Monday, 30 October 2017

Silver birches

In Scotland for a few days this week, between walking and visiting friends, I’m stitching this trial piece on cotton using perlĂ© 8 and 12 threads from DMC. I’m playing with positive and negative shapes and adding a smattering of colour to suggest leaves, using small French knots ...


It comes from this photo of silver birches taken recently in the Kanaskis valley, Alberta, (where autumn was turning as we watched) and via Photoshop Elements where I enhanced the image and converted it to black and white.


 I've printed out a second copy of this small image (12.7 x 17.8 cm) and intend next to try another colour way. Such small images are quickly and easily completed and are great for exploring ideas. Scaling up later, however, can be more tricky!

Now, on a completely different topic, is anyone else having problems with Blogger? Following recent Windows and Apple updates, on my PC I'm unable to access most of the features on Layout so I can't make any changes, I find viewing on my iPad has minor glitches, posting this post on my iPad was fraught with difficulty and the Blogger app is unusable. I suspect Google have stopped supporting it ... Am I right?

So, I might just be about to change blog provider - any advice?

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

MAO Space Tapestry

When I was in Oxford recently with textile friends, we popped in to Modern Art Oxford, enticed by the promise of black and white images (I was certainly) and work on an epic scale.


On view was an exhibition of collaborative work by Aleksandra Mir called Space Tapestry: Earth Observation and Human Spaceflight. Three huge panels filled the walls and each one represented a new chapter in a long term project exploring aspects of man's exploration of space and its impact on our daily lives. The whole Space Tapestry of which these panels are just a part is 200 m long in total and its presentation was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry.

The result was most impressive and made absorbing viewing. The work is not in fact a tapestry but was described in the exhibition notes as: ' an inquiry ... realised through the analogue medium of drawing'. It was drawn entirely with a sharpie pen and it was fascinating to see the huge range of marks Mir and her assistants had managed to achieve with this simple medium.




For me, one of the most interesting aspects of this work was the fact that it was collaborative. Mir had invited a team of assistants aged 18 to 24 and at the start of their working lives to draw the panels collectively in her studio. Each one completed a small section of the work under her guidance. Their individual styles and responses could be seen within the work, yet it retained its collective whole.

This inspiring exhibition can be seen at the MOA in Pembroke Street until 24th November and is well worth a visit.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Photos and design

I've now downloaded, sorted and begun to process all my photos from my recent trips - no mean feat given that I took a giddying 6,000 plus over the summer! It will take me a long time to absorb them all and to take from amongst them images that I think have potential for textile work.

I know some different approaches will be prompted by all this but for now, while I consider my options, I've worked in familiar ways on two pictures I took of playground equipment in Port Alberni, BC. The shapes I saw in the structures and the ease of turning them into silhouettes appealed to me very much at the time.

I'm showing what I've done with them so far (much manipulation in Photoshop Elements), together with the original images.




The original images ...



I added the small amount of text prompted by a need to practise some of the skills I learnt on the online course with the Pixeladies I took earlier in the year. I see these images perhaps as part of a book project, which gave the inclusion of text some point - though for now, I'm really enjoying the experimentation.

It's good to be thinking artistically again. I've found it hard to concentrate on anything over the summer ... but I have missed it. It helps me to feel rooted!



Sunday, 15 October 2017

Away a longtime

I know I've been away a long time. The excuses are many. Among the most significant was that Photoshop course in May which took up so much of my time and seemed to send me off course a little, followed quickly by a very busy summer with many trips away of both short and long duration. Most of all though, I felt the need of a blogging rest. I'd blogged pretty much continuously for the last five years and had reached a point when I felt I had nothing new or worthwhile to say. Worst of all, writing a post had become a chore and an obligation (not sure to whom) rather than the pleasure I had felt in the past. 

On our return from our most recent trip away, I suddenly realised how much I was missing the contact with blogging friends and the sharing of thoughts and art work so I'm testing the waters and making a return, for the moment at least.


Since May, we've spent time in Scotland, had 3 weeks in France much of it with our daughter and her family, and then taken a recent trip to western Canada (first picture above) where I lived for two years in the early 1970s.

This last visit was something of a pilgrimage. It was a long planned return to old haunts on Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia and Alberta and a reunion with two sets of old friends, but also a chance to visit places I'd missed for some reason all those years ago. In total, we were away for 4 1/2 weeks and covered more than 2,500 miles in a hire car.

For the first three weeks or so when we were on the west coast, the weather was wonderful. Hardly a drop of rain fell and, day after day, the sky was cloudless and it was hot. Photography was easy ... but now I'm home, choosing from the myriad of photos (over 4,000!) is hard. I'm including here only a tiny taster of everything we saw.

There were jetties, and docks aplenty ...

The jetty at Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, BC

... harbours, boats, and reflections  ...

The harbour in Powell River BC

... numerous ferries ...

Ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay, North Vancouver BC

... peaceful coastal hikes with wonderful sea views ...

Hiking at Rebecca Spit, Quadra Island BC

... panoramic ocean views ...

Looking west out to the Pacific Ocean from Amphitrite Point on the Lighthouse Loop trail, Ucluelet BC

... dramatic waterfalls on rivers of extraordinary length (why do waterfalls always look so insignificant in photographs?) ...

Helmcken Falls, Wells Gray Provincial park, Central BC - with Canada's 4th highest single vertical drop

... mountains everywhere, some higher than others but always dramatic and often snow-capped ...

Driving south on the Icefields parkway in the Canadian Rockies towards Lake Louise, Alberta

... glaciers, barren moraines and ... cold ...

The Athabasca Glacier, Alberta

... extraordinary colours ...

Grassi Lakes, Canmore, Alberta

... and glass-like reflections ...

The rather unattractively named but very beautiful Backswamp, Banff, Alberta

... and last of all, the ultimate place to enjoy a drink or a meal with good friends - the point of it all surely ...

View from our (definitely) unconventional accommodation at Heriot Bay, Quadra Island BC

I suspect there is much more to come following this last trip, now I've got going! While writing this, I've realised how much the blogging process helps me to reflect on things I see and do. 

Now I need to pick up my sketch book work and begin stitching ...