Monday, 29 September 2014

Out & About: SAQA Wide Horizons at EPM

Sue Payne with her quilt Roofscape
Whilst at the EPM in Alsace, I spent a very pleasant hour and a half manning the SAQA stand with Sue Payne.  I hadn’t met Sue before, but she was lovely as was her quilt, which you can see with her in the photo.
Berlin Reichstag by Hilde van Schardenburg
The SAQA exhibition was called ‘Wide Horizons’ and I had entered a piece which hadn’t been accepted.  Naturally, I was disappointed.  Often I have heard people say that “it’s not your work, it just didn’t fit in with the exhibition and to make the exhibition work well, there needs to be some kind of cohesion”.  Although I understand the sentiment, it wasn’t until I looked at the Wide Horizons show that I realised how true it was.  The piece I had submitted would have stood out like a sore thumb besides these works.  For once in my life I had used bright colours – and guess what? – most of these were beautifully subdued.  Size-wise too, mine would have taken up a lot of space and that would have restricted the numbers of other pieces that would have been on show.  It was very interesting to see.  And whilst I’m not saying that was the reason my piece was not accepted – it may not have been good enough, the jurors may not have liked it etc – it helped me realise why sometimes you get rejections. 
Gillian Cooper Chaos

In the meantime, here are some more of the lovely quilts that were on show.

Stretching Time I by Pirjam Pet-Jacobs

Drift by Sue Hotchkis

Thoughts by Elly van Steenbeek

Aftermath by Khurshid Bamboat

Silence 2 by Karin Oestergaard

Friday, 26 September 2014

Out & About: 20th Anniversary Show at the EPM

Josy Narcy 2002 & 2014
I took well over 700 photos whilst I was in Alsace and I’ve just spent this morning trying to sort them out.  I’ve been organised and sorted them into folders.  The next task is to go through and delete the out of focus ones, before I can start to consider them properly.
France Brechignac 1990 & 2014
With over twenty locations to visit there was certainly plenty of quilts to see and many of them veered more into textile art than traditional quilting, which suited me.  It was really inspiring to see so much art created in textiles.  I came home really fired up to continue the pieces I have on the go.
Gaby Mett 2014 & 2002
The first exhibition I want to share is the special one that celebrated the 20 years of the show.  About 90 artists who have exhibited over the past 20 years were asked to contribute a quilt they made in the past and create a new one specially for the show.  It was really interesting to see how people have developed (or not!).  Many seem to have started in traditional quilts and moved more into art quilts.  I don't think anyone in the exhibition had moved in the other direction.
Olga Prins-Lukowski 2005 & 2014
It was quite difficult to photograph as they were hanging in a silver mine museum, with lovely natural daylight (and therefore lovely natural shadows) and some were in corners so I couldn’t get straight angles, but hopefully these will give you a flavour of some of them.  It’s a shame there was a publication to accompany the show or that the exhibition isn’t touring as it was a fascinating survey of quilt art over the past twenty years.

Bente Vold Klausen 2009 & 2014

Charlotte Yde 2000 & 2014

Jane Lloyd 2000 & 2008

Mirjam Pet Jacobs 2003 & 2014

Monday, 22 September 2014

Out & About: EPM in Alsace, lots of lovely scenery

Sunburst at sunset over the vineyards at St Hippolyte
I’m just back from a fabulous four days at the European Patchwork Meeting in Alsace.  It was a great time: the work was stunning and very varied; I met up with some people I knew and met some lovely new ones; and it was hot and sunny!
St Hippolyte
I have still to process all of what I saw, as well as the 600+ photos I took, so in the meantime, here are some of the ones I took of the beautiful scenery.  I was staying in the village of St Hippolyte, where the hotel was surrounded by vineyards.  The last of the harvest was being brought in and from what I tasted of the local wine, next time I go I will definitely make sure I can take some home.  Hand luggage isn’t much good for this!

Shutters at Ste Marie aux Mines

Patchwork Garden at Villa Borrus, St Croix aux Mines

Large loaves of bread!

Early morning mist over the vineyards

St Hippolyte

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Art with the kids: 3 types of painting and printing with a 7 year old

As a treat from our visit to the Ming exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland the other weekend, we bought some rice paper and an ink stick to play with at home.  

We’ve been enjoying an Indian summer here and so the other evening after school, we took the paper, ink, some brushes and a little bowl outside to try. 
We got some lovely marks, using the ink in different strengths and pressing on the brush in other ways.  It was a very relaxing half hour for me and I think the seven year old did too!

She and I have been exploring in the studio quite a bit recently (this can be interpreted as I want to be in the studio playing so I need to find something the kids want to do there too!).  I brought back some sun printing paper from the States for them and we finally gave it a go.  In typical kid fashion she was pleased with her first attempt and didn’t want to do any more – as an adult I always want to do more.  

We’ve also been experimenting with the gelli-plate printing, another extravagance from America.  I’ll show you some of my results soon once I get going on it, but it was fun just to try out.

This all sounds like some kind of mothering idyll.  It certainly isn’t!  We haven’t made any art for months, even less since I stopped running kids art classes and whilst we’ve been doing these pieces, the boys have been out playing or playing on computers.  Still we can all do impressions of good parenting at times, especially when it overlaps with my studio interests!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Out & About: Frieda Oxenham and 52 Journals

Memory by Frieda Oxenham
On Friday, I spent a lovely day in the Scottish Borders, visiting Frieda Oxenham and her exhibition ’52 Journals’ at the Tweeddale Museum and Gallery, Peebles.
Thoughts Fly Swift by Frieda Oxenham
For an entire year, Frieda made one journal quilt a week, mainly A4-sized, with one a month 10in square.  They are beautiful little works of art, and as you would expect from Frieda, each one has a lot of care, attention and time given to it.  It is really astounding she managed to make them all in just one year given all the other projects she had on too.  If you can make it to Peebles, it is well worth a visit.  The work is exquisite.
Some of Frieda Oxenham's inspiration photos
As well as the actual quilts, Frieda had a book of the inspirations behind the journal quilts and a little explanation on how she got from the inspiration to the quilt.  When I was there, many visitors were spending lots of time of time reading and enjoying the work.  Frieda was very generous with her time and I have lots of notes now to go and write an article on her amazing work for Popular Patchwork.
Circle of Creation by Frieda Oxenham

Frieda has a great blog at  You should visit and say hello!
Doodle by Frieda Oxenham

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!
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