Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The Sleep Quilt - Fine Cell Work

The Sleep Quilt book cover

Fine Cell Work is a charity with the aim of rehabilitation of prisoners through stitch.  Volunteers go into prisons and teach inmates how to stitch.  This not only gives prisoners something fill the long hours of confinement and a way of making some money in prison, but can be life changing as it can give the stitcher hope, discipline and self belief, which can greatly improve their job prospects upon release.

The author, Tracy Chevalier, became very interested in quilting when she was researching one of her books and is still involved in it today.  She commissioned this quilt and has written an essay in the accompanying book. 

The quilt comprises of 63 squares, each stitched by an inmate who works with Fine Cell Work, giving their interpretation of what sleep means to them.  Whilst it is always interesting to discover how different people interpret the same theme, such as the Bedtime Stories Quilt, which I wrote about here, this quilt is fascinating as it gives an insight into the lives of people we do not normally consider.

 Sleep is something we all need, sometimes it comes easily, other times it is something elusive and it has a massive impact on our lives.  Prison makes sleep harder due to the inescapable noisy and crowded environment, which gives the interpretations an added poignancy.  
This book, which accompanies the Sleep Quilt, has lovely details of all the blocks, along with details of what inspired the maker and the impact of making on them.
It is available from 31 October 2017 and until 16 November 2017, it is being crowdfunded through Kickstarter, so additional benefits are available through this scheme.  All royalties from the book will go to Fine Cell Work.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Musee Rodin, Paris - Anselm Kiefer and trees

Detail of Anselm Kiefer's painting
Whilst in Paris, I was determined to see the exhibition of Anselm Kiefer's work at the Musee Rodin.  I am always fascinated by work by an artist inspired by another artist's work.  In this case, Kiefer was basing his work on some of Rodin's drawings of cathedrals in France.  
Cathedrals of France by Anselm Kiefer
These paintings were huge and really blew me away.   The scale of them and the textured surfaces, neither of which can be adequately shown in a photo were stunning.  I loved them.
As you would expect Musee Rodin is full of Rodin's sculpture - you can see 'The Thinker' in the background of this photo, taken through one of the windows.

Actually, I'm not a mega fan of the Rodin sculptures - but the Museum and the grounds are lovely and I got very excited by the tree bark!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris

Fondation Louis Vuitton
Last week I was in Paris for a few days whilst going to pick up my work from Galerie de la Place in Auxerre.  The sun shone (unlike at home where the remains of Hurricane Ophelia were bringing rain and wind), and I managed to visit a few galleries.

The Fondation Louis Vuitton is a relatively new museum in Paris.  The building by Frank Gehry was astounding. In fact, I was more impressed with it than I was by the blockbuster exhibition on there of highlights of New York's MOMA.  I could have spent hours photographing different angles of the building, enjoying the reflections and the interplay of reflections, glass, steel and wood.   

There is a permanent installation by Olafur Eliasson, which you can see in the photos - it is the yellow columns.  It was stunning and the shade of yellow was very welcoming, if that is not a strange thing to say.
Olafur Eliasson
My favourite piece of the MOMA show, was the final room - a sound installation by the artist Janet Cardiff.  The sound of choral music echoed up the high walls giving a gorgeous and enveloping sound.

My top tip if you do visit is to book online as they appeared to only have one x-ray security machine and it was very slow for those of us who hadn't booked.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Recent sketchbook pages

Sketchbook page by Gillian Cooper

As I have just shown you some of my students’ sketchbook work, here are some pages from my own. 

This year I am basically teaching full time, which doesn't leave much time for developing my own work. I now also have sympathy for those who do not have a dedicated work space as I am constantly moving my things out of the studio to make room for students (this isn't a complaint - I love having students here). 

So often it is easier for me to draw and sketch in the short time I have available than to get the sewing machine out. And besides, I'm really enjoying it. 

There has been a definite preoccupation with stones and things crafted from stone this year - and it is continuing.  Today's drawing (not shown) is of rock piles again!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Students' sketchbook exhibition

It is so long since I wrote my blog, I have lots of older events to share with you. 

So let's start with the exhibition of the C&G sketchbook course, which took place in June. All of the group had worked really hard over the year and it was lovely to give them the opportunity to share what they had accomplished with a wider public.

The variety of work was fab - we had tried so many different techniques over the course and each student had interpreted them in their own way adding more interest and also inspiring the others in how the ideas could be used.  

I had set 3 fairly open topics for the students and was amazed at how ingenious their interpretations were - way beyond my limited ideas.

The books themselves are the outcome of the course. Some people struggle with why you would want to take a course like this when you could actually be making ‘real’ finished work. However, in addition to these lovely books and pages, the students are hopefully full of ideas for ‘real’ work which will be more interesting and richer for having gone through all of these processes. 

Thursday, 21 September 2017


Fragments hiding behind the Muses

The gallery in Auxerre really wanted to show the Muses, but I also wanted to make something new for the occasion. Related but slightly different.  This is the new series - Fragments. There are 7 of them which can be viewed together or separately.
The seven pieces pieced and painted
They started with similar techniques to the Muses - lots of piecing of small bits of fabric, which were then over painted to bring some unity to the background.
As I've been thinking lots about stones, rocks and ancient sculptures I decided to add some rock piles using Markal paint sticks.
Adding the Markal

Testing out colours of sari silk
The figures were added using sari strips which were over painted with Brusho. Originally they looked a bit like scene of the crime outlines as they were so stark!   The figures have changed shape slightly as I am continually redrawing them to see how far I can simplify them whilst still retaining the idea of the human form.
Before the final stitches were added
Finally I stitched the patterns on top. These are patterns which would have decorated some of the goddesses when they were made and gaudily painted. I drew a guide pattern to get a sense of the flow.  Following advice, I traced the pattern onto Golden something paper as it is meant to be really easy to remove. It may be the easiest paper to remove, but I'm glad I put it on the back as it is still hard to remove every last piece, especially from small shapes.

Adding the stitch
I don't have a clear photo of all 7 in a row but hopefully these give you an idea of what they look like. 

Side view of five of them

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