Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Time to Play

My Stitched Collage Box from a workshop with Anne Brooke

As usual I've been busy with all sorts of different projects including workshops, an exhibition and a new and expanded role at Prism Arts. All this activity has left me feeling stretched a little thin and in need of a bit of a pick me up. Like many creative people it can be difficult to find the balance between your personal practice, the work you really want to do and the work that pays the bills (not to mention having time for a personal life.) I like the variety of my work and enjoy all the different aspects but inevitably there are times when the balance swings too far in one direction and this can be quite stressful.

Anne demonstrating and a selection of her boxes

Making the basic net for the box

Stitching the net together

Because I've had so many deadlines recently it's felt a bit stressful and like I didn't have much freedom in my work, I've had to work on particular projects in order to meet these deadlines even if it wasn't what I really wanted to be working on at that point. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, I find a deadline helps focus the mind and can make me more productive but sometimes it can be a bit too much. Hopefully I'm now entering a slightly quieter period so can focus a bit more on what I want to do rather than what I have to do.

Cutting and sticking

Cutting and stitcking


This also means a bit of time to play. Artists in particular often talk about play and it can seem like an unimportant, frivolous activity but actually play is really important. Children learn the skills they'll need in later life through playing; as adults we tend to neglect this side of our lives but it's important to keep playing as it helps you to keep learning. Of course the type of play changes, now play for me means trying different techniques and ideas in my art rather than hanging off the monkey bars (not that I was ever very good at that!)


Main box and lining ready to be joined

A really good way to make sure you get your creative 'playtime' is to go on a workshop. One of the reasons I enjoy being part of my local branch of the Embroiderers Guild is that it gives me the opportunity to take part in lots of different workshops with lots of different tutors. I try to do as many of the workshops as I can because you never know what you'll learn and it's good to challenge yourself to try something different. It's also a good way to pick up teaching tips for when I'm running my own workshops! I've been programme secretary for the past two years at the branch which has given me a chance to book some really interesting and exciting workshops.

My box (front)

My box (top)

My box (side)

For our October workshop I'd booked Anne Brooke, a very talented textile artist based in West Yorkshire, to run her 'Stitched Collage Boxes' workshop for us. I was really looking forward to the workshop and it was even better than I expected. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, a chance to try something a bit different without the pressure of making a piece for anything in particular; just for fun. I felt so relaxed making my box, Anne is a really good tutor and shared lots of hints and tips but also left plenty of room for us to do things our own way. Everyone's piece is different, reflecting our own tastes and interests.

My box (side)

My box (side)

My box (open)

One of my favourite things about this workshop was that involved several of my favourite activities; first one being cutting and sticking. I love collage and really enjoyed playing around with different materials and layouts before moving on to another of my favourite activities; stitching. I also enjoyed the challenge of thinking about how a flat piece would look when it was made up into a 3D piece. I'm really pleased with my finished box and it's given me some new ideas of things to try as well as being a very enjoyable activity in itself. After my playtime I feel enthused and excited about getting back into my studio and creating new work.

All the boxes made on the workshop, ready to be finished

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