Friday, October 24, 2014

Griddy meandering

On my way to the Post Office this morning I passed many grids, including a ladder which sent my thoughts off. 
I remembered a photograph by Todd Webb: a ladder at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu - the imagery is quite a cliché now, but this picture is one I still admire.  And of course there is the Georgia O'Keeffe painting
With these in mind, I also had the memory of a recent conversation I had had about flint mines and the ladders to get down having been reconstructed in a BBC programme like Dogon ladders.  This was summoned to mind as soon as I saw the dandelion leaves.
I was caught staring hard at them by a gentleman whom I regularly meet on the path to the Post Office - I was glad to have the other detail I had noticed as an explanation for my scrutiny: how fascinating that the leaf cuts range from extreme zigzag to almost no indentation at all.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stretched grid

Jude made a comment on my last post about stretching grids - and that suddenly awakened a memory: Shirazeh Houshiary's east window for the church of St Martin in the Fields in London.  There are several photos of the window on her website, under site-specific works. This pic. is from there.
It is just such a simply beautiful, appropriate work which says so much with so little - and yet leaves room for pondering and ambiguity.  Speaking of which, there is also an interesting TateShots video of her talking about her work here (not about grids).
Indeed, I was only thinking about this artist this morning over breakfast as I read about her sculpture in the latest Sculpture magazine.

Thinking about grids

led me to thinking about deer fencing, and thence to the remainder of our fencing along that border.  The latter consists of now very old paling and wire fence which is more or less held up by the shrubs and ivy.  It needs replacing, but with the same, because although less effective, it is definitely more attractive than the straight grid. 
And that led to doodling a fence, which somehow with other thinking about grid structures, like baskets, led to this:
At this stage it is but a preliminary drawing - not much more than a doodle, but I do find it worth leaving in my files.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"... the ambience that is the artist ..."

I spend a deal of working time at my computer, and as a kind of breathing space from the intensity of creating designs I scroll through the ethereal world of the Internet.  More than usually interesting, sometimes I encounter real gems, and yesterday afternoon was one such time.
Through The Textile Blog I was introduced to the first issue of Inspirational
 described in its own introduction thus:
Inspirational seeks to walk a different path, it wants to raise awareness of the artist as muse, as imaginative catalyst, the individual who uses the creative arts to gain insight from the world that surrounds them, but also to gain insight from the world within themselves and within all of us.
I was initially enticed by the mention of two artists whose work I have long much admired: Joanie Gagnon San Chirico, and Jude Hill.  Now, having bought and downloaded the first issue I am enjoying a lyrical introduction to artists new to me, as well as a beautiful re-introduction to fond acquaintances.
Each article is substantial, satisfying yet forming a basis for thought-pulling curiosity not only about the artist and their work, but about what inspires them and how any of that fits our own life experience and outlook, and au fond what inspires us.  The beautiful photographs which occupy at least half of the four double page spreads dedicated to each artist are of the work.  The work represents the artist who is described in a text which is a single eloquent voice throughout - both presenting a poetic portrait in which we are also invited to look for elements of our own view of life. 
Magazine as meditation.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Brain-cleansing pause

This past weekend I have been stalwartly making my way through the excellent but enormous meal of input of the Marine Archaeology course.  I still have not completed last week's information, and in the middle of sections ranging both in time and geography I just had to give my brain a rest.  So I concentrated on something else to aid digestion.  Leftovers from my thinking about grids, Bauhaus, and the colours around me brought about this:
Autumn interior (design in progress)
On my way now to continue my attempted absorption of the facts about boat design through the ages, trade routes in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Bronze Age, Viking burials, ... etc. I took a few snaps in the bit of the garden I pass from the front door to the annex.  The spill over of seasons is such a delightful mix and I love spotting so many little gems.
The Dortmund rose is now in full hip, draped over the winter jasmine, the leaves of which are developing a gloss just as the rose's are turning.
The callicarpa as ever is just stunning at this time of year.  The birds never touch the lurid berries if there is alternative food around.  Can they see the 'unnatural' colour, I wonder?
And co-ordinating beautifully, not paying any attention to what time of year it is, the Mermaid rose is still flowering.
A drainage project for winter is waiting for the comfrey to realise that it should all be dying back - not flowering!
The annuals keep on going.  I cannot bear to take them out when they are still producing such lovely blooms.  The mass of leaves of the nasturtium are there even after a second flush of flowers - and look at the front rim of the pot: a new seedling!
The fuchsia drapes itself elegantly against the annex door.  Even though it soaks my skirt on rainy days, even though I bring so many flower heads into the annex with me, I love having to brush my way past it.  This is the last year of that ridiculous pleasure; this winter we are moving the plant to a more appropriate spot.
And down by the door the winter flowering ground cover is forming buds (sorry, I can never remember the name - I really must look it up), and I was astonished as I looked closer that the snowdrops' leaves are up and already being nibbled by some passing pest.
Now, back to facts aquatic!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


An exercise based around the idea of the grid got me animated over the past couple of weeks.  It is a HUGE area to explore, so I decided just to keep to elements close to hand.  I started with my diminishing but still substantial postcard collection, which provided me with lots of material, but I chose the work of Gunta Stolzl to think about.
She was a weaver, prominent in the Bauhaus group, and I wonder how much inspiration she gave to fabric designers Collier Campbell, whose work I have also long admired.  (Coincidentally I discovered that there is currently an exhibition of quilts inspired by the Bauhaus.)
In considering grids the challenge is to eliminate, to think about what it is that entices, what might possibly work for me. 
I am attracted to photographing grids, such as this path of broken shells:
But mostly the grids which seem to attract me most to photograph are accidental,
or distortions.
I used grids directly when I was designing patterns for my knitting machine.  Here are some doodles showing the template,
and here is an actual design.
Early in my stitching career I did use galvanized mesh (meant for making pet cages!) in some of my pieces - perhaps I was feeling particularly caged at the time?!
Discomforter: Rough edges (detail)
Measured response (seen framed)
Sharper (made with pieced felted knitwear triangles, flint, and stitched cotton figures)
Sharper (detail)
And in my printmaking I have used grids, either whole-ish, or broken.
Piano player (drypoint with chine collé)
Figures (drypoint with chine collé)
Tilt (drypoint with chine collé)
At the end of this current exercise I used a couple of broken grid ideas to come up with this:
which could well be the beginning of something worth taking further.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Dusty doodles

Autumn really is upon us now: wind, rain, chill, nights drawing in, ... the increasing desire for comfort food, .... Each season I do a weed of my files, and discovered these two appropriately autumnal ones from last century.  They were both drawn using now ancient (!) digital technology, but I'm glad that I can still keep them, taking up hardly any space at all.
And this below was one of my first works using running stitch only - a detail from a piece stitched on grey habotai silk which I had painted, the whole work also appropriately called Mists and mellow made in 2001.
As well as the arrival of a loved season, other good news here is that I have been accepted to exhibit in Quilt National 2015.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Disproportionate delights

For me, a good day is one made up of small pleasures: delights which can be savoured, which alter even a grumpy mood to positive.  One such pleasure is encountering lovely endpapers in a book, and I have just posted an article on Ragged Cloth Café about such.
The set of endpapers I would love to find is one made of fabric.  Has anyone come across such a thing?  I would have thought that the Collier Campbell Archive might have had a set as their fabric designs are such classics, but I expect that it is too difficult to handle in manufacture, not to mention too expensive for a mass market publication.
Does anyone know of fabric endpapers in an artist's book?