Friday, March 28, 2014

An inspiration booster

Not that I need it at present, but it is always good to store up inspiration against a dull day.  This morning I drove the short distance to Farnham to visit the Crafts Study Centre.  They have two exhibition areas there: on the ground floor, in the Tanner Gallery they have displays to do with the Centre's collection.  At present the exhibition is titled 44:10:1.  (Here is the display list.)
I always enjoy seeing classic pieces from the collection - in calligraphy, such as this by Edward Wates:
This is the work on display, but image is from here.
There are also examples of printed textiles - one of my favourites in this field is Sally Greaves Lord.  And there is beautiful wood too.  But my perennial love is for the ceramics, which always strike me in the heart and the head when I see them: Lucie Rie, and Walter Keeler, and John Ward, and many others.
I found it heartening to see the brilliant craftsmanship and artistry in all the work, presenting heights to aim towards, and inspiring me to try increasingly harder to achieve more and more in my own work.
Upstairs is the beautiful room which houses the temporary exhibitions, and on at present is Land-Line-Form, the work of Caroline Sharp.  Woven willow is a loose introduction to what is presented here - beautiful bunches of willow, fascinating woven vessel shapes - closed and open
 - some coated in chalk, some not;
willow as contour, describing landscape,
charcoal, and sculptural wall reliefs made of tiny pieces of willow, some charcoaled,
some sculptural forms made of bay leaves in wall hung boxes,  and a lovely large hanging in the atrium of the Study Centre.
Once more, a confirmation that even what may initially appear to be a narrow field can yield ever increasing paths for exploration.  The illustrations of Caroline Sharp's work are from her website, and not necessarily those on display in the exhibition, but they are a close approximation.
Returning from my short trip, I feel humbled, and energised.  I am fortunate to live so close to a consistent source of a boost of the highest quality!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On a roll

I don't know what sparked it, but this last batch of sea scribbles in Cornwall has been fruitful.  This is the one I've been working on today.
The blue is printing ink, from cleaning an etching plate a while back.  I have kept quite a few of the tissues that I used to clean etching plates for just such further use.
I wanted to give colour to the body of the figure, but to keep the rest simple, so I took a bit of earth - I had scanned these stones years ago, and have used them many times since.  This time I took the very large stone as a base.  It came from a bay in West Wales.
I have used two orientations of the sea scribble, and now it is more or less ready for printing and then stitching.
I also printed a design done a while back on a scribble from last year's trip to Cornwall.  As ever now I have masses of stitching to do!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rock pool

I took another of my scribbles of the sea,
and this time it did not feel like a deep sea.  It has become a rock pool, and this is the design-in-progress:
Once again, I have used a body already in my file. It was originally a drawing on paper I did many years ago, and which I then used complete as the basis for a small quilt:
Noise 2007

Floats my boat

The sea is a force of Nature which is a great attraction for me, but I also find the symbolism around it powerful.  Boats, and their symbolism too: they convey so much in their elegant curves.  It was a boat I chose when I was designing a logo for my final publishing business - and I still keep it now.
I enjoy several artists' boats, but my favourites are mostly those of the sculptor, printmaker, and painter Ana Maria Pacheco.
Her sculptures are viscerally powerful, such as The Longest Journey:
from here
and I like this beautiful relief carving
from here
but I find her prints just as compelling, such as the drypoint etching of The Longest Journey
from hereThere are so many boats in her extensive and fascinating body of work.
from here and
this Terra Ignota I from here where there are more Terra Ignota boats - scroll down on the link.
I enjoy her paintings too:
from here.
There is much more on the Pratt Contemporary website - more boats as well as a treasure chest of other delights including her artist's books.  Indeed one of my current reading pile is illustrated by Ana Maria Pacheco: Christopher Ondaatje's The Last Colonial, Curious Adventures and Stories from a Vanishing World.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mostly water

While we were away I think I must have heard something on the radio about what percentage of the human body is water, and this contributed to the design-in-progress below.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Always read the instructions ... again!

Laugh or cry 2010, 115 x 165mm
Today I checked the requirements for submission to the European Art Quilts VIII exhibition, just before having the two quilts photographed.  I was looking forward to getting it all done - I'd been successful last time with my piece Trio which is still touring with EAQ VII until June.
This year, however, the minimum size has changed, and my quilt is just too small.  I forgot to check the actual size earlier - but not that that would have made any difference to the making of the piece.  My work has to be the size it is.  I do not make work to size.  Hey ho.
Well, that saves me the cost of entry, the hassle, the nail-biting wait, ....

On a positive note, however, I'm working on a new design - based on a scribble I made in Cornwall last week, and with a body I've had lying around for some years.
And I do have some larger textile pieces I'm working on over the next few months. Oh, and  I shall find a wall to hang up the piece I've just finished which will not be going to Europe.  Once it is photographed I'll let you see it - it has pom poms!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I had an idea ...,

but we all know that even the best of them 'gang aft agley'. And this one that I have been puzzling and working over for a wee while certainly needs shelving right now.  It is to go into that drawer which contains trials of ideas which although worthwhile are not yet ready to emerge as finished work.  I never think of it as giving up exactly, especially after reading Samuel Beckett's Worstword Ho:  Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Fail again. Fail better
These lithographs are by Tom Phillips, another artist whose work I admire (as well as Burns and Beckett) - whose standards are high, encouraging me to experiment but also to know when a line has to be drawn.
The act of shelving decided, I can now relax, and get on with the next things on my list.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Life class experiment

Shizuko Kimura: The Poetics of Form (detail) from here
Shizuko Kimura - from here
I remember first seeing a small nude by Shizuko Kimura in the New Ashgate gallery in Farnham, in the 90s, and being astonished to learn that she stitched from life with no preliminary drawing.  I had always thought how difficult this must have been, but not being particularly interested in reproducing the technique myself, did nothing more to explore this thought.  Until now.
The teacher announced that this week we would have the same pose all morning in order to explore techniques in depth, so I decided to put aside pencil and paper in order to try needle and thread on cloth.
Well, my admiration for Shizuko Kimura has increased by leaps and bounds.  This is what I tentatively produced for the ten minute warm-up pose:
The model is sitting with her back to me, and I just managed to think about her body's left profile.  The size of the muslin is 16 x 13cm, and I used black quilting thread because I thought that perhaps the stiffness would help.  It was extremely hard work translating the looking to the stitching action, and felt no direct link between eye and hand today.
When the main pose was set up I knew that I had no hope of encompassing the whole body, and so, knowing that we had a coffee break in the middle I decided to isolate two areas to attempt - one before the break and one after.
I started with the easier area: the hand. 
I was sitting to the left of the model, and her left hand was resting on her left thigh.  Unfortunately she had a cough today, and kept lifting this hand to her mouth and so it moved quite a bit, not helping with my measuring and comparing by eye.  Well, that's my excuse, anyway!
I discovered just how difficult it is to stitch the marks left to right (being right handed) - it is all very well to try to gauge distance and relationship by looking from model to stitched work when stitching right to left.  But when pursuing the line round the corner and back we turn the cloth round - unfortunately the model stays put.  So I had not only to look and gauge, but also then turn what I'd seen round in order to reproduce it.  This hand took me an hour - the size of the muslin is about 13cm square.
Not that I had mastered anything 'easier', I decided after the break to go for the more difficult head with hair all swept up.  Hey ho!
The head stitching is about 6cm square.  I decided this time to keep the ends underneath because they were distracting me.  This made the stitching tighter, and even smaller, which meant that I wished I'd made the whole thing larger in the first place.  I became extremely tense by the end of the hour, and my fingers were sweating - and I was definitely relieved when the class came to an end.
I was glad to have tried the experiment - my admiration for those who work this way is great.  It was interesting, but I shall not be pursuing this particular technique further.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Back home

Now that we are back home, it suddenly strikes me that we do not have much time before we set off again - and such a deal to do.  The bright sunshine is also insisting that I start doing some spring cleaning too.
While we were away last week I finished stitching one small piece 25 x 18cm approx: Juggler (Fall).  This week I must finish it off and iron it ready for photography (this is just a quick scan).
I knew that this one would be done quite quickly, and took another piece of work with me.  I learned that trying to sew silk on silk with close dark colours in tiny stitches in dim light does not work!  Bold contrasts will be accompanying me next time.
This week, however, I must concentrate on finishing my second experimental quilt for entry to the European Art Quilts VIII before the end of this month.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tidying up

This is now our final evening of an excellent week here in Cornwall.  Both of us have had a good time in our separate activities, and a lovely day together in Sennen.  Here are just a few details which I took for my perhaps-could-be-useful files:
This is a cattle grid, taken from the side.
These two are objects on a skip by the National Trust office at the Levant mine.  The tram lines below are also part of the Levant mine works as is what I think must be part of a pipe showing through the eroded ground cover - but looks like a rusted arrow head.
The sunshine was certainly memorable, and I was strangely drawn to the mounds of brambles everywhere - strangely, because we have lots of them at home!  I just loved the way the bare stems shone - but I also liked them in the mist this morning.
And here is the view of the house that I saw as I returned from my walks, with Higher Bal behind (part of the Levant complex).  I discovered that many women and children also worked for the mines, the women being known as Bal Maidens.

Bright misty morning

My husband and his camera went out at dawn today, and so I took my walk much earlier.  Looking out I saw that the sea mist had come inland - but the sun was trying to get through so I decided to set off anyway.
I encountered even fewer people than previously, and found the enclosing low light brought out various attractive atmospheric elements.
When I reached the coastal path I could hear the sea as well as the high pitch of the fog horn which had accompanied me from the house (I was brought up with the words fog horn meaning a raucous smoker's deep throaty kind of sound - it is clean and electronic now), but no seagulls, no bird song or cries at all.  It was interesting trying to work out what kind of waves were splashing about just from their sound.
The warm weather has brought out the flowers in the garden of the cottage.
And I finally got round to taking a photo of the gypsy caravan opposite - it belongs to the Gypsy Caravan B&B.