Sunday, 21 August 2016

Show time preparation...

Puffin, 2016
Applique and machine embroidery on linen

After a very busy first half of the year I was feeling a little flat in terms of my own personal practice, I'd enjoyed the projects I'd been working on but I'd not had much time for my own work. I got the year off to a good start with my daily drawing, keeping it going through January and February but as time went on things started to slide, as they do, and I lost the impetus a bit.

Assemblage, 2016
Painted wooden box and curated objects

Assemblage, 2016
Painted wooden box and curated objects

Assemblage, 2016
Painted wooden box and curated objects

One Sunday a couple of months ago I was meeting Mr. Stitches at the sports centre (not my natural habitat) and I saw a flyer for Carlisle Arts Fair. I'd been looking for a project that would give me an opportunity to spend some time developing my own work and provide an opportunity to share my work with others. This seemed like a good option as it was local, I'd been to one of the previous Fairs and liked it and I'd thought about doing this show anyway. I checked the submission details and realised that it was the last day for submissions so I went home, put together my submission and sent it off.

Memento I, 2016
Thread wrapped twig, feather, hand dyed indigo cloth
Memento II, 2016
Gold paint, twig, feathers, red velvet

Memento III, 2016
Gold paint, thread,  twig, feather, red velvet

I was very excited to be accepted and since then having an event to work towards has really helped me prioritise my own work and helped me feel inspired to get going and get working! I have so many different strands to my work as a whole that often my own work falls to the bottom of the list because it doesn't have a deadline as such so a specific event such as this is really helpful for me.

Starling, 2016
Fabric pastels and hand embroidery on linen

Starling, 2016
Fabric pastels and hand embroidery on linen

Starling, 2016
Fabric pastels and hand embroidery on linen

I've really enjoyed spending time in my studio drawing, stitching and making. These are the things I love doing and having time to devote to them has been really rewarding and made me realise that I need to make this more of a priority. It's also fired me up with so many ideas that I want to explore. I've focused on making work that is less conceptual for the Fair so I've been focusing more on skills and aesthetics which has been quite liberating as I've been less worried about what it all means. As I've been less worried the ideas have been flowing and I've got lots of avenues I want to explore.

Raven, 2016
Lino print, limited edition of 20

3 Small Feathers, 2016
Pen drawing on watercolour paper

2 White Feathers, 2016
White gel pen on black paper

I'm writing this post partly as a break from all the practical preparation that goes into showing work; labelling, pricing, mounting (so much tape) and so on but now I must get back to it. If you're in Carlisle next weekend it would be lovely to see you!

Starlings, 2016
Machine embroidery on linen

Gannet, 2016
Machine embroidery and fabric paint on linen

Thursday, 11 August 2016

On the Beach: The Heathlands Project Quilt 2016

'On the Beach' The Heathlands Project Quilt, 2016

Each year at The Heathlands Project I make a quilt with the members which we send off to The Festival of Quilts down at the NEC in Birmingham. Each year we do something a bit different and each year I swear we are never doing another quilt! However, it is a really good project to work on and provides the members with an opportunity to work on a big group project that can be shown to a big audience.

Laying out the felt

Laying out the felt

Laying out the felt

This year the guys chose the theme 'On the Beach' and at the suggestion of one of the other members of staff the quilt was made of felted patches. Felt making is a really great activity because it is so adaptable for a wide range of abilities and experience levels.

Rolling the felt

Making felt

Felt patch with design notes

As some members have developed their skills over the years some of them were able to make their patches more or less independently. I think this is a really positive thing and I hope that the quilt project gives them chance to try something different as well as an opportunity to show off their skills.

Individual patches

Individual patches

Individual patches

As I only work part time at The Heathlands Project I rely a lot on the other members of staff to keep the project going in my absence. I really like coming in and seeing what the other groups have been up to. It also means that more people can get involved in the project.

Individual patches

Individual patches

Individual patches

There was a really lovely range of felt patches produced with some very imaginative and inventive designs and embellishments. There were also a couple of 'joint' patches where the members worked together to make the felt. I like making the quilts in patches as it means that people can work individually if they want to but there is still lots of opportunity for collaboration.

Individual patches

Individual patches

Individual patches

Rather unusually this year it wasn't as much as a rush as usual to complete the quilt and get it down to the show. This was partly because I started the project off really early in the year and partly because I was able to delegate a lot of the making. I still did the final construction but almost everything else was done by the members, volunteers and support workers.

Laying out the patches

Detail

Detail

It's really good having the finished quilt to show off and the members look forward to it coming back and hearing the judges comments. We may need to build a bigger building though so that we have room to display all the finished quilts...

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Interconnectedness

Goose, 2015

Recently I gave a talk for the Appleby Textile Group, I entitled my talk 'The Fundamental Interconnectdness of Things' partly because I thought it sounded good and partly because the more I progress through my life the more I realise that everything is connected and that the different parts of my life all impact on one another. I haven't done many talks and it's not something I feel very confident in doing so I was nervous beforehand but I think it's good to challenge yourself sometimes and do things that are a bit scary.

Crow, 2016

The group were very friendly and welcoming and put me at ease, I found I actually enjoyed giving my talk and answering the questions the group put to me, it was an interesting opportunity to present my work to new people and see how they reacted and to get different opinions and view points. My talk was about my art practice and my participatory arts practice and how the two collide! Preparing for the talk was a good opportunity for me to reflect on my work as a whole and see connections that weren't at first obvious.

Tatted Sleeve, 2007

Pink, like the inside of things... 2007

Nests, 2014


One thing that really struck me is how reflective my work is of how I felt at the time I made it. From the wrappings and restrictive sleeve pieces I made for my degree show to the current pieces I'm making with feathers exploring transcendence I can track both my artistic and emotional progress.

Feather Collar sample, 2016

Feather Collar sample, 2016

Memento, 2016

I'm really excited about my own work at the moment, for the first time in a long while I feel confident in my work and have lots of ideas I want to explore. I've been working on letting go a bit and not worrying so much about getting everything right and this is paying off, I'm more open to just trying things which then lead onto other things rather than getting stuck trying to get it 'right' first time.

Three small feathers, 2016

Magpie Feather, 2016

My biggest challenge is finding time for my personal practice. Participatory arts is incredibly rewarding and enjoyable but requires a lot of time, thought, and emotional investment. This can mean that I don't have either the time or energy for my own practice which leads to me becoming very grumpy and frustrated. For everyone the big challenge is getting the balance right.

The Lace Space, participatory installation 2011

An important lesson I've learnt about the two strands to my work (personal practice and participatory work) is that they are interconnected and that this can be a really positive thing. When I first started working in participatory arts I saw it as quite separate to my own art practice but as I've gone on I've found that the two strands inspire and feed each other, leading to opportunities and ideas that would not have otherwise developed. Many of the sessions I've run have led to me finding something new that works in my personal practice and equally using elements of my personal practice to develop my participatory work has been very effective.

Getting out and about with Mr. Stitches

On holiday

Getting out and about with Mr. Stitches

As I said at the beginning of the post it is all the elements of my life that affect each other, not just my work. As I've found my way more in my personal life I've become happier and more confident and this has allowed my work to develop in a more positive way. The people I engage with, the place I live, the things I do all combine to make a whole life and all these different elements need time and attention, to be balanced and appreciated.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Life Drawing 19.7.16

Continuous Line

We're never quite satisfied with the weather are we? We moan about the rain and the wind, wish for the sun and then when it arrives we complain about the heat. However, it really was hot for July's life drawing session and I think we all felt rather lethargic and perhaps a little less enthusiastic than usual! As I was setting up the room I couldn't help but think that lying on the cold stone flags in the hallway would be a much more sensible way to spend the evening.

'Blind' drawing

'Blind' drawing

'Blind' drawing

'Blind' drawing

Unusually I wasn't worried about my model being too cold this session; quite the opposite and over the course of the session I could see the heat was getting to us all. We avoided dynamic poses, working with poses that involved being as stretched out and relaxed as possible. As I was due to go away on holiday the following week I was quite tired anyway and was just looking forward to doing some drawing and then going home.

Left handed drawing

Left handed drawing

'Blind' drawing

Our model for this session is quite new to modelling and so needed more prompting than I'm used to with my more experienced models. This is not such a bad thing as it forces me to give more consideration to the poses and think about how they will work from different angles, I want to ensure that all the artists get to draw a range of poses and positions and to keep the session interesting for everyone. Along with having several new artists joining the group recently I've been inspired to think more about the set up and lighting and this is something I'm looking forward to experimenting with in future sessions.

Continuous line

Continuous line

Continuous line

Partly because of the heat, partly because I was tired and partly just because that's the way it goes sometimes I wasn't really happy with my drawings this evening. I often feel dissatisfied at the time but look back and see that actually there were some good drawings. I'm not sure I can say this about this session, even looking back over the drawings I'm not very happy but one of the things that I like about life drawing is that it doesn't really matter. It's much more about the process, the turning up and observing and  taking part.

Continuous line

Continuous line

Continuous line

I have also fallen out of my daily drawing habit again and it really shows in my drawings from this evening. I'm always surprised by how much of a difference it makes drawing everyday so that's something I can get back into. I'm having a break from sessions in August but will re-start in September, I'll post the details when I've got it all booked and sorted out!

Continuous line

Continuous line

Continuous line

Continuous line