Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Out & About: Matisse, Tate Modern, the National Gallery and lots of colour

Sunset from the National Theatre
One of my exciting summer adventures was a weekend in London, by myself.  It was a bit of a mega treat and although I could have done thousands of things, I decided to concentrate on just going to a small number of exhibitions and museums and making the most of those visits.
The river Thames from Waterloo Bridge
I don’t know if it was fear of the oyster card system or stubbornness, but in the end I walked everywhere.  It was a great way to re-acquaint myself with the place I lived for 10 years, seeing lots of new things and being entertained by the buzz of the metropolis.  On the Saturday evening, I went to a play at the National Theatre and there was the most fantastic sunset over the city during the interval.  I was so glad I had my ‘proper’ camera with me!  Afterwards I joined lots of other photographers/tourists on Waterloo Bridge taking night-time shots of the river. 
Bus going over Waterloo Bridge
But my main reason to go, was to visit some art.  Principally the Matisse cut-out exhibition at Tate Modern.  For me, it was worth the anticipation.  I love the bold shapes and clever designs of these pieces and whilst they look good in reproduction, it was fascinating to see them close up and see the pin holes where the pieces of paper had been tacked to the wall before the final layout was pleasing to the master.  Also, there is more variation in colour than can be seen in a reprint, something that had annoyed Matisse with his Jazz book. Although the exhibition has finished in this country, there is an app with loads of fantastic images and info you can download.
Henri Matisse, Large Composition with Masks 1953 National Gallery of Art, Washington. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund 1973.17.1 Digital Image: © National Gallery of Art, Washington Artwork: © Succession Henri Matisse/DACS 2014

After a lovely time browsing in the bookshop (I picked up lots of books intending to buy, but eventually put most them back!) – I don’t often get to a really good bookshop – I walked over to the National Gallery where Margaret Cooter had recommended the Making Colour exhibition.  For once, I decided to take the audio guide, which was a good move, as it gave so much more information as to why the particular paintings had been selected to represent a certain shade or preparation of colour.  Although I know that certain colours are less stable than others and fade at different rates, seeing some examples of what the paintings would have looked like in their heyday was astonishing and. in some cases, somewhat gaudy!
Henri Matisse, The Snail 1953, Gouache on paper, cut and pasted on paper mounted to canvas, Tate © Succession Henri Matisse/DACS 2013
My favourite piece in the Making Colour show was a photo of ‘Seizure’ an intriguing contemporary artwork by Roger Hiorns, definitely in the blue section.  It has just been moved to the YorkshireSculpture Park and it is definitely on my list to see next time I visit there.  This is a link to a video about it that the Guardian made when the work was moved last year.
Henri Matisse, Icarus 1946, Maquette for plate VIII of the illustrated book Jazz 1947, Digital image: © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jean-Claude Planchet, Artwork: © Succession Henri Matisse/DACS 2014

I was going to tell you about the Sunday as well, but I think this is more than enough words for one blogpost, so I’ll keep the museum visit for another one.

Monday, 8 September 2014

New work: Lost in Time

Detail of 'Lost in Time; by Gillian Cooper
Arrgh – migraines!   I had great plans for last week, but my head scuppered most of them as I was well under the weather from Wednesday until this morning.  So I didn’t achieve much in the studio last week and even the tidying up project has been somewhat delayed.  Anyway.  I’m back on feet now and am raring to continue, especially as I got my lovely delivery of cotton and silk from Whaleys last week so I can get on with dyeing for some new big pieces.
'Lost in Time' by Gillian Cooper
I’ve started one, as in my first part of tidying up, I discovered I had lots more hand dyed fabric than I thought, which was rather lovely.  The next pieces are going to follow on from this piece ‘Lost in Time’, which is touring with the CQ exhibition ‘Dislocation’.  I don’t normally make pieces for challenges, but as I could fit the theme nicely with my work on ancient goddesses and I really fancied making this bird woman, I decided to give it a go.  
Detail of handling sample for 'Lost in Time; by Gillian Cooper
Timing was a bit tight due me leaving it to the last minute and also due to summer holidays.  However, I was really chuffed I finished (at least well enough for photography) on the last day of school before the summer holidays and to get my sample piece sent off at the same time.  I received the email that it was going to be part of the exhibition on the ferry as we left for our holiday in Holland, which was a fantastic start to a great vacation.
Detail of 'Lost in Time; by Gillian Cooper

For those interested in the technical details, rather than use iron-on Vilene this time, I used bondaweb on the fabric and then stitched round each patch, as a form of raw edge appliqué.  I couched the outline of the figure using hand dyed yellow cotton, which I had machine corded with red thread.  I would have finished it a lot earlier if I hadn’t decided to cord the outline thread or if I had just used the silk sari strips directly onto the figure without ruching them first.  One day I will make it easy on myself!
Current work in progress

Monday, 1 September 2014

Out & About: the Festival of Quilts

My quilt in the competition category - top left
Somewhat unsurprisingly, one of my weekends away this summer was to the Festival of Quilts.  As usual, it was great fun.  Unusually for me, I had finally entered a quilt in the art quilt category.  It was really interesting to see how different it looked to when it was hung at home, with better light.  It seemed rather washed out as opposed to delicate!
Dislocation exhibition
I also had a piece in the CQ exhibition ‘Dislocation’.  I was really pleased that it was selected.  I don’t think I’ve shown it in detail on the blog yet as I only finished it the day before the summer holidays started.
Yvonne Kervinen 'Urban Landscape'
There was some great artwork on show.  I really liked the work of Gabi Mett and Judith Mundwiler, who shared a gallery.  For some reason, I didn’t take any photos of their work, but you can check it out online here and here.  The EQA exhibition is always interesting and this time was no exception.  Here is a link to some gallery shots, as no photos were allowed.
Cecilia Gonzalez Desedamas 'The Difference'
The photos here are of some of the pieces I liked in the competition quilts.  They are a bit random as I was just enjoying wandering and contemplating rather than ‘working’. 
Brigitte Kopp 'Gebarmutter'
Margaret Ramsay 'Nautical Dawn'
Finally, the best thing about the Festival of Quilts for me is meeting up with old friends and making new ones.  In the second category, I met with Linda Seward who was promoting her new book, ‘The Ultimate Guide to Art Quilting’.  She was lovely in real life but I have a bone to pick with her.  All weekend I admired her beautiful scarf, thinking what great taste she had.  Unfortunately towards the end of the weekend I discovered she had bought it at the show as there was a stall, Pappumama, selling them and so one of them just had to find its way into my bag... It is rather beautiful!

Nice scarf!

Friday, 29 August 2014

In my studio: fabric printing and painting

screen print onto hand dyed fabric
After a summer out of the studio, having fun as well as seeing lots of fantastic artwork, I’m struggling to settle back into making.  There are so many things I want to make, but I just don’t seem to be getting started right away.  I thought I knew exactly what I was going to do, but I’ve discovered out I didn’t!  What had seemed the key things during the holidays have turned out to be less fully fleshed out ideas than I had thought.
Hanging out to dry
Rather than panic – I have some exciting deadlines which I’ll tell you about later – I have decided to take things easy and just paint and print and see where that leads to.  So here are some of the things I’ve been ‘playing’ at this week. I don't know where any of them will lead, but maybe the panic will start subsiding in a week or two...
Reverse of the breakdown printing

Painting with thickened dyes

Mono-print from bubblewrap

Printing with bubble wrap

Painting with Inktense pencils

Print plate ready to make mono-print

Lightly dyed fabric, with circles stamped on top

Monday, 25 August 2014

Out & About: Carradale and the quilt show

Although it is still August, it feels like the end of summer.  And it has been a fabulous one!  A dearth of blog posts from me will be for one of two reasons: either I feel down and inadequate and so have nothing I think is worth sharing, or things are going very well and I’m really busy with family and enjoying life.  Luckily this has been the latter and rather than worrying about not creating work over the summer holidays, I decided just to enjoy them this year.  So after our trip to Yorkshire in the last post, I’ve also been to Holland, the Commonwealth Games, London, the Festival of Quilts, had two lots of friends and family to stay and at the weekend there, we went to Carradale on the Mull of Kintyre to see Marjory MacKinven and Marion Robertson’s exhibition.

I hadn’t visited that area of Scotland for the best part of 20 years but we had such a lovely time I hope it won’t be 20 years until the next time.  We camped at Carradale Campsite, which led straight onto the beach  - a fantastic location.  

The views were stunning, as you can see from the harbour view (which R took).
Marjory with Liz Ferguson and some of their beautiful sketchbooks
Then, of course, there was the exhibition.  It was fabulous seeing so many of Marjory and Marion’s quilts in one room.  The theme of the work was ‘From the River to the Sea’ and both of them are heavily influenced by water in their work.  

I love Marion’s pebbles which I first saw at the Festival of Quilts last year.  

Also in a grey colourway was Marjory’s new piece based on Skipness Castle.  I think it was my favourite piece in the show.  We visited the castle on the way home.

The kids loved the baby quilts on show and were very proud of their efforts at mono-printing on fabric.  Thanks Marion for being so patient and showing them how to do it.  They were thrilled. 

I’m now back in work mode and really pleased to be so – having the summer off was fun but so is being the studio.  This week I’m dyeing and printing lots of fabric.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Out & About: Inspiring Yorkshire

Poppy in field
School’s out for summer and, displaying my Cooper genes, I whisked the kids away 20mins after school finished.  Holidays should never be wasted!  
Lots of poppies
We had a glorious week in the North York Moors, with R joining us as weekends, finishing up staying at the in-laws elsewhere in Yorkshire for the start of the Tour de France.
Column in Whitby Abbey
I took lots of ‘inspiration’ photos as you can see.  I also really enjoyed spending a few minutes browsing charity bookshops – we don’t have any here and it is rare I have time when I do go to places with shops just to browse.  R found an old guidebook for a museum in Greece, which had some lovely, exciting images for me.
Drawing from a vase in the Greek Museum Guide.  It doesn't say what museum!

This week has been spent juggling spending time with the children and finishing quilts off to send away for exhibitions.  I’m really relieved to have finished sewing on the sleeves.  Definitely my least favourite part of the process.  But I am pleased they are properly finished and in the post. 
Old wall 
Now to enjoy some of the lovely weather we have been having!

Seeing the yellow jersey of the leader of the Tour de France
Smoke dispersing after the Red Arrows passed over Harewood House

Not good on plant names - but it was pretty

We went to Scarborough Aquarium.  It was the kids' suggestion honest!

The jellyfish were stunning and the kids were very excited on my behalf

Monday, 30 June 2014

Inspiration: Marjory McKinven and Marion Robertson

Marion and Marjory
I’m really pleased that my latest article in Popular Patchwork features my friends, the sisters Marjory McKinven and Marion Robertson.  Marjory and Marion are both lovely people, always ready with smiles, encouragement and laughter.  Marjory has also been a fantastic help to me this year with the C&G course, whilst Ruth has been too ill to teach.  Marjory also creates the most amazing hand-dyed fabric.
Detail of one of Marjory's quilts
The reason for the article is that they are having their first joint exhibition in August in Carradale, on the Mull of Kintyre, where Marjory spends more and more of her time.  Carradale really is a long way from anywhere, but I assume that is part of its charms.  We’re heading down to see the show and are going to take the tent (and the kids) with us, as there is a campsite besides the village.
Detail of one of Marion's quilts
So if you are looking for something interesting to do over the August Bank Holiday weekend, why not come up to remote and beautiful Scotland?
Their exhibition ‘From the River to the Sea’ runs from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th August from 10am to 5pm.  Email for further information.

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