Friday, 25 April 2014

Out & About: AQS Quilt Week Paducah

Rando Rose Garden by Karen Eckmeier
First day at the AQS Quilt Week in Paducah has been amazing. At Newark Airport yesterday I was having severe doubts as to what I was doing. Why was I putting myself through this ridiculous 24 hour journey?  However any hesitation was soon over after I arrived at the Show this morning. 
Every Way But Straight by Karen Sienk
Here is a small selection of the quilts I've seen so far. I've taken most of my photos with the SLR and can't download them yet, but these are some I remembered to take on my phone. 
Grouper by Karen Stockwell
Not only are the quilts great, but the people have been fantastic. I've spoken to a number of the prize winners. Bonnie and Katherine from AQS and Laura from the Visitors Bureau have been wonderful. Everyone has been really friendly. 
Forget Me Not by Sonia Grasvik
I'm now back in my hotel room and am beginning to feel the time difference. But I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Out & About: the start of a big adventure

I know you're not meant to apologise for not writing your blog - it just highlights that you haven't been writing your blog and makes you seem less reliable - but here it is anyway: sorry I've been a bit absent over the past few weeks: school holidays and four day migraines aren't very conducive to life, let alone blogging!
But I'm back up and running now and excitingly I'm writing this at Glasgow Airport waiting for my flight to the States- first stop AQS Quilt Week in Paducah in about 24 hours.  So I'm going to have lots to share about, even if they are not happy with you taking photos for blogs.  I'm sure I'll find something to photograph.

This is very poor iPad photo of the piece I have in my hand luggage to stitch on the journey.  We'll have to see whether it has changed much by the time I get there or whether the kindle and films take over!

Monday, 14 April 2014

New work: Finesse: Bound to the Past

Finesse: Bound to the Past by Gillian Cooper 
This is yet another completely finished new piece – I know -  I’ve been very productive recently after a fallow period. 
Finesse: Bound to the Past by Gillian Cooper (detail)
Although the colours are completely different, the work is still related to the Unsung Muses series.  I’ve used a different goddess shape and repeated it across the background using print and embroidery.  There are waves of stitch passing over the background.  The crosses and circles come from the patterns on some of these ancient figures.
Finesse: Bound to the Past by Gillian Cooper (detail)
You may recognise that the crosses are made from the fabric beads I got a bit obsessed with making in February.  It is good to use them, although the quilt is now rather more delicate than it was before.
The beads used, bought from the African Fabric Shop
I love the circle beads I used.  They came from the African Fabric Shop (always a favourite) and are made from recycled glass.  You can see more of them here in lots of different colourways.  In fact, I’m really tempted to add to my collection again.
I’ve hand stitched circles around the glass beads, which again is a bit of a departure from the work I have been doing over the last few years, but takes me back right to where I started with fabric.  However, with hindsight, I think I did mainly hand stitch then as I was afraid of my sewing machine.  How things move on!
Has your work had any major changes recently?

Finesse: Bound to the Past by Gillian Cooper (detail)
 All of these photos apart from the glass bead ones were taken by Alan McCredie.  The piece measures 25x19in.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Inspiration: Mary Fisher in Popular Patchwork

Some articles take time to be written.  There are a number of reasons why.  For this feature on the artist Mary Fisher, which appears in the current issue of Popular Patchwork, the reasons were fairly straight-forward.  Mary is a talented artist, whom I met at last year’s Festival of Quilts.  She graciously agreed to be interviewed by email.  Her work is fascinating and deals with a very serious subject matter: HIV/Aids and in particular, our treatment of women in sub-Saharan Africa who suffer from this terrible disease.  So it took time for me to craft something that was suitable for an entertaining quilting magazine, read primarily for light relief, whilst treating such a subject with the seriousness it deserves.  Hopefully for Mary and the other women she helps, I have got the balance right and have helped highlight an issue we would generally prefer not to think about. 

For Mary, this isn’t a possibility as she has HIV too.  Prior to meeting her and doing some more research, I had naively believed that with the new drugs on the market, it was pretty much life as normal for HIV sufferers in the West.  You take the medicines and basically it is no more inconvenient than the migraines I suffer from and treat with drugs on a daily basis.  Sadly, that isn’t the case, as whilst the HIV drugs prolong life, like all drugs there are side effects and these can be devastating.  Aids isn’t a crisis that has passed, it is still ongoing and when you discover that in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, half the population are infected and the life expectancy is  lower than the years I’ve already achieved (and I’m young in quilting terms!), it is an outrage that more isn’t being done.

As well as being an artist, Mary has become a major international campaigner on this scandal and devotes much of her time to trying to make people aware and change lives. 
I know this is more serious than things I normally write about on my blog: my art doesn’t affect life and death, but hopefully you’ve stuck with me to the end of this piece and will be inspired to try and do something about HIV locally or internationally.  Ironically for Mary, as a white, upper-middle-class American Republican, she does not find much companionship/ support in the States as she does not meet many women in a similar position.  In her book (well worth a read), she says that the contrast in the support she received when she was diagnosed with breast cancer was telling.  People knew what to do in that situation.  She often finds herself more at home with African women in the same circumstances as her: can I live long enough to see my children through education/college/marriage/parenthood.  We should all be doing more.

PS If all this makes Mary sound over-assiduous and humourless, you couldn’t be further from the truth.  There is a definite sense of fun and joy pervading her work and her life too.  I strongly recommend you visit her website or read one of her fascinating books.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Yet More New Work: Preserved

Preserved by Gillian Cooper
This is another little piece I made recently.  It’s approx 8in square. 
It started out as I don’t like waste (I’m not sure whether I’m trying to be ecologically sound or whether I’m just plain mean...), so as I had some leftover screen printing ink, I used it on some spare fabric rather than scraping it into the bin. 
The figure is stitched using the machine embroidery unit on my Pfaff sewing machine.  I designed it based on a drawing and screen I made last year.  I needed to sample that it was the correct size, etc so used this piece of spare fabric.  I liked it so I added in the bar of the distressed pattern to balance off the design. 

The size is because I’m intending to undertake the Contemporary Quilt Group (CQ) challenge of making an 8in square quilt each month this year.  I have until the end of April to make the first four.  I’m actually finding 8in square rather challenging – it’s almost too small, but I’ll see if I can manage better than last time I did the challenge (I got as far as August!).
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