Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Quilters’ Guild Library

Last Saturday I spent a really lovely day at the Quilters’ Guild Library in York, researching quilt blocks and their stories.  It is housed in a lovely room just off the exhibition hall, with a pleasant view of old brick buildings and roofs out of the window.

I was helped by Hugette, one of the fabulous and enthusiastic volunteers who enable the library and the museum to function.  I wish I lived closer so I could use the library more and help out by volunteering.  Unfortunately, five hours of travel to get there make it logistically impossible!

I stupidly forgot to bring squared paper and was trying to draw some of the blocks freehand.  It provided me with new respect for the authors of the pre-1980 quilt books I was looking at, as they had all drawn the blocks by hand, in the days before computers could do it for us.  Those were the days of true dedication!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Fun in Venice

Urs Fischer's Wax Man

It’s not all been hard work over the past few months.  For half term in October, I looked to see where we could get cheap flights to.  The choice was Milan or Berlin and we swithered as both sounded good.  Eventually, we plumped for Milan as it was further south and I fancied a bit of warmth for a few days and we took the kids to Venice for the first time.
Detail of Monica Bonvicini's 15 Steps to the Virgin
Friends thought we were mildly eccentric (a polite way of saying completely mad) to take the kids there, but it worked surprisingly well.  They weren’t as excited as we expected at going on the water buses, but they liked visiting the fish and vegetable markets and seeing the gondolas float past our living room window.  

The Saudi Arabian pavillion by Raja and Shadia Alem (and below)
However, much to our surprise, the highlight for all of us was visiting the Venice Biennale.  We all enjoyed it so much we spent two days going round the two main venues and managed to slip in some visits to other exhibitions too.  The kids took loads of photos, over 1,500 in the week, many of them of their feet.  
However, the cameras helped them engage with the art works and enabled them to spend time considering what was going on.  Particular favourite of us all were Urs Fischer’s giant candles of people.  These looked very spooky and the kids loved seeing ‘body parts’ lying on the floor.  They also enjoyed the Saudi Arabian exhibit, which I found beautifully thought provoking.  We were suitably grateful for the plasticine art work, which the kids spent ages playing with, giving me time to go and absorb the other pieces in the show.

Concentrating hard to take one of our 1500 photos!

Successes and Failures

So what’s been happening in my world recently?  Not much art work as I would like, but hopefully all that is going to change over the next week and as I am aiming to get back into producing and spending less time on proposals and trying to get my work out there.
I’ve lost track of the number of proposals I written in the last month or so, which is probably just as well as I still have not developed the completely thick skin required to deal with the rejections.  Rejections are an inevitable part of being an artist, so you would think it wouldn’t bother me, but they do.  The other week I had a spectacular five rejections in one week. 
Trying not to take it personally and looking at it dispassionately is obviously the right thing to do, but it is easier said than done!  The hardest bit is not knowing why you didn’t get the work/exhibition.  Were you the next person on the list or did they look at your proposal and laugh?  Some people are kind enough to give you feedback and so last week’s one rejection almost felt positive as it was due to me living too far away and the travel costs were prohibitive.  It was hearten to know that the proposal itself was fine.
So in the midst of the gloom and writing proposals about audiences and learning outcomes, it was delightful to know that two of my photos were accepted and on show at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, USA last week.  The theme was friendship and rather than suggest images of two kids looking happy, I sent photos of rocks, waves and castles, with a vague explanation of why they were appropriate to the theme.  I think this is the imaginative part of being an artist!  These two photos were the two that were accepted.

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