Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Weaving buildings, stitching circles

I've posted before (here and here) about the series of stitched weavings I been doing recently based on a starkly graphic modern office block I saw last year in Darling Harbour in Sydney. This building along with many others has triggered thoughts and inspired me for more than a year now.

Since our visit to Australia, I've become fascinated by the contrasting impact on the environment of modern life with its buildings, roads, factories and cities and the minimal trace of others such as the aboriginal peoples who have lived in Australia for over 50,000 years. This piece is part of my exploration of ways to represent this in my work. The strips echo the structure of the modern building and the circle, a significant symbol in aboriginal work, represents a water hole or meeting place. The hand stitched lines are intended to suggest their wandering 'songlines'.

The above is the latest piece in this series. I have been working to improve the simplicity and impact of the work, so that the the imagery and contrasting yarns I use are the focus. It's awaiting mounting and framing and a final decision on what to do (if anything) with the warp threads. While I think, it's sitting where I can see it in my work room so it nags at my consciousness.

Two earlier pieces in the series were exhibited in the John Bowen Gallery, Malmesbury until the end of last week.

I wove all these pieces on a simple table loom in strips which I can hold on my knee as I work. I then stitched them together as I wanted to replicate the sharp edges I'd noticed in the building. It was a fairly intuitive almost painterly process in which I reacted to the textiles as they evolved and sometimes unpicked strips that seemed 'wrong'. I then stitched the fine lines and especially the circle onto the woven surface since I wanted them to be finer and more delicate than was possible by weaving in order to suggest the aboriginal 'light touch'.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Cropping black and white

Here I have more 6 cm square croppings of rejected intaglio prints to produce something hopefully useful, this time in brown/black and white.

They are very different these from the ones I posted on Thursday obviously because of their lack of colour but particularly since they don't suggest landscapes to me - unusual for me when I attempt this exercise.

Perhaps surprisingly, I also found it more difficult to find satisfying croppings in these abstract prints than in those I cropped for the last post.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Cropping to advantage

On Tuesday, I spent the morning turning unhappy prints into much happier cards through use of a window and selective cropping to produce small images which I then mounted on hammer finish card stock.

This process brings double advantage and is one I often use on left over photos and small pieces of stitch. It makes something useful out of a piece that might otherwise have ended up in the wastepaper basket and it makes me look at those parts of the print (or other work) that worked well, thus giving food for thought for the next time.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Unease banished!

Following a most helpful comment from Olga Norris, I have rotated the last post's drawing right.

What a transformation ... and a relief! Now I can look at the image objectively. The monster is reduced to just a trace and there is an optimistic suggestion of growth.

This change led me to ponder on how extraordinary it is that a difference in orientation can create such a change in emotional response ... and a further thought about the link between what we see and our imagination.

Also, it brings a tip to remember!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Sketching and unease

The other day, I spent an hour sketching with a friend on a quiet country lane near where we live. It was a lovely, sunny autumn afternoon and the colours of the trees were beautiful.

For some reason I now can't explain, I chose to draw a rock that was topped by a large tree and in part overgrown with ivy. Its roots were intertwined and exposed. It was the pattern they made that enticed me, I think. I drew for a quarter of an hour, absorbed in creating the shapes of the roots and the deep shadows underneath. Then I stopped and looked at what I'd done.

The shapes on the page resembled something most unexpected and rather disturbing. A grotesque face was looking left out of the drawing. Monstrous and Hobbit-like, it felt like a haunting. I found I couldn't ignore what I'd seen. The peace was gone and I didn't continue.

Strange what the eye and brain register. I still feel the same unease when I look at the drawing now - not one for saving, except perhaps as a reminder of the strange ways of the mind.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

GWE 2 - Eyecatchers

Here I'm showing individually and in detail several pieces from the exhibition by Great Western Embroiderers that particularly caught my eye as we were hanging. They chose themselves because of the differences in underpinning idea, technique and presentation that were used and the emotional impact they made on me.

The overall theme within which we were working was landscape in all its forms - panoramic and close up, mapped, abstracted and pictorial, of sea, town and city, and rural. It was fascinating to see how differently each member interpreted the brief.

First of all, there is A Journey in East Sussex, a most thoughtful mapped hand stitched piece by Anne Carter. I have included it here because of the glimpses of rich meaning for her which underpin it. She said of this work, 'This piece began when I walked a labyrinth on a retreat and then began to connect that with a map from Forest Row where I used to live. The result combines ideas, not just of a physical journey, but of a spiritual journey too'. I found discussing this piece with her most affecting. 

Next, I enjoyed a hanging book form by Ruth Hayman entitled An Alternative Landscape. I've shown her work before and as so often, I was taken by her 3 D interpretation of the theme. In this gallery, we are pretty much restricted to flat pieces which hang on the wall but Ruth managed to find an ingenious way round this problem. This piece features a brightly coloured painted and folded canvas surface onto which Ruth has transposed a language of landscape marks in print, hand stitch and drawing.

Then there is an instantly recognisable and delicious seascape, And the Sea Rolls In by Margaret Sadler. For this, she used recycled fabric with machine and hand embroidery. I particularly enjoyed the perspective achieved with colour and texture and was immediately taken in my mind to a favourite place on the north coast of Devon where I've stood many times and seen these richly changing colours. I could almost smell the sea and hear the breaking surf ...

And then follows a series of three pieces: Marlborough Downs by Maggie Harris. These are beautifully delicate landscapes with machine embroidery and acrylic paint on cotton. I think these need to be seen to be enjoyed fully but I found them very gentle and calming and greatly enjoyed the colour palette. 

Last of all come two pieces by Pat Roberts. Pat's current work often features idealised landscapes using appliqué with richly textured colour and embellishment. The first of these, Far Horizons, we chose to feature on our exhibition poster as it seemed to sum up what the group is about, featuring as it does both machine and hand embroidery. 

And the last, Jurassic Coast, Pat describes as 'a landscape as seen from the sea'. It was completed following a workshop delivered to the group earlier this year. I particularly enjoyed the use of stitch to create texture.

This selection represents a very personal view of the exhibition. It remains open until Thursday 24 November.