Preparation and alteration.

It’s that time of year again. The Festival of Quilts is approaching, and I am gradually filling the house with all the stuff I have to take for my stand. A lot of it is very neatly packed into Ikea boxes, which seems to be a good idea, but I can only fully properly put the lids on a couple of them, which means my clever stacking idea for the car has no legs. Still, I am indeed an ace packer of a lot into a small space, which is useful as I haven’t even brought all the other bits and pieces I need in from their storage yet. I seriously need a van though. Can I just say thank you to all of those people who have bought my Thoughts book. I didn’t know if it was going to be at all popular, being the wandering/wondering witterings of a weird woman, but it has sold out, for the time being. I have done some to take to the Festival. I’ve been altering a piece of work I laid down some time ago, which I was absolutely convinced was going to work. Well we all are, I imagine, when we start some new work, but we have to be open to change, i.e. cutting it up, in my case. Perhaps too much conviction early on is not a good thing; I fear however there are no actualities in place about this. I have recently bought three pairs of gloriously sharp new scissors though, so cutting and sticking is great fun at the moment. This piece, below, didn’t work as a piece after I had machine stitched it. I coloured the background, and stitched it some more, but it just got worse. I like this early image though, so have had a play with it in Photoshop, layering my photographs and images of other pieces of my work. DSC_0163 The Photoshopped pieces have developed by chance into a series of images which are based upon stamped envelopes, which I think will be something new and interesting to work with in some future pieces. They reminded me of my stamp collecting days when I was young. I didn’t much care for rarity, I liked the big illustrative stamps best, especially all those which I think were from Hungary. The first image hasn’t got its stamp yet, I’m still deciding what image to use. charcoal dark tide. charcoal dark tide mono. Darker Butterflies.

Butterflies The original piece which I took the scissors to now looks like this, below. It was called Dark Tide, now it’s named Night Tide, and I’m altogether happier with it. It’s not finished, there is much work to be done, mostly with metallic thread and of course the odd hundred + beads or so. It’s companion piece, Bright Morning, unfinished, is shown below. They will hopefully be in the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery at the Festival of Quilts next year, possibly along with their envelope offspring. DSC_0074. DSC_0157 My stand is Demo H, at the back of the hall by the food and loos, so please come by to say hello.


A few weeks ago I was demonstrating during my small solo show at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Gallery. I was very fortunate in that there were many visitors; it was very jolly. I’m always grateful when people take the time to come to these occasions, and to see the show, so thanks to all of you. The RBSA frequently supports these demonstration days featuring a range of artists, and they are always worth going to. I had some of my artist’s books on display, for people to handle and look through, and after doing so a couple of generous people suggested I should gather together all the words, text and poems I have written for my books, and publish them. So I have. It was very enjoyable to design, and is all in black and white, with 63 pages and 22 illustrations, large and small, taken from the books themselves. It’s called Thoughts. I’ve used a mix of papers in the book too, to once again make it as special as possible and be an artist’s book in its own right. Cover copyI’ll be taking some to the Festival of Quilts, but I can take mail orders too. The book is £10.00, plus £3.50 postage. Please contact me via my website if you fancy one.

July update: I am printing more, but sorry, they won’t be available for postage orders until after the Festival of Quilts.

Botanical, and much forward thinking.

I do try to live in the present as much as possible, but it’s not that easy at times. There are occasions when you have to ‘live’ in the future, and one of those times is when you are planning work for future exhibitions.

Hilary Beattie and I are lucky enough to have been given a gallery next year at the Knitting and Stitching shows, which is great news for us. Then there’s the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery at the Festival of Quilts next year too, so there’s a fair bit of new work to make.

I started this series of work which I’ve called Botanical, which is destined for  our gallery at the K & S shows. I have some other new exciting work in mind too, quite a change to what I have made recently, which is actually underway but in early stages.

But back to Botanical. I wanted to use some digital prints I had made on Khadi paper as a basis for the work. These are a mix of straightforward photographs, and layered images of other pieces of my work made in Photoshop. They are A3 sized.


I drew relatively simple shapes from leaf and flower sources and used a variety of fabrics and papers in the pieces. Here they are, firstly the  piece in progress, followed by the laid down piece. They still have a long way to go before finishing; they will have all the usual stitching and beading, as I want to make them quite rich and luscious.


















Reader, I cheated here, and drew around the gingko leaves. You can’t improve them by artistic interpretation.




Music while you work.

I had nine 30 cm square canvases that I wanted to use for some new small pieces of work, and I decided that I would employ my favourite technique of materials led design. This basically means getting out every scrap of fabric, paper and anything else you own, experimenting and editing with what you have to test what really gets you going, and then making some new pieces, in this case whilst revisiting some favourite themes, something I like to do  when making small works. I finished hand stitching the last two yesterday afternoon, whilst catching up on Mark Ronson and Florence and the Machine at Glastonbury. I just love iPlayer. The volume was up, and it took ages to do the work, of course. More Glasto catch up to do later, seriously need to go there at some point, probably should get on with that one. Not camping though, did that once, and that was enough… DSC_0223 . DSC_0227 . DSC_0227a . DSC_0234 . DSC_0240 . DSC_0258 . DSC_0249 . DSC_0254 . DSC_0262   . DSC_0265

How ideas and work develop…

…is very interesting isn’t it? I’ve had a few ideas circling in my head for ages, and various wants and needs too, such as an urge during the winter to use more colour, and a strong desire to look at and channel illuminated manuscripts in my work. I saw a lot of these amazing books in an exhibition in the British Library a couple of years ago and they have stayed with me, glowing in their glass cases in the dark rooms.

The colour need seems to have been satisfied with the Khadi paper circles with birds previously shown; they’re almost finished now. The manuscripts are still thoughts in progress, but an innocent activity such as sorting fabrics to put into fabric packs for sale at shows has led me to make some new pieces, without planning to.

These are actually for a couple of shows next year, so there’s no rush to finish them, which is wonderful as I actually don’t like working under pressure at all. I had some fabric I was laying down for the packs, below, and although I would never have chosen these to make a piece of work, I loved what happened and made the happy occurrence into a new piece. It’s about 1.25 m x 60 cm, fabrics on silk noil. I’ve had the silk for years, and actually it has nearly ended up in fabric packs before now.

DSC_0163 The piece of work, which I think will be called Dark Tide or Night Tide, waiting to be stitched.

This led to a burst of creative energy, which as usual involved getting out lots of materials. I laid down another four pieces, on silk noil, then put the materials away. I want to enjoy making these, not end up with a great pile of work I feel I have to plough through; been there, done that, time for a change.

This determined plan then failed as I got more materials out later. Still, there we go, strike while the iron’s hot and other ancient but useful phrases. DSC_0131 So a few more pieces, the one below is a companion piece to Dark, or Night, Tide, and is the same size. The elements in this one are all cut out from painted and printed papers. DSC_0157 And below are three more pieces, mixed fabrics and papers, each about 50 x 50 cm. These are probably destined for the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery at the Festival of Quilts 2016. The fourth piece is a paper collage, which I will stitch, simply and lightly. DSC_0153DSC_0150DSC_0149DSC_0146There is a fantastic show on at the Art Gallery here in Birmingham, curated by Jeremy Deller. The show compares and connects William Morris and Andy Warhol, and there are some wonderful pieces on show.

I loved Andy Warhol’s beautiful line drawings, and his larger screen prints of flowers, and camouflage, mentioning just two examples, displayed surreally on huge walls papered with William Morris wallpaper designs. The careers of both artists are explored thoroughly, particularly the large amount of publications they both produced.

There are some large print blocks on display which were used to block print various William Morris wallpapers, and these tools are gorgeous as objects too. The whole show is so well curated and mounted it’s a joy, and all the Holy Grail Tapestries, made by Morris and Co. are also in the show. I’ve seen these quite a lot, growing up in Birmingham, but it’s always good to see them again. DSC_0140 DSC_0141

An essay in images, mostly.

There are times, let’s be honest, when looking at pictures is much more fun than ploughing through many words. So, here is one of those times, lots of images and hopefully not too many words. IMG_2973I had a lovely day out with Hilary Beattie on Tuesday at Winterbourne Botanical Gardens here in Birmingham. I hadn’t seen her for ages, and it was great fun. This is what the gardens looked like in the glorious weather we had. Many photographs were taken; Hils must have taken about 500. IMG_2978 IMG_2979There she is, sneaking into the picture. IMG_2999 DSC_0058 DSC_0061 DSC_0062 In the second hand book shop there Hils found this bird book, which she very kindly let me have. I was going to stop buying books but this one and the gorgeous old botanical chap which follows were irresistible, and very cheap too. I love the paintings and engravings which feature throughout the books. DSC_0064 DSC_0068 DSC_0069 I’ve never seen a book so well used as this 1846 Treasure of Botany; many of the pages are taped in and repaired inside. It’s a dense read. DSC_0084 DSC_0088 DSC_0089 And now a couple more of those circles I’ve been laying down, as mentioned in my previous blog post, machine stitched and ready to be hand finished. IMG_3003 And, if you’re still with us, an image of part my show at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Gallery in Birmingham. It’s a small area, but one picture has just gone to a new home in Southampton, so can’t be bad. I’ll be demonstrating there on May 23rd, undoubtedly with all my circles.

Circles and colour.

I’ve been wanting to make some colourful work for some time, and I was recently going through my paper drawer, trying to sort it out but failing; paper doesn’t seem to like being sorted.

I had painted these large circles of Khadi paper at least 18 months ago, and over time kept just putting them back in the drawer. I liked them but didn’t have many ideas of what to do with them, until earlier on this week when I realised they were exactly what I needed to get a bit of colour into my work; and of course I was using stuff I already have, which is a bit of a thing with me these days. Instead of adding to my materials, I’m going through them and using them, and enjoying the process too. Also you end up with more space, which can’t be bad.

So here are a few before and after shots. The circles are 56 cm in diameter.


Auditioning some fabrics.


Laid down and ready to stitch.


All the fabrics are from my store of Bondawebbed materials, so they are all ready to go. The laid down piece, below.




I forgot to photograph the fabrics used in this yellow birds piece beforehand, but you can see what I’ve used on the left. Most of the bright fabrics were painted by my daughter Chloe. She throws them out and I use them…


There are a couple more pieces in the pipeline too, which I will post as they progress.