an artists' view

an artists' view

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Felt 2

The second piece of felt I made for the City and Guilds course. It's a piece of 'Grid Felt'. 
We made the felt piece, and then cut out sections of it, to create the 'grid'. I would've liked to make the grid from strips of wool that are then felted, but the tutor, Christine said this took longer and was trickier to do! So I did the 'easier' version.   
I've used undyed wool; the colour comes from the natural shades of the sheep fleece. I've added some inserts of transfer hand-dyed organzie, and embroidery using space-dyed thread.
It's based on the limestone pavements that are found in North Yorkshire, and in Ireland.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Hare Stone

At Lime Tree Farm in North Yorkshire, stands a stone circle, erected by willing helpers at the end of last century. Each of the stones was put in place at specific points throughout the year, situated in particular directions.
When I went there a few years ago, I was struck by the patterns of quartz, running through the rock. 
To me, it created a Hare. I was seeing a number of Hares during the late 1990's, at lots of different locations. Once you've seen a Hare, you can never mistake them for rabbits! I've seen some huge ones, the size of a medium-sized dog! And they have a very particular way of looking at you; as if they're seeing right into you, and through you. Very magical, are Hares. So it's not surprising that I saw the Hare in the quartz of this stone. 

Monday, 23 January 2012

Wiltshire; Avebury; 2011

When I went to Avebury last October, I took this photo of a couple of the stones. I had to take a photograph of the stone on the left; it just looked like the face of a sheep, seen from the side!
As I'm busy thinking and dreaming about felt (!) because of this course I'm doing, I thought this image fitted rather well here.

When I went to The Hepworth last week to hear Clare Woods 'In Conversation', I was interested to hear she was a big fan of Paul Nash, John Piper, Graham Sutherland, Barbara Hepworth. Though not surprised, as she had curated a mini-exhibition of a selection of their work in one of the rooms of The Hepworth at the entrance of her exhibition.
When I saw the exhibition, I was really pleased to see the work in that small room; I've had a particular interest in such artists since I was an art student back in the 1980's. There's something about their concern with landscape in the shadow of WW2; almost a sense of what might be lost. Clare Woods articulated that this fear may have a similar resonance at the moment, with the economic 'austerity' we face, and current ecological worries.....though to be fair, there have been ecological anxieties at least since the 1960's, that I'm aware of....and they probably go back further that that.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Journey Through the Past; Core Sampler

So at last 'Journey Through the Past; Core Sampler' is finished. It's taken me a long,long time to complete it. The starting point for me, was visiting York Art Gallery, and seeing the exhibition there of Sashiko sewing. It inspired me to think about using fabric, sewing, stitching, and textiles as a medium for artwork. Initially it was the idea of creating 3 dimensional work using textiles and stitch; and I've not really followed up on that idea at all!
Instead I got started on this massive piece; it stands approximately 5 feet high, and approx 2.5 feet wide. And incorporates; hand stitching, transfers, hand painting, machine stitch, hand-dyed fabric, embroidery, silk-paper making. It's been a real 'Journey' for me. 

Friday, 20 January 2012

Felt 1

My first felt sample piece for the City and Guilds course. The red flecks, are from sheep fleece I collected in Shropshire last year, and dyed with procian dyes. I wanted to include some fleece that I'd worked on; though this isn't the Islay fleece. That piece has been in the onion skin dye-bath and is now out and drying, ready for carding. I hope to use that in one of my felt sample pieces, over the next few weeks.

I've been up at the studio today, sewing with mono-filament.....blimey! I couldn't see where I'd stitched! I'm sewing it onto some solufleece, water-soluble 'fabric' that I bought from Harrogate. My eyes were aching after a few rows. I'm using it on my second felt sample for the C&G course, where we created holes.

We have to have a theme for our work; mine is 'natural forms'. Though when I thought about it more, I also realised that I was using a limited palette, which is a change from my usual work practise. Doing textile/fabric work, is informing my painting and drawing work. There are changes coming through; which is interesting, and exciting; and also challenging.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Starry Starry Night

 It's STARGAZING LIVE this week.
The BBC is encouraging people to watch the skies. I blame Brian Cox!
Though actually I need little encouragement to go outside and look at the stars. 
Jon and I went over to Carleton Observatory at Pontefract; where the members had set up a series of telescopes outside, to use in conjunction with the huge telescope up on the roof, which has limited access.
It was a cold clear night, and therefore freezing! But of course, perfect for looking at the skies. I saw Jupiter, with the coloured bands, and its' 4 moons; the Orion nebula, which is normally only perceptible as a fuzziness without the aid of a telescope; and Sirius, the dog star. Sirius was beautiful! Twinkling like white fire, with blazes of red and orange. A jewel in the black night. I also saw a stunning shooting star. 
I'm sure the more correct term is 'meteorite', but I prefer shooting star. This one fell quite slowly, leaving a trail of greeny-gold. I've never seen one quite like it. There was time to point it out to each other, and turn to see it, which is rarely the case. Usually there is a quick flash, and it's over.
A wonderful night. Hot chocolate when once home, to thaw me out!

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Sunday, 15 January 2012


The onion skins dye-pot.
In which I have 2 bundles, and one chunk of sheep-fleece immersed. The colour that has come from the onion skins, is a lovely orange; so I'm feeling very hopeful of the results.

Yesterday we went to Leeds, and visited the Art Gallery, where there is an exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute, called 'United Enemies', subtitled 'The problem of sculpture in Britain in the 1960's and 1970's'. I enjoyed the exhibition; and came out smiling. 

There's also an exhibition of Sheila Cluett sculptures, which is taken from the Henry Moore collection, who have just acquired Cluett's archives.
I was very taken by Cluett's work. The drawings were exquisite; light, delicate, flexible, and flexing, expressing subtlety and either motion, or stillness. The pencil drawings were almost architectural - often depicting designs for installations within rooms, or without-side in the natural world. They were economical, expressive, and clean. Her pastel drawings were expressive, and successful in capturing the essential qualities of line, and shape.
Her sculptures on show at Leeds were structures rising from the floor, and leaning, finely balanced against the walls. They are lit mostly from above, and so shadows are cast against the white walls, adding depth, and space to them.
Although the sculptures are quite simple in the first place, once I looked at them more carefully, I began to appreciate the complexity of them. They are tall, bound structures, standing on one point, finely balanced. Made up of various materials, including wood, wax, rope, wire, bamboo, plaster, resin, and metals. Some are straight, like 'arrow-shafts'. Others incorporate curves, curls, circles and spirals. I haven't done justice to the beauty of her sculptures; so all I can say is, go to the gallery, and see them for yourselves. The exhibition is on till 11 March 2012; and there is a gallery discussion on Wednesday 22 February, which I'm hoping to go to.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Drawings and Designs

Looking back through a sketchbook I've had for about 6 years, I found this sketch; one done fairly recently, but I'd then forgotten all about it.
I love new sketchbooks; whenever I go anywhere that sells art materials, I have to go over to the sketchbook/paper section, and have a look at their stock. I'm a real bibliophile; love books in all their forms! I always want to start work in a new sketchbook; but the promise of its pages seems so very intimidating. Will the work be 'good enough' to fill these pages? The ever-present doubt of the artist...'will it be good enough'?????
This sketch was done with pencils; small marks; a tiny sketch, in an A5 book. I was trying out some ideas for working with textiles, and threads. And influenced by a Shell poster from the 1930's; 'Mousehole, Penzanze', by Anthony Stewart. He'd created a sea, from flat areas of pure tone, stripes of white, black, and blue. I was wondering how I might use that idea to create a textile piece. I'm wondering still!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Studios and Snow

Strange to think that this time last year we were covered with snow! This was the view from my first studio at Westgate Studios in Wakefield. Across the fire escape, and over the roofs of the old brick and slate tiled buildings. Emley Moor mast in the far distance.....though not to be seen in this photograph! I love the way that photos of the snow create this blueness. There is a special quality of light in snow; and although my digital camera allows me to alter the setting, I like the resulting blue. I used to love the skies from this window; their ever-changing light.

On another note; I've begun my City and Guilds course in Feltmaking. My first piece was a bit of an anti-climax. A lovely piece of felt, said Christine, the tutor; but too small. All the pieces we make have to be A4 size, and this wasn't. I took it back to the studio, and proceeded to gently pull at the felt to try and make it the right size! I await Christine's verdict; but not the greatest start! 

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year's Day

Happy New Year!
Jon made this lovely wreath for us this year; very 'holly and Ivy', with lots of berries. Evergreens the symbol of life in the depths of winter. 
I'm currently reading Richard Mabey's  book, 'Weeds'. And on page 192 he asks the question, 'what are weeds for?' The answer comes in his following sentence;
'I have not seen three-quarters of these species, (of moths) but the list of moths that feeds on that governmentally scheduled weed, the dock, reads like a found poem:
bearded chestnut, black rustic, blood-vein, brown-spot pinion, chestnut, common marbled carpet, cream wave, dark-barred twin-spot carpet, dark chestnut, feathered ranunculus, garden tiger, gem, green arches, grey chi, Isle of Wight wave, large ranunculus, large twin-spot carpet, Lewes wave, mottled beauty, muslin moth, nutmeg, pale pinion Portland ribbon wave, red sword-grass, riband wave, ruby tiger, satin wave, striped hawk-moth, sword-grass, twin-spot carpet, white-marked, wood tiger, yellow shell.'
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