Sunday, 28 August 2011

Continuing fame


I'm still trying to adjust back to normal life following all the hard work that I put into the Festival of Quilts.  It's strange to come back to reality and part of me does not want to: I'd rather be under pressure to create art work than deal with the cleaning, cooking etc! The little time I have available whilst our youngest is at nursery just seems to fly in and it appears as though no progress is being made.  Already I'm wondering how did I manage to make the time to create so much work this year.

However, some things are continuing on:  I was featured in the Milngavie and Bearsden Herald last week (it's pronounced Mill-guy) and Just Hands-On TV filmed me at the Festival and it will go out on their website sometime soon.  Being filmed was fun, although I'm not sure that I want to watch myself and hear just how Scottish I sound and being hyper-critical about whether I smiled enough.  It was lovely to meet Valerie and by strange coincidence she used to own the quilt shop besides Hampton Court where I always managed to visit on our regular trips to Hampton Court when we lived in London.  I still have some of the fabric in my stash which I purchased there.

At the Festival I also met Pam Holland, who did a short interview with me which may go out on The Quilt Show blog - fingers crossed it makes it through the editing process.  It was fun to meet her as I had admired and written about some of her work for Popular Patchwork.  The same piece which I had seen at Houston, won second prize at the Festival of Quilts.

I think this is one of the joys of the quilt world, making connections between people and quilts and the more I quilt, the smaller this world seems to become.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Jungle Fun in Edinburgh



Having a weekend off has been a huge novelty for me!  After our trip into Glasgow on Friday evening to the Collins Gallery felt, we headed to the other side of the country on Saturday to Edinburgh to see the Jungle City exhibition at the Botanical Gardens. 

Whilst I’ve been working on my installation for the Festival of Quilts, Dawn and the others of FAB have been working with the kids who go to ArtWorks to paint a hornbill bird for this outdoor show. We were asked to do so on behalf of EasySpace and it was filmed for STV. Tons of work went into it and lots of children contributed. It is standing outside of the glasshouse. 


We spent a very pleasant afternoon wandering through the gardens seeing all of the other animals. There were tigers, elephants, orang-utans, alligators and other hornbills. They were irresistible to the children; all of the bigger animals were climbed on, touched, patted and stroked. We loved the inventiveness of the artists. The painting was beautiful.


The Balfron children were thrilled to see their bird amongst the animals.  It looked stunning and a good thing to be involved in - supporting endangered species.



Sunday, 21 August 2011

Friday evening in Philadelphia and Kyrgyzstan



On Friday evening, we decided to do something brave/foolhardy.  We took the children to the private view of From Quilts to Couture in Kyrgyzstan at the Collins Gallery in Glasgow. 

We were entertained on our way there by seeing the centre of Glasgow transformed into one giant film set for a big movie called World War Z (I was corrected from saying ‘zed’ to ‘zee’ – it sounds better in American!).  Glasgow is standing in for Philadelphia and it was funny seeing US traffic lights and newspaper stands and street signs.  Spying my old office transformed into the US Court House was slightly surreal.  I’m not sure who were more entertained – the children or us!

Going from Glasgow to the States to Kyrgyzstan in the space of 5 minutes was rather strange.  However, when we made it into the gallery, I was really pleased we had made the effort.  The work was magnificent.  The inlaid felt in strong patterns and bright colours were stunning and beautifully executed as well.  Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to take any photos of it as I was trying to stop any major child disaster: knocking the work over; eating all of the interesting looking snacks and whining about not wanting to be there!  These are snaps of some of the little toys they had for sale. 


If you are able to go, I would strongly recommend the exhibition. The Collins with Laura Hamilton has put on loads of interesting shows since I moved back up north and it is a terrible shame it is under threat of closure from Strathclyde University who own it.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Unsung Muses Video

  video
For those of you who were not able to make it to the Festival of Quilts, here is a little walk through my installation.  Please listen with the sound off as this is my first attempt at filming and I haven’t worked out how to edit it yet and it is only background noise.  Anyway, it should give you a flavour of the show.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Back to Reality



After all the excitement of the Festival of Quilts, we finally arrived home at 5pm last night and today everything returned to normal.  School and nursery started back and it rained all day!
In trying to beat the post-exhibition blues, I am determined to keep busy and so made a start on tidying the studio.  After the two hours of child free time before I had to return to the nursery, I think I had made an indent, but there is still a long way to go.  I do mean to keep going, although I do have a number of ideas floating around that I really want to get started on...

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Biggest Thank You



Last week I said thank you to those who helped me in making Unsung Muses.  However, I missed out the person to whom I owe the biggest thank you. 

 I can’t actually remember the last time I had a weekend off and we had to cut the family holiday short so I could continue to work.  In all of this Richard has been uncomplaining and incredibly supportive.  He has also given up a week of his holidays to help me hang the work and look after our little monsters whilst I am at the show.

So to Richard, thank you so much for all your help and support over the past year.  I really appreciate it and I promise I will have a weekend off soon!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Other work at the Festival of Quilts

Hot Africa by Janneke de Vries-Bodzinga, winner of the Pictorial Quilts category.  This quilt had caught my eye even before it won the award.  Janneke also won first place in Art Quilts and Best in Show with Octopussy

Of course this year, I am a bit obsessed with my own work at the Festival of Quilts.  Maggi has kindly put photos of my work and me (less kind!) on her blog, so you can see more images there.  I'm not apologising for being a bit self-obessed as it isn't every year that you get your own gallery space here! 

However, there are lots of other great quilts on show.  There are some great individual and group shows.  I particularly like Studio 21’s group show.  They have used some innovative techniques to produce some thoughtful work and I love the monochromatic nature of their themes.

The competition quilts throw up the normal mix of fabulous and fascinating.  The images here are of some which caught my eye on a quick walk through.  I’m hoping to spend a bit more time looking in detail over the next few days. 

For the first time in years, I don’t think I am writing about anything in the show for Popular Patchwork, which feels kind of strange, but it is also kind of nice as I can look at the quilts for pleasure rather than work and take photos of those I like rather than those I think would make good copy.


After Anna by Hazel Ryder, a Judges Choice in Art Quilts category, in memory of her friend Anna.
The Fragility of Friendship by Linda Barlow.  Second prize winner in the Art Quilts category


Breakdown. A Hot Summer's Day in May by Elaine Smith

Friday, 12 August 2011

Ruth Singer’s fabulous work



One of the nicest things about the Festival of Quilts, as well as meeting lots of new people who share a common interest in quilts, is meeting up with old friends.  My friend Ruth Singer has a stand here promoting her books, kits and workshops.  Her work is unusual, interesting and full of integrity.  She has a strong recycling ethos.  I’m sure her workshops are fascinating. 

We met years ago at a textile evening class at the wonderful City Lit in London.  At the time I was an accountant and Ruth worked for the Transport Museum.  How things change for the better!  I’m now based in Scotland and Ruth in Leicester, so we don’t meet up that often, so events like this are great and it is lovely to see how her work and workshops are developing.  If you are at the show, they are well worth a look.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Unsung Muses


The first day of the Festival of Quilts is finished.  It’s been great fun meeting so many people and hearing so many interesting interpretations of my work.  Once you let others see your work in a gallery setting, it stops belonging to you and becomes a shared experience as they muse (no pun intended) upon the piece.  Things I am unaware of in my work have been pointed out and I’m not sure if they are coincidences or whether they are there subliminally without me realising. 



For instance, a number of visitors have pointed out to the ‘Scottish’ palette in my figures. Is this because they have heard my accent or because the subdued earth-like palette is particularly Celtic?


I can’t wait to hear tomorrow’s interpretations as it is certainly making me ponder the work and its multiple meanings.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Hanging the Muses



I was over optimistic last week.  In the end, I was stitching sleeves onto the back of quilts and stuffing cards into bags in the car on the way down to Birmingham.  However, by four o’clock this afternoon, I had everything hung and all my cards and smaller works all set out, so I made it with time to spare.

It was fun setting up and there is quite a buzz around the hall with loads of workmen completing stands and booths, fixing lighting, painting walls and lots of quilters hanging work and setting out their quilting supplies for sale.


The exciting bit is about to begin, when the doors open to the public at 10am tomorrow and I get to show off my latest work. I’m really pleased with how it looks and mildly amazed that I have it all finished in time: eight figures, four ‘sheets’ of waves, two quilt triptychs and fifteen smaller pieces. 

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Fame at last ... in the Stirling Observer

My local newspaper, the Stirling Observer, has a nice little piece in it this week about my exhibition at the Festival of Quilts.  It’s really lovely to be featured and to have their support. 



However, when I looked at it, all I could do was laugh... there is a second article in amongst the images, entitled ‘Community service for shoplifter’.  I just want to make it clear I am not the shoplifter and have never stolen from shops!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Getting there


I am now being lulled into a false sense of completion about my work.  Yes, I have completed the bulk of it, there are only final tweaks to make ... and the hanging devices to be added.  This should be simple, but these things take time, especially as the sheets of waves are not the size I expected and so the poles need adjusting, which is a shame as they were specially cut to size.  Also as the two triptychs do not have straight edges along the top, it is harder than normal to get the hanging sleeves in the right positions.  So although I think I am there and can breathe a sigh of relief, it may be a bit over-optimistic.  However, at least I know I will get there now and I won’t be stitching in the car on the way down south!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Wave power


Having spent ages stitching on four plus layers of cotton and wadding, stitching the ‘sheets’ of water and waves on slippery sheer silk organza came as a bit of a surprise.  It was lovely not to have to support all of the weight of a heavy piece and struggle to manipulate it under the arm of the sewing machine, but ... it slips everywhere.  Luckily, I wanted a loose effect and the edges of the waves are meant to be jagged.  Hopefully it adds to the piece.

Monday, 1 August 2011

One week tilI leave for the Festival of Quilts


One week to go until I leave for the Festival of Quilts and still the work is not quite complete... but it is definitely getting there.  I’m making final adjustments to lots of the pieces, making my sewing machine work hard.  At the same time, there are all the other things that need to be done to get the exhibition ready.  I’m getting some cards printed with images of the work and these went to print today.  I’ve also been mulling over what exactly to write in my statement about the work.  For someone who writes about textiles and quilts, I find it really hard to write about my own work.  I do know what it is about and what I’m trying to say, but it is difficult to express it succinctly.  I want it to sound arty and deep, but I also want it to be accessible to everyone, not just a select few.  I’ll find out if it has worked at the show.
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