Wednesday 31 December 2014

Tullie House Workshop: Mixed Media books inspired by Anselm Kiefer

Experimenting with different papers

I've been a bit behind on my blogging recently so over the past couple of weeks I have been catching up. I usually like to write up what I've been doing straight afterwards so that it is fresh in my mind but sometimes I just don't feel like it! Sometimes it's good to blog afterwards as it gives you a bit of time to think things over and reflect on things. I started blogging as I was doing so many different things and I wanted somewhere to record and share what I'd been up to and I find it really useful, it's also good to be able to look back through my posts and see all the different things I've done and how I felt about them at the time.

Tea and cutting and sticking. Happiness!

Some of our prepared papers

Anyway, on with the post! I did a workshop for Tullie House in November that I haven't written about yet. It was a bit odd as there was only one participant and not only that but the workshop was part of a much bigger project so the project co-ordinator was there too meaning two of us to one participant. Despite this it was actually a really good day, lots of exciting ideas came out of it and we experimented a lot. I'd worked with the project co-ordinator before on a community arts project a few years ago so it was good to catch up and work together again.


...and envelopes were recurring themes

In February Tullie House have got a big Anselm Kiefer exhibition coming up in partnership with Artist Rooms. I' really excited about this exhibition as Kiefer's work and his approach to art making are really interesting and inspiring. It's especially exciting as I've been asked to get involved in several of the engagement projects running alongside the exhibition. This workshop was for a project working with disadvantaged young people and I was asked to give them a brief introduction to his work and then run a practical workshop. The idea was that this introductory workshop would help us gather a group of participants to work on a bigger piece in the New Year which could be shown with the Kiefer exhibition.

Experimenting with sculpture ideas

Experimenting with sculpture ideas

Throughout his career Kiefer has made books and he is famous for the range of unusual materials he uses in his work so I decided to do the workshop on mixed media book making. As we only had the one participant the workshop ended up being more of a creative experimentation day, we played around with different materials, talked through lots of different ideas and generally just had a good creative time. We focused on making different surfaces that we would then be able to work into and make into books. At the end of the session we had an interesting array of surfaces and papers to work on in future workshops and a whole load of ideas for larger pieces. We also made envelope books to use as little sketchbooks to keep with us and record our ideas. I really hope that more people can be recruited as this a project with a lot of potential.

Envelopes made of different papers ready to make a sketchbook

Sunday 28 December 2014

Gallery Artemis: An exciting opportunity for me

Feather Fan, 2014
Pen on tracing paper

A couple of weeks ago on the way back from my birthday weekend away Mr. Stitches and I stopped off in Cockermouth. This is one of my favourite places, it's such a lovely quirky little town with good shops, nice places to eat and it's very picturesque. A couple of friends had told me about a new gallery called Gallery Artemis so I considered it destiny calling when, having found a parking space, we got out the car almost directly in front of the gallery.

Mounted, framed, ready to go...

Hands Knitting, 2014
Machine Embroidery on silk organza

Detail: Hands Knitting, 2014
Machine Embroidery on silk organza

Gallery Artemis is a lovely space, it is fresh and light but also feels very welcoming. Although it is painted all white the work, the wood floors and the layout mean that it doesn't feel cold or off putting, as some white gallery spaces can be. There is a great selection of work in a wide range of media so there really is something for everyone. Whilst we were in the gallery we got talking to the owner, who is very friendly and helpful. With a bit of nudging from Mr. Stitches I mentioned that I was an artist and she asked what kind of work I do. When I said drawing and textiles she said she was looking for another textile artist and was having a drawing exhibition in the new year and would I like to bring some work in.

White Feather, 2014
Gel pen on tracing paper

Small Feathers, 2014
Pen on paper

Scruffy Crow
Ink and acrylic paint on paper

Obviously I was very excited and said I would like that very much. Later that day I had an email saying she'd been looking at my website and some of the pieces she'd like to display in the gallery. So, the past two weeks (as well as that whole festive thing going on) have involved framing, mounting and generally panicking about my work. It has been a very useful experience as it's made me really think about how I present my work and in future I think I will be a bit more aware of this when I'm making work. As I have a tendency to work with whatever I have to hand it sometimes means that work is hard to mount as there is no room round the edge, for instance. It's also made me resolve a couple of pieces including the stitched hands piece, which has been floating around my studio waiting for me to do something with it!

Hands Knitting
Graphite on prepared paper

Female Nude, 2013
Pen on paper

Kneeling Man, 2013
Pen on paper

Yesterday we headed back out to Cockermouth with a car full of work and a very nervous me. Handing over your work to be put up in a real gallery that real people go and visit and buy from is, in all honesty, a little bit scary as well as exciting!

All that Glitters is not Gold, 2014
Screen print, hand embroidery and beading on cotton

Hail to the Thief, 2014
Machine embroidery on dyed, painted and printed silk organza

Once we got there Yvette soon put me at ease and I left feeling really excited and inspired. I've worked really hard to get to this point and it's exciting to have an outlet for my work. The drawing exhibition is going to be up from 2nd January until 14th February so if you're in the area please do go and have a look, it's such a great space I'm sure you'll love it! Some of my textile pieces will also be up in the gallery and they do generally look better in real life than the photographs. This is an exciting start to the New Year for me (I know it technically hasn't started yet but we're not far off) and I look forward to seeing what other opportunities come my way.

Some of my brooches will also be available for sale in the gallery

Some of my brooches will also be available for sale in the gallery

Sunday 21 December 2014

Life Drawing 9.12.14

Pen, continuous line

My last Life Drawing session of the year and the end of the first set of sessions in a new venue. Moving to the Prism Arts Studios has been a very positive step, it's a great space and is more accessible as it is in the centre of town. It is interesting how the venue affects the session as almost everyone has commented on how much more inspiring the space is and how much they like it, which is great and really helps foster a good environment and atmosphere for the sessions. The models also prefer the space and it is certainly much nicer for them to have a more private space to be able to change in.

Pen, continuous line

Red pen, continuous line

Despite the weather being horrible (strong winds and rain) there was still a good group of us and our model, Jude, gave us some excellent poses. I found it a bit of a frustrating session as I struggled to find my drawing mojo, it was especially frustrating as I really loved the poses but couldn't produce the results I wanted! The combination of a bad week (I know it was only Tuesday but believe me it had been a very bad week until that point) and not having been keeping up with my daily drawing meant that I was quite tense and found it hard to just let my lines flow. I did loosen up as the session progressed and I did do some drawings I'm quite pleased with. It has also got me back into my daily drawing so silver linings and all that!

Red pen, continuous line

Permanent marker, continuous line

Reclining, permanent marker
As usual I worked in pen and mostly continuous line, switching from my favoured uni-ball eye pens to a permanent marker when I got too frustrated with my out of practice/stressed drawings! I did quite a lot of feet this session, some more successfully than others, as I couldn't seem to get hands right at all.

Pen, continuous line

One thing I really like about going back through my drawings to photograph them after a session is the 'accidental' drawings. As I frequently do more than one sketch on a piece of paper I sometimes find these funny compositions, like the picture above where there appears to be a hand resting on the models back. It is actually two separate drawings but they've merged together to make a new one.

Friday 19 December 2014

No Borders: Applied Textiles #2

Weaving on a peg loom

Fabric collage

I have recently finished my most recent block of sessions with the No Borders art group at Carleton Day Centre. I am so impressed with the work they have achieved in these sessions, it is so rewarding to see how much they have developed and improved not just in this block but since I first worked with them over three years ago. One of the things I find most satisfying is how confident they are becoming in their choices; rather than asking me what they should do they will now ask what I think of a particular idea which is a huge leap forward.



Giving it all a go!

Having worked with the group over the summer on some felt making I was very keen to keep this block very open and to let them direct how the work would progress. We started off by looking at different samples and examples of textile work and by making some thread wraps.

Thread wrapping a branch

The finished branch


One member of the group in particular really took to this technique and created a beautiful sculptural thread wrapped branch. Her use of colour is very instinctive and I particularly like her way of combining different textured yarns and threads. This member of the group was then inspired by the work of one of the others and went on to create a small fabric collage which she turned into a cushion.

Fabric collage, tacked ready for sewing


The finished cushion

Another member of the group, who has been part of No Borders since I first started working with them, was very clear about what she wanted to do. In my very first block of sessions I had introduced her to embroidery and then we'd never had chance to develop the work as our other sessions focused on different techniques. So, this block provided the ideal opportunity to have another go. She began by making a beautiful fabric collage which she overlaid with a sheer fabric and she is painstakingly working on covering it with embroidery. It is very inspiring to see the concentration and commitment to the work and how proud she is of the beautiful results of her efforts.

Laying out the fabric collage

Starting to embroider the tacked collage


Another member of the group who has also been working with me since my first lot of sessions was also very clear about what she wanted to do; weaving with the peg looms. We had done some weaving back in my first sessions with the group and I was pleased that she had remembered and wanted to develop the work further. She decided to work with strips of fabric rather than thread to create a more substantial piece of weaving. Again, the level of concentration and commitment to the work was amazing. Weaving can be quite a slow growing process but she worked so hard that by the end of the block we had this beautiful piece of work to show. This person has a real love of bright colours and bold textures which shines through in her work, I love the exuberance and tactile nature of this piece of weaving.

Setting up the loom

Working on the loom

The finished woven piece

The fourth and newest member of the group had not really done any textile work before so during the sessions we looked at a few different techniques and produced several smaller pieces of work. As well as having a go at the thread wrapping he also had a go at working with fabric pastels and stitch and at fabric collage, producing this lovely collage overlaid with net and then cut back into and embellished with buttons.

Trying it out: Stitching into cloth coloured with fabric pastels

Trying it out: Thread wrapping

Trying it out: Fabric Collage

As always it has been such a pleasure working with this group, as well as enjoying the sessions themselves and seeing the participants develop it has also inspired my own practice, reminding me of semi forgotten techniques and sparking off new ideas. In March I will be helping the group curate an exhibition and I just can't wait!