Gallery of past work

Monday, 30 March 2020

Ancient and Modern

I'm working on a larger piece of work combining images of modern high rise buildings with suggestions of what existed before. There is explanation in the last post of what is in my mind.



Here, I've used heavily abstracted and very much enlarged croppings from photos of high rise buildings in Sydney, Australia, taken on a trip a few years ago. I've made marks over and around these images with a fine black Uni marker pen using circles and dots.

These marks suggest possible stitching once the main images are printed onto cloth. Alternatively, I may want to incorporate images printed onto photographic paper into the final piece as this better suggests the shiny surface of plate glass.

I know from past experience that this will give me problems if I want to stitch. It is extremely hard work to stitch through good quality photographic paper and stitches have to be quite far apart so that they don't create perforations or merge into one another and create undesirable holes!

Much to think about then.


Friday, 27 March 2020

Ancient circles

I've been stitching circles.

Circles (usually signifying meeting place, campsite or water hole) and dots (indicating the presence of sacred information not to be shared) are extremely common in the art of Australia's Aborigines as they explore their heritage in a modern context. The simple symbols such as dots and circles, were originally used for sand paintings, to explain things, and in cave paintings or on tools. Often these symbols have different meanings depending on context and local tradition.

I've been exploring and then experimenting to find ways that these symbols can be represented in stitch for work I am developing. I've included here a sample of the pieces. In each case, I've grouped and interpreted them to suit my own purpose.




Below, this whole grouping of circles means star. Again, I've interpreted the image to suit my own ends.


Before the arrival of Europeans, Australia's Aboriginal languages were purely spoken and there was no cultural history of writing. Instead, there was huge reliance on complex oral histories and rich 'dreamtime' recountings to pass on their culture. Now their modern artwork, often on a large scale and using acrylics, uses these symbols to represent their rich spiritual life and their beliefs, their ways of living, their surroundings and the animals and birds that live in their lands.

Kay Tuncun: Kipara (Wild Turdey Dreaming)  1986-87

I find their work fascinating and dramatic - and like nothing else I have ever seen.




Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Tate St Ives

We had a trip to west Cornwall last week, before we learnt first hand the full implications of social distancing and isolation and the frightening need for it.

We visited Tate St Ives - something we had been wanting to do for some time. The gallery is not large but there was so much to admire. For someone who enjoys modern abstract art as I do, it was fascinating.


What made this collection particularly interesting for me was the strong connection between the place of St Ives and its artists and their work. Most had close direct connections to the town and to West Cornwall and either worked with or were friends of Ben and Winifred Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth.

The work in the gallery is drawn from the Tate's own collection and highlights the national and international significance of the historic artist community that continues to thrive in and around the town. There was work to be seen by many well-known 20th century names - Terry Frost, Henry Moore, Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko, Bridget Riley, Naum Gabo (more of him in another post) and, of course Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. There were also a pleasing number of new-to-me names whose works were also shown.

I've chosen a slightly random selection of works of both kinds that caught my attention and appealed to me for one reason or another. For some pieces, I enjoyed the pleasure of coming close to previously unseen work by favourite well-known artists. For others I've posted, I was attracted from across the room to work by an artist I couldn't give a name to but yet felt a strong impulse to consider more closely.

Firstly, some internationally known names:

Henry Moore: Maquette for Standing Figure

This lovely, delicate little maquette by Henry Moore was made in 1950. It was a model for a much larger bronze sculpture made for Glen Kiln Sculpture Park in Dumfries and Galloway till its theft in 2013. This has very special memories for me as I visited this lovely place with my mother as a teenager in the early 1960s and we saw this and other impressive sculptures. It is a very vivid memory for me and I was delighted to relive the visit through this maquette.

Sir Terry Frost: Black, White and Yellow

Sir Terry Frost's abstracts always appeal to me. It's so often the black and white and the simplicity of the images that call me in and this one was no exception.

Mark Rothco: Untiled 1950-52

Here, an early work by Mark Rothco. His use of luminous layers of colour always fascinates me,


Ben Nicholson: 1934 (relief)
Dame Barbara Hepworth: Curved Form: Trevalgan                                                                                                         

And now, a pair of works by Dame Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson who worked together for almost 20 years, and were married for 13 years. It seemed appropriate to post their work side by side.

And lastly, a small selection of works by new-to-me artists or those whose work I knew of but had rarely seen. Each of these called to me from a distance as I walked around the galleries.

Roger Hilton: 1954                       Kenneth Armitage: People in the Wind        Alberto Burri: Sacco e Rossi 

      Peter Lanyon: Construction                                   William Scott: Berlin Blues                                           Paul Lanyon: Levant Mine Ruins

It seems we just managed our visit to Tate St Ives in time. The gallery closed yesterday because of  the Coronavirus.

Such crazy and worrying times! I hope these images will bring you some cheer in a very small way.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Stitching geometry

Very careful stitching involving counting threads and keeping to straight lines along the weave of the cloth are all most unusual for me.


But it seemed a good way through stitch to explore the geometry of modern high rise buildings.

This page from my art journal explores elements of the strips shown above the stitching. These strips were found in photos of office blocks taken in Sydney and Vancouver which were manipulated and cropped to bring out line and shape in the reflections.

This time, I was most interested to exploit what I saw using black and white thread.



Sunday, 1 March 2020

Hand stitch

A welcome break from my computer has resulted in this stitched sample made in spontaneous response to the strip of white cotton, the small area of appliqu├ęd silk and to the growing stitch on the ground cloth. There was no pre-thinking or planning. I just grabbed some small pieces of fabric, found some suitable threads and off I went.



But of course, as I stitched, things crept into my mind. I couldn't avoid hints of the shapes I've been finding within the reflective glass walls of modern buildings and of the colour palette seen there.

Nothing ever happens in isolation ... even when you think it does!