Gallery of past work

Monday, 31 May 2021

Making changes, joining and finishing off

Why does it always take so long to finish off a piece of work? It doesn't seem to matter if I'm working with paper or fabric, or with print, photographs or mainly in stitch. It always takes me longer that I expect to get everything how I like it. 

The Tower piece I first showed as a small maquette in April, has needed many changes to the individual images that make up the final tower. This sort of piece in particular seems to evolve slowly. 

Since this is a 3D hexagonal piece with no practical possibility of printing the whole in one go at A3 size and then joining down one line, I'm considering several joins. Do I print out the separate strips of tower images in threes so I have only to make two sets of joins on the opposing sides of the piece, or do I print them out separately and join each one to its neighbour which makes it much easier to cut out the look throughs which are an integral part of the piece but may result in a distracting forest of thread ends? 

Next, I'm pondering how to make the joins to best effect. The options would seem to be joining with thread, with bent staples to reflect the metal structure of the original building, or using tape or small cardboard joins on the the inside of the piece. The card option seems clumsy and can be seen when looking down inside the piece and bent staples have practical issues as they are difficult to do consistently and the card can easily become damaged as photo 3 below shows. 


I have therefore opted for thread sewn through and tied either on the inside of the piece, or on the outside to make a feature of the join. A variation of the latter seems to offer the best option. 

I then have to sort out the imagery on the inside of the piece. I have opted so far to use a section of words from the small book, the initial images of which I showed here. I am still playing with the weight, opacity, size and font of the words to be printed on the reverse side of each face of the tower. 


So far, the size and opacity of the lettering needs more work as some of it jumps when the piece is viewed as a whole - and I may yet change my mind about this completely!



Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Walking the Line

Here, taking my mind, a pencil, a pen, ink, paint, paper, scissors - and much else besides including a ruler - for a walk in a new concertina sketchbook. 

I'll be responding intuitively to whatever last appeared on the page and adding next what seems appropriate. I may follow on with an idea, a colour, an image or a shape - or I may jump to something completely new and contasting. 

General early views ...


And details ...

Thus far, there seems to be much reference to work already completed, and especially to geometrical shapes (circles, squares and rectangles) and then, by contrast, there are organic shapes that meander haphazardly across the page (more of those another day). 

Marrying up the two and working across from one page to another seems to be the biggest and most interesting part of this whole excercise. 

I've no idea where this will lead. I'm hoping it will take me to new places and encourage me to free up my work and use new techniques. 



Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Containers

On Monday, I took part in an online textile course on Zoom with Debbie Lyddon. Sculptural Pockets was the title for the day and the challenge was to make a 3D container from stiffened cloth to hold a small object of personal value and to make reference to its form in our design.

In my case the object chosen was this bird - a small yellow-beaked hornbill. Though it's not very obvious from this photo, he leans at an intriguing angle and I was attracted by his bright yellow bill and his black and white colouring, all of which featured in my thoughts as I worked.

In advance, we were asked to pre-stiffen our chosen cloth (in my case cotton calico) with gesso or emulsion. The day then involved much testing and twisting and folding of paper and cloth to evolve a pleasing shape that could hold our object - and for me, could also provide a hiding place for it. The pocket was made to lean as my bird leans and I chose also to echo his body shape with that pointed beak in the final outcome. 

However, I confess to having felt some disappointment with myself at the end. When held upright to be a container in which my bird could sit, my pocket looks most unfortunately like a large ice cream cone (especially when photographed) ... but that's one day courses for you! I work slowly and I always rush to bring things to some sort of close, hoping to evolve something that pleases me - pointless I know as such days are never going to lead to works of art and fully resolved outcomes are not what they are about. 


Despite this, it was a lovely day and it was led most adeptly by Debbie. She offered generous insights into her own methods and practice which informed and developed her explanations for us in a most satisfactory way.  

I have been wanting to develop my options with 3D textiles for sometime and this opportunity certainly offered the best possible option given the restrictions of Covid 19 - and all without having to make a long journey to reach Debbie's studio. I'm sure I'll take much from the techniques we developed to use in the future. 


*A little note about my bird - he was made in a township in Cape Town, South Africa, from what appears to be papier maché and recycled wire. Similar oblects made of simple reclaimed materials are to be found on street stalls all over Southern Africa. He was bought on a wonderful holiday with my husband and friends twelve years ago. It was a most pleasurable time and holds happy memories for us both and I very much enjoyed focusing on him for a day.


Thursday, 22 April 2021

Past visits and new thoughts

Though lockdown restrictions here in the UK are slowly being lifted, indoor entertainment and foreign travel are still limited by Covid. As a result, I’ve been searching again for diversions at home - often in front of my computer playing with images. I sat down the other day to browse through old photographs looking for forgotten gems from past journeys and the images I’ve developed from them.  

It is extraordinary how memories of certain things, often glimpsed only briefly, stay with me. Such glimpses frequently lead to images that end up at the heart of my work. Those shown here were initially developed in Photoshop Elements following a trip several years ago to Pennsylvania to see very dear friends whom we have known for more than 50 years. 





During our visit, we all drove to the Delaware River to walk along its banks and to see a beautiful old iron footbridge. It was a hot and gloriously sunny day and the structure of the bridge was casting fascinating shadows onto the bridge deck. I took a multitude of photographs. 

In the intervening years, I’ve since developed quite a few images for stitching from those photos but so far, none has figured directly in any completed  work. Here, I was especially playing with colour and with the arching, draping lengths of cable that holds up the suspension bridge and its superstructure. 

There is still more development to go but I think now that sections of these images will find their way into ongoing work for Inhabit in Stroud in September via cut and overlay - and probably a change in colour of the bright blue areas to something that is easier to integrate with other images.  

These are my favourite photos in the original un-manipulated archive of the visit to Pennsylvania from which the images were developed. 

.

Seeing these photos again brings back such happy memories. How I long to be able to escape on such trips when it's safe to travel again. 

The glimpses I catch on my travels are the fuel for so much of my work. It seems that the novelty of seeing the new is vital for me. Without the possibility of feeding this wish for novelty, I may have to look closer to home for inspiration in the future. 

This will be a change for me - and maybe not a welcome one.



Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Modelling in card

I've been working towards making a (hopefully) much larger 3D representation of the structures and reflections seen within high rise buildings. The final size of the piece has yet to be decided. Practical considerations will no doubt pose limitations on my ambition!

So far I've put together my first thoughts for three sides of what will probably be a hexagonal piece and am in the process of making a small maquette in light card to help me evaluate the problems.



The images included all come from manipulations of photographs whose origins I've discussed at some length before. I cut small parts from the manipulations I'd made over the last few months in Photoshop and brought them into new strip-shaped files, repositioning and turning each small addition. Each strip was then combined again into one document for printing. 


I then cut each strip out indivicually again, cut look-throughs and varied the edges before joining them together. 


Friday, 2 April 2021

Tracings

I've been aware for some time that the range of marks in my work often lacks variety. This, I think, comes from my almost exclusive use of images created from photographs and printed almost entirely using digital media to generate my work. Recently, being unable to go out and seek high rise buildings 'in the flesh' owing to lockdown, I've been experimenting with drawing on tracing paper direct from photographs. I selected parts of each image and ignored others in an attempt to vary things. 

These I drew in several ways including without looking at the result as I worked ('blind drawing'), tracing selectively and freehand directly off photos, and tracing using a ruler. I also varied a little the medium I used to HB and 2B pencils, graphite and fineliner pens. 


I then layered the drawings, applied layer by cut in Photoshop Elements and rephotographed and reprinted the results in different light conditions ...




... finally dropping in a small amount of colour.


There is much to look at futher. I especially liked the contrast in marks between the traced areas and the ruler-drawn building (pictured centre at the start of this post). The dark tracing paper and the look-throughs to spaces and images underneath also intrigue me.