Saturday 28 November 2015

Textile Gallery at the Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show 2015 - Part 1

Sandi Sexton - Collo Libro

I really liked the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland - Entwined Memories exhibition in the Textile Gallery.  The description of the exhibition stated that "Entwined Memories evokes a myriad of responses and inspirations from distant memories, nostalgic tales and stories of life; revealing fragments of time interwoven into a collection of lasting impressions and reflections on the past ..."

Here are a some of my favourites... 

Lesley Stothers - Composing a life
Liz Sheridan - Enduring magic
Marika O'Sullivan - Dream, listen, love
Rose Mary Cullen - Dress code
Anne Harte - Memory boxes
Anne Kiely

I also really enjoyed Stella Harding's exhibition - Second Nature.  Stella weaves complex and abstract structures using both natural and discarded manufactured material in her work.  She uses 3D construction techniques from basketry and juxtaposes the natural with the urban.

Stella Harding
Stella Harding - Crucible 1
Stella Harding - Flow

Stella Harding - Another Star
Stella Harding

The New Zealand Contemporary Textiles exhibition also had some interesting pieces.  Clare Smith's piece was inspired by pictures from Google Earth of dye from a denim jeans factory in China pouring into a river.

Clare Smith - Watermark
Joyce Stalker - Heartfelt: Excerpts from the publications of a washed up feminist academic

Here Joyce Stalker uses excerpts from publications printed onto tea towels (reinforcing the concept of "washed up") to offer us a glimpse of her academic career.
Joyce Stalker - Heartfelt: Excerpts from the publications of a washed up feminist academic
Leah Wald - Doily Series: Legal Alien
Sherril Jennings - Connections (detail)

Sandra Hall - La Fileuse -The Spinner

La Fileuse is the pianola roll into which Sandra Hall has added her stitching, knitting and weaving.

The Knitting & Stitching Show is still on in Harrogate today and tomorrow - go see!

Monday 23 November 2015

Making My Own Walnut Ink

Walnut husks after boiling

Earlier in the autumn I was lucky enough to be given a bag of walnut husks.  Although keen to explore the possibilities, I'm ashamed to say they sat in the kitchen in a plastic bag getting a bit mouldy and smelly for quite a number of weeks until I finally took action.  The aim was to make some walnut ink. I put them in an aluminium jam pan (one I only use for dyeing and such like - my actual jam making has been spectacularly unsuccessful - see below!)

Plum concrete - my first and only attempt at jam!

I was following a method in Alice Fox's book "Natural Processes in Textile Art".  The walnut husks were covered with water and boiled with the lid on the pan for a couple of hours.  I then strained the contents through some muslin.  This turned out to be quite a messy process (probably more so than it needed to be - involving several pans, lots of spills and walnut detritus everywhere!)
Walnut husk detritus after being strained through muslin

After straining, the remaining walnut liquid was boiled for two and a half hours to reduce it down.  I tested the colour and consistency at regular intervals.  After two and a half hours I let the liquid cool, then strained it through a sieve and bottled it.

Walnut ink tested for colour and consistency at regular intervals

Whilst boiling the liquid I also added some fabric to the pan.  In fact after washing out the muslin used for straining, I tore it in half and put half back in the pan with the walnut liquid.  Half way through the next stage of boiling I added some more fabric - which I think was polycotton.  Here are the results from the fabric dyeing after washing out.

Original muslin colour, colour after straining only, colour after boiling for 2 and a half hours

Polycotton fabric showing darker areas

The polycotton fabric turned out a similar shade to the muslin that had been used for straining but it did have patches that were darker.   I suspect this was a result of some deposit on the fabric causing the dye to be taken up much more in those places.  Also, I expect the fabric would have gone a darker shade if it had been 100% cotton.

Although the total time taken was as I have said, I kept having to stop and restart as daily life got in the way and it was a couple of days before I finally got to the end of the process and managed to bottle my ink:

Walnut ink - bottled and ready to use

I think I could have stopped sooner.  The ink I bottled was too thick to write with and needs diluting for use with pens.  Having established this - I added some water and began having a go with my new ink.

Now I just need to practise my writing skills!

Monday 16 November 2015

Planet South Bank's Craft-y-Crawl - Sunday 22 November 2015

Hippystitch - brooches, bracelets, necklaces, notebooks

Coming up on Sunday 22 November from 11am to 3pm, makers in York's South Bank are throwing open their doors and inviting their friends, neighbours and anyone who's interested to come and have a look at (and buy) their makes.  This could be a chance to get all your Christmas shopping done whilst having a pleasant walk round York.  Even better, you'd be supporting local makers.  


You can get a list of Planet South Bank's Craft-y-Crawl exhibitors here or a map here or you can pick up the info from Sainsbury's on the corner of Bishopthorpe Road and Scarcroft Road, York.  (Thanks to Pie Waller for organising this event!)
Nicola's Cards

Deborah New's Christmas Robins

Nicola's Cards - Christmas Cards

Hippystitch (jewellery & notebooks - take a look in the gallery), Nicola's Cards (cards & wrapping paper) and Deborah New (Christmas robin decorations) will all be at:

33 Wentworth Road, York, YO24 1DG

and just next door at 35 Wentworth Road we have Sue Dennis & Ruth Merriman who will have cards and small paintings. And lots more not far away - so do come along.  Hope to see you soon!

Tuesday 10 November 2015

The Dragon Awakes at Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk

This summer as part of the Parbold Street Festival, Parbold residents worked with author, Sarah Schofield and artists, Andy & Sharon Shaw.  Through visual arts and creative writing workshops they developed the story and characters of Sunny the Dragon who lives deep inside Parbold Hill and Tia, a little girl who lives in a teacup.  Does she save him when he fails to appear?  Could this be the start of a local legend?

Sunny the Dragon - 7 metres long!
Parbold Street Festival in Action
Design for Tia in her teacup with the fishes who help her
Other characters from the story

The stories and characters have all been on show at Chapel Gallery in Ormskirk. Here's a little taster in case you missed it!

Friday 6 November 2015

York Art Gallery Reopened

Clare Twomey - Manifest:10,000 Hours

York Art Gallery reopened in August after being closed for 2 years for a £8 million refurbishment.  The gallery is now 60 percent bigger with a new gallery on the first floor which is light and open.  There's an entrance at the rear which leads from a first floor terrace down to an open piazza and on to Museum Gardens.  The gallery has expanded into what was the City Archives next door and with a new larger cafe, new lifts, toilets, shops, it looks altogether better, lighter and more inviting.

First Floor Terrace
Views of the City Walls from the Terrace
Stairs from the Terrace (a lift is also available)
Rear Piazza linking to Museum Gardens

A special artwork by Clare Twomey was commissioned to celebrate the reopening of the gallery.  Manifest:10,000 hours is an impressive quantity of pots!  It is Clare's response to York's collection of ceramics.  There are 10,000 pots which take an hour each to make and are a comment on the amount of time it takes to master a skill.  They have been individually handmade by people from across the UK.

Clare Twomey - Manifest:10,000 Hours (detail)

York Art Gallery now houses CoCA which is the Centre of Ceramic Art and forms the most representative public collection of British studio ceramics in the UK.  It also has an impressive collection of artworks including Old Masters, Victorian to contemprary paintings & sculptures and pictures of York itself.  The Upper North Gallery is hosting an exhibition curated by local artist, Mark Hearld, "The Lumber Room: Unimagined Treasures" - a room of miscellaneous stored objects and artefacts including new work from Mark himself.  This alone is a good enough reason to visit the York Art Gallery.

There has been a lot of controversy about admission charges to the Gallery but with a York Card (available to York Residents for £5) you can purchase a York Museums Trust Card for £11 which gives you free entry for a year to York Art Gallery, the Yorkshire Museum and the Castle Museum which seemes like quite a good deal to me.

Worth a look (or several)!