Thursday, 16 March 2017

Precious Leaves: Exhibition

Work in progress at Carleton Day Centre

I've been working on projects with the Wednesday Art Group at Carleton Day Centre for a number of years now and they're one of my favourite groups to work with. This group (which is a partnership project between Prism Arts and Carlisle Day Services) is comprised of adults with profound disabilities and their support staff I'm always inspired by the enthusiasm and hard work of this group. Over time their confidence and skills have developed hugely so it's always exciting going in and hearing their ideas.

Using water soluble fabric and small pieces of sheer fabrics to make 'sandwiches'

Using water soluble fabric and small pieces of sheer fabrics to make 'sandwiches'

Using water soluble fabric and small pieces of sheer fabrics to make 'sandwiches'
Over the past year they've been working with another of Prism Arts artist on some clay work. They used leaves to make impressions on the clay and then used these leaves to make decorative plaques and bowls. The group is very inspired by the natural world and in particular the wildlife and landscape of Cumbria.

Adding machine embroidery

Machine embroidery 

Dissolving the water soluble fabric

I was particularly impressed with the bowls and for the block of textiles work I was running with the group asked if they'd like to develop this work using machine embroidery and water soluble fabric. They were keen on this idea so we worked with a combination of sheer fabrics, water soluble fabric and embroidery to create a series of delicate bowls. This gave the group a chance to develop their existing skills as well as trying something new. One of the things I love about the bowls is how they change depending on the light, the shadows they cast are almost as beautiful as the bowls themselves.

Forming the bowl shape

Finished bowls

Finished bowl

A couple of the group then wanted to develop the bowl idea in more substantial fabrics and using hand stitch. We used felt (one person used handmade felt from a previous project and another used commercial felt) as a base and experimented with applying sheer fabric over the top and using a simple cut and wrap technique to form the shape of the bowls. They were then embellished with hand stitching. The bowls clearly relate to the smaller bowls whilst having a different character.

Applique and hand embroidery on felt

Applique and hand embroidery on felt

Applique and hand embroidery on felt

The group have exhibited their work a number of times for various projects, for example they have been part of Prism Arts C-Art exhibitions, have had a show at Carleton Day Centre (where they are based) and were part of a project with Tullie House, The Wetlands Trust and Prism Arts. Way back last April when we were planning what the group would do for the year it was very clear that exhibiting their work was a very important aspect of the project. I looked at different venues and approached Carlisle Archives who were happy to work with us.

Clay work on display at Carlisle Archive Centre

Work on display at Carlisle Archive Centre

Textile work on display at Carlisle Archive Centre

Previously when the group have exhibited the artists working with them have installed the work but showing at the archives gave the group the opportunity to come down and install the work themselves, an important development for them. We have used two of the archives display cases as the work on show is mostly 3D. Having the work in proper glass cases draws attention to and shows the value of the work created. We called the exhibition 'Precious Leaves' as the work created has a jewel like, precious quality and was inspired by leaves! The work is on show until the end of March so if you're in Carlisle please do pop into the archive centre and have a look. The group are already busy planning their next project!

Textile work on display at Carlisle Archive Centre

Beautiful shadows


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