Stories of the Bowerbird.

I have an exhibition coming up at Queen Street Gallery, Neath, Wales in May this year. It’s a brilliant gallery run by Bethan Ash, the famous textile artist who makes enviably wonderful work, and is a fellow member of Art Textiles: Made in Britain. She hosts many excellent exhibitions and workshops.

I’ve called my exhibition Stories of the Bowerbird. I do love a title. It’s not all about bowerbirds, although they are joyous and far cleverer than I will ever be. But some have crept into the work I’m making: I can’t help it, being an illustrative type of person.

Here’s my statement about the show.

Collecting ideas and impressions from nature has always been the basis of my practice as an artist. I work with mixed media, including stitched textiles, sculpture and ceramics. My sculptural works incorporate wire and textiles, paper, plastic, ceramics, found objects, recycled and natural materials, and are often based upon woven nests. The bowerbird of the title is an analogy for my use of the variety materials and inspirations I collect which then lead to finished pieces, the realisation of these processes.

I started with gathering a few materials and making some collage postcards, which I did intend to stitch, but have decided to just keep them as inspiration, and this is what they have proved to be.

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Below is a now broken piece of ceramic that I made and painted some years ago, which will be incorporated into a piece of work.

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I’ll be adding more mixed media to my work for the show, and hope to make some sculptural pieces too.

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Here’s a nice selection of materials ready to go. This piece and two others do feature actual bowerbirds! I intended to make a top with the fabric but there wasn’t quite enough, so it’s going to be pictures instead.

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Here’s the first, laid out and ready to stitch. I printed the fabric using a home made print block and acrylic paint, adding porcelain pieces, and appliquéd mixed fabrics.

And to finish, a couple of completed hoops, with Japanese silk birds, quite a few beads, and digitally printed fabrics from images of collages.

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Happy art making everyone!

10 thoughts on “Stories of the Bowerbird.

  1. Absolutely love the 2 hooped pieces, the birds are beautiful and the beading adds so much.

  2. Hi Stef,

    I wish the exhibition was nearer. The work is looking fantastic.I think you need to exhibit in Leicester 😊
    ANYWAY, Great work.

    Dorothy

    Dr Dorothy Gibbs (in Leicestershire UK)

  3. Stephanie, thank you so much for sharing your work process and results with us, I love looking at your blog. I live in Australia, and it is great to be able to share in the wonders of your work, way over there in the UK! Since I was a child birds have always been my passion, still are (in my 60s!). Thank you again, and all the best for your new exhibition.

    1. Thank you, that’s very kind. It’s always a thrill when people like the blog, they’re not so popular these days, but I still enjoy writing it after nearly nine years.
      Birds are wonderful, that’s all I can say. I’ve just fed our garden birds, they need a lot of help these days, especially in the freezing weather we’re having at the moment. I do love exotic birds though, and envy that you live in a country with so many amazing species, including bowerbirds, which I only get to see on telly!

  4. Hi stephanie thanks so much for sharing your work so inspiring, I’m going to make some collage postcards too,such a good idea for samples and inspiration, best wishes for the exhibition, your work is amazing, Jenny x

    1. Hi Jenny, thanks! I enjoyed making the postcards as much as if not more than the bigger pieces, to be honest. You can get little books of watercolour postcards, they are lovely to work on. Real printed postcards would be fun too, I used to have quite a collection, I wish I still had them as I would use those too, the resulting work could be really interesting.

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