Friday, 23 January 2015

Adding the stitched detail

Detail of Unsung Muses figure by Gillian Cooper

Following on from the stencilling on my latest figures, the final stage is adding the stitching to define the shapes. 
Stitching
This is more important than for the more solid figures as the silk is so transparent, the stitching will give strong opaque shapes when they are ‘floating’ in mid-air as even the areas painted with the paintstiks are still see-through.
More stitching, getting an even thicker outline
The stitching is now almost complete and therefore so are the pieces, which is great as I have to hang the exhibition next week.  Things are really coming together for the show at the Scottish StorytellingCentre.  I’ve almost finished all the work, a little leaflet is being printed and I’ve (nearly) got the childcare organised.  
Detail of Unsung Muses figure by Gillian Cooper
Now the biggest problem is finding an existing piece of work that I can’t locate.  It isn’t in the cupboard or under the bed and there aren’t many other places left in the house where it could be.  I can’t believe I can lose an entire artwork!  So this weekend I’m going to be busy finishing the work, making the labels etc and trying to find the missing work.  Fingers crossed...

Detail of Unsung Muses figure by Gillian Cooper

Monday, 19 January 2015

Unsung Muses in words

putting the old and newer work together
As part of getting ready for my show at the Scottish Storytelling Centre (less than two weeks to go!), I have been trying to write about my work.  I’ve been finding it really hard.  Although I have been working on the ‘Unsung Muses’ series of work for several years and have had lots of time to think about it, it isn’t easy to express all of this in words.
Reaching by Gillian Cooper
Each time I have to write about it I find myself struggling again.  This time I’ve been trying to be more structured and have following Alyson Stanfield’s book  'Relatively Pain-Free Artist Statement'.  It has been good to consider my work and how others see it.  Unfortunately I haven’t reached the end yet, but I needed to get some more words to print today.
Detail of Unsung Muses by Gillian Cooper
So this is what I came up with:

Celebrating the lives and influence of our female ancestors and forgotten goddesses - the “unsung muses” who have shaped our lives today - Gillian Cooper creates her own mythology in fabric, dye and paint.  Delicately coloured, these flat and empty figures are survivors of time, washed out as the waves of the passing millennia lap and crash over them.  As she slowly creates this multi-layered work, Gillian is pondering the human shape; searching for the defining elements of being human; trying to connect with the past.
Waves of Time by Gillian Cooper

I spend ages obsessing whether it sounds too pretentious or on the other hand not arty enough, weighing up the impact of each individual word.  That’s before I try and decide whether it actually says what I want to convey!  It is somewhat ironic that I love writing about other people’s work but struggle to write about my own.  However, how do you sum up four years of work in just a few lines?
Detail of Unsung Muses
What does this paragraph say to you – good or bad?











Thursday, 15 January 2015

Using paintstiks to add details

Details in paintstik
As some of you may have seen on facebook, my next pieces are being made from transparent organza, which I have hand dyed.  The colours when laid on top of each other are very beautiful and I love that the impact of the colours changes dramatically depending upon what is behind them.  The colours seem strong when they are placed against a white wall, but much more ethereal when floating in the middle of the room.
Paintstiks and stencil brushes
This week I have been adding more detail to the pieces through oilstiks, using the same techniques as I used on the original Unsung Muses figures.  They react quite differently to the oilstiks than the cotton fabric, although that may be something to do with the huge amounts of fabric glue I have on them!
Paintstik details
I do enjoy using oilstiks, even if I get hugely messy – no matter how hard I try I have paint down my arms, face, my glasses, across the table and now in a very 21st century way on the screen of my phone.  I seem to prefer the iridescent ones as the little sparkle gives the paint a lift in a gentle, subtle way, not overly gaudy.
One of my stencils

These are some of the paintings I did yesterday.  The biggest downside is waiting for it to dry so I can add more on the reverse side and then for both sides to dry so I can add stitch on top as I am rather impatient.  Also time is running on and I have only 13 days until I hang the exhibition at the Scottish StorytellingCentre.  Less than 2 weeks to go!
Detail of paintstik




Monday, 12 January 2015

Friend or foe? New work


Meet the latest in my series of ‘Unsung Muses’. Not sure whether she is friendly or scary, but I'd definitely want her on my side! She’s not formally named yet and there may still be some changes, but for the moment, she is sat on my wall to be contemplated.  You may be able to see some pins around the edges of the piece as I have been trying to block the hanging into a less wavy shape.

She has taken a long time to make, partly as I tried to make a darker figure on a lighter background – instinctively I want to make it the other way around, but I keep reading (a dangerous thing) that dark stands out better on a light background rather than the reverse.  The background felt too weak, so got improved, several times, with inktense and with stitch.  The breasts were too bright, so the colour got knocked back by adding some chiffon on top.  The edges changed shape a couple of times.

This may tell you that I’m still a bit unsure of this piece.  Therefore it is time to leave it alone and mull it over whilst I get on with the next one, which is well underway as it seemed more fun to start another piece than to battle on with something I was unsure on.





Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Scottish Storytelling Centre exhibition Goddesses and Unsung Muses


I’m incredibly excited to announce my solo exhibition at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh from Friday 30th January to Saturday 21st February.  The exhibition is free and is besides their cafe, which is a rather nice one (don’t ask me how I know...).  I’m showing work from my ‘Unsung Muses’ series.  There will be several new pieces as part of the exhibition – I’m working on them now and I’m pleased at how they are developing.  Each stage in the evolution of the series takes it in a slightly different direction, which keeps it interesting for me and hopefully for the viewer!
There is a Private View/Opening of the exhibition from 6-8pm on Friday 30th January and I invite you all to come along if you can make it – it would be fantastic to see you. 
To entice you further, after the Private View, there is a performance at 8pm of ‘Her: Forging the Lines of Brigid’ by Xanthe Gresham Knight, a performance storyteller.  It sounds really fascinating from the publicity material and it seems to echo what ‘Unsung Muses’ is all about for me.

Hope you can make it!

Monday, 5 January 2015

2015 will be...

 Happy New Year everyone – I hope 2015 is an enjoyable year for you all. 

The Christmas holidays here have just finished and the children are back to school today and so a form of normality reigns – even if we still need to remove the Christmas tree and pack all the decorations back into their boxes – I’m sure it will be all finished before Easter...
The hand dyed silks for my latest piece on top of the pattern
2015 is going to be a wonderfully busy one for me.  Looking back, my life seems to run in 2 year cycles – one manic year, following by one of recovery.  This is definitely a manic one!  It starts with a solo exhibition at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh, opening on Friday 30th January continuing until Saturday 21st February.  I’ll tell you more about this in my next post.
Some of the pieces of silk ironed in place
In March our C&G students from the Studio Loch Lomond Quilt Show have an exhibition at the new Stitching and Quilting Show at the SECC, Glasgow.  I am hoping to run a couple of taster workshops there too.
The new work beginning to take shape
Then I have my exhibition at Farfield Mill from 21 March to 10 May.  I’m super-excited about this since I visited the space and have lots of ideas of how I’m going to use it.
Also [MEGA NEWS] I’m intending to be teaching from my home studio from April onwards – a variety of textile based classes – lots more information soon as I firm up on the details, buy the desks etc.

Finally, as if all this wasn’t sufficient, I am exhibiting at the European Patchwork Meeting in Alsace in September.  It is a fantastic show and I know there are lots of other amazing makers showing their work too, so it would be well worth a visit.
Then around the end of November, I will collapse again in time for next year’s Christmas season.


It is such an exciting year for me – I hope you will be joining me on this great journey.  For those who dislike it, I apologise for using the ‘J’ word, but it really feels that way for me this year!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Seasons Greetings

Seasons Greetings from Balfron!

I have been a bit slothful in my blog posts this month as yet again Christmas fever sets in.  I am looking forward to returning to work in the New Year and although Christmas has not even past yet, I am already sneaking into my studio to get some work done.

I have lots of exciting news to share with you, but all that can wait until the New Year.  For the moment, all I want to do is with you and your loved ones a happy Christmas (or whatever you want to celebrate at this time of year) and a wonderful 2015.


This picture is one that the little one and I printed when she wanted to make her own Christmas cards.  If you are one of the people who would expect to receive a home-made card from her and are feeling a bit hard done by, don’t be –she never quite got round to turning her prints into cards or sending them.  You may get one of them next year instead!

Friday, 5 December 2014

In my studio: admin and spot the errors

New York Beauty
This week I’ve been having a bit of a sort-out and catch-up week.  Photos of accounts, admin and business meetings are not very exciting, so instead, here are some images of ‘humility’ quilts I designed for an article in Popular Patchwork a number of years ago. 
54 or Fight!
Quilting is full of lovely myths and one of these is that Amish quilters believe that as only God is perfect, it would be a sin for their quilts to be faultless so they add an imperfection.  To my mind, this is the ultimate sin of pride, to believe you have to add an error because otherwise it would be flawless.  I can’t believe that this attitude would sit well with what I know of Amish communities and indeed it seems unlikely and most quilt historians have decided it isn’t true.  However, it is a nice idea and perhaps it came about as an excuse by quilters who had made an obvious error in a quilt, rather than admit their mistake, put it down to a humility block.

Irish Chain
So for a bit of fun, here are some ‘humility’ quilts I designed – each one has a mistake in the pattern – can you spot them all? I designed them in EQ7.  And looking at them now, I'm not sure I can spot all the errors.  Hope you can!
Mariner's Compass

Flower Basket

Bear's Paw







Monday, 1 December 2014

Out & About: Lakes and Dales

Derwent Water
Last week the children had three teacher training days off school (those teachers must need a lot of training!).  So we decided to make the most of them and headed off down to the Lake District/ Yorkshire Dales for a few days.  We stayed in a lovely cottage at the delightfully named Unthank.  There was a gallery right besides us – the UpFront Gallery.  Unfortunately we were never there whilst it was open, but the work looked good through the windows.

CastleRigg Stone Circle
We had a lovely time visiting lots of the tourist sites around Keswick, which of course included a visit to the Pencil Shop!  We had fun trying out our purchases in the evening and I managed to get the kids enthused too.
Trying out our new purchases
Over on the Yorkshire side, we were introduced to a fantastic cheese shop just outside Settle (thanks Louise!) and also had a great visit to Farfield Mill.  We were really enchanted by some of the work on display.  The Bound Together group who made books and other pieces of mixed media art are incredibly talented, creating beautiful, fragile looking objets d’art.  The kids loved Tania Sneesby’s fairytale interpretations in fabric.  In fact, we loved them too.  They were deceptively simple.  Of course, I didn’t do the sensible thing and take photos!
Derwent Water from the hills above Ashness Bridge
Part of the reason for the visit to Farfield Mill is really, really thrilling as I’m going to have a solo exhibition there next year from 21 March to 10 May.  It was exciting to see the space and to start thinking about where the work is going to go (and what other work I want to make). 
Sunset from the Pencil Museum car park!
As well as this exhibition, I have a number of other things that will be going on over the next few months (more info when things are firmed up enough to share), so I’m going to be very busy.  I think the kids are going to be eating a lot of baked beans unless someone can come up with some super fast meal suggestions!







Monday, 24 November 2014

Demonstrating at Holmwood House


I’m not quite sure what the Couper family who originally owned Holmwood House would have thought of me demonstrating my textile techniques in one of their bedrooms, but it seemed to go down well with the visitors yesterday! 

It was a really busy day, with lots of people coming through and as well as buying some of the beautiful crafts that were on sale, could watch me at work.  In fact it was so busy I didn’t get a chance to stop and get some photos of me in action.  I took these photos when I set up on Saturday. 

Some lucky people got a chance to try printing with the gelli plate and try free machine quilting (I think I should have been on commission!) and some lucky primary school teachers went away with great ideas for Christmas arts and crafts projects.  Obviously I had a ball – a captive audience with whom to share my passion for my textiles. 

In demonstrating, I made lots of great prints and I’m really excited about how to take them forward, although I may have to put the small pieces to one side for a while to work on the bigger ones.
I will add some of the pieces to my website soon so you can have a chance to buy one too.
And finally, after such a great day, I arrived home to a quiet house, which was a bit suspicious.  However, it was positive silence as all three children were busy making a fantastic dinner for me as a belated birthday present, using the cook book they had given me.  Dinner was delicious, especially as it was such an unexpected treat.










Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts