Books, all about that space and next week is show time, folks.

I’m frequently in the mood these days to edit possessions and move a few things along, mainly due to having accumulated what seems now to be too much stuff over the years, as one does, and aren’t we lucky to have been able to do so. Also because last year the task of clearing out my mother in law’s house left me thinking that I didn’t want to ever cause anyone else that much work. She was clean and tidy but I think had kept everything she had ever owned. I look back and I’m not sure how we did it.

These days I also like space and empty corners and room in drawers and cupboards too; I feel considerably more relaxed when not surrounded by heaps of possessions; to think I used to love a dresser with lots of bits and pieces displayed on it. I like the way I’ve changed though, it’s interesting to work with it.

It’s an ongoing thing, and I don’t miss things that have gone, in fact there has been so much moved along over the past 5 years or so that I can’t remember it anyway; I love to see those bags and boxes going out of the door; in fact I often think how did it all fit in our not exactly huge house?  And of course it’s great to appreciate and enjoy and use what remains.

I have let a few books go over the past couple of years. I do regret a couple of them leaving, and so I’ve decided that I’m not letting any more go; I think that’s where I will draw my decluttering line. I still hope that I’ll have time at some point to actually sit and look through some books the way I used to; I like computers, but I still love the printed book, feeling less urgency to scroll down or skip through the text, and more relaxed about looking at and appreciating images. Of course there is also the pleasure of the book as object, which is something I increasingly explore in my work.

So I was almost pleased recently when hearing that the printed book was far from dead, due to the instability of digital storage. I hope the latter isn’t true though, but I don’t want the printed book to disappear either. This does lead to a conundrum of sorts, as the space that digital storage takes up in the average home is nothing compared to a few shelves of books, let alone all our other possessions, and all we need for making art, too, and indeed a lot of the art we have already made, which can become a huge storage problem if you make large work; this is something I will have to think about seriously in the very near future.

I’ve been preparing some work on canvases for an upcoming show. The pieces are over a year old, but I liked them and wanted to mount them properly. The pieces are based on the rainforest, and when they were finished the black painted canvases I mounted them on were too dull, so they received the printed treatment. They are now very active, which I prefer; I like to think a jungle theme can handle excess quite happily. At least they are jollier, no need here for minimalism. They are each 40 x 40 cm.


More canvases on the left there too, for my new work which I’ll be starting soon.

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Space is something that is important in art, and I tend to spend ages, when I am making a piece of work, moving pieces of paper, fabric or other materials around, trimming, subtracting, and making sure that the space is used in the way that pleases me and carries the idea of the piece in the best way possible.

Collage suits me perfectly; I’ve been watching The Big Painting Challenge, and the rather grim and humourless judges would throw me out straight away, as I would rather paint a bunch of canvases and then cut them up to make some collaged work.

I’m gradually filling the hall and kitchen with boxes and Ikea bags, as I’ll be at the Embroidery, Fashion and Stitch show at the NEC Birmingham next week, Thursday 19 – Sunday 22 March. I have become the proprietor of a much larger stand than I was originally alloted, so that should be fun. There is a lot more wall space to handle than I have ever had before.

It’s ZL20, should you feel like visiting. I’ve just realised this is another addition to the discussion on space that seems to be progressing through this blog entry.

Going back to books, I’ve produced a facsimile of my mixed media artist’s book Shadow and Light. This book was at the Festival of Quilts last year, in the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery.

My intention was to make the printed copies into limited edition artist’s books in their own right. All the original pages of the book are there in this version, as well as new pages I have designed especially for the printed book. I have printed the pages on a lovely mix of papers and acetate too, to make it as beautiful and interesting as possible. It’s A4 landscape, with 88 pages, wire bound.

I’ll be taking some copies to the show, and the original book will be there too. Here are some images.

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I’m preparing another book or two too, one of which is a little workshop manual about making mixed media artists’ books, which will hopefully be out soon.


17 thoughts on “Books, all about that space and next week is show time, folks.

  1. Oh my goodness – those canvas are stunning Steph and have my little heart beating with excitement .. glorious old froggy. Am gutted I won’t see them at the NEC – will have to ctach them somewhere. Also excitied about your limited edition artist books – I want one reserving – how much are they an dI will send a cheque. Totally cheered me up has this post xx

  2. Well done Steff for stepping up. Love all the work here and I’m only sorry that I can’t manage the NEC… just too hard, 😦

  3. Your work is so very beautiful. I would love to visit it in England someday. Hope you have a great show & sale. Happy creating.

  4. Looks like I need to get in the queue for that workshop manual when it’s printed Steph. Put me on the list! What a lot to take in with this post. So much to absorb but all good stuff. Love the bits about moving things on. It is cathartic to let go of ‘stuff’ and I’ve done the same this year. Feels very ‘freeing’ if there is such a word. Good luck at the NEC next week!

    1. Thanks Lesley, pleased you enjoyed it. I’ll blog when the workshop manual is ready. Freeing is exactly the word I would use to describe having a good old declutter, and it keeps the charity shops going too! Will you need another book though…hope so!

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