Wednesday 28 December 2016

Reflections, Resolutions and Revolutions

Winter blossom in my garden

I started this blog as a way to record all the different projects and things I'm involved in and all the different things I make and do. Over time it has changed and developed, as I have, and has been used for different purposes. Purposes such as recording, documenting, sharing and venting. I've hardly blogged at all over the last few months, not so much because I've been too busy (I'm always busy!) but because I'd lost sight a little of the point of this blog. Whilst sharing is one of it's purposes it's not the main reason I keep it going, it's main point is to give me a place to write openly about my work and therefore myself.

Spinning: I've now been spinning just over a year


Hand spun

I've worked on some challenging projects this year and there are a lot of projects I haven't written up for various reasons, including that some of them have been very difficult and I've struggled to take the positives from them. This has led to me having a backlog of draft posts and the feeling that I shouldn't write anything new until I'd written up the older stuff. However, as it's the time of year for reassessment and new beginnings I took some time to think about my blog. Why did I need to write up those projects? What would happen if I did? What would happen if I didn't? Of course the answer is that my blog posts are only really important to me, it's great if other people read them and take something from them but ultimately the contents of this blog are mine and so it's up to me to decide what I want to put out there. Posting or not posting about a project or piece of work does not make it any more or less valid or important.

Walking and collecting natural materials has been a key inspiration this year

Wintry Gelt Woods

There's always green somewhere

This train of thought led to me deciding to delete all my draft posts, write this post and start afresh. If anyone is interested; almost all my projects are documented in visual form over on my Flickr account so you could head over there if you really want to know what I've been up to!

Knitting my hand spun yarn

2016 has been a tumultuous year in many ways for many people, I think we've all been forced to sit up and take note and maybe reassess some quite important beliefs. On a personal and professional level I've had a good year and I've learnt a lot. I've had some great opportunities this year and I feel that I've really taken a step forward.

I'm lucky to live in such a beautiful place

One of my biggest highlights is having my exhibition at RSPB Geltsdale, this has been so positive for me on many levels and I'm hoping to build on this in the coming year. It's given me an opportunity to focus on my personal practice and build a body of work and seeing it all up and on display has been a huge confidence boost. I've also received some really lovely feedback which has helped inspire me to push forward.

Exhibition Poster

I have two main aims for 2017, they are sort of resolutions but more a shift in thinking and acting. Firstly I aim to prioritise creativity; it is, I believe, an essential thing for all of us to express our creativity but too often it gets put to the bottom of the to do list. My whole life is built around my creativity yet still I get sucked into bad habits and neglect to make time to experiment and explore.

Jay, 2016

Secondly I am aiming to live a more 'local' life and be a positive part of my community. Political events this year have led to me wanting to withdraw and back away and I have lost a lot of what faith I did have in 'the system.' My answer is to do what I can in my life; I can't change the world on my own and I'm not big enough or brave enough to tackle the system but what I can do is be kind, considerate and careful of the people and the environment I live in.

Thank you for reading and I wish you all a very happy and peaceful New Year!

Wednesday 7 December 2016

As the Crow Flies

Exhibition Poster

It's fair to say I've been a bit remiss with my blogging recently. I've had lots to write about but I just haven't felt like it. There have been several quite big projects I've worked on and haven't blogged about and because I haven't written about them it put me off writing about other things until I had, which is a bit silly really but there you go.

Wire sculptures: Flight I and II

Flight II

Sculptures and drawings

Anyway, for the past few months I've been busy working on my first solo exhibition. This has been both really exciting and really stressful! I often find that my personal practice gets shunted to the bottom of the 'to do' list so having this exhibition has been a great opportunity to move it up the list and to spend some time in the studio working. The exhibition is at the visitor centre at RSPB Geltsdale, it's a lovely little gallery space with great light and as it is quite an irregularly shaped room there are lots of small wall sections, allowing me to break the work into 'mini exhibitions.' The reserve itself is also very beautiful and there are lots of good walks.

My Magpie triptych. From left to right: Curiosity, In the Shadows, Hail to the Thief

Detail: Curiosity

In the Shadows

Having this show has given me an opportunity to review my work and processes as well as to try out some new things and consolidate some existing ideas. I decided fairly early on to not attempt too dramatic a departure from what I'd been working on and so have focused on refining some of my ideas and techniques and developing current ways of working. It's also provided the perfect opportunity to build a coherent body of work, something I've been trying to do for a while.

Cyanotype pieces

I chose to focus my show on my crow pieces because this has been the main focus of my work for a long time now and this seemed like a good chance to bring it all together. The show is a mixture of drawings, textiles and sculpture.

Chough (applique and machine embroidery)

Rook (Paint and machine embroidery)

Jackdaw (paint, dye, print and machine embroidery)

I was really nervous about hanging the show, Although I'd planned it all out I couldn't be sure how it would all work together and what it would look like but I'm really happy. It came together better than I expected and I'm pleased with how all the pieces work together. There are of course always things that could be improved but overall I feel good about my show and I'm excited about it. I also feel that it's given me a confidence boost and a good incentive to keep going and move my work forwards.

Jay (fabric pastels and hand embroidery)

Crow (fabric markers, paint and hand embroidery)

Some practical notes: If you'd like to visit the exhibition it is free (although donations to the centre are gratefully received.) There is a free car park and the visitor centre (Stagsike Cottage) is about 1 mile walk along a reasonable track from the car park. You can park up at the centre by special arrangement, please contact them for details.

View from the visitor centre