Research point 4.1

The first part of this research point involves how many contexts of textiles I can find and taking photographs – this will be an ongoing point which will be upgraded over the course of the assignment due to practicalities.

It is interesting to consider just how many different contexts there are for textiles as we are surrounded by them in all areas of modern life.

The first example I photographed is in my local cathedral and is a beautiful bargello kneeler.  Derby Cathedral has an abundance of different stitched textiles from these kneelers to quilted wall hangings to the altar cloths – many can be touched and are of course designed to be and they are also designed to be seen inside the building.  I feel in the case of the Cathedral or any church or place of worship textile the location has a very direct bearing for these are designed with a view to reflect the holy aspect of the location.  Some of the textiles are richly decorated such as a the clothing of the clergy or members of the choir and are made of rich yarns including gold threads or silks – there is almost a classical canon for these garments and textiles which dictate how they are worked and displayed.

A second location which has textiles in different contexts is my local stately home – Kedleston Hall.  The textiles here consist of a variety of furnishings including chairs, fire screens and carpets – all equally fascinating in their own right but the one that was unexpected when I first visited the house last year is the silk damask wall coverings.  In my photo you can see the carpet and wide, elegant chairs but you can also see the sheer beauty of those wall coverings – this room is one of the ones that has been fully restored and the silk damask custom made at huge expense and not surprisingly you are not allowed to touch!

A new addition to the house is the restored State Bed and again this has been done at huge expense and there are alarms surrounding the bed to prevent the public touching it.  An interesting note is the gold braid that has been made locally in Derbyshire – it is intricately woven and captures the light in such a way that it sparkles and shows off a bed designed for a monarch but never actually used.

Other contexts for textiles that I can consider without  actual photographs are those I see in on hospital visits – these range from the uniforms of the staff to the bedding and the surgical applications and as is mentioned in the course material the textiles use for space suits and travel which I have seen many years ago at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.  I must add a photograph of my car interior – again mentioned in the course material but along with several others such as fashion you tend to overlook and take for granted.  There is also the artistic aspect – the textile art which I have researched already during the duration of this course including that of quilts both in a traditional and contemporary art sense along with the exploratory textiles of my fellow students or contemporary artists.

Textiles are also used in the care of animals – horse blankets or dog coats are examples with some being for the care of the sick or injured and some horse blankets are used for use outside in the cold and wet of winter.

Textiles surround us in life in a huge ever expanding variety of contexts – as I write I think of the new developments in sports wear with fabrics developed to pull moisture away from the skin or to protect against wet or cold and there are also developments in  military textiles too with regards to bullet proof clothing or new improved fabrics to protect the armed forces in the field.  I consider the developments in motor cycling textiles – kevlar jeans an example due to the strength, heat resistance and and impact tolerance and this is one I example of textiles I am grateful for due to having two motorbike mad sons!

The context in which we see textiles does have an impact –  I have yet to see textile art displayed outside over a period of time but love the thought of how it would wear and deteriorate and effectively become new art but the textiles I do see that are designed for outside use are usually ones that can be touched and are for practical purposes.  Textile art which is designed to be displayed in an interior location can be tactile and designed to be touched and handled or displayed behind glass due to either the materials used or techniques or just the hours that have been put into the making of it.  I find myself drawn to the silk damask wall coverings of Kedleston Hall – not totally unexpected in the fact I have come across it before in other wealthy houses in magazines or on the internet but unexpected in how exquisitely beautiful it is when seen in person as it far exceeds expectations.

There is a part of me that would love to take a space suit or something similar and put it in an entirely different location to see people’s reaction to it as well as my own – a textile that is designed to be in one location does  have a very different feel to how you would perceive it when it is seen somewhere totally different.

Magda Sayeg. Bus in Mexico City. 2008

The second part of the research point is with regards yarn bombing – this is something I find hugely amusing and great fun as it concerns knitters and crochet workers literally decorating their communities of different locations with knitted and crocheted items …. tree trunks are covered, benches transformed or buses covered by single artists or groups of artists or any other object that takes someone’s fancy to decorate!

The knitters or crochet artists take photographs of their creations and post them onto the internet for others to see or comment on – it is in effect graffiti but using yarn and was thought to have originated in the USA but has spread to Britain and other countries.

Grace Brett

The bus photographed above has been done by one Magda Sayeg from Texas who is believed to be the originator of yarn bombing – initially it was just scarves or small items made to cover door handles or signs but one day this bus took her fancy and along with a team of knitters in the space of a week they transformed it.  From humble beginnings the craze has really caught people’s imagination and has even got a 104 great-grandmother yarn bombing 46 locations in the Scottish county of Borders with a group of other like minded people – Grace Brett who proves to me that street art is not just for the young and hip!!

I just love this phenomenon or craze because it takes a traditional craft into new locations and reaches a much wider audience than would see it in a gallery and brings me back to the conceptual artists I have mentioned above of the Post-World War II era which wanted to take art outside of galleries and to challenge the traditions and ideas of the art world.  Yarn bombing is challenging the traditions of the craft world in the same way that contemporary quilt art is challenging the more classical traditions of the quilting community.  The craze is also bringing a bright and joyful new aspect to many urban environments and also encompasses bridges or other large man-made or naturally made objects – there are no rules of what can or cannot be covered and many yarn-bombers work secretively so that the object is found covered in its new blanket or scarf unexpectedly.  Not surprisingly Facebook groups and websites have been set up to satisfy the creative ‘urges’ for want of a better phrase of those who want to join in this craze and literally go crazy with a freedom of expression using yarn – Craftsy.com which is a well known craft website even has tips on how to successfully yarn bomb which I fully admit has been bookmarked!!

Marianne Jorgensen – Pink M.24 Chaffee

My personal favourite image is this yarn bombed pink and purple tank …. the artist has my admiration and total respect because if there is one image that inspires me to want to yarn bomb myself at some point in the future then this is it!!  From an artistic point of view someone has taken a weapon of war and turned into something non-threatening that makes the viewer smile or even laugh …. the only thing that would make this image better is to have a soldier peaking out of the top but the fact it is photographed near what appears to be a Victorian building (perhaps an old warehouse) which is obviously considerable older than the tank itself also just adds to the incongruous context.  The yarn bombing makes the tank look so completely different and out of place it almost confuses the eye and brain and the yarn also  almost completely camouflages the structure and outlines of the tank – the irony is not lost!  What makes me laugh though is the fluffy pompom ‘bullet’ hanging off the end of the canon – someone is either making a peaceful protest or has one heck of a sense of humour.  It turns out this is a protest piece of art – the tank is a World War II tank and it was covered in yarn as a protest against the Danish, USA and UK’s involvement in the war in Iraq and the knitted and crocheted squares were done by many people in many countries – because this is a protest piece I find it even more interesting from both an art history perspective because art has long been used for political or religious purposes and it is fascinating to see textiles cross into this style of art.

Theresa Honeywell – yarn bombed motorcycle

Personally I think is what I love most about this craze – there is humour and it makes people smile in what is at the moment a very troubled world.  Yes the yarn bombing is challenging the traditional aspects of knitting and crochet as a craft and yes it is bringing the craft to a greater audience using bright colours and patterns but it does make people stop, look and smile or laugh – who could resist this pink motorcycle seen in a gallery setting? or benches that look like monsters?  this style of knitting is completely crazy but it does require dedication and skill and a wonderful creative imagination which crosses boundaries between artistic disciplines or maybe I should say that I feel it is coming out of the craft lagoon into a new artistic realm that perhaps does not have its own name yet – it is not fine art in the traditional sense but it is fine art in the skill and creativity that it requires to produce refined results or in some cases results totally unrefined and rustic but humour filled pieces in totally unexpected locations.  Lastly what I feel is important with this  craze is that it is inclusive of all levels of skill and that does mean that the graffiti style of yarn bombing can reach all echelons of society – the  older perception of the craft I feel can be somewhat fusty in truth but this craze changes it into something that everyone can enjoy.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Bored Panda. (date unknown).  104-Year Old Street Artist Yarn-bombs Her Town [online].  [Date accessed:  June 2017].  Available from:  http://www.boredpanda.com/grandmother-yarn-bomb-uk-souter-stormers-knitting-104-year-old-grace-brett/

Craftsy & Sympoz Inc.  2017.  Yarn Bombing 101:  How to Yarn Bomb in 5 Steps [online].  [Date accessed:  June 2017].  Available from: https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/03/how-to-yarn-bomb/

mentalfloss.com.  (date unknown).  10 Ambitious Yarn Bombing Projects [online].  [Date accessed:  June 2017].  Available from:  http://mentalfloss.com/article/50493/10-ambitious-yarn-bombing-projects

Oddee.  2007-2017.  12 Amazing Pieces of Yarn Bombing [online].  [Date accessed:  June 2017].  Available from:  http://www.oddee.com/item_97802.aspx

Telegraph Media Group Limited. 2009.  Knitters turn to graffiti artists with ‘yarnbombing’ [online].  [Date accessed:  June 2017].   Available from:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/4305406/Knitters-turn-to-graffiti-artists-with-yarnbombing.html

 

 

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Project 5 Context – initial notes

This is a project I am immediately interested in due  to my art history studies – how the context of a piece of art may change how we view it.  My course notes make reference to how we traditionally feel that a piece of art should be viewed in a gallery and more importantly within the confines of a frame and then in contrasts artists such as Howard Hodgkin painted the frame as part of the canvas or the sculpture Anthony Caro constructed his works to flow off the plinth.

Michael Postiletto – Venus of the Rags

Context for me is everything and I personally make note of the conceptual artists of the Post-World War II period who not only challenged the fact that art could be viewed or displayed anywhere and thereby throwing away the traditional conventions of the gallery setting but also that art could be made of anything – the Arte Povera ‘group’ or style for want of better descriptions made use of cheap and freely available materials which in time I suspect influences our own contemporary artists such as Tracey Emin with her use of her bed to express her emotions.  The Arte Povera artists (literally poor or impoverished art) rallied against the constraints and traditions of the art world – I find this particular style or scene almost a protest against the art establishment and although it is personally ‘not my thing’ I am also find myself fascinated by it because if you take the piece titled ‘Venus of the Rags’ by Michael Postiletto you could place it in different sites and yet it would potentially have the same or different meanings.  Many people would see this work of art as a pile of rags next to a classical statue but in doing so Postiletto challenged the normal traditional aspects and the accepted ideas of high art – without the addition of the classical statue this piece would loose its impact and I question if seen on the street how the spectator would view it again.

Boxer of Terme

I have visited Greece several times and have seen some of the classical statues in the museums such as at Olympia and  at the Parthenon and understand the course notes which state how some were meant to be seen from below or at eye level – some of the pieces have been carved and worked with distorted figures so that when they are viewed from the correct perspective they appear perfectly proportioned.  I have seen some statues seen in their location in the open air in both locations and they have a very different feel to those in the preserving air of a museum – yes they are a bit more weathered but they are displayed where they are meant to be seen.

One of my favourite statues of my art history studies is the Boxer of Terme or Boxer at Rest – I took this photograph a couple of years ago of a replica at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.  The original statue was discovered in Quirinal in Italy and I question how this boxer was designed to be seen – clearly not in a modern gallery but maybe in a villa or arena and I question how differently I would view him?  it is clear this statue is at eye level as there are no distortions to his proportions other than the fact he is slightly larger than life and as the course material states about the Rodin sculpture of The Burghers of Calais there is a play of light and shade on this figure too which emphasizes is muscular figure and expressions …. in this case by the use of inlaid copper which picks up on scars from previous fights.  I am now looking at this figure not in terms of art history but in terms of the context in which it was designed to be seen and the context of how artistic works are meant to be seen and how that different locations can change how we perceive and view those art works.

I feel this first introductory paragraph of the course notes has reignited my knowledge gained through my art history studies and is also making me consider the influence of the artists of the past particularly from the turn of the 20th century as they sought to explore and really stretch boundaries in terms of how their art was displayed or they wanted it to be viewed.  I choose the piece by Pistoletto very intentionally as that piece was done the year I was born – it is fascinating to see or think now as an art student how the artists of my late Mum’s generation were working and it makes me wonder how I want my own work to be viewed or considered which is what this whole project is about.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Tate.  Michael Pistoletto Venus of the Rags 1967, 1974 [online].  [Date accessed:  June 2017].  Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/pistoletto-venus-of-the-rags-t12200

 

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Reflection on tutor feedback – Assignments 1 – 3

Before I work further on assignment 4 I have realised that I have not reflected or commentated on my feedback from my tutor for assignments 1 and 2 and do so in combination with assignment 3 for which I have received feedback just in the last week or so.

ASSIGNMENT 1

This first assignment feedback was purely on paper and with my original tutor and demonstrated that I had made a strong start and that I had learnt valuable lessons in setting up my blog so that it was clear and professional – for me both points were desperately important having completely my first two courses.

My tutor has notes that I was prepared to re-work pieces which I have not been happy with and this is a new ‘revelation’ or progression for me – in the past I have left the work and moved on without re-working or exploring new concepts and ideas that could improve the piece.  It has also been noted that I am starting to try and push myself further with exercises and also am willing to loosen up my use of my media and this has continued with the following two assignments – I am finding a looser style of sketching is working for me as I feel it is more expressive physically and emotionally.

One particular exercise was noted for its sensitivity and excitement – that of my recollection of my late neighbour and the old shed that is such a vital part of my garden.  I have started to really be able to tell the story behind the piece without the use of words and also am experimenting  with different materials to print with … I am starting to be able to feel that I can express myself without any inhibitions and that has been felt in one of my stitched samples.

Going forward I have been advised to make my photographs larger and clearer on my blog so that they can be seen and there are artists who have been suggested to look at researching including Suzie Freeman and Jennifer Collier – I have made a note of these with regards to my work at assignment 4 and 5 due to their work with recycling and crossing boundaries.

ASSIGNMENT 2

The summary of the feedback includes a point to include the bulk of my research from contemporary and emerging artists – this aspect I am finding really exciting because I do understand that these are the people of my generation whose work will influence my own.  However I am still very much interested with the artists of the past – the work of Paul Klee or Wassily Kandinsky really intrigues me through the use of colour and line as does the work of the Impressionists … again for the use of colour.  I feel now as I reflect back on this assignment that it is time I set up a separate blog for self-study with regards to art history in order to satisfy my passion that my previous course ignited and also so that I can almost dissect what appeals to me or may be an influence on my own work from a particular work of art from any period  – by doing this I can concentrate with no distractions on the contemporary and emerging artists in my course work whilst having the influence of the past also coming through which is ultimately where I want my own practice to go.

My tutor is encouraging the use of more expressive language to describe what I see whether in works of art or just as I sketch or photograph a particular scene – this will take a little time to get used to having spent two years training  myself to use academic terms for the art history course!  However I like the fact that I can be more expressive and if something makes me go ‘wow’ then I can state it whether it is in regards to flower or colour or just the use of line or texture.

I did not apply the use of larger images to my blog so this has now been corrected for assignment 3 and I will go back and correct this for assignment 1 and 2.

I note that I do need to slow down in order to sensitively treat the materials and techniques as pointed out by my tutor – sometimes I just want to get an exercise finished and I am aware I loose sight of being sensitive to either my fabrics, yarns or media so perhaps my mantra should be ‘slow down and smell the roses’ as a reminder not to rush but to really take my time.

The final point in the feedback I clearly remember discussing with my tutor – thinking about placement and composition of my sketches.  I have a habit of using either a central or linear composition and filling my page evenly and my tutor has suggested starting say from a corner or different place on the page such as in the doodles relating to music – the exercises do not need to have the linear appearance that was my result but could be say circular or freely over the page going in different directions and with different pressures of the pen or brush applied.  I also need to consider space – reading general art articles since this feedback has reminded me the negative space in a piece of art can be just as important as the painted or drawn areas as it is that blank area or muted area that can really make the image pop.  As I reflect now upon this particular feedback I feel it is something that I can start to apply to my general sketchbook work as well as my responses to future exercises – I need to think about the media I am using and how I can mark expressively to create the impression of either the object or scene or just the musical exercise and how I can use the space on the paper or my placement to create a piece of work that is pleasing aesthetically.

My tutor has suggested a book to read by Myra Kane which is on order and also some websites and YouTube videos which I am both researching and watching.

ASSIGNMENT 3

This is the assignment which I have fully admitted that I was not entirely happy about and felt I struggled with but my tutor felt, much to my surprise, that there were a good number of samples that were adventurous and investigative.

As I had noted there were areas in which I had not read the course material sufficiently and had therefore misunderstood the instructions. This  included the use of colour chips for the colour palette for the photographs of my garden and I am in the process of rectifying this in  my sketchbook.

I have also had to re-think my theme boards in order to come up with two distinctive themes – at the point of writing this has been done and I will be adding these to my blog.  I have included roughly 10 photographs for each board with a selection of yarn and fabric samples and on one board a small textile sample – this sample created a further idea which was developed further as I also added a further 5 samples based on either of my selected themes.  For further theme boards I now understand and will intentionally add from the start textile samples as an integral vital part of the board – this still felt more of an afterthought even with the re-working of the boards in the early part of this past week but now I feel that these textile samples should have more importance in future work as I now understand how they can significantly tell the story of the theme I am narrating through the board.

An important note was my tutors point on my reflections on how exercises and samples or work has turned out as opposed to just whether I enjoyed the process or the result – yes I enjoy it but I need to consider the qualities of the pieces such as the textural aspects or how the colours have developed as examples.  I also need to look further at the work of my contemporaries and as noted in particular those with similar themes to me – the one that comes to mind is the work of Martina Celerin whose woven pieces often reflect garden or outdoor themes.

There are suggestions for the websites of universities where I can find the work of fellow textile students and graduates and my tutor has suggested researching the final degree shows.

Overall this assignment has not been the disaster in truth I expected and my feedback has really given me a boost of confidence that I felt was needed.  In the past week or so I have felt my work has begun to free up further and I have started to enjoy an experimental process in a way that I have not before – it is helped by the fact I am doing some very conventional or traditional projects of my own (I have started to love crocheting shawls or working on a crazy quilt) that is meaning that in my studies I feel free to go off tangent and explore and play with the qualities of fabric and thread in unconventional and experimental ways.

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Jacqueline Hurley, artist – War Poppy Collection, National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire

Jacqueline Hurley is the artist whose work is being exhibited at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire from March to July this year (2017).  The work is a collection of mixed media paintings and has earned Ms Hurley the recognition of being the country’s foremost remembrance artist and rightly so having seen this exhibition in April.

Ms Hurley’s original painting as done as a tribute to a friend, Royal Marine Neil Dunstan who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008 and since then she has perfected her style which is a mix of Impressionism and Expressionism.  The acrylics that are used are applied using the impasto technique which creates texture and depth and when combined with the grey tones of the impressionist backgrounds also creates a highly charged but sensitive mood or emotion.  The works combine of the despair and horrors of war with the bright red poppies which have become the recognised symbol of peace and remembrance and the works create a powerful and emotional response – perhaps because I have seen them at the National Memorial Arboretum  which is a national centre of remembrance in the UK or perhaps because, like so many, I have grandfathers who served in both World Wars and my own father was a serving army office when I was born.

Seeing the works of art in the newly finished Visitor Centre is almost a privilege because the setting is so perfect – you see the pieces before you go out into the grounds with the wide variety of memorials including the Armed Forces Memorial  or perhaps after you have done so and they really bring home to the spectator the conflicts and the human cost just that bit further due to the scenes they depict

Ms Hurley states that the works are pieces that have many layers and what is hidden is just as important as what is seen and this is something I can relate to in my own work because each unseen layer of a textile or painting is just as vital to what is seen as it builds up to create the finished piece – an example is that a quilt is made up of a 3 layers and yet the wadding is not seen at all and yet it is very much a vital part of the quilt in the same way a watercolour is built up of layers of translucent or opaque washes.

It is very hard to choose favoured images from the collection but below are 7 that really resonate with me and I have noted my reasons why – all are mixed media on canvas are are dated 2016. My responses and accompanying notes are based on my personal interest in World War I and II history and my interest has always been very much on the stories and personal history of the people of the time and in particular the armed forces personnel. Please note that I have Ms Hurley’s permission to post my photographs of her works.

The first is entitled Raid of Remembrance and is almost an iconic image of what appears to be Lancaster Bombers dropping poppies over fields of remembrance.  I partly grew up near RAF Conningsby in Lincolnshire which is the home of the City of Lincoln Lancaster bomber and this is why this particular piece really resonates with me – the silhouette of the plane is one I know well having seen it fly several times and understand the dangers of being one of the crew due to having a keen interest in World War II history with the emphasis not on the conflicts but on the human side and in particular the stories of the forces personnel.  The red poppies are very much the focus and reminiscent of the poem In Flanders Fields which was written during World War I – this is the most striking image due to the dominance of the poppies against the simplicity of the planes as they drop yet more to scatter on the ground in memory of those lost and many who lie there still.

The second image Below the Brave the Poppies Grow harks back to World War I and I find almost the same theme as the first – the planes above the fields of poppies but this time with the planes being the ones in the earlier conflict.  The bi-planes are striking in their appearance and I can only think of the levels of bravery that it took to fly these incredible machines above peace time fields yet alone in a war time scenario – the dangers must have been immense and beyond comprehension to our modern eyes and yet these airmen took to the skies in order to defend and protect our countries.  The scene below the planes I wonder if it could be Dover or along the south coast – if it is Dover then I have a personal connection as that was where my grandmother was born and lived during World War I and possibly even met my grandfather during or after the war, (they married in 1920), and this image makes me wonder if she looked up and saw scenes such as this.  Beneath the battle in the skies the battles of the land raged on and the poppies are a very direct reminder of both aspects of the Great War – we tend to think of this war as being land and sea based but the aircraft were taking to the skies and become a part of modern warfare and hence at the end of the conflict the RAF was born.

For Heroes and Horses the Poppies Grow – the heroes of the Great War were not just the soldiers but the horses who died in their thousands and who should be honoured with equal respect for they carried not just the men but pulled the canons, the medical carts, supplies and countless other desperately needed jobs.

This is another piece that has personal resonance because it is believed that my maternal grandfather may have been cavalry but we do know that my fiance’s grandfather certainly was and was also greatly involved in the care of the horses – I have also a life long love of horses.  At the NMA there is a memorial that is the process of  being made that will commemorate the war horses of World War I and this image is a perfect reminder of their vital and equal role alongside the soldiers – the bright red poppies in the foreground serving to remember those who fell and fought with the simplicity of the silhouette of the horses and cavalry soldiers giving such a powerful impression.

For Mother and her Boys, the Poppies Grow – again an image depicting World War I with the silhouette of one of the tanks that first became part of war time operations and modern warfare.

The mere title of this piece says all that is needed …. for each boy and man (for there were both) killed there was a mother at home whose loss was unimaginable.  Works of art such as this have really started to grab at my heart more than ever just recently as I have two sons now aged 20 and 22 and yesterday found out that my maternal grandfather was 21 years and 4 months old when he enlisted in his regiment …. it kind of really brings it home to you to think of the mothers who saw their sons go off to war so young, and indeed there were too many who were yet younger still, and who never came home.  My family was lucky – my grandfather survived the 4 years, albeit with scars and a severe injury to one hand, but died at aged 56 and my single photo shows a man aged 54 but looking many years older due to a weak heart and severe bronchial issues which I now believe to be due to the effects of the gas used in the warfare … I have traced his regiment and know that he was in an area which was affected and like so so many who were lucky enough to survive were still to later become casualties of the Great War as a direct result of injury of health problems caused by the gas warfare.

The desolation of the landscape in this image is a powerful reminder of the horrors and destruction of the Great War – so little lived and yet so much was fought for and those fields still lie beneath the poppies.

Remember and Reflect – do I need to describe why this is chosen?  The simple framing of the silhouetted figures who could be soldiers of any conflict as they stand guard and in tribute to friends/colleagues lost with one by the grave with the simple cross and the other by the weapon topped with the helmet of the soldier.  The depiction of the land takes no prisoners in its depiction of the desolation and mud of war and this image is made all the more powerful by the poppies being above the heads of the soldiers and not at their feet – the poppies rise above the soldiers as they bend gently over as if bowing in remembrance and respect to those lost.

Brothers in Arms – chosen as a reminder of my Dad who was a serving army office when I was born as stated above.  My Dad’s role in the Royal Artillery was as a helicopter pilot so this image was immediately resonant very personally as I knew he was one of the last pilots out Aden during the conflict that ended shortly before I was born.   The helicopters are also a firm reminder of modern conflicts with the soldiers carrying the injured colleagues or the bodies of those who have died to the helicopters flying in to take them to safety or a place of medical treatment.  The poppies are simpler int his image and less prominent as they let the soldiers and helicopters talk to the viewer but at the same time their role is no less important – a firm reminder of those who only came back in wooden boxes.

Thankful for Little Ships – my final image is chosen because it also shows the little ships that were so vital to the rescue of the British and French soldiers.

The poppies in this image almost take a back seat to the use of the shells in the foreground and the depiction of the ships and lines of men in the middle and background.  The poppies are subtle and understated serving as the gentle act of remembrance – this subtle nature of their depiction however makes them no less important and each part of this image serves the purpose of telling the viewer of what happened during that time

I think my interest in the history of the conflicts is apparent as is the emotional impact these works of art have had on me personally – it is hard to chose even just 7 of the pieces because each is so beautifully rendered and composed with a sensitivity to the subject.  The simplicity in the colours used throughout the collection serves to emphasize the subject matter with a subtlety that I find incredibly moving but also at the same time with an emotional or almost physical strength that when combined with the poppies really strikes a chord with whoever views either a singular image or the collection as a whole.  I am fascinated by the use of the acrylics to create the textures which are built up in layers and add depth to such an effective degree as well as the textures of the landscapes depicted.   I am finding I am being ever more drawn to works of art that have an emotional impact on me and although I love the use of colour I am also being drawn to a limited colour palettes such as these which allow the subject to speak to the viewer more directly – the colour emphasizes the subject matter rather than becomes the subject.  I note the impressionist style of the landscapes – they have a realism in their starkness as they seek to tell of the horrors that have happened but at the same time they are not so realistic that you loose the message of remembrance of the piece by being overawed by what you see.

To summarize this exhibition I am in awe of this artist for her skill at creating a collection of works that so exquisitely and sensitively serves as images of peace and remembrance and it is right that she is held in such high regard particularly by The Royal British Legion and all who see her work.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

POST Original Art Limited. (date unknown).  Jacqueline Hurley’s War Poppy Collection [online].  [Date accessed:  5 June 2017].  Available from: https://poshoriginalart.co.uk/about/

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Project development of a design from ACA

I have decided to document a project that was a development from my final design from ACA.  I had designed a bag based on photographs I had taken at Dovedale in Derbyshire in 2016 and although the process and design was felt somewhat safe I liked it enough to take it through to completion albeit the alterations that would make it work.

The actual bag was a combination of quilting, weaving and photographic applique with a centre panel being woven and the outer board ice-dyed fabrics.

During the period leading up to assessment but after sending the bag in I realised there was a fault – if I used photographic applique in the outer board it was going to make it too difficult to stitch the edges of the bag together both in terms of bulky seams and in terms of actual stitching.  Consequentially I decided to change the applique in this board to hand-dyed calico.  I also used a different toned but again hand dyed calico for the inner border as well as changing the overall colour scheme to that of turquoise, blues and greens.

The initial stage was to ice-dye some cotton and calico fabric for both the inside and outside of the bag.  Considering I was doing this in February and March it was a minor miracle I got a dry enough day to let the fabrics drip dry on the line for a few hours but at least it was cold enough that the ice melted slowly enough to enable me to get the effects I desired.

I also took some considerable time to decide on which photographs to use for the photographic applique.

The other major issue was re-drawing the actual design to allow for boxing in the corners – I extended the design out at the sides horizontally to allow for this and spent a considerable time getting the measurements and design exactly right.  Between posting ACA off for assessment and deciding to do this bag it really had made me think of how I could improve this bag so that it would work practically …. I did realise the faults and now know to look thoroughly at my designs with fresh eyes and perhaps even to make up a dummy version to check everything works.  Considering the sketchbooks for this bag were at OCA head office I also set up a new sketchbook which is now a working book for further developments of this bag if I so decided to do so.

A minor issue was due to my change in colour scheme as I needed to make up a new centre panel in different yarn and for this I initially tried a slubby type of yarn on a square loom – as can be seen this did not work as the effect was far too lacy.  However for other projects I love this lacy effect so it has been worth doing.

I eventually found a lovely variegated yarn which gave the gentle effect of water that I so desired – the photographs chosen were of a bridge over the river at Dovedale.

This woven panel was simple done on a cardboard loom – I was able to work both sides before cutting the warp threads.

From here I checked that all my fabrics and the woven panels worked well together and was delightfully surprised – I knew they would work but how well I was not sure but happily the dyes had  been a perfect match for the yarn.

Due to this bag not being course work I allowed myself to choose afresh the new hardware from the D rings to the bag fastener and wanted to reflect the silver thread I planned to use for the quilting which would be inspired by the sun glinting on the river – strangely this took the most time as I really wanted to get this right as by this stage I had decided to enter the bag into the Three Dimensional Category at Quilt and Stitch Village at Uttoxeter in April 2017 i.e. this year and it was now March! I also changed the wadding of my original design to a fusible foam stabilizer style wadding which is made specifically for bags or items that need some shape – it proved easy to use and a dream to quilt through.

I carefully traced the design onto tracing paper and from their made templates for all the applique sections and also the handle tabs before cutting everything out and the long process of incredibly careful making up began – I am not one for making marks for accuracy but anywhere that was needed was carefully done using tailors tacks and I swear I could hear my late Mum laughing as she noticed the care in which I was doing these (I normally skip tailors tacks but no longer)!! Unusually I also added labels to each section and carefully kept them in separate bags – unusually because again I am not normally that careful!

From here it was a matter of placing the woven centre panels on each of the outside pieces and slowly and carefully adding the photographic applique and also calico applique – this was all done prior to attaching the inner border as I wanted the outer border applique pieces to extend behind the inner panel in effect.   I attached the applique sections with zigzag stitching – on the photographic applique it was set slightly wider than the calico sections.  The photographic applique was done using photographs printed on good quality paper and backed with felt before being stitched randomly to secure and then cut into the necessary sections.

One thing of note was I added a small area of wadding directly behind the central panel in order to pad it out slightly and make it stand out and then also backed the back and front panels with cotton wadding before free motion quilting the whole of the outer border using a silver metallic thread – a small note is I have learnt to use metallic needles and change my tension to prevent breaking the thread.

The scary part was then stitching the panels together – would it work? happily yes!  I also had to add the pockets to the lining – one was a stitch pocket and the other has sections for several pens and my phone.

Once the lining had also been stitched it was time to attach it to the outer panels …. oh I also had to make the handle tabs and also add the silver lock which proved problematic as I had never used one of these before but lessons have now been learnt! During the stitching of the lining to the outer panel I stitched several times over the handle tabs for added strength. Once the bag was turned through and the lining closed using small stitches and everything had been checked for accuracy I very carefully top stitched in a pale blue thread to both neaten the top edge and also to add one extra row of stitching over the handle tabs.  I also made a bag bottom for the inside of the bag using cardboard, wadding and spare matching fabric which gave the base of the bag some solidity.

Finally it was time to make the handle and also a small additional kumihimo handbag accessory which was done in turquoise threads and silver beads.

The end result once the bag was finished was one I felt had developed from my original design in a satisfactory manner.  It is now I admit to having discovered just before sewing the lining shut that I had done the silver lock incorrectly … a somewhat frantic correction was needed particularly considering it was now 5 pm the day before I was due to drop it at Uttoxeter Racecourse for the show!  The actual bag was totally finished around 6.30 pm and duly dropped off the next morning by 10 am!

Now unbeknownst to me Wednesday 5th April was going to be quite a day … I dropped off the bag at 10 am and arrived home by 11 ish only to open an email with my results for ACA and art history – so for the first time that week I burst into tears of happiness and relief at having passed both (ok a little too close on ACA but a pass is a pass!)!  Please note the words ‘for the first time that week’ because judging at the quilt show was the next day …. I duly went back on the Friday and had a strange feeling on the way over that I had got second in my category but promptly dismissed this as wishful thinking!

However what awaited me was this sight … my first ever rosette or prize in any competition!!  Yes this clutz promptly burst into tears AGAIN …. I admit I looked a right twerp and yes I know that it is not an academic term but it summed up a very emotional and daft looking woman who had not stopped grinning since results morning as it was!!

The resulting photo seen here is pretty much how I remained all day …. a happy emotional twerp!! I admit I also kept going back to check that rosette was really near my bag …. one of the reasons I could not believe it  was due to the high standard of the other entries!  The rosette also made the name of the bag appropriate – Walking Back to Happiness because last year was the first time I had gone back to Dovedale after several tough years … it is a place of happy memories but ones that I had not faced and when I walked back last year I walked back to happiness and new memories.

Suffice to say that the rosette is still on my mantlepiece and will eventually have pride of place in my sewing room.

So what now with this bag?  there are things I will change …. the photographic applique has worked but it did need some areas gluing down carefully even the morning I delivered it due to the stitching effectively cutting the photographs – this gave me a few headaches.  Consequentially when I make this bag again but changing it to a vertical version I am going to use purely calico applique sections – I want this next version to be washable and if possible I would like to spray it with a water retardant spray so that it could possibly be used for winter. I think I would also add an additional recessed zip as well as the lock for additional security.  If I do this vertical version I am also considering just having the woven panel on the front so that the yarn does not catch on buttons etc on my coats or jackets.

Overall I am really happy that I have been able to develop a project from ACA into something that is a working design and has further possibilities and potential as well as being my first rosette winning bag!

Footnote:

No I have not stopped grinning and yes I do still look at that rosette daily and touch it regularly to make sure it is real!!

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Self-appraisal and critical reflection on Part 3

This assignment has not been an easy one in terms of at times it has felt like a hard slog but that is in part due to my medical diagnosis which caused me to loose focus and concentration for a few weeks and also in part due to loosing some confidence after assessment for my first textile course.  However this part of the course has also proved to be one of self discovery and creativity as I learn to work with my quirks rather than fighting against them – I am finding I am keeping referring back to the exercises on identity and although my chosen theme is on place the place I have chosen is very much a part of who I am too.

I have found the research element of the course really interesting and that is  starting to impact on my own work – I really started to notice an influence of other artists and designers creeping in in the last two exercises of weaving and constructing a cloth in particular as these are areas in which I am aware of designers and textile artists I already know and love and even want to emulate in some form what they are doing.  I think the one thing I will be changing however is researching artists or designers BEFORE I work on an exercise rather than remembering to do it after which I have been doing – it has been a fully admitted afterthought but also in one aspect that has proved useful because my ideas and creativity have not been influenced by their pieces of work and are purely my own.  My art history module has left me with a love of research which has really paid off because I do not find it difficult or a slog to do but now I need to think about how it can enhance my work from the outset and this is a weakness I need to rectify.

The critical reflection and regular self-appraisal is developing my understanding of the creative process and I am noting that I am starting to do this naturally throughout my blog rather than just where the course notes point me to do so.  I am finding I am beginning to be self-critical and note where I want to improve aspects of my work or where I am not happy with some samples either in my sketchbooks or in my blog or on the other hand I really like what I have done as I note ideas of where the ideas could go forward.  At times I am noting samples or sketches that I do not like or have even scrapped but I am still keeping them in my sketchbooks as reference points that may still generate ideas, not necessarily even for this course, but for future work and the critical reflection is enabling me to recognise this.

I am very much aware that my weak points in this part of the course have been the crochet and knitting and also the fabric manipulation – both were done during the time of my diagnosis and I feel my creativity just got up and left! I have also felt really unsatisfied and in truth a bit low mentally over some of my sketches of the samples which also felt like a hard slog at times – I feel I want to go back to basics and really work on my mark making skills and textural studies in order for me to more accurately depict my work.  However I have also been trying to develop a looser style of sketchbook work that enables me to get ideas down relatively quickly when and if I need to and this aspect has been working for me – I have been able to sketch some samples in diagrammatic form which makes sense to me. At times I have felt that I have wanted to be really detailed orientated previously and now lessons learnt in previous coursework have finally sunk in in regards to sketching or painting what I see or what I feel emotionally particularly in terms of when I am looking at an object or scene.

Finally regarding exploring the range of textile techniques – as mentioned above I felt I struggled with the knitting and crochet and also the fabric manipulation exercises and I am not particularly comfortable or happy with the majority of my samples.  There are more in the crochet range that I like and feel I can use than in the other areas but creatively and innovatively I am not at all happy and was glad to get to the next exercises.  The range of textile techniques has been really interesting and I won’t say fun all the time but it has shown me potential ideas – the fabric manipulation I think is one technique I need to continue to explore and work with and find my own way with and researching other textile artists and designers will help on this aspect.  The weaving and the fabric reconstruction is more up my street at this point – they both felt freer and made more sense to me for some reason although the crochet I can without question see being used in conjunction with these …. I have had an idea overnight about inserting a woven panel into a crochet piece of work in a fusion style that I want to explore over the next few days and see if it works.

As I now reflect  on this course  I can see how textile techniques can really help with ideas when working with a specific theme – exploring each through the courses is giving me a solid foundation from which to build and I am going to print off a list of techniques to pin on my notice board in order to generate ideas as it is easy to forget what you have at your fingertips. The explorations are not always successful but lessons do get learnt from the failures and some techniques I know I may use regularly whilst some I freely admit I am happy to leave behind! I think my biggest weakness of the whole course is my dislike of repetition but I have also come to understand how important it is with regards to samples and artistic sketches as  you try new ideas, fabrics or media to achieve a resolved piece of work that is either part of your final outcome or leads to it.

One thing I have really started to notice is my use of a wider range of media – the sketches have undoubtedly forced me to not to rely on just pen and pencil as I have sought to vary what I have been using to depict the samples.

My final note has to be on the fact that I am really wanting to develop my strength in using colour considerably further – I want this to be part of my personal voice and to be part of who I am as a textile artist as for me colour is a way of speaking to the viewer as I seek to express a narrative or range of emotions.  Colour is now becoming my voice which combined with textures can provide the words that I am not always able to say.

oh heck – the suggestion was 500 words for this self appraisal and as usual I have done far more but I think this self appraisal has been one of the most important for me as I have sought to understand in greater depth how I work and how to overcome my difficulties.  I am aware of my weaknesses and my growing strengths and can see a pathway forward in my personal voice in terms of self expression and techniques I feel I can develop much further.

 

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Exercise 3.5 Constructing a cloth

This exercise was all about constructing a cloth through firstly deconstructing fabrics – to be honest I looked forward to this as I was able to tear or cut to my hearts content and it almost felt childlike to do …. a really good stress reliever in truth!

I have made a conscious decision to only use fabrics that are in my collection for the majority of this course and am only allowing myself to replace or buy if I feel the project or exercise needs it.  For this exercise I realised I had thrown out several furnishing sample books after the end of ACA due to lack of storage space in my house and of course they would have been really useful for this exercise due to their heavier weight – a series of telephone calls resolved this issue for me and happily a local furniture shop was able to restock me!

For the first sample I took one of the furnishing fabrics and burnt holes in it with the use of a soldering iron and then added small areas of wool roving using the dry felting technique before poking voile through the holes from the back and top stitching to secure.  This felt like a very basic idea but at the same time I like the combination of textures and colours and thinking about how the fact that my theme is based on my garden for inspiration feel this sample works well – often my neighbour and I have each others flowers peeking through our boundary fence.

My sketches I felt much more confident about as I was able to portray the textures through the use of soft pastels on pastel paper and also the colours with the use of watercolour.

The second sample I have mixed feelings about how successful it is.  I decided to take some hessian and cut holes in it before really roughing the piece up with the help of a cheese grater … in some places the hessian has become slightly more coarse in texture but in other areas it is softer.  I backed the deconstructed hessian with a reddish maroon cotton fabric and secured both of the fabrics together with French knots.   The sketches I felt able to do with simple media to give the illusion of the hessian and backing fabric – these are not massively detailed but they capture the impression of the sample.

The third sample I found some woollen mix fabric that although it does not fit as well into my theme as I would like contrasts beautifully with some pale voile which is patterned with delicate flowers.  I wanted to create a stripey type of reconstructed fabric and rather than stitching the pieces together so all the edges are on one side I decided to alternate how I stitched each strip – this has created a double sided fabric in effect.  I also top stitched the seams on the outer edge of the seam allowance in order to catch the edges of the fabrics and create a flatter fabric.   As I look at the sketches I noted that I am starting to be able to capture the textures through more careful observation.

I decided to try mixing up a plaid fabric with some of my much favoured plastic bag strips – first the strips were stitched together before being woven together.  I top stitched the piece horizontally along  the ‘weft’ strips purely to hold the new ‘fabric’ together.  I do really love this new fabric due to the contrast between the plastic bag and plaid fabric – I am unsure as to why but I am finding strong contrasts are really appealing at the moment as are muted tones which softly blend and wonder if this is in part due to my exploration of my almost new identity with my recent diagnosis.

My sketches I wanted to use collage to depict the weaving but also mixed my media a little to do relatively simple sketches that give a reasonable impression of the sample.  I am preferring my sketches which are done in pen as I have no leeway for rubbing out or blending and so what I put down on the paper stays which means I have to think and place my marks carefully even if doing a relatively quick sketch.

The next sample is a technique I have explored previously in ACA – that of using small scraps of fabric placed between two pieces of iridescent voile with added top stitching to secure.  This technique can also be done with water soluable stabiliser although considerable more stitching is needed than I have done here in order to fully secure the fabric pieces before the stabiliser is rinsed away in water and dried.  This is another favoured sampled because the piece can be cut into shapes and used in a variety of way although I would add further stitching perhaps in a different coloured thread.  If I used the soluable stabiliser the piece would have a more lacy effect which again could be used in a variety of ways – I have made a note in my sketchbook to purchase some more as mine has run out and add a sample at a later date if I feel I need to.

The sketches I am not overly happy with due to their basic nature again and struggled to recreate the sample effectively in any media I chose but at least I have an impression that if I needed to use this technique in a future design I can give some kind of impression that I would understand!

The two samples I thought would be my final ones I have not even bothered to sketch because they just did not work at all! The red sample on the left of my photograph used furnishing fabric, felt and voile – I slashed the red fabric before using a Cathedral window style technique to pull the edges back and reveal the grey felt.  Before stitching the edges down I loosely wove a strip of voile through the cut edges.  This sample just does not do it for me …. it was an idea I was not sure where it was going and it failed miserably.  The second sample was an attempt at slashing through layers of fabric but due to the size of my slashes I had to top stitch to hold the layers together – why I did it like this I just do not know as I have done this technique before for a potential quilting block sample and know better!  In my sketchbook I have added this former sample – I do state that it was not for any course but for one of  own sample quilts and for the sample I simply stitched a simple grid through several layers of quilting cotton before slashing small crosses in some of the squares before washing it to fluff up the layers.  I guess for these two samples I just do not know what possessed me!

I decided to do one further sample having seen a piece of textile art by Sue McNair at Derbyshire Open Arts at the weekend.  I took strips of different textured and weight fabrics and stitched them to a piece of calico leaving all edges raw – I am aware that in the course notes there is a photograph of a fellow student’s work who did a similar sample but I wanted to use a mixed palette of colours that are reflective of my theme and that are reminiscent of the work of Sue McNair.

The final sketches were done simply but I feel effectively and reflect the sample. I feel I have taken note of the fact in Exercise 3.4 I was not happy with my sketches and have worked to improve them to capture the textures and colours of the fabrics more accurately.

Throughout this whole exercise I feel my influences have been my quilting background and in particular when I have played with different techniques.  I have done some research into artists/designers who use reconstructed fabrics and note the work of Shona Skinner and Cas Holmes – I really love the fact that Shona is heavily influenced by the environment in which she lives and bases her free-motion stitched landscapes on the area in which she is lucky enough to live (the Shetland islands).  I am also fascinated by the work of Cas Holmes as she works with a wide variety of found materials along to create her pieces that again are shaped and inspired by places that surround her – there is a real feeling of freedom in her work which really appeals to me at the moment.

I have really enjoyed this exercise and felt more confident in working my samples and sketches than I have previously – the weaving exercise and this exercises have definitely been my favoured but each has built on the other.  I still feel that I can play with deconstruction and reconstruction in more innovative ways and wonder if some of my samples have been a little on the safe side of creative but am conscious of the fact I can continue to play with ideas and am now keeping a notebook by my side so that I can note ‘light-bulb’ moments that I can work on or develop at more appropriate times.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Cas Holmes.  (date unknown).  Work [online].  [Date accessed:  May 2017].  Available from:  https://casholmes.wordpress.com/work-2/

TextileArtist.org. 2016.  Shona Skinner interview:  Embellishment of fabrics [online].  [Date accessed:  May 2017].  Available from:  http://www.textileartist.org/shona-skinner-interview-embellishment-of-fabrics/

TextileArtist.org.  Finding inspiration for textile art by Cas Holmes [online].  [Date accessed:  May 2017].  Available from:  http://www.textileartist.org/finding-inspiration-for-textile-art-by-cas-holmes/

 

 

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