an artists' view

an artists' view

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Textiles Day

Today has been a 'textiles day'! I've been sewing using these organic cotton threads (from Greenfibres) and boiling up some onion skins to make a dye-pot. There are 2 pieces currently 'stewing' in the pot; one is a length of organic white cotton; the other is a bundle of mistletoe leaves wrapped in organic cotton. When these are ready to be removed from the pot, I'll pop some of the washed Islay fleece into it, and see if that picks up any remaining colour. I'll card that later.

The bundle had been pre-mordanted with soya-milk, so I'm hoping for a good result! The length of cotton will have the left-over onion skins wrapped in it, and 'bundled', then dunked again into a dye-pot.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice 2011
The tree is up, and decorated; we light up the dark!
Tonight is the longest night; the shortest day. And three days remaining till Xmas.
This years tree is massive! I always have a real tree; and as our house is very small, I try to get a tree that will fit comfortably into it. But it's funny how a tree that seems a reasonable size in the garden centre, is huge when it's standing in the living room! Still, it does look beautiful. And the sweet resinous scent that greets us when we open the door in the mornings, is so evocative. Once the tree is up, I feel Xmas has really arrived.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

13 Moons

At Westgate Studios recent Members Exhibition, I showed one of my giclee prints, '13 Moons'.
As the title suggests, it has 13 small paintings of my observations of the Moon, over a lunar year (hence 13 moons), and runs from January, to January. This photo shows the first 3 months, January, February, and March, with April just to the right. It has a lovely reflection of the room where the exhibition was held! In the past, I would have dismissed a photo which had lots of reflection/s on it. But I'm coming round to think that sometimes reflections make something else out of the image in the lens.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Plant Dye-ing

Linen painted with soya milk, then dyed in an oak-leaf dye bath. 
I think I have cracked this plant-dyeing! Not being a chemist, the processes involved in creating dyes using plants is a bit of a mystery to me. But after reading, and experimenting, I think I've learned how to get good results.
As I've been using cottons and linens, because I don't want to use silk, I'm working with cellulose, and plant dyes don't tend to be as effective on these. They work best on 'proteins'...which are the wool and silk materials; basically materials that come from animals. Which leaves me working with materials that are difficult to use plant dyes on. Hmm, talk about making things hard for myself! Well, that's a common thread! 
BUT; using soya milk, creates a 'protein' on the surface of the linen/cotton, and allows the plant dye to adhere to the fabric better. And I've seen the result of that in the piece above. It's a massive step forward in the dyeing I've done since August.

I have just received a sample chart/s from Greenfibres of organic cottons, linens, silks, and hemps; organic wool/s (plant dyed!); and organic cotton threads. Their silks are 'wild harvested' maybe I could experiment with them? Of course, they are very expensive, certainly compared with fabrics I can buy locally. But I'll be looking into their products in the future. 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Wentworth Verdigris

On a recent visit to Wentworth, Rotherham, in order to look round Wingham Woolworks, I noticed this ironwork in one of the gardens. The sun was bright, and caught the highlighted metal and brickwork.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Knitting and Stitch at Harrogate

Yesterday I went to Harrogate to the Knitting and Stitching Show at the conference centre. It's the first time I've been. I bought some 'stuff'; and saw some amazing creations, made from wool and textiles. 
There were some wonderful objects on display, some notable ones were;-
Beryl Dean's ecclesiastical embroideries. Huge bishops copes etc, laid out as works of art.
Valerie Huggins' altarpiece based on her inspirations of Mexico. Her e.mail is; -
Linda Sadler's knitted work and felted fabrics, based on corals, seen through a microscope. Her blogspot is at: -

Been up to the studio today, using some of the new materials I bought; and organising myself for what I need to do for the final session of the textiles course on Tuesday. 
I've also had an idea for a textile piece using the plant-dyed fabrics I've been making since August!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Talks and ArtWalks

I gave a talk at Chantry Chapel last Monday, 21st November, based on my M.A. dissertation. Called 'The Sacred Landscape', it explored the influence of the landscape upon twentieth, and twenty-first century artists; including Barbara Hepworth, Paul Nash, Chris Drury, Aaron Watson, Berenice Henson et al.

I'm just reading a book about John Piper, and realised I missed him out of my research completely!

I've put some work into the exhibition of resident artists work at Westgate Studios for the next Artwalk on November 30th November 2011.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Islay; drawing with stitch

The east side of Islay, seen from the campsite on the western side of the Loch. Here was where Jon and I watched the moonrise on consecutive evenings. The moon was waning, so we only got to see it for a couple of evenings. This sewing is based on a pencil sketch I did whilst we were there. The foreground, the sea; the low hills on the horizon.

I'm working on a second drawing with stitch, based on another pencil drawing I did on Islay.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

'Silk' paints; and ethics

'Silk' painting....or, not actual silk; taffeta in fact. It lacks the vibrancy of painting on silk. The colours don't sing out as much. But I don't use silk as a fabric, as I try not to use any (obvious, at least!) killed animal by-products in my work. I realise this is a loaded issue, as I use oil paints and art materials which have most likely been tested on animals to 'ensure' their safety, and non-toxicity to humans. It's not an easy subject. The more I consider it, the more problematic it is! I just try my best; tiptoe-ing through all the ethical issues. The other students' work looked much better than this taffeta painted with silk-paints; the paint is designed to work best with silk, after all. I do keep a look-out for white/pale silk fabric in the second hand shops. Somehow it feel it might be alright to use second hand silk. But I don't buy it new; and in courses, I choose not to use it.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Wiltshire; Tipi

We stayed on a campsite just down the road from the Uffington White Horse, and near to the Ridgeway. Sharon, Stanny and Eli stayed in the tipi, whilst Jon and I stayed in Blanche. We had a wonderful time, and had a roaring fire on the Sunday night. We let off fireworks, and danced around with sparklers.....well Sharon and I did! It stayed dry, and sunny, and I would have loved more time to spend with our friends.

Wiltshire; The Vale of the White Horse

To the right of this photograph is the Uffington White Horse. To be honest, it's best seen from the air. I was particularly fascinated by the chalk hills. Like ribs, rippling under the green. There are some interpretations that the White Horse is in fact a dragon; that's what these hills looked like to me. The bones under the skin.

Wiltshire; Avebury

Avebury; the village in the henge. Walking round Avebury, we were struck by the 'trig-points', the concrete posts which indicated the positions of stones that were no longer in existence. We wondered about this wall.....was it made up of broken bits of ancient stones that had been removed from their original spots? Beyond it though, was the contrasting textures of a thatched roof; and in the garden, a tree, with some apples remaining.

Between them, they seemed to tell one of the stories of Britain.

Wiltshire; Wayland's Smithy

Wayland's Smithy in the autumn light. The leaves collecting in the entrance. The dappled sun shining through the trees create shadows; and darkness to the passage tomb's entrance. It looks a bit artificial, this light. But it's how the day was. I like the golden path of leaves; a carpet to soften the walk to death. Hmmm; very seasonal.

Of course, the information boards say that it's been 'reconstructed', as many stone circles/ rows, and standing stones are. This 'front' part had fallen down in the 1920's, so what we see is a modern construct.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Core Sampler; Journey Through The Past

This is a section of a large textile piece I'm working on; and have been working on for longer than I intended!

It incorporates hand sewing; machine sewing; fabric painting; transfer printing; hand-dyed fabric; and currently, I'm working using the silk papers I made on my textiles course. I'm hoping that the work I'm doing now, is the final part of the jigsaw. It's hanging on my studio wall, and I keep taking it down, to work on, to do more hand sewing. Then I pin it back up, till I get back into the studio to work upon it again. I'm hand sewing small leaf shapes (fossil leaf shapes to be exact) onto the silk papers, which I'll then attach to the cotton fabric.

There are quite a few to sew; 13 or 14, depending on my final decision. I am so looking forward to completing this! I can then clear the least in my head!.....and think about my next textile piece, which I have photos and ideas for.

Monday, 31 October 2011


greetings from the place where the veil between the worlds is thin!

The night of All Soul's, or Samhain in the Celtic year.

We've carved our pumpkins, and frightened the local children who've called round 'trick or treating'. I've been acting like Tom Waits! With a big top hat, full of sweets and chocolate, which I doff with a flourish, and offer to let the children take a piece of 'magic' chocolate! Some of the teenagers were in hysterics. So were we!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

'The Big Draw'

As October rolls round once more, the Big Draw is upon us.

A couple of years ago I went into a local primary school and did a few afternoons with a class to publicise 'The Big Draw'.We used big sticks, and pots/saucers of ink. Deliberately, so that there would be no worries about 'getting it right'. There were lots of blobs and blotches, which all added to the effects.

I took in lots of feathers too, so the children could have a go with ink and quill pens. It made quite a change using such ancient technology!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Living in the Material World

Last night I went to Bradford Media Museum to see the Martin Scorsese film about George Harrison, 'Living in the Material World'. It's a long one; including the interval, it lasts 4 hours. Scorsese has form for making films about musicians, there's his famous 'The Last Waltz', about the final concert of The Band, and of course he did the Bob Dylan Anthology film, plus the Rolling Stones film.

Scorcese films are always worth a looksee, whatever the subject; but as a Beatles fan from decades ago, I had a particular interest in this one. I wasn't disappointed. It's as though George has just popped out the room, and he's still present.

The interview with his wife, Olivia, telling us about the night they were invaded by a man who attacked George with a knife, was particularly chilling. I found myself shifting uncomfortably in my seat; it was so visceral. Olivia did well to hit the assailant hard enough that he didn't kill George. She saved his life.

A film with lots of dark shadows, as well as the light and excitement of 'the sixties'.

George was described by Ringo as having 'a bag of love, and a bag of anger'; but the final words that stayed with me, were from Jackie Stewart, the racing driver, who George befriended through his love of fast cars and motor racing.

Jackie said that it was the most intense bereavement he'd ever had, and he felt the loss more that any others. Despite the fact that he didn't think he knew George that well, and didn't feel that he was particularly close to him. It's a testament to how George made people feel.

Went home and put on a George Harrison cd that my brother bought me when George died.

And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


A few weeks ago Jon brought this wasp nest home from his allotment. It's now rotted away sadly; but the nest was beautiful to look at. A creamy ball of feathery 'paper'.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Herb Robert Dyed Fabric

This is the result of my experiments using Herb Robert to dye linen fabric. It's come out a very pale, washed out grey-pink colour. The black marks come from the small bull-dog clips I used to hold together the folded cloth.

Quite nice effects I think.

Here is a close up of the pattern from the clips.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Cotton Dyed with Onionskins

My first experiment with eco-dyeing.
A bundle wrapped in onion skins, and steeped in the 'dyepot' for weeks and weeks!
The darker patches are where the cotton has taken up the pattern and colour of the onions.
A modest success I'd say; now to think about how to use it?

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Home Grown

Some rather eccentrically coloured purple potatoes, that Jon grew this year. They were very small, but gorgeous to look at. Unfortunately the colour drained away once I'd cooked them. Shame.

More home grown produce. And apples, apples, apples! We have a surfeit of apples this year, both in our garden at home, and at Jon's garden. We're eating apple crumble, and Jon's wrapping them up in newspaper, for storage.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Sheep Fleece & Felt

On holiday on the Isle Of Islay, back in August, I collected some sheep fleece from Finlaggan.....which is the site of where the Lords of The Isles had their headquarters.

I'm currently reading a book I got whilst on Islay, by Alistair Moffat called 'The Sea Kingdoms; The History of Celtic Britain & Ireland'. It's giving me a fantastic background on Welsh and Scots history.

The creative textiles course has begun again, and I'm 3 weeks into it. So taking on some of Christine's suggestions, I went and bought 2 metal toothed dog-brushes. They are a pretty good imitation carding combs!

And so have started to 'card' the fleece from Islay, using said dog-brushes! I've got quite a nice little pile so far, but there's a LOT of fleece left! It was lovely last Saturday, sitting in the hot sun in my garden, carding through the fleece. I did think though, it was a good job I wasn't doing it on piecework rates! I'd never make a living at it.

Funnily enough, I did once work in a wool factory, decades back, in the 1970's. Not in the carding shop though; I worked on the wool-spinning machines. Very noisy, and dust-full.

Saturday was quite a different experience from the wool-factory.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Richard Hamilton R.I.P.

Yesterday I caught the news that Richard Hamilton had died.
Famous for the collages he created back in the 1960's which ushered in the 'Pop Art' movement. Famous for the paintings he did depicting the dirty protest, and the IRA hunger strikers of the 1980's.
And famous for the cover of The Beatles album (that became known as) The White Album.
In the interview the played on Front Row last night, he said that he wanted to just have reference numbers on the plain white cover, and not include the embossed name of 'The Beatles'.
Minimal indeed!
It would still have sold as many copies though!
I have a numbered White Album; though the condition is atrocious! I went out and bought a replacement vinyl copy, it was just about unlistenable. Obviously I put the new vinyl into the old cover though!

Dyed Paper

This is some paper I dyed by steeping it in rainwater with onion skins. The paper is hand made Indian paper, from a lovely sketchbook/notebook I was bought a few xmases ago.
The black edgings are from the small metallic bulldog clips I used to hold the folded paper together in the dye-pot.
My very first go with dye-ing using plants!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Spinning the Whorl

It's been such a busy summer. I've not had a chance to write up all the things that have been happening. And now here's September again, and things are cranking up back into action with work.

A while ago, Jon and I went to East Yorkshire when it was Archaeology Week, and visited a farm near Driffield where they were holding a display and activities to be part of the celebrations.

They have a replica of the 'Wetwang Chariot' on display, and a video of it being pulled by a horse, and a woman riding/steering it. It's an amazing reproduction, and I was reminded of the Ferrybridge Chariot which was dug up when the the 'new' M62/A1 connection road was being built. I saw it when it was on display at Pontefract Museum. Sadly it's now in storage, as there isn't enough space to keep it on permanent display.
These finds make me wonder what is beneath our feet that we know nothing about; mysteries which only turn up when roadbuilding occurrs.

Still; the day out in East Yorkshire was fun. And I got to see a replica Anglo-Saxon loom, with loom-weights made from the holed stones found on the east Yorkshire beaches. I had a go on that.

I also found someone to demonstrate how to spin using a drop-spindle. We had a real laugh as we experimented! It's harder than it looks! And those women using the drop-spindles would do it at the same time as they were doing something else!
I have utter respect for them!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Dye-ing; and Wool

Some fabric l ironed on transfers l'd initially painted on paper. An interesting process, though l did think...'well why not simply paint directly onto the fabric?' I still do ask myself that question.

Meantime, after the onion skin infusion, I've got 2 bundles soaking that I made whilst in Scotland, plus one I put in a jar with beeroot juice (India Flint's Solar-Dyeing, as she calls it), and another steeping in the Herb Robert.

Whilst in Scotland I also 'collected' a big bundle of sheep sheared was just lying on the ground, honest guv!
That's soaking in a box in the garden; awaiting my action on what to do with it. It does need washing; and it also needs teasing apart somehow, to make it possible to work with.

When I start the textiles course again, I'll have access to some carding combs to help me with that....hurrah!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Fabric Dye-ing, and Herb Robert

Herb Robert turns from green to red in the leaves. I've read that this can produce a red dye, so have picked some, and steeped some fabric in the liquid.
Unfortunately this plant has a disgusting smell (!) so the house has reeked, whilst I've been working with it. I'm soaking a linen/cotton blend fabric, so it will be interesting to see the difference between this and the thicker cotton fabric I've been using so far.

Autumn and Holidays

Who knows where the time goes? as Sandy Denny once asked!

Jon and I went to the Isle of Islay in Scotland, in the middle of August; so that was exciting, as well as very restful. Campervan Blanche did us proud.

Finlaggan is the place on Islay known as the site where 'The Lord Of The Isles' were based, though they moved around their kingdom, rather like the Medieval and Tudor kings did in England. Above is the standing stone at Finlaggan, which overlooks the visitors centre. Growing on it, is some remarkable lichen. Around here is where I found the sheep-fleece.

Finlaggan sits out in the loch, an ancient site built on man-made islands (crannogs). Like all the islands in Scotland, sky and water dominate. In gullies white froth sits atop peat coloured water, creating patterns.

And the crannog reaches further into the water, where once there was a pavement from one island to the next. Now underwater, you can glimpse the rocks falling away into the depths.

I found another of those neolithic carved balls that I keep finding in various museums (Museum of Islay Life). We camped on the beach and watched fantastic sunsets; and also saw a couple of gorgeous moon-rises!

We walked round the magical Walled Garden, where we bought some seasonal veg.

I did quite a few drawings, that I'm now looking at re-making into textile pieces; AND I took some fabric, which I made bundles of, and soaked, dyed, and tied.
They are currently soaking in a bowl full of tea (!); for the tannin, to help with the mordanting.

A piece of fabric I'd left soaking in onion skin water whilst I went away, has been removed, dried, and is now ready for use. The first of my plant-dyed fabrics!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Onionskin Dyeing

I have quite a backlog of photos to upload here; but here's a photo of a poppy in my garden.

For next summer I'll have to get myself sorted so that I can try and get dye-ing the colour from them!

The most exciting thing is that I finally bought India Flint's book 'Eco-Colour'; expensive, but beautifully put together. And LOTS of information within. My mind was a bit boggled when I finally opened it to have a look. I've decided I'm going to take it on holiday with me, and take some fabric.
She's convinced that you can be a 'peripatetic dyer'! so I'm going to try it out. We'll be off camping in Blanche the campervan, so it will be quite a challenge to dye in such conditions.

I've started at home with some onionskins; thinking that was pretty straightforward and simple to do. So far it's been one piece of paper, folded and held together with clips; but it resulted in a lovely pattern and pale yellow colour.
I've now had a second piece of paper soaking in the onion skin infusion. Will hoik that out tomorrow, and see the result. Then l'll prepare a piece of fabric to soak.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Art House; Members' Open Exhibition

Tonight is the Wakefield ArtWalk, 5-9pm.
Amongst the venues open and showing work, is The ArtHouse which is holding a Members' Open Exhibition.
It was decided that everyone who entered their work would have one piece exhibited, so one of my pieces is in.
I haven't been down yet, so it's still a mystery to me which piece was chosen. I'll find out when I pop down tonight.

The painting on display is 'Earthworks', which was last seen in the ArtyVan event I did in May.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

TED talks; Janet Echelman

Look out for JANET ECHELMAN's sculptures. Her website is

and her sculptures are there, as well as the recent (8 June 2011) 'TED TALK' she did. It's on YouTube. Shows off the starting point of her sculpture; she started out, hand tie-ing nets with fishermen in India, and creating these light, fragile, but voluminous sculptures.
Since then, she's created lots of public art, and has shifted into more hi-tech materials.
They sway and move in the wind; are brightly coloured. More like ameoba, or jellyfish, than engineered, sculptural, machine-made 'objects'. They are incredibly delicate, and maintain a softness and delicacy belied by their manufacture.

Monday, 18 July 2011

the 21st century

Jon and I have moved into the 21st century and gone onto.....broadband!
Already things are working faster; but the downside is, we've realised that the pooter is slow. So putting 1+1 together, we've realised there must be a bug in it. It needs a visit to the pooter-doc, so will be going off there soon.

In the meantime; I've been using up the dye I brought home from the textile course I did earlier this year. Dyed a couple of hankies I bought from a charity shop, and the Shibori piece I'd been doing for months (!). The colour is very pale, and really quite surprising. They are drying as I write. They'll make an interesting addition to my growing textile collection.

I've also been doing some hand embroidery on the Labyrinth textile piece (above) I began a few weeks ago. That's looking nice, though still got work to do on it.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Festivals and Fabrics

Another busy weekend; been off to Wales for the SmallNations festival. In Blanche, acting this time as a camper-van 'proper' rather than a small exhibition space!
Whilst there, I managed to buy some lovely organzie fabric scarves. They should go nicely with the textile work I'm doing.

The festival was situated in a beautiful hill/valley. From the hilltop we could see right down the valley for miles; a shame I didn't have a telephoto lens! I just couldn't get the receding blue of the mountain ranges in my photos.
Like a Chinese silk painting.

We went to a talk by Dr Dan, a professor at Swansea University, who talked about the plants in the hedgerow and the fields we were camped in. A mine of information. And how bracken is not the 'plant-pest' we think it is; it's a veritable treasure-trove of wildlife. Including Adders, whose scale pattern echoes the pattern created by bracken.
I can feel some creative research coming on!!!!

In the garden is growing this wierd plant; neither Jon nor I know what this is!

Today I've been up to the Adult Education centre where the textile course is held, and enrolled on the course from September.
So to get on with the research for this textile piece I'm planning!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Studios; Textiles; War

I've been very busy recently; moving into a fantastic space in Westgate Studios, which is massive compared with the previous studio I had there.
The textiles course I've been doing is coming to an end; there's only 1 more session to do. I'm hoping to enrol on it again for September, as I've been so inspired by the work we've done there, despite the fact we can only do samples.
I've got an idea for another piece of textiles work; over the summer I'll be doing some research on it, and some planning. I'm exploring using different textiles techniques on different segments of this piece. Of course it's all very well thinking about doing that, but I need to be able to unify the surface, so it doesn't look like a random selection of samples!
I sat in my studio on Friday, getting some basic ideas down on paper; it was wonderful to sit there, feeling I was back into my creative 'routine' again.

Still; there's lots of work to get on with, and work to complete.....isn't there always!

Jon bought me PJHarvey's recent cd 'let england shake', for my birthday. It's very impressive, and moving too. She approached it as a 'war artist', saying in interviews that although there was a long history of visual artists being deployed in wars, she didn't know of a musician being employed as a 'war artist'. So the songs are all about war.
One of those co-incidences happened, as I'd just read Pat Barkers 'Life Class' immediately preceding listening to Polly Jean. I'd chosen 'Life Class' because it concerned itself with artists at the Slade in the spring of 1914, and how they were caught up in WW1 when it broke out. There are references to real people, Henry Tonks, Augustus John, though the main characters are fictional.
Obviously I thought of Paul Nash, who was a soldier in WW1, who painted what he'd seen, and experienced. And who went on to serve as a war artist in WW1 and WW2.
Paul Nash is a favourite artist of mine.
And so is PJHarvey.
Both now designated 'war artists'!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Birdbox/Sculpture 1

A shadowy photo of the not-quite-completed birdbox I recently made. It is now finished, and I put it out in Westgate Chapel, for the ArtyVan event a couple of weekends ago.

In the last couple of days, a blackbird family (who didn't use any of the 3 birdboxes we've got up in our garden; and didn't nest in this one, either!) who'd built their nest in the hedge made up of clematis and honeysuckle (do birds have a sense of smell?) finally left the nest, and as of today, have left our garden.
It's been a bit hectic, as we have 2 cats, so we've been keeping them in, and keeping an eye on the fledgeling.
Yesterday morning at 4am, we were both to be found peering out of the upstairs window, watching it as it perched on the trellis, waiting to be fed by ma and pa blackbird. Its high-pitched, one-note 'peeeep' was the only noise we've heard from it; obviously telling ma and pa it wanted feeding, but otherwise keeping quiet to avoid the attention of predators. Mr and Mrs B. were hopping about, with beaks full of grubs, trying to get the fledgeling to fly to them.

By Friday afternoon, it was perched in the ash tree; Mr.B popped a red berry into it whilst I was watching at a safe distance. In the evening, it was to be found in the vine; I got to within 2 foot of it. It remained very still, and Pa blackbird was hovering close by, keeping an eye on me.
This morning, there was no sign of any of them; I'm feeling a great sense of totally undeserved pride, in the successful rearing of a blackbird chick! Obviously nothing to do with me; but it felt good to think they'd chosen our garden to nest in.
The garden seems very quiet now, without them. The blue-tits are coming back to feed. I think Mr and Mrs Blackbird scared off most birds form our garden whilst they were bringing up their fledgeling.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Sitting on the backseat of Blanche is a painting I've recently completed which incorporates oil paints and egg; a tempera experiment. It gives the canvas a chalky, textured surface. I'm looking forward to working with this media more in the near future.

The image itself is taken from computer 'indications', and aerial photographs of some ancient earthworks within Wakefield district. They are no longer in existence, and are only able to be seen as cropmarks when the weather is dry enough.

Wakefield Archives very kindly gave me access to their images, and gave me printouts and photocopies which I used to work from.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

ArtyVan (8)

The bunting was out; the art was on display; Jon baked cake; Pauline brought delicious cheese scones! And the weather stayed gorgeous!
The grounds of Westgate Chapel were the perfect place to sit out and enjoy the day when The Hepworth Wakefield opened its doors to the public. We celebrated in fine style.

Some art work on display in the rear of Blanche.

And when it was all over, we retired to 'The Prince Albert', up at Westgate Studios, where we had a pint of lovely 'Masterpiece' beer, brewed especially for the Hepworth's opening by Ossett Brewery. There was an installation in the Project Space, and Vicky (pictured above) had a high old time examining the gloss-paint filled plastic that hung from the ceiling.

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Hepworth Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield is 'officially' open; tomorrow (Saturday) is the first day of opening to the public. I was lucky to go tonight for the speeches of thanks etc, that greeted the preview opening.
It was lovely to see paintings I've viewed for the past 30 years at Wentworth Terrace, in this new setting; a purpose-built gallery. Wentworth Terrace is a lovely building, and very welcoming, with gorgeous stained glass in some of the windows. But house-sized, it was problematic for displaying artwork.
The Hepworth is BIG and it shows the paintings, drawings, and sculptures with lots of space around them, and lit beautifully.
And - as I wrote in May 2010, the views of the River Calder are simply stunning.
The natural light bounces off the water, and pours through the windows, warm and golden. So many people stood looking out of the windows - just as I did 12 months ago.
Now that at last it's open, I hope us Wakefield people visit The Hepworth and take it to our hearts. We'll get to see some fantastic art; not just the work already in the collection, but visiting exhibitions. I want us to come to love it.

I'm looking forward to visiting again in a few days, and having a proper look around; a thorough looksee. The Hepworth sculpture 'Figure (Nanjizal)' from 1958 is one I want to spend some time with. Carved yew wood, it retains the chisel marks on the inner surface. A lovely contrast with the smoothness of the outer tree trunk.
And in the St Ives gallery, I finally found the sculpture 'Chun'.
We visited Chun Quoit when we visited St. Ives, and sat for ages, while I took photographs and sketched; listening to the lapwings' song. It's a neolithic tomb; it stands on the swell of the moor, away from everything. Later, I drew it again; this time on an A1 piece of paper. It's one of the biggest drawings I've ever done. It hangs on my landing; and tonight I shall pass it as I go up to bed.
And I'll think about the pleasure I'm going to have, when I return to the gallery, and look again at Hepworth's sculpture 'Chun'.

ArtyVan (7)

A bronze from Hepworth's studio in St. Ives.
When I first saw this, on my first visit to Hepworth's studio/museum, I finally 'got' her work. It is very explicit in its referencing of neolithic stones, and ancient landscapes.
I'd been visiting many stone circles, and standing stones throughout the British Isles before I saw this bronze. So I looked at it and it was 'boom'...I understood! This was the reason I re-visited St. Ives in 2005, while I was in the process of writing my M.A. dissertation. Hepworth's work needed to be included, because the influence of the land was integral to her work.
My dissertation was about the Land, and artists who worked within it (Land Artists) or who were influenced by it.
And tomorrow, the Hepworth will finally open its doors. It's wonderful that finally there is an art gallery that is named for a female artist. And she came from Wakefield!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

ArtyVan (6)

Had the Wakefield Express round at Westgate Chapel yesterday taking photos of me; artwork; and Blanche.
Not necessarily in that order!
I don't expect the photographer will put them through photoshop!

Have collected the giant catering flasks from work, so we can make drinks for people who visit. And Jon is going to try and make some cake, so that will be a real treat; Jon's cake is becoming legendary to those people who come to my exhibitions!

My friend Lorraine is coming along to help throughout the day.
And hey...we have BUNTING! Hurray! The weather forecast is 'windy', so that will get the bunting fluttering nicely.
Almost ready; any last minute things will have to be completed tonight or tomorrow. If it isn't done by then, it's just too bad!

Bob's studio will be open on Saturday too, up at Westgate Studios; 'The Prince Albert', so who knows, I might get a well-earned drink after it's all over on Saturday!

Monday, 16 May 2011

ArtyVan (5)

Here's a photograph of Blanche, my campervan, that I took in the grounds of Westgate Chapel yesterday. It's been put through a few of the filters on photoshop, which is why it has a rather scruffy, silvery, blotchy look! It makes a change from the usual photographic images though; and I wanted Blanche to get her photo on the blog!
I e.mailed Kate some information about myself, for her to send out in some publicity. She took lots of photos! I'm not that keen on having my photograph taken, so I felt a bit awkward. Perhaps I should have put Kate's photos through photoshop, so I emerged scruffy and blotchy if not silvery!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

ArtyVan (4)

Another Hepworth sculpture from her studio in St.Ives.

Got to Chapel today and Kate took some photos; and I took some photos of Blanche, my VW campervan. I completed the textiles I'm exhibiting there on Saturday, so that's a relief.

A bit of tinkering to complete the birdbox, and everything is ready!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

ArtyVan (3)

I'm away to the Chapel tomorrow, to meet with Kate Taylor, the Chapel Secretary. She wants to take some photos of Blanche, my VW van. So my task tonight (!) is to create a nameplate, reading 'ArtyVan'! Eventually I want one made of fabric; but just for now, I think it will have to be paper.
We went uptown today, and looked out to buy some bunting. Most of the shops we went in, had staff who had never heard of 'bunting'. I had imagined that the country was awash in unwanted bunting after the royal wedding last month, but I was obviously wrong.
In case I don't get the chance to make up some bunting before next Saturday, I purchased, from a poundshop, a 'camping-washing-line' complete with pegs! That, as they say, will do nicely!

And here's a photo of Barbara Hepworth's studio in St.Ives from when I was there in 2005. I was researching my M.A. dissertation, which covered artists and their relationship with the Land, and included Hepworth. It will be fascinating to see the artefacts on show in the new Hepworth Gallery, donated by her family. Her studio in St. Ives, looks as though Hepworth has just stepped out for a moment. It's very evocative.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

ArtyVan (2)

I'm still on with the textile work for the Hepworth Opening Artwalk. Luckily I'm near the end of the process, rather than the beginning....which is lucky, as I've only got just over a week to go! It kind of hit me last night; and I'm now making 'lists' of what I need to do, to get organised. I finally got round to e.mailing round. It had simply not sunk into my head that I needed to get the information out! Doh!

I still haven't processed the visit to London last week, when I went to Tate Britain to see the Susan Hiller exhibition. The catalogue sits on the sofa; I'm refusing to put it onto the bookcase yet, until I've had a thorough look at it. But I'm just too busy at the moment. It will be my 'treat' for after the 21st of May! Then I shall immerse myself in 'HillerWorld' again. Plus I was able to get a wondrous book about Paul Nash, and one about Samuel Palmer, of whom I know very little, except his influence upon artists such as Nash. So much to look at, so little time! I wonder if it's better to be an art historian, rather than an artist? That way, you can justifiably spend your time looking, and not concern yourself with the time it takes away from the making?
I feel the last couple of months have been so full of inspiration; the film of the Cave Art in France; the Spero exhibition; the Hiller show; plus all the catalogues and books I've got to look at.
And of course, the work I've been concentrating on making. Though I don't feel I've had enough time for that recently.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Westgate Unitarian Chapel, Westgate, Wakefield.

On Saturday 21st May, 2011,

11am - 4pm

To celebrate the official opening of the Hepworth Wakefield, I will be exhibiting a small selection of my smallest work, in the smallest exhibition space in Wakefield.

My T4 VW campervan, Blanche!
I look forward to seeing you, for drinks, and cakes, in this lovely green oasis in the centre of Wakefield. Take time to relax, and refresh yourself.

for details
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