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


Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Multiverse - quilt for the Festival of Quilts

Multiverse- art quilt

For the past 3 months, I have been working on a very large wall hanging with the intention of submitting it for the Festival Of Quilts, Fine Art Quilt Masters competition. It is a big event in the textile calendar attracting huge visitors to the hundreds of quilts on display, workshops, exhibitions and shopping for craft supplies. It is held every year at the NEC arena in Birmingham and I visited it a few years ago and was impressed by the variety of work on display.

With the great intention of applying and making a quilt for entry for the past few years, I finally found the time to do it. Of course, having an idea to implement is also part of the worry as there has  to have a visual impact for a large piece (one side has to be at least 1 metre). I did’t have any set idea in mind as an idea organically changes once you start putting texture, colours and pattern together. I did though plan the top layer of the quilt to be a large cyanotype print but as I washed the fabric out, the print disappeared! Back to the drawing board...

So here it is. "Multiverse" is a large wall hanging completely made from antique and vintage fabrics. The main textile is a 19th century hemp dyed in indigo, worn, patched and mended. Behind the holes and patches, contrasting coloured and pattern fabrics, vintage quilt pieces and Japanese textiles are placed.

Detail of stitching on quilt

Areas of the quilt are heavy stitched by hand to create texture and colour. I have mainly used dyed linen and silk threads with sashiko cotton thread being the bind through the fabric layers. The finished piece is 147cm x 125cm with three main layers. The whole piece is in fact, all hand stitched as I love stitching by hand, but also adds the unique element of human contact. I am not a precise stitcher and would never call myself an embroiderer, but nor am I interested in perfection either! 

The striking red that edges round, is from a 19th century quilt backing and the outer fabric is from the edges of a paste-resist 19th century Chinese textile. These wonderful fabrics have a lovely soft worn look that only the passing of time can produce.

The title of the piece, "Multiverse" refers to the hypothesis of alternative universes coexisting with our own. The swatches of colour, pattern and densely stitched areas represent the different time dimensions. The constant renewal of materials whether it be molecules, gasses or fabrics is a source for exploration and the “boro” ideology is an excellent example of reusing textiles to this effect.

I am thrilled to say that it has been shortlisted with 22 other amazing quilts for the Fine Art Quilt Master competition with the winner being announced on the 8th August after the judges have seen the quilts. They will then be on show at a special gallery within the exhibition hall from the 9-12th August. I will be visiting the Quilt Festival myself and will post some photos of it in situ in a later post.

Detail of patches and stitching

Friday, 25 May 2018

Work in progress...

I’m currently working on a large quilted hanging to be hopefully on display at the Festival of Quilts in NEC Birmingham this summer. All made from antique and vintage textiles, mainly 19th century, it follows my inspiration of the Japanese technique of “boro”. It is all hand stitched in a running stitch, densely in some areas.

The main fabric is a indigo dyed hemp from 19th century which had been patched and darned. These lovely areas show the passage of time and evidence of unknown person’s handiwork, a dream for any textile enthusiast! I have mixed vintage quilt pieces with Japanese patterned fabric also vintage, some appliquéd, others reversed appliqué. 

All the stitching is by hand as it gives such a lovely texture and randomness using linen, silk and cotton threads. It is an important part of the overall look of the piece and part of the “boro” aesthetic to have a human element and irregularity about it. 

I love having flashes of colour so have used a 19th century red cotton that was originally a quilt backing. Now it’s back to be used in a quilt again!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


detail of textile

Early last year I made this textile piece but wasn’t quite happy with it. I wanted to make it look more worn so what better way than to leave it outside! So I have all winter in the snow, wind, rain and occasional sunshine. It looks a lot more weathered and still needs some more work done before I think it’s finished.

detail of textiledetail of textile