Friday, 29 May 2020

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. 







Anatomy of a textile piece

Nice and holey!
Hello again! 

My next blog posts will be about my latest textile artwork which I am currently making while on a enforced break from my full time job. While it is worrying times and an uncertain future, I can’t help but see this as an opportunity for personal development. A chance to work on and explore areas that interest me though never quite found the time including a regular exercise routine! 😆


I thought it would be interesting to post about the making of a textile piece and the thought process that goes with it. I like to see other artists working and the progress of what their making, it’s interesting to see the stages, what works, what doesn’t and the idea behind the work.


I keep a little book, not even a sketch book as such, that has ideas, designs, things that interest me even shopping lists of what materials I need to buy! From a seed of an idea through something I read or seen, I do a little research. 

My latest piece came about from a number of sources. With some exceptions, my overall work is influenced by a interest in cosmology and have always had a fascination for the night sky.  I was rewatching the recent version of the science documentary Cosmos, a spacetime odyssey (I loved the original Carl Sagan version!) and there was a episode called "A sky full of ghosts" a poetic description of stars. The episode was about the speed of light and how the light we see from stars are from billions of years ago when we observe them on Earth. It is amazing to know that the light we see now is like looking into the past. A spark of an idea formed...

Detail of the Furoshiki cloth.

I looked through my extensive fabric stash and picked one bought a few years ago that's been waiting for the right purpose. It is a antique Japanese Furoshiki wrapping cloth originally to bundle belongings together before plastic bags became more the norm. Dyed in deep indigo it is pieced together from three strips of cloth and has wonderful sashiko stitching in a fan design on each corner. The stitching would have originally cumulated into a plaited braid to then tie together to make a bundle. These have worn away as has one of the corners. 

There are rips, holes, patches, fading and stains, lovely! I do not want to hide these elements, they are highlighted and used in the design, the textile's history is part of the finished piece. This is what attracted me to it in the first place so why hide it? The final design was dictated by the dimensions of the textile and the sashiko stitching in each corner that is quite dominant. 

My next step was to try sampling some ideas which will be my next blog post.


Close up of sashiko stitching.

The whole background fabric.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

All change..



30cm square artwork using 18 - 20th century textiles
 A lot has changed since my last blog post but we can never be certain our future and have to adapt to what comes our way.

I was busy preparing for the Contemporary Textile Fair at the Landmark Arts Centre for the end of March which has now been postponed until end of September. Here's a preview of some of the works that was to be exhibited that I've been making over the last couple of months.

I have built up a considerable stash of wonderful antique textiles so had plenty to play around with. I don't have an idea as such to create with each piece, its more instinctual as I'm sure creative types will understand. It can be a colour palette or a print or stitch on the fabric itself that leads to an idea. All one of a kind and I had fun making them. 

In the meantime, while we all wait until our routines and hopefully jobs resume and we stay well and safe, I am using this unexpected free time to start a new major work, update my website and write new blog posts. My complicated DSLR camera is also being explored after years of neglect, time to brush up on learning better looking photography...

Hope you and all of your friends and family have been spared this terrible virus and are coping with the change in our lifestyles.

Stay safe and well.





30x40cm artwork using 19th century textiles
30x40cm artwork using 19th century textiles



20cm square artwork using antique textiles and embroidered motifs
20cm square artwork using antique textiles and gold work motifs


20cm square artwork using antique textiles and embroidered motifs



25cm square artworks using antique Japanese textiles



Detail of a larger work (30x50cm) using Japanese textiles



40x80cm artwork using 19th century and antique Japanese textiles

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.