Quite a lot of art.

Hello and thank you to all the followers and new followers of this blog. Because of work and so on the blog is appearing a little less frequently but all that will hopefully change at some point. This is quite a biggie, so should last for a while…

Life is a little pushed around here at the moment, so a lovely two day break in London last weekend with an old friend was much appreciated.

We spent both days at the Royal Academy, and flanneuring around London,  generally having quite a chilled time. I’ve never been to the Summer Exhibition before, but I enjoyed it more than many of the blockbuster art shows I’ve seen over the years. Art and what we like is simply up to individual preference, and there was a lot of good stuff on show.

Here are a few general views. If you have a spare moment it’s worth going onto the RA website and perusing the galleries.

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Spyre by Ron Arad, the camera at the tip of the moving sculpture creepily filming the Courtyard and projecting the result onto the screen. Yes, we did stand there for some time trying to spot ourselves.

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The architecture exhibits, working on the theme ‘Unbuilt’ were fascinating; amazing models and drawings, and also the most wonderful wall colour, Hague blue, which I’d quite like to work into our house in some way. I’ve just checked, it’s Farrow and Ball.

And now a few favourites, I had many more.

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El Anatsui, Avocado Coconut Egg [Ace.] The [Ace] is part of the title, although obviously I did like the piece a lot.

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David Mach, All the Fish in the Sea. [And me too; this bit isn’t part of the title.]

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Aono Fumiaki, Mending, substitution, consolidation, coupling.

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Roland Hicks, OSB5.

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Ian Ray, Large Cloud moving south east, Hythe, and Large Cloud moving north east, Dover.

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India Dewar, Slice of the Multibrane Loaf. [That’s the spelling.]  This was a painted slice of bread, genius.

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Stephanie Quayle, Man of the Trees.

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I love this pair, The Areoplane [yes, that’s the spelling] by Annie Whiles.

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Bob and Roberta Smith, What unites human beings is huge and wonderful.

We also saw Bill Jacklin’s gorgeous prints, Ken Howard’s plein-air paintings of Switzerland and David Hockney’s 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life show. I was particularly impressed by his painterly handling of the sitters’ shoes, quite wonderful.

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Regent Street was closed on Sunday morning for a fun run, so there was a great atmosphere with drumming and music further on in Piccadilly Circus. The street is closed to traffic on Sundays in July, so people were experimenting with wandering around in the middle of the road; it just had to be done. There was more music too, excellent fun.IMG_0542

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And, being self indulgent here, a view of the rooftops [and roads] of Bloomsbury from our hotel room.

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Back soonish!

Intermittent.

I’m so used to blogging fairly regularly that it seems strange not to do so, but it’s quite difficult when you are writing a book, as obviously the publishers don’t want you to show anything at all about its content.

This seems sensible, but since I blog mostly about my work and have been  working away at it solidly, and also visiting my mother who has been in hospital for a few weeks, I feel my existence is rather too dull to bang on about.

But, since I have been feeling the blog itch for a while, here is an effort. I am making a lot of new work for the book, which is in the Search Press Stitched Textiles series, and also writing about my design and making processes. It’s moving forward, but I can’t pretend it has been particularly easy. There has been a lot going on, and peace and quiet and enough good time are in short supply. But I am enjoying it.

Here’s my desk after printing some monoprints. I love the smell of those Gelli plates, is that too strange to admit, one wonders.

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These are disturbing times for all of us too, so, as it was our wedding anniversary at the weekend,  we went to a local National Trust property, Coughton Court. This is a Tudor house in Warwickshire, the gardens of which served to cheer and uplift. Well, they are amazing actually, like a huge setting that would be perfect for a Midsummer Night’s Dream. I would love to visit them on a night of full Moon and clear skies.

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Into the walled garden.

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The rose garden within the walled garden is stunning. I love stripy flowers  too.

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And the smells and colours are a balm to the brain.

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We seem to have veered towards pink here, but why not, tired of pink, tired of life I say.

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A luscious hedge.

And below, bees doing what they do, and posing for photographs, naturally.

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Above, part of the bog garden.

To continue the colourful theme, a couple of new books I’m enjoying dipping into. A new book is such a cheering thing.

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Time to stitch?

I designed a new needlepoint a week or so ago, but I think progress is going to be rather slow with this chap. One reason is because it’s quite large, about 65cm square, and another reason is because I haven’t yet finished the one below. That’s no problem as I like to work on two at the same time, as I find it more fun to alternate work with different colour ways.

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The main reason I think it’s going to take ages to finish is that I have started to write a book for Search Press. This will be part of their Stitched Textiles Series, and will be about how I make my work and its close relationship to the natural world. So I will be making new pieces of work for it too; not needlepoint in this case.

The planning meeting was last week in their headquarters in Kent, and it was 4.5 hours of excellent enjoyment. So now it’s a lot of steady hard work for the next 9 months or so. Yes, there’s a timescale loaded with meaning…

So this blog may be slightly weird for a while, as I can’t post what I am making for the book, obviously. But there will be other things to talk about, undoubtedly.

So, back to the needlepoint- in- waiting, which is about winter and summer, and has a haiku.

A walk in winter

the dream mountains of summer

future memories.

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It’s based in part on this image of Welsh mountains, which I have gazed at on many occasions.

It’s from one of my photographs, which I then altered in Photoshop using the cutout filter in the filter gallery. There are quite a few options with this filter; I like the way it simplifies colour into blocks, giving the image the look of one of those wonderful London Transport posters.

I will probably simplify it more when stitching. The other image I wanted to use in the piece is the one below, which I converted to monochrome, as these are the tones I want to use for this area of the needlepoint. It’s a piece of work I made a few years ago, called Snow. It’s about 60 x 20 cm .

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Shown below, the images laid down on the canvas.

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Below, I cut the mountain image into sections to draw the shapes onto the canvas, as this canvas isn’t particularly see-through.

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Below, all drawn out on the canvas, ready to go.

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And a lovely selection of yarns to work with.

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Little room.

There’s a White Stripes song, 50 seconds of genius, called Little Room; it’s on their album White Blood Cells, released in 2001. I’ve always liked this song, it resonated, and it’s been jumping in and out of my head for years. It seems to have totally influenced me at last. It’s about having great ideas in your little room and thinking you need a bigger room; it’s on YouTube.

I’ve recently relocated myself into what can accurately be called the box room. It would be a big box but it’s a very small room, being 2.5 x 3.5 metres. I have been happily working in the conservatory end of the kitchen for three plus years. This was a bigger space but I gradually stopped wanting to be there.

The ethos behind the song hasn’t always been accurate for me though. I was lucky enough to have a medium sized studio in the Custard Factory annexe in Birmingham for 2 years, and then an even bigger space was offered, so I was in that studio for another two years. And my work developed and changed through having these spaces just for work, with no home distractions.

I loved the big studio, even though ceiling tiles would occasionally fall to the floor. I was never hit, which is good, as they were quite chunky. Eventually I got lonely, so moved back home. I made a lot of large work there, because I could, and I was inspired . I also started lots of projects, put them under the very large table, and eventually, when I returned home to work, these projects kept me going for about two years. You can see a door to a safe in the image below; this was a very large safe, part of the offices of the company that owned the building previously, and was about the size of my box room.

Here are a couple of views of the big studio.

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And here’s the old conservatory studio at home. I’ve decluttered a lot of materials since this was taken, and I’m happy to keep things more streamlined.

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Now I’m in a little room, back with the White Stripes vibe, and love it. I find it totally wonderful to work in. I don’t make such large work any longer; that came to a natural end, which is a relief because the house is full of it.

So here’s a tour of the little room. It won’t take long, obviously.

I love to look at artists’ work spaces and studios, it’s fascinating to see how people work. You wouldn’t find my room in Interiors magazine, or Wallpaper*, but it’s a place to get the creative work done happily, and that’s all we need. I still have the plan chest downstairs, so I’ve included a tour of its drawers too. I couldn’t manage without this at the moment. It has to stay downstairs as it’s the size and possibly the weight of a small bungalow. We had to take the door and part of the door frame off to get it into the house; I can’t see it leaving in a hurry.

This hanging, Sea Lily, is over the radiator.

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All very tidy at the moment.

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This is what’s in the little drawers.

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This large basket holds all my bondawebbed fabric. It’s surprising how much you can pack in.

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Then all this stuff goes on top.

My computer and printer are in the room too, very handy to catch up on missed radio programmes and so on. Not the Archers, I’ve given that one up.

Here are the plan chest drawers. There is a mix of work I want to keep, needlepoints waiting to be blocked, and some fabrics, as well as paper and threads. It’s a fluid environment. Yes, that’s a Clanger.

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Of course this doesn’t include my rather too large collection of finished work, which is in three top of the wardrobe cupboards, a chest, and there’s a couple of folders of design sheets and finished smaller work too, at the back of the wardrobe. One day soon I’ll get a studio sale on the go, well, that’s what I keep promising myself.

Next time, a new piece of work, conceived in the little room!

Now you see it, now you don’t.

From previous ramblings on this blog, you may have noticed that I am making work for the Art Textiles: Made in Britain group gallery in this years Festival of Quilts here in sunny Birmingham. Well I hope it is sunny in August, when the show is on. Our exhibition is called Concealed.

Well, I’ve finished my pieces, how efficient is that then! I have however had the advantage of being able to use the piece below, which I did make a couple of years ago. I made it for just one class I taught, entitled Into the Wildwood, and then put it away, but happily it’s now  found an exhibiting opportunity.

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It’s called The Secrets of Forests, and is 70 x 60 cm in size, and it’s a mixed media piece, including fabric, mulberry bark, some pieces of my small collection of old Chinese newspaper, pebbles, paper, plastic and probably other materials I’ve forgotten. It’s also stitched with added beads.

From this piece I developed two other pieces for the show, using text I wrote especially, and images digitally printed onto Khadi paper. These works are both mounted onto 60 x 60 cm canvases; we are each making two such pieces of work, based upon the title Now you see it, now you don’t.

I used Photoshop to manipulate and layer images of this work and other images I had photographed, and stitched the pieces using machine and hand stitch.

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So with my book Concealed Revealed, I think that’s that. I hope you can come to see us, I strongly suspect the range of work will be wonderful.

Concealed Revealed almost finished.

I’ve been posting about this artist’s book for some time now, and fortunately, for all of us, it’s nearly finished. I just have the binding to do, for which I am using the plaited string and holes method. This will suit the mood of the book, which is made using handmade Khadi paper, and is also all hand stitched. I wrote the haiku first, and built the book around them.

I have enjoyed using the very hand made methods in conjunction with the digital images which comprise the structure of the pages.

Here’s the cover.

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The cover and all the pages, ready to be bound.

Below, the title page.

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And the remainder of the finished pages.

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I’ve also just finished a large canvas which is about to go to Minerva Arts Centre/Quilt Association in Llanidloes, Wales, as part of the Art Textiles: Made in Britain ‘Identity’ touring show. The show runs from April 30-May 30.

We each made a canvas to be displayed on the outside of the gallery at the Festival of Quilts where the show debuted in 2014, but my canvas was spotted by Lynette Anderson of Lynette Anderson Designs and now lives in Australia.

This is its replacement, Wildwood I, Into the Light.

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Art Textiles: Made in Britain have a gallery at the Festival of Quilts again this year, at the NEC, Birmingham, England. We are working with the title ‘Concealed’, and the book will be on show there.

It was showtime, folks.

Well the Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch show at the NEC is over, and a very busy time it was. I always enjoy talking to people, many of whom I only see at these shows. It’s great to catch up with them.

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There were some excellent stands at the show, including Nolitex, Tina Francis, Kim Thittichai, Susan Chapman, Tangent Textiles, Eclectica, Amanda Hislop, Angie Hughes, Helen McCook and indeed more. If you didn’t manage to visit, I would say try to go next year, it’s more than worth it.

This is the last show with my own stand that I will be doing for a while, as I have other projects which will take up my time for a while.

Here are a few images of the show being set up. It’s not something visitors usually see, hopefully, so I thought it may be fun to post them. The day before when all the stands are being constructed and the halls are full of fork lift trucks is also amazing, as it looks as if nothing is ever going to come together.

But it does, and when you walk in on the first day it’s open, all is ready.

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Thanks again to my pals Julie Ball, Bernice Hopper and Sue Bibby for their help and support.