Monday, 27 October 2014

Out & About: Australian Quilts at the EPM

Each year at the European Patchwork Meeting, there are two guest country exhibitors, one from Europe and one from further afield.  This year the two countries were Russia and Australia.  It was the Australian quilts that caught my eye, under the title of ‘Australian Quilts, extraordinary quilts from the great southern land’, particularly due to the variety of quilts on show.  I was very lucky to spend some time chatting to the curator, Brenda Gael Smith, who explained that the variety had been one of her goals as she wanted to showcase the sheer breadth of Australian talent.  There are a lot of talented quilters in Australia as I spent ages examining the pieces.  Looking at my photos though, I didn’t photograph two or three of the ones I liked best.  I can still remember them but unfortunately I can’t share them with you.  However, here are some more of my favourites:
Carolyn Sullivan Roadside Coreopsis
Like artists around the world, nature was an inspiration to a number of artists in this exhibit.  I loved the subtlety of Carolyn Sullivan’s ‘Roadside Coreopsis’ – it is dyed and stitched to give a beautifully textured surface.  
Carolyn Sullivan Roadside Coreopsis (detail)
Susan Mathews Summer: Kangaroo Paws & Billy Buttons
Susan Mathews’ ‘Summer: Kangaroo Paws & Billy Buttons’ was very appealing due to the intensity of the colours used.
Lisa Walton Blue Corridor
I’ve met Lisa Walton a couple of times at SAQA things and I see her posting on facebook lots about her teaching work etc, so it was lovely to finally meet one of her quilts ‘in person’.  I loved that she has used some hexagons.  My hexagon project, which I started three years ago is still progressing, but will probably need another three years to finish.
Judy Hooworth Rainy Day Dora Creek #11
Judy Hooworth’s quilt ‘Rainy Day Dora Creek #11’ was one of the quilts I included in my slideshow of favourites from the EPM which I showed to my C&G students the other weekend.  I think the composition is really strong and I like the contrast between the curving black marks and the nine-patch composition.
Sarah Fielke A Wing and A Prayer
Finally, for something completely different, here is the modern patchwork approach of SarahFielke in ‘A Wing and A Prayer’.  Although her palette is almost diametrically opposite to mine, I found the candy sweet colours surprisingly appealing! 

Friday, 24 October 2014

In my studio: 3 new mixed media paintings

Untitled so far by Gillian Cooper
Amongst other things this week, I have been mono-printing onto paper.  It seems to work better than printing onto fabric – I need more paint for the fabric, so it is thicker and less defined, whereas the paper seems to pick up the subtleties better.  Or maybe it could just be the type of paint I’m using. 
Untitled so far II by Gillian Cooper
To complete the pictures, I painted the backgrounds today.   Painting totally transformed them and as I had used acrylic paint for printing with, it meant I could add more paint without the print running.   I’m satisfied with these three and they have been deemed completed.  As I am enjoying working on paper for a change, there are a number of other ones in progress, in progress being a euphemism for I don’t like them yet, so I’ll keep going!

Untitled so far III by Gillian Cooper

Monday, 20 October 2014

Featuring on the SAQA blog

My work was featured over on the SAQA Europe blog last week – have a look and see.  It’s a lovely blog and at the moment is showing the work of UK members as well as the quilts made for the SAQA Benefit Auction.  Talking of which, my piece is coming up for sale at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in a few weeks.  But you can buy it online in advance, from 27th October.  There are lots of other amazing little pieces for sale too – all for a good cause and you can see them here.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

In my studio: my most important piece of kit

What is the most important piece of kit in your studio?  I was pondering this question as I tidied up my space. 

My sewing machines are very important, but then there are always needles and threads to stitch by hand.  I love all the different types of fabric I use, but if I was truly desperate, I could cut up some old clothes to use as a base fabric.  I have many different pens, pastels, inks, paints, etc, all of which have different uses, so it would be hard to stick to just one.  Same goes for all my threads.

So somewhat bizarrely, I think the most useful piece of kit in my studio is ... my Ikea stool! I kidnapped it out of the kitchen a few years ago, thus I need to climb on chairs in the kitchen to reach some things in cupboards.  But in my studio it is great.  I can reach everything on the top shelves and the ceiling to hang work (we have low ceilings!).  It is easy to climb up and down to put and adjust work on the design wall and takes up much less space than a ladder.  I use it as a seat when I need one to paint or print as that table is set just a little bit too low (any ideas for raising it?) and it makes a great footstool whilst I am reading or hand-sewing.   What more could I want?!

What is the most important thing in your studio?

Friday, 10 October 2014

In my studio: Fabby Fridays gelli-plate printing

My kids at the local primary school have ‘Fabby Friday’.  On Friday afternoons they get to choose from a number of fun activities including craft or watching a video or whatever it is that other people’s kids like to do.  I like this idea, so I’ve been having Fabby Friday too, giving myself permission to just play at whatever art I want to do.  The last three weeks I’ve been using my new gelli plate.  The results don’t matter, but perhaps because they don’t matter I like some of them! 

Do you give yourself time to play at art?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Out & About: Greek figures at the British Museum

Greek section of the British Museum
My weekend in London at the start of August seems a long time ago now, especially with the autumnal gales and rain we are experiencing today.  However, my trip there is still having an impact on my work.  I spent ages considering what I should do on my second day: should I find some contemporary work to enjoy; have a trip to the V&A; or go to the Greek section of the British Museum.  In the end, the British Museum won, partly because it was just round the corner from where I was staying and partly because it felt relevant to my work.

Cycladic figure at the British Museum
I ended up passing my full day there.  I photographed, drew, tagged onto a tour (which was fascinating) and eventually spent some time in the bookshop.  At one point I was clutching over £200-worth of books, but I decided I had to be a bit more sensible and maybe read one at a time, rather than just buy lots that would join the ever growing still-to-be-read pile besides my bed.  The book that made the cut was ‘The AegeanWorld’ by the Ashmolean in Oxford and I have referred to it several times already.  The slightly less sensible purchase was three rubber ducks for the kids.  But they were cute and look good on our bathroom window ledge.
Latest drawing in tinted charcoal pencils

With well over 100 photos, I chose to edit them and get some printed so I could work from them.  However, when they came back from the photo service, they were all cropped in strange ways as they were not standard sizes after I had played with them.  I thought they would have been shrunk to size but no – so beware if you do the same.  Still I have been drawing lots of images, working away at copying, but also thinking about how these will translate into my work and my goddess figures.  
From the Greek section at the British Museum

My version of one of the above

from the Greek section of the British Museum
My drawing of the one above

Friday, 3 October 2014

In my studio: spot the difference - the big tidy up

The studio was beginning to get on top of me – literally.  I’m not tidy but nature and there is always something more interesting to do, but ... even I need to tidy up every three years or so.

So began my studio reorganisation.  I moved my desk to a better location and started to slowly work through the mounds of stuff.  Then I got bored and started working again.  The big clean up hadn’t stopped entirely; it just went slower, especially with my trip to France.
And then this week I had an email from Sheena Kitchin of Craft Scotland wondering if she could bring round Kathy Brassill of Handcrafted Holidays.  I had to move up a tidying gear.  I think the studio is a lot better now.  I can see enough of the floor to work on larger pieces.  Hurrah!  The desk and sewing machine are now in a place where I can get the cupboards open and I have the threads right besides me.  I think both Kathy and Sheena liked the studio.

Now for the confession... I ran out of time.  The studio may be tidy, but this is settee in the kitchen and then there is the stuff under the stairs too!  
Oh dear

As the photos are complete, I’ll have to move the stuff back and have a think about where it can be stored.  And the answer isn’t the bin!
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