Monday 22 April 2024

Prism Textiles at the Art Pavillion, Mile End, London


Sue Burley - Nature v City (centre) & City v Nature detail (left & right)

I have recently been to see the Prism Textiles Group Edgelands Exhibition at the Art Pavillion, Mile End Park, London, E3 4QY which was wonderful.  Prism are an international group of textile artists who push the boundaries of textile art and promote its visibility.  They  exhibit annually at this lovely venue and it is genuinely a highlight of the textile art year and this year was no exception.  Prism members also run a variety of free workshops during the exhibition which are also well worth attending.  Edgelands is on until 29 April 2024 - a definite must see!

Maria Wigley - Linguistic Entropy

The artists exhibiting were responding to the theme "Edgelands" and a huge variety of textile and mixed media techniques were in evidence. There were 59 contributing artists.  In this blogpost, I am showing just a dozen of my highlights which are only a small fraction of the fabulous work on display. 

Lynne Chapman - Buried Treasure (back detail, front, front detail)

Jacqueline Adkins - Bridge I & II

Judith Isaac Lewis - Nature Pages

Amanda Hislop - Out of sight, farmland fragments found

Aran Illingworth - Heron

Hayley Mills Styles - LS6 detail

Anne Amosford - Once were Sheep

Kim McCormack - The Wet Desert

Ross Belton - Laid Bare: The Ages of Man

Wolfgang Woerner - Distance loses all rational meaning

Whilst I was visiting Wolfgang Woerner was leading a workshop which I attended. Everyone was given a padded shape and encouraged to explore blanket stitch in its many variations e.g. density, size, direction, form and to share their results.  It was a very amusing, enjoyable and relaxing session.  Thank you, Wolfgang! Here are the results...  


Wolfgang Woerner Workshop

You can read the directions for a step free route to the Art Pavillion from Mile End Underground station here.  It's a great exhibition - do go if you can!  You can download the exhibition catalogue here to find out more about the artists and their work. It's on until 5pm on Monday 29 April 2024.

Saturday 13 April 2024

New Hippystitch Necklaces Now In At The Ropewalk, Barton upon Humber

Hippystitch Fabric Necklaces

A new selection of Hippystitch fabric necklaces have winged their way to The Ropewalk Craft Gallery in Barton upon Humber.  There are lots of different patterns and colours to choose from and some super Liberty prints...

Hippystitch Fabric Necklaces

Whether you like brights, darks or neutral colours there's something for you in this selection...

Hippystitch Fabric Necklaces

The Ropewalk has exhibitions on in its galleries as well as it's Craft Gallery Shop. There's also The Ropewalk Museum and a coffee shop, not to mention some nice walks nearby. It's well worth a visit - go see!

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Using the Unusual - My Pages in the Travelling Book


You may wonder what this is all about. Well - it's my turn to complete some pages in the York Embroiderers and Stitchers' Travelling Book. York Embroiderers and Stitchers (YES) are a friendly group of stitch and textile enthusiasts of all levels of ability and experience and the Travelling Book is a book that members of the group add to every month with samples of whatever work they choose. It may be examples of stitched work but it could be mixed media work or something else.

I decided I would go with the theme of "using the unusual" and to narrow that down a bit I chose coffee as a linking factor. I used colourful coffee packaging, used coffee pods, and leftover coffee to paint some papers for the background...

Colourful Coffee Packaging

Used Coffee Pods
Paper Painted & Marked With Coffee

I experimented with the coffee packaging by cutting out shapes and ironing them onto paper.  This worked well but when I tried sewing into it, I had to add a layer of calico behind to stop the paper ripping.  This was because I had used basic printer paper and I didn't like how the paper looked...

Initial Sample

I then tried ironing the coffee packaging directly onto fabric but it didn't stick so I decided to try using Khadi paper.  This is a comparatively heavy cotton rag paper which I thought would be suitable to stitch into and has a nice colour and texture. Firstly, I made a coffee packaging collage and then embellished it with some simple stitches - backstitch, crossstitch and French knots.  Most of the packaging had stuck well after ironing but a few areas were lifting a little so I added a few coats of acrylic wax to the whole piece, which I hoped would seal it down. It worked...

Coffee Packaging and Stitch on Khadi Paper

My next challenge was to create something with the coffee pods. I had seen various people on Instagram making things (mostly jewellery) with upcycled coffee pods and I thought I could use the same techniques to make some flowers.  (See @renatamarilon.up, @coffeepodcreations, @sustained_wrapture)

I made a variety of different coffee pod flowers.  Then, having decided where the flowers were going to go on my background fabric, which was made up of two layers of calico, I machine stitched the stems and leaves before appliqueing the flowers in place.  The paper leaves were cut from an old magazine.  I used buttons and/or stitch to secure the coffee pod flowers in place.  Finally, I added some hand stitching to finish the piece...

Coffee Pod Flowers With Hand and Machine Stitch

Coffee Pod Flowers (detail)

Coffee Pod Flowers (detail)

Once all my pieces were finished, I attached them either directly to the book or to my coffee painted papers.  I then added some explanation of what I'd done, and my pages were complete...

Finished Pages Before Folding Out

Fold Up Collage for Explanation

Fold Out Coffee Painting to Reveal Coffee Pod Flowers and Explanation

Finished Pages Showing Fold Outs

I even managed to make a little book with my initial sample and some left over paper painted with coffee ...

Mini notebook made from my initial sample of coffee packaging & stitch and leftover coffee painted paper

Now what shall I do with that?

Saturday 16 March 2024

El Anatsui - Behind the Red Moon - Tate Modern Turbine Hall, London

El Anatsui - The Red Moon

El Anatsui - Behind the Red Moon is the latest Hyundai Commission on show in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall, London. El Anatsui was born in Ghana and currently works in both Ghana and Nigeria. His monumental sculptures are made up of thousands of bottle tops and fragments.

As you enter the Turbine Hall, descending the ramp, the first of three sculptures greets you.  This is The Red Moon which, we are told, looks like a billowing sail.  The circular Red Blood Moon element within the sail is made of bottle tops...

El Anatsui - The Red Moon (detail)

The reverse side looks like a large yellow sail...

El Anatsui - The Red Moon (yellow side)

The symbolism of the sails was to bring to mind ships and the transportation of goods and people across the globe.  Sailors would also sometimes use the moon for navigational purposes.  During the Transatlantic Slave Trade, enslaved African peoples were taken across the ocean to the Americas where they were sold or traded for goods such as gold, sugar, spirits and other commodities.  The bottle tops used in the piece come from modern commodities rooted in colonial industries, thus El Anatsui hopes to expose the connected histories of Europe, Africa and America through the use of waste from industries built on colonial trade routes.

The next piece you come to is The World.  From underneath and from the main gallery side it just looks like a series of fragments of knitted wire or wire mesh but when viewed from a particular point on the bridge all the fragments line up to look like the world.  The circular nature of this piece echoes the circular moon in The Red Moon.

El Anatsui - The World

El Anatsui sees fragments as a symbol of renewal and restoration with the capacity to reform.

El Anatsui - The World

El Anatsui - The World

The final piece is The Wall.  This is the largest piece and like The Red Moon, is double sided...

El Anatsui - The Wall

The side you first encounter is largely black and trails on the floor in folds. El Anatsui sees the black as symbolising Africa and its diaspora with a potential for homecoming and return.

El Anatsui - The Wall (detail)

The reverse side is brighter in colour....

El Anatsui - The Wall 

El Anatsui - The Wall (detail)

El Anatsui - The Wall (detail)

El Anatsui - The Wall (detail)

El Anatsui - The Wall (detail)

El Anatsui sees walls as both structures that constrain and encircle but also that hide things.  In hiding things, he thinks this may provoke curiosity which could be harnessed to overcome the constraining nature of the walls.

He sees the black and multicoloured nature of The Wall as symbolising the clash of global cultures and the hybrid identities that result.

The Wall and The Red Moon look like large patchwork quilts made from recycled metal pieces that are stitched together with wire.  As such, they could be taken apart and reconstructed to create different installations.  They are fascinating.  The wall is particularly interesting as you can get close to it to see how it has been made and what it is made up of. Anatsui works with a large team of assistants who work together to assemble the sculptures.

This exhibition is on until 14 April 2024.  Go see - definitely worth visiting!  

Saturday 9 March 2024

Open Exhibition 2024 - The Old Parcels Office Artspace, Scarborough

Lynne Chapman - Ruby (detail)

Yesterday I went, with some friends, to see the third Open Exhibition at The Old Parcels Office Artspace in Scarborough.  Eighty works were selected from over 400, representing both established and emerging artists from across the North and further afield.  The exhibition closes tomorrow (Sunday 10 March 2024 - 11am to 4pm) so why not take a trip to Scarborough and take a look.  Here are some of my favourites...

Lynne Chapman's dress - Ruby, seemed awash with memories...

Lynne Chapman - Ruby 

Janine Baldwin - Melting III - was a glorious mixed media collage, which had won the Open 2024 2D prize...

Janine Baldwin - Melting III

Shirley Vauvelle's Beast and Blue Bird made from porcelain and driftwood also caught my attention...

Shirley Vauvelle - Beast and Blue Bird 

I loved both of Jon O'Connor's works - both acrylic and mixed media on a wood panel...

Jon O'Connor - Urbanism #1

Jon O'Connor - Power of the Vend

I liked the simplicity of Petra Ingham's House on the Hill - Purple & Yellow...

Petra Ingham - House on the Hill - Purple & Yellow 

I am always drawn to textile works, so apart from Lynne Chapman's Ruby there was also Linda Harvey's Middleport Wall, using stitched, printed and hand dyed fabrics...

Linda Harvey - Middleport Wall

Isobel Blockley's Lungs - breathing becomes difficult, utilising fabric, stitch, digital print and ink pencils...

Isobel Blockley - Lungs - breathing becomes difficult

Mary Whitehouse's Waste Age Coat made from waste wool remnants...

Mary Whitehouse - Waste Age Coat

and Shirani Bolle's You are not what you think which was a very vibrant punch needle piece using yarn, thread, sequins & beads on monks cloth... 

Shirani Bolle - You are not what you think (detail)

My final two choices are Louise Bass's Departure (acrylic on board)...

Louise Bass - Departure

and Lindsey Tyson's mixed media Roadworks 2...

Lindsey Tyson - Roadworks 2

It was great to look around the exhibition.  It would have been even better if there had been a little bit of info about each piece.  The Old Parcels Office Artspace is right by the railway station, in the carpark, so don't miss it!

Scarborough North Bay

Why not finish off your trip with a with a dip in the sea, a walk along the promenade, a trip round the castle, a visit to Anne Bronte's grave or some fish & chips!

Anne Bronte's Grave

Scarborough's a great day out!