Tuesday, 17 December 2019

A look ahead and behind!

Contemp Textiles Fair 2020
As 2019 comes to a close, I look forward to new events for 2020. On the horizon from 20-22 March is the annual Contemporary Textiles Fair at the Landmark Arts Centre, Teddington  which is always a great fair for the textile lover.

Over the past year, I’ve been making textile pieces of all sizes and budgets to sell at this event. If anyone is interested in coming along, I will have 2 for 1 tickets to give away nearer the time. Some of the pictures I will be taking with me are shown below.

Textile picture with bird

Textile picture with flower and butterfly

Textile picture featuring a flower


Earlier this month, I took part in my first in person selling event in two years. After having a “tidy up”, I found many cyanotype prints that I had made so looked for a Christmas fair in my area. I took part in the EtsyLocal fair in South London at a lovely venue in Peckham that had lots of natural light and a cafe/bar! Above is the display of my table. It was interesting to see the difference in visitor spending habits with the recent economy in the UK and events affecting it. I have been selling at fairs and markets since 2010 and have definitely noticed the change, the exhibiting fees go up but customer spending has gone drastically down!

For any budding artists and designer/makers looking to sell their work this way, I would visit first and really think if it is the right audience for your work. You will find it, just investigate and that will save time and money in the future. There is definitely an audience for textile art but not every event is right for it which is why I chose to only show my prints here.

I want to thank you, my audience for your continued interest and support. It is very much appreciated. Textile lovers are niche lot but our reward is great!

Have a wonderful festive time and peaceful New Year where ever you are in the world. 
See you next year for more textile adventures. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Some Wabi Sabi spirit!

wabi Sabi style picture
Wabi Sabi bird

Wabi Sabi style picture
Wabi Sabi floral
Two of my recent works made completely from antique textiles. I have quite a collection now of old fabrics and look for ways of using them as they are amazing in their own right. The main background of these two wall hangings are from an old flour sack that’s been patched and darned many times which gives it a wonderful texture. You can still faintly see the printed writing of the flour sack.

Sometimes I take apart items and clothing to reuse the fabrics, the gold metallic braid running up the right hand side is from a 19th century rug. The printed fabrics are also from a 19th century decorative border. I have worked in free machine stitching, repeats of the antique print patterns.

Running up the side on top of the metallic ribbon, are finely embroidered European braid in lovely faded cotton.

Stretched onto wooden frames, they are 40 x 70cm sized.

Different from my other work I've produced (no indigo!) but with the same ethos of reusing antique textiles and celebrating its imperfections and beauty.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Backbone of the night II at the Festival of Quilts 2019

Textile quilt
At this year’s Festival of Quilts, I exhibited my work “Backbone of the night II” in the Art Quilt section. I did not know until I visited to pick it up that it was chosen as a “Judges’ choice”. A lovely surprise for me!

I love visiting this event to see all the galleries of established textile artists work and this year, India Flint was showing some of her work. For those not familiar with her work, she is well known for eco dyed textiles and their connection  with her journeys around the world.

I’m always amazed at the skill and effort by the quilt makers at this event, far more patience that I can muster! There’s quilts made by children, groups, two persons, novices and experienced persons. Recurring themes are environmental concerns and Brexit! Though nature is always a popular subject.  

Below is some quilts from the Fine Art Textile Masters gallery:

Detail of stitching

Cyanotypes quilt

Caroline Bartlett work

winning quilt

Friday, 14 June 2019

Backbone of the night II - new textile artwork

Backbone of the night II.  (60 x 112cm). Dyed antique linen, machine & hand embroidery.

Here is my latest textile work, three months in the making. The theme is of course, the Milky Way, of which the title 'Backbone of the night' refers to. I had an idea of extreme contrast of a white centre merging into deepest indigo of which was achieved through a bit of shibori dyeing, tightly wrapping cord round the middle and multiple dip dyeing. Some cold wax resist was applied to suggest stars and red Victorian fabric circles were needle punched through the main cloth to suggest supernovas.

I liked the idea of mapping the stars and referring to our planet's unique position in the galaxy so coordinates of the nearest stars and projection lines are stitched into the overall design. The piece went through various design stages from sampling to unpicking stitching on the actual piece that didn't work. There was going to be big red hand stitching on the outer edges that I eventually rejected. Through out the making, I constantly think, changing and making decisions which is all part of the process and labour spent on a work.

My work involves using antique and vintage textiles, the rips, darns, pattern and stains all become part of the design. The main fabric is part of a antique linen sheet dyed in indigo. Round the edges of the piece (see photo below), dark blue vintage Japanese fabric has been needle punched from underneath to give a rough worn texture.

I use hand dyed threads in cotton, silk and linen in a variety of thicknesses. Hand stitching in a running stitch is mainly applied all over the work with the machine embroidered design restricted to the centre. I love hand stitching the most as it's satisfying for me to do but also I like to see the handworked element. 

The whole piece is then backed onto a light cotton batting and vintage cotton sheeting with a bias bound edge to help give body to it. Eventually, once the piece has been exhibited at the Festival of Quilts this August, it will be mounted and framed so it's more easy to sell as an artwork.

So hopefully, this gives a better understanding on what makes a textile artwork. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Anni Albers at the Tate Modern

Anni Albers exhibition
On until 27th of January is a exhibition on Bauhaus weaver Anni Albers at the Tate Modern. I wasn’t familiar with her work as textile artists are not as mainstream unlike painters and designers, so it was thrilling to discover a textile pioneer! Work from the 1920s till the 1960s was displayed in a major retrospective of her ideas, textiles and her writings on the history of weaving.

She was first introduced to the art of weaving at the radical art school, the Bauhaus in Germany as an alternative to painting as that wasn’t deemed suitable for ladies to study! 

Weaving is a craft skill that I am fascinated with and if I had the time would try a short course for my own interest. It was mesmerising looking at Anni Albers work up close to see the colours, textures and sheer complexity of her weaving skills. I absolutely loved this exhibition and was amazed and quite hearten by the fact it was given a platform by such a major gallery. There still is a major climb in the general public’s perception in textiles as “art”, as exampled by bored students visiting, overheard dismissing the work as rugs! The teacher with them was no help as he remarked “we don’t do weaving, do we?” 

Hopefully, if more artists textiles were given this type of serious academic attention then the views will gradually change. I would definitely recommend this exhibition to anyone visiting London.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Method in making.

Over the past few months I’ve been making some textile pieces using the antique textiles collected from dealers in the past year. I consciously tried to avoid buying indigo and Japanese fabrics as I’ve a considerable stash already, and tried to find unusual patterns instead.

People like to know where ideas and inspiration comes from and must say that I don’t have a particular idea in mind when starting, sometimes a vague idea of a look I want to achieve. My love of boro of course, has not diminished, I love distressed, aged and delicate textiles and this influences my work. 

In the past with other artwork, I used sketchbooks and developed ideas with paper and fabric sampling. I find that doesn’t suit my current work as I use antique textiles and they are one of a kind pieces. The fabrics lead me with the design and as any textile lover will know, just playing with the fabrics will bring up multiple ideas. It doesn’t always work and have some abandoned and “I don’t like it” work to prove it!

Years studying art and design, and my degree in costume learning many disciplines of surface decoration, printing  and dyeing, all inform my decisions. Living in London gives me the privilege position in visiting exhibitions on art, fashion and culture, it all goes in and influences me, consciously and unconsciously. Most of all though, the most important aspect for me is the enjoyment and calm making textile art gives and if other people enjoy it too, then all the better. :)

Remains. Texitile workStarry Night. Textile workLuna.Textile workConstellations. Textile art

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Festival of Quilts- Fine Art Quilt Masters 2018

photo of quilt masters brochurephoto of entry in brochure

Back in August I visited the NEC in Birmingham for this year’s Festival of Quilts. It’s a huge event in the textile calendar for exhibiting quilts, buying supplies and workshops for those interested. I was lucky to be shortlisted for the Fine Art Quilt Masters which is a juried competition for quilts that transcend into fine art rather than pure quilting. There were 21 quilts chosen this year from over a hundred submissions so I was very honoured to have my quilt “Multiverse” chosen.

It was good to see all the quilts on show during the festival as there was a huge variety of  techniques applied and quirky interpretations on themes. I went primarily to pick up my quilt after the festival finished but managed somehow to come away with a good stash of haberdashery and fabrics! 

Display of quilts Fine Art Masters exhibition