Monday, 20 October 2014

Featuring on the SAQA blog

My work was featured over on the SAQA Europe blog last week – have a look and see.  It’s a lovely blog and at the moment is showing the work of UK members as well as the quilts made for the SAQA Benefit Auction.  Talking of which, my piece is coming up for sale at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in a few weeks.  But you can buy it online in advance, from 27th October.  There are lots of other amazing little pieces for sale too – all for a good cause and you can see them here.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

In my studio: my most important piece of kit

What is the most important piece of kit in your studio?  I was pondering this question as I tidied up my space. 

My sewing machines are very important, but then there are always needles and threads to stitch by hand.  I love all the different types of fabric I use, but if I was truly desperate, I could cut up some old clothes to use as a base fabric.  I have many different pens, pastels, inks, paints, etc, all of which have different uses, so it would be hard to stick to just one.  Same goes for all my threads.

So somewhat bizarrely, I think the most useful piece of kit in my studio is ... my Ikea stool! I kidnapped it out of the kitchen a few years ago, thus I need to climb on chairs in the kitchen to reach some things in cupboards.  But in my studio it is great.  I can reach everything on the top shelves and the ceiling to hang work (we have low ceilings!).  It is easy to climb up and down to put and adjust work on the design wall and takes up much less space than a ladder.  I use it as a seat when I need one to paint or print as that table is set just a little bit too low (any ideas for raising it?) and it makes a great footstool whilst I am reading or hand-sewing.   What more could I want?!

What is the most important thing in your studio?

Friday, 10 October 2014

In my studio: Fabby Fridays gelli-plate printing

My kids at the local primary school have ‘Fabby Friday’.  On Friday afternoons they get to choose from a number of fun activities including craft or watching a video or whatever it is that other people’s kids like to do.  I like this idea, so I’ve been having Fabby Friday too, giving myself permission to just play at whatever art I want to do.  The last three weeks I’ve been using my new gelli plate.  The results don’t matter, but perhaps because they don’t matter I like some of them! 

Do you give yourself time to play at art?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Out & About: Greek figures at the British Museum

Greek section of the British Museum
My weekend in London at the start of August seems a long time ago now, especially with the autumnal gales and rain we are experiencing today.  However, my trip there is still having an impact on my work.  I spent ages considering what I should do on my second day: should I find some contemporary work to enjoy; have a trip to the V&A; or go to the Greek section of the British Museum.  In the end, the British Museum won, partly because it was just round the corner from where I was staying and partly because it felt relevant to my work.

Cycladic figure at the British Museum
I ended up passing my full day there.  I photographed, drew, tagged onto a tour (which was fascinating) and eventually spent some time in the bookshop.  At one point I was clutching over £200-worth of books, but I decided I had to be a bit more sensible and maybe read one at a time, rather than just buy lots that would join the ever growing still-to-be-read pile besides my bed.  The book that made the cut was ‘The AegeanWorld’ by the Ashmolean in Oxford and I have referred to it several times already.  The slightly less sensible purchase was three rubber ducks for the kids.  But they were cute and look good on our bathroom window ledge.
Latest drawing in tinted charcoal pencils

With well over 100 photos, I chose to edit them and get some printed so I could work from them.  However, when they came back from the photo service, they were all cropped in strange ways as they were not standard sizes after I had played with them.  I thought they would have been shrunk to size but no – so beware if you do the same.  Still I have been drawing lots of images, working away at copying, but also thinking about how these will translate into my work and my goddess figures.  
From the Greek section at the British Museum

My version of one of the above

from the Greek section of the British Museum
My drawing of the one above

Friday, 3 October 2014

In my studio: spot the difference - the big tidy up

The studio was beginning to get on top of me – literally.  I’m not tidy but nature and there is always something more interesting to do, but ... even I need to tidy up every three years or so.

So began my studio reorganisation.  I moved my desk to a better location and started to slowly work through the mounds of stuff.  Then I got bored and started working again.  The big clean up hadn’t stopped entirely; it just went slower, especially with my trip to France.
And then this week I had an email from Sheena Kitchin of Craft Scotland wondering if she could bring round Kathy Brassill of Handcrafted Holidays.  I had to move up a tidying gear.  I think the studio is a lot better now.  I can see enough of the floor to work on larger pieces.  Hurrah!  The desk and sewing machine are now in a place where I can get the cupboards open and I have the threads right besides me.  I think both Kathy and Sheena liked the studio.

Now for the confession... I ran out of time.  The studio may be tidy, but this is settee in the kitchen and then there is the stuff under the stairs too!  
Oh dear

As the photos are complete, I’ll have to move the stuff back and have a think about where it can be stored.  And the answer isn’t the bin!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Out & About: SAQA Wide Horizons at EPM

Sue Payne with her quilt Roofscape
Whilst at the EPM in Alsace, I spent a very pleasant hour and a half manning the SAQA stand with Sue Payne.  I hadn’t met Sue before, but she was lovely as was her quilt, which you can see with her in the photo.
Berlin Reichstag by Hilde van Schardenburg
The SAQA exhibition was called ‘Wide Horizons’ and I had entered a piece which hadn’t been accepted.  Naturally, I was disappointed.  Often I have heard people say that “it’s not your work, it just didn’t fit in with the exhibition and to make the exhibition work well, there needs to be some kind of cohesion”.  Although I understand the sentiment, it wasn’t until I looked at the Wide Horizons show that I realised how true it was.  The piece I had submitted would have stood out like a sore thumb besides these works.  For once in my life I had used bright colours – and guess what? – most of these were beautifully subdued.  Size-wise too, mine would have taken up a lot of space and that would have restricted the numbers of other pieces that would have been on show.  It was very interesting to see.  And whilst I’m not saying that was the reason my piece was not accepted – it may not have been good enough, the jurors may not have liked it etc – it helped me realise why sometimes you get rejections. 
Gillian Cooper Chaos

In the meantime, here are some more of the lovely quilts that were on show.

Stretching Time I by Pirjam Pet-Jacobs

Drift by Sue Hotchkis

Thoughts by Elly van Steenbeek

Aftermath by Khurshid Bamboat

Silence 2 by Karin Oestergaard

Friday, 26 September 2014

Out & About: 20th Anniversary Show at the EPM

Josy Narcy 2002 & 2014
I took well over 700 photos whilst I was in Alsace and I’ve just spent this morning trying to sort them out.  I’ve been organised and sorted them into folders.  The next task is to go through and delete the out of focus ones, before I can start to consider them properly.
France Brechignac 1990 & 2014
With over twenty locations to visit there was certainly plenty of quilts to see and many of them veered more into textile art than traditional quilting, which suited me.  It was really inspiring to see so much art created in textiles.  I came home really fired up to continue the pieces I have on the go.
Gaby Mett 2014 & 2002
The first exhibition I want to share is the special one that celebrated the 20 years of the show.  About 90 artists who have exhibited over the past 20 years were asked to contribute a quilt they made in the past and create a new one specially for the show.  It was really interesting to see how people have developed (or not!).  Many seem to have started in traditional quilts and moved more into art quilts.  I don't think anyone in the exhibition had moved in the other direction.
Olga Prins-Lukowski 2005 & 2014
It was quite difficult to photograph as they were hanging in a silver mine museum, with lovely natural daylight (and therefore lovely natural shadows) and some were in corners so I couldn’t get straight angles, but hopefully these will give you a flavour of some of them.  It’s a shame there was a publication to accompany the show or that the exhibition isn’t touring as it was a fascinating survey of quilt art over the past twenty years.

Bente Vold Klausen 2009 & 2014

Charlotte Yde 2000 & 2014

Jane Lloyd 2000 & 2008

Mirjam Pet Jacobs 2003 & 2014

Monday, 22 September 2014

Out & About: EPM in Alsace, lots of lovely scenery

Sunburst at sunset over the vineyards at St Hippolyte
I’m just back from a fabulous four days at the European Patchwork Meeting in Alsace.  It was a great time: the work was stunning and very varied; I met up with some people I knew and met some lovely new ones; and it was hot and sunny!
St Hippolyte
I have still to process all of what I saw, as well as the 600+ photos I took, so in the meantime, here are some of the ones I took of the beautiful scenery.  I was staying in the village of St Hippolyte, where the hotel was surrounded by vineyards.  The last of the harvest was being brought in and from what I tasted of the local wine, next time I go I will definitely make sure I can take some home.  Hand luggage isn’t much good for this!

Shutters at Ste Marie aux Mines

Patchwork Garden at Villa Borrus, St Croix aux Mines

Large loaves of bread!

Early morning mist over the vineyards

St Hippolyte

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Art with the kids: 3 types of painting and printing with a 7 year old

As a treat from our visit to the Ming exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland the other weekend, we bought some rice paper and an ink stick to play with at home.  

We’ve been enjoying an Indian summer here and so the other evening after school, we took the paper, ink, some brushes and a little bowl outside to try. 
We got some lovely marks, using the ink in different strengths and pressing on the brush in other ways.  It was a very relaxing half hour for me and I think the seven year old did too!

She and I have been exploring in the studio quite a bit recently (this can be interpreted as I want to be in the studio playing so I need to find something the kids want to do there too!).  I brought back some sun printing paper from the States for them and we finally gave it a go.  In typical kid fashion she was pleased with her first attempt and didn’t want to do any more – as an adult I always want to do more.  

We’ve also been experimenting with the gelli-plate printing, another extravagance from America.  I’ll show you some of my results soon once I get going on it, but it was fun just to try out.

This all sounds like some kind of mothering idyll.  It certainly isn’t!  We haven’t made any art for months, even less since I stopped running kids art classes and whilst we’ve been doing these pieces, the boys have been out playing or playing on computers.  Still we can all do impressions of good parenting at times, especially when it overlaps with my studio interests!

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