I’ve been inspired to make some new work this week, mainly due to a trip to the V&A to see Opus Anglicanum, the exhibition of English Medieval embroidery that finishes this weekend.

It’s a truly marvellous exhibition, and it will be interesting for me to see how it will directly relate to my work, with its 21st century approach.


The design and stitching of the pieces in that show is stunning. I enjoyed too the large ‘lantern’ made by the V&A and suspended over some showcases. This lantern featured the illuminated cut out names of some of the known embroiderers from the period, a touching and deserved tribute to these artists whose work is still thrilling us today.

I imagine, for me, it will be the colours, the metallic stitching, the flora and fauna in the pieces and the layout and design of the work, those floating orderly elements, that will influence me most. I won’t be attempting the tiny, tiny stitches though, I’ll be going for the XXL approach.

There were also some illuminated manuscripts in the show, which I love anyway, for the gorgeous jewelled colours of the painting, the dense handwritten text, and the sheer presence of those books. What particularly grabbed me too were the gilded edges of the pages, so vividly metallic and lustrous; that will make an appearance in a piece of work somewhere in the future, I’m sure.

But, as usual when I am in an interesting building, I do like to note other random things that attract me. The way I pick up these images is so relaxed and serendipitous that almost without exception I know they will feature in my work in some way.

I didn’t record too many on this occasion, but have added to them at home from images already on my computer, thus building a creative towering cumulus of delight. Sorry about that, it came into my head, so I used it.

Here are a few images for the first of the pieces, which I think I may call my Place project. These are for the winter piece; I can never resist a seasonal format.

The first three are sort of blurry as I took them on my ancient ‘phone, but I don’t mind, as I love this look, especially if I decide to digitally print some fabric or paper to use in the new work.

They show the library at the V&A, a view of the mosaic floor and a statue of a Medieval king; sorry to be vague about the latter, but even the V&A are not entirely sure which one, and I admit I neglected to note down the alternatives. I’ll check when I’m next there, just in case anyone needs to know…

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And below, other images that may be brought into play.

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Basically then it’s trees and a door, which made from trees. So far we have wood, stone and paper. And leaves and berries/fruit too. So there is quite a lot to work with, so I better get on with it.

Keeping up my new practice of showing some of the books I enjoy, here are this posts selection. Piper’s use of space and perspective, his shapes, the placing of chosen elements, his mixed media approach using ink, paint and collage, the broader painterly areas against finer inked detail and more graphic areas, the deeply satisfying colours he chose; amazing. When I see them in real life it’s difficult to leave the gallery.


Hitchens intense atmospheric paintings never fail to excite me; I just want to absorb them. If you are ever in a tight corner, have a look at these two artists’ work.




4 thoughts on “Inspired.

  1. What I love about you Steph is the way you make such an explosive start on things. All the ideas seem to coalesce and you are off! Mine gestate in my head so long and most never get off the ground. Ironically I am screen printing at the weekend and have some imagery from St Davids worked out to put together. It’s either going to be the pull of the medieval or good old winter hellebore drawings.
    As for Piper and Hitchens: JP drew the church in my village as well as lots of Pembrokeshire chapels so the book Piper’s Places would appeal to you. On You Tube there are two videos made by Goldmark Gallery- An Empty Stage is all about Piper and is very interesting (over 1 hour) plus they have a 20 minute one about Ivon Hitchens talking about how he lived and painted and showing some of his drawings etc. Worth making a cup of tea and sitting in front of the laptop for, honestly!

  2. Yes, the start is truly explosive, and then I cogitate and cogitate; in reality the ideas only really coalesce when I get started with the practical stuff.
    It has occurred to me too that I do post a fair amount of ‘I’m going to do this next’ content, and that not everything gets done, especially lately. I’m ok with that, as most things have a use of some sort eventually, either in work or in the sense of release I feel when I dump them.
    Thanks for the information about those films, I’ll give those a go. I’d like to own Piper’s Places, I borrowed it from the library a few times in the past.

    When I visited Pembrokeshire more frequently in the past on one occasion I picked up a small book of Piper’s church drawings. That was my introduction to his work, about 30 years ago. It still gets me.

    The St.Davids work sounds very interesting, I love that tiny city! Hellebores and medieval would work very well together…

  3. It will be interesting to see the developments on your explosive start! I think it is useful to use a blog sometimes as a sort of searchable notebook for projects. I have ideas written and sketched all over the place, but it’s the ones on the blog I can rely on finding again when I want them!

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