Wednesday 31 January 2018

Old Quilts from the Guild and New Quilts by me

Two velvet log cabin blocks
I'm going to stop apologising for the time between posts.  Life is, happily, very busy and when it comes to down to do I write a blog post or get things ready for the students due in the next day - class prep wins every time.  
Detail of a sateen wholecloth
So when I can, I'll add a post of happenings.
A coverlet made from shirting samples
In November, to help the C&G Diploma students with their illustrated study of the history of British Quilting, I borrowed a suitcase collection of quilts from the Quilters' Guild.  Over the course of the two week loan period, each group got a chance to see the quilts and the stories about them got developed and embellished, as there is little factual information about their history.  
Detail of a silk hexagon coverlet
Why did the maker of this beautiful silk hexagon quilt stop?  Did she hate making it?  Was she forced by her mother and stopped the moment she left home?  Did her eyesight fail?  Did she fall into poverty and couldn't afford any more ribbons for it, but couldn't make herself cut it up to be used more practically?  Did she pass away and her daughters couldn't bear to continue?  Wondering about the makers is a lot of fun.  It is a shame we know so little, which is why quilt historians are adamant that every quilt should be labelled to help future historians with their musings.  I admit this isn't something I'm always good at.
Detail from another wholecloth, with a heavy wool wadding
To give others who aren't students here a chance to see these quilts, I had an Open Day.  Alongside the antique quilts, I displayed some of my newer pieces.  It was lovely to juxtapose the old and modern, seeing the similarities and the differences.  The cake also went down well, and was definitely kept in a separate room from all these antique quilts!
After everyone had left
Of course, being me, I forgot to take photos when the room was filled with visitors, but it was suitably busy and enjoyable.  The collection, called 'Textile Treasures' is still available to be borrowed from the Guild.  Despite the responsibility of having to look after the antique quilts, I really enjoyed having them here.

Tuesday 31 October 2017

The Sleep Quilt - Fine Cell Work

The Sleep Quilt book cover

Fine Cell Work is a charity with the aim of rehabilitation of prisoners through stitch.  Volunteers go into prisons and teach inmates how to stitch.  This not only gives prisoners something fill the long hours of confinement and a way of making some money in prison, but can be life changing as it can give the stitcher hope, discipline and self belief, which can greatly improve their job prospects upon release.

The author, Tracy Chevalier, became very interested in quilting when she was researching one of her books and is still involved in it today.  She commissioned this quilt and has written an essay in the accompanying book. 

The quilt comprises of 63 squares, each stitched by an inmate who works with Fine Cell Work, giving their interpretation of what sleep means to them.  Whilst it is always interesting to discover how different people interpret the same theme, such as the Bedtime Stories Quilt, which I wrote about here, this quilt is fascinating as it gives an insight into the lives of people we do not normally consider.

 Sleep is something we all need, sometimes it comes easily, other times it is something elusive and it has a massive impact on our lives.  Prison makes sleep harder due to the inescapable noisy and crowded environment, which gives the interpretations an added poignancy.  
This book, which accompanies the Sleep Quilt, has lovely details of all the blocks, along with details of what inspired the maker and the impact of making on them.
It is available from 31 October 2017 and until 16 November 2017, it is being crowdfunded through Kickstarter, so additional benefits are available through this scheme.  All royalties from the book will go to Fine Cell Work.

Monday 30 October 2017

Musee Rodin, Paris - Anselm Kiefer and trees

Detail of Anselm Kiefer's painting
Whilst in Paris, I was determined to see the exhibition of Anselm Kiefer's work at the Musee Rodin.  I am always fascinated by work by an artist inspired by another artist's work.  In this case, Kiefer was basing his work on some of Rodin's drawings of cathedrals in France.  
Cathedrals of France by Anselm Kiefer
These paintings were huge and really blew me away.   The scale of them and the textured surfaces, neither of which can be adequately shown in a photo were stunning.  I loved them.
As you would expect Musee Rodin is full of Rodin's sculpture - you can see 'The Thinker' in the background of this photo, taken through one of the windows.

Actually, I'm not a mega fan of the Rodin sculptures - but the Museum and the grounds are lovely and I got very excited by the tree bark!

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris

Fondation Louis Vuitton
Last week I was in Paris for a few days whilst going to pick up my work from Galerie de la Place in Auxerre.  The sun shone (unlike at home where the remains of Hurricane Ophelia were bringing rain and wind), and I managed to visit a few galleries.

The Fondation Louis Vuitton is a relatively new museum in Paris.  The building by Frank Gehry was astounding. In fact, I was more impressed with it than I was by the blockbuster exhibition on there of highlights of New York's MOMA.  I could have spent hours photographing different angles of the building, enjoying the reflections and the interplay of reflections, glass, steel and wood.   

There is a permanent installation by Olafur Eliasson, which you can see in the photos - it is the yellow columns.  It was stunning and the shade of yellow was very welcoming, if that is not a strange thing to say.
Olafur Eliasson
My favourite piece of the MOMA show, was the final room - a sound installation by the artist Janet Cardiff.  The sound of choral music echoed up the high walls giving a gorgeous and enveloping sound.

My top tip if you do visit is to book online as they appeared to only have one x-ray security machine and it was very slow for those of us who hadn't booked.

Saturday 30 September 2017

Recent sketchbook pages

Sketchbook page by Gillian Cooper

As I have just shown you some of my students’ sketchbook work, here are some pages from my own. 

This year I am basically teaching full time, which doesn't leave much time for developing my own work. I now also have sympathy for those who do not have a dedicated work space as I am constantly moving my things out of the studio to make room for students (this isn't a complaint - I love having students here). 

So often it is easier for me to draw and sketch in the short time I have available than to get the sewing machine out. And besides, I'm really enjoying it. 

There has been a definite preoccupation with stones and things crafted from stone this year - and it is continuing.  Today's drawing (not shown) is of rock piles again!

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Students' sketchbook exhibition

It is so long since I wrote my blog, I have lots of older events to share with you. 

So let's start with the exhibition of the C&G sketchbook course, which took place in June. All of the group had worked really hard over the year and it was lovely to give them the opportunity to share what they had accomplished with a wider public.

The variety of work was fab - we had tried so many different techniques over the course and each student had interpreted them in their own way adding more interest and also inspiring the others in how the ideas could be used.  

I had set 3 fairly open topics for the students and was amazed at how ingenious their interpretations were - way beyond my limited ideas.

The books themselves are the outcome of the course. Some people struggle with why you would want to take a course like this when you could actually be making ‘real’ finished work. However, in addition to these lovely books and pages, the students are hopefully full of ideas for ‘real’ work which will be more interesting and richer for having gone through all of these processes. 

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