Wednesday, 26 April 2017

My first students' C&G exhibition

So I haven't been very good at writing my blog recently. Happily this is due to positive reasons rather than sad events in my life. I've just been so busy teaching and getting the final round of C&G classes organised and having some exhibitions to run, oh and occasionally see the family, the blog has sat just that one stage too far down my to-do list to get written. Sorry. 

So new resolution - be less wordy and merely put the photos and information and ideas out there. There is definitely more chance of this!

End of grovel!  Now on to something more interesting instead. My first groups of C&G students finished at the weekend with an end of course exhibition. It went astonishingly well. Their work was finished, copious and well presented. I was incredibly proud. Lots of lovely people from far and wide came to see their show and seemed to really enjoy it. It was good to finally let my village see what we get up to and they were also impressed at how far some people had travelled. 

Wonderfil kindly sponsored some boxes of threads to encourage the finishing students to carry on stitching.  

Tea and cake was provided by Friends of Strathcarron Hospice and they raised over £590. 

These photos are some general shots. More details in the next post. They look empty because I took them before anyone arrived and during the private view - I didn't get an opportunity whilst it was properly open - it was all very busy!

PS C&G is sadly cancelling these great courses and there is only one final opportunity to study them with me starting in June.  Do email me at info(at) if you are interested in finding out more.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Bedtime Story Quilt at the Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh

Land of Counterpane (detail)

The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh is not a place I would generally go to see a quilt, but what is more associated with childhood than a favourite blankie or quilt?  Unsurprisingly, I don't think any of these are on show as generally by the time a child has grown up, the fabric in its comforter has totally disintegrated through love and use.
Bedtime Stories Quilt

At the moment though, it has a small, but sweet exhibition about the links between bedtime stories and quilts.  For many of us, the idea of snuggling under the covers with a favourite book even as an adult is a lovely treat.  And it can bring back many happy memories of childhood as we recall the magic of the first time we discovered Narnia, Harry Potter or the land at the top of the Faraway Tree.  

Taking this as a theme, curator Alice Sage asked people to make a quilt block based on their memories of bedtime stories. These were then put together into a quilt which is large enough for a bed.  

As well as this quilt, there was a quilt based on the book 'The Dream Quilt' by Adèle Geras.  There is also a simple quilt on a bed with the Robert Louis Stevenson poem, 'The Land of Counterpane', complete with toy soldiers marching across it.
Land of Counterpane
Whilst I wouldn't necessarily recommend a special visit to Edinburgh to see such a tiny exhibition, if you are there, I would definitely pop in to see it and be reminded of all those magical bedtime stories.
For those unable to make it, I've written a fuller review for British Patchwork and Quilting and there is a lovely website with details of stories behind each of the blocks, which is well worth a look.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Hepworth inspired stone quilts

Version 1
CQ, the contemporary group of the British Quilters' Guild had a call out for A3 sized pieces inspired by a favourite artist for their new suitcase collection.  
As I love art and the size was not painful, it seemed a good thing to do, although choosing an artist took me ages - who actually is my favourite artist? I like the work of so many.  Should I choose someone instantly recognisable or go for a contemporary artist no-one would have heard of or, or, or...  Too much choice.  So I prevaricated, until one day I opened an old sketchbook and found a photo of a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth and thought it would make a great starting point for a quilt.  It was a piece I had seen at the Hepworth late 2015 and it reminded me of the many drawings I was making of stones.  I liked the idea of choosing Barbara Hepworth - well known, but not too well known and also a female artist as the majority people have heard of are men.  
I had got very excited when I saw her sculptures for the first time at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park of shapes with holes, especially as I was making images of people with holes at that time.
Computer drawings
From my initial drawings I tried out some colour combinations on the computer to fit in with some ideas I was working with.
Trying out the fabrics
I had some left over fabric from another piece, which was breakdown printed, discharged out some colour and added some gorgeous kimono silk I had purchased from Susan Briscoe.  
Quilting pattern sketch
I liked the way the colours were working but couldn't decide on the quilting pattern, so did a number of sketches.  I liked one, R preferred another. 
Another quilting pattern sketch

In the end, I made a second, smaller version for the SAQA Suitcase Collection, so got to try out two quilting patterns.  Which one do you prefer?

Version 2

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Sketchbook development over 2016

Final drawing of the year, based on a Barbara Hepworth sculpture

Happy New Year everyone!
One of the things that has really been occupying my time recently is the development and delivery of the Creative Sketchbook City & Guilds course.
Like many other textile artists, I struggle at times with the idea of working in sketchbooks.  I've been more of a back of an envelope and large drawing girl.  So I was really keen to develop my own use of sketchbooks to improve my work as well as to make the course better for the students.  I set myself a daily drawing challenge at the start of 2016 and to begin with, I had my doubts as to whether I would be good enough to teach a sketchbook course.  But the mantra 'practice makes perfect' is certainly true and the improvement in my work of the year is astounding.
Abstracted drawing of tree trunk and leaves
It is only when I look back that I realise how much I have improved.  I haven't worked in my sketchbook every day over the year, but I think if I add up the pages, I will have done way more than 366 as some days I was able to spend more time than others and this worked for me rather than beating myself up if I had to miss a day due to illness or life in general.  
Chesnut leaves found on holiday
Most of my pages took less than 30 minutes, so they are definitely sketches rather than complete drawings but that is what sketching is about.  Over the year I became less precious about my books and things improved
.  More words have crept in as I find it useful to write about what I am doing as a way of processing it.  The books are definitely less pristine, but also they have become more exciting.  I've been drawing whatever has caught my eye when I sit down to draw, but there are definitely some recurring themes: rocks and stones, whether on a beach, a rockface or a sculpture being the main one, with leaves and Italy, as a result of our holiday, close seconds. 
Three stones drawn without taking the pen off the paper
I've used lots of different types of media such as inktense, dye, charcoal, acrylic and even occasionally pencil in my books.  Again this is really useful as I've learnt more about how these different media work and whether they work together, which isn't always the case.  I even learned to embrace oil pastels, something that had never worked for me before.
Thermofax print coloured with inktense of a maple leaf from the garden
Was it a useful thing to do?  Well, I have already continued drawing in 2017 in my sketchbook, as it has become part of my daily life, so yes.  I've got books full of ideas of things to develop.  So 2017's goal is to find time to develop them, whilst still continuing to draw!

And for comparison, a drawing from last Jaunary (one of the better ones!)

Playing with print blocks and collage

Charcoal drawing of rocks

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