

On the Run detail
On the Fly (not shown)

On the Fly detail
On the Cross (not shown)

On the Cross detail
Thanks for listening, I have been needing to get that one off my chest!