Monday 25 July 2016

Fantasy Fish Come Down & Go Online

Fantasy Fish all taken down

It was a bit of a sad day when we took down the Fantasy Fish Yarnstorm.  It has been a popular installation but it was time to go.  I couldn't resist a few last photos though...
Carol's goldfish

Sally-Ann's Hammerhead
Heather's Stripey Fish
Sarah's octopus

There have been lots of pics on social media using #fantasyfish - check them out on Twitter here and Instagram here.
Lots of lovely fantasy fish

So down they came and, after a month in the park - in the wind and the rain and the sun, it was time for a whirl in the washing machine.  Eight loads later, it was all done.  It took all my pegs and my neighbours' (thanks, Kate & Sue!) and a trip to Pextons for new pegs to get them "online".

my shark pegs seemed particularly appropriate!

and there were more to go "online" the next day:

#fantasyfish go online!

and of course there were the big fish too and the finger knitting...
catch of the day?

finger knitting drying out

So now they're all clean and ready for our two fish sales on:

Saturday 27 August 2016
Friday 2 September 2016

From 10am to 3pm we will be selling fish in Rowntree Park, York near Rowntree Park Cafe in aid of the York Flood AppealDo come and say hello and buy fish.  We look forward to seeing you!


Saturday 16 July 2016

Fantasy Fish Statistics

At last - Fantasy Fish in the sunshine with the added bonus of ducks!
This is a quick round up of a few interesting statistics from the Fantasy Fish Yarnstorm.

Lots of people made fish and other creatures, pompoms & plantlife

The installation was made by over 130 people of all ages. We held three workshops in May 2016 as part of Voluntary Arts Week & Craft & Design Month in The Winning Post, The Golden Ball and Rowntree Park Cafe.  Five groups took part - The Fairfax Court Yarnstormers, Sew Chatty, The Good Humour Ladies Club, Year 6 pupils from Hob Moor Primary School and the North Leeds Rebels Craft Collective.  Most #fantasyfish were made in and around York (#fishfromYork) but we had #fishfromafar swim in from Holme on Spalding Moor, Leeds, London, Cambridge and Berkshire to #increasetheshoal too.


The fish range in size from around 7 centimetres to over 2 metres and there are about 530 of them.  And there's also over 30 other creatures including hammerhead sharks, jellyfish, starfish, octopuses, a whale and a seahorse.  Then there's the plantlife on show together with more than 50 pompoms on display.

Fish, seahorse, hammerhead, octopus and starfish

We used about 200 metres of fishing line to hang the fish, and about 30 metres of finger knitting for the text, arrow and plantlife.

Just taking a coffee break

Deborah hard at work hanging fish

It took 18 hours to put up and that's after most of the fish had been strung together (which took a couple of days and was finished to the sound of Coldplay at Glastonbury - but fortunately didn't involve squelching in mud).

And it's all still there to be enjoyed if only for a few more days.  If you pop along on Sunday 17 July between 1-4pm you can see them and enjoy the Rowntree Park 95th Birthday Party at the same time.

But please don't forget to come along to the fish sales which aim to raise funds for the York Flood Appeal.  From 10am to 3pm on:

Saturday 27 August &
Friday 2 September 

you'll find us near the cafe, selling fish.  Do come and buy or you can donate now here (please mention fantasy fish in the message box).  We need your support!

Saturday 2 July 2016

Maria Walker & The Lightfoot Letters

"A woman's work is never done" uses screen printed images of Maria's grandma - Maria Walker
Recently Maria Walker came to talk to the City of York Embroiderers' Guild.  Maria is a artist who works primarily with textiles and her talk was about her work based on The Lightfoot Letters.  This bundle of letters, about a working class family from Widnes in the 1920s, was discovered by Maria in an antiques shop in Cheshire.  They are writen mainly by the mother of the family, Ada Lightfoot, but also the father, Peter, to their daughter, Frances, who had moved to live with an aunt near Oldham.  They provide minute details of everyday life and gossip.

An extract from the Lightfoot Letters - Maria Walker
Work based on the Lightfoot Letters - Maria Walker

Initially Maria's work involved picking out particular phrases from the letters and combining these with old photos from her own family to make textile pieces that brought the phrases to life.

"I will have to use a knife and fork but I would rather have a spoon" - Maria Walker

In one letter, the Father, who was going to a hotpot supper, bemoans that he will have to use a knife and fork.  Maria has expressed this through a piece featuring disposable wooden spoons painted with a crackle glaze to look like old enamel with the text collaged on top.  Maria comes originally from Sheffield where her father worked in a cutlery factory and so the links to her own life resonate in the way she has interpreted this piece.  

"Make me a dress the colour of the sky just after a June sunset" - Maria Walker incorporating poetry by Angela Topping

During an artist's residency in Cheshire, Maria met Angela Topping, a poet, who it turned out was the granddaughter of the letter writers Ada & Peter Lightfoot and the niece of Frances.  They collaborated on an exhibtion inspired by the letters which incorporated some of Angela's poetry and actual pictures of the Lightfoot family.  

A hanging depicting one of Angela Topping's poems about her father (Frances' brother) skating, originally exhibited coming out of a typewriter - Maria Walker

"...the iron made it hurt very badly" - Maria Walker

A lot of the content of the letters relates to the difficulties of getting the laundry done and so much of the Maria's work is expressed through text and items of clothing made with fabric and to patterns contemporary with the period.

"... and would not be dressed without it" - Maria Walker

The techniques Maria uses in her work include screen printing, the layering of fabric backgrounds using vintage and modern fabrics and drawing vintage items she has found, in stitch, creating reverse applique with her fabric layers together with a lot of stitched text, which is sometimes cut out.

Various works - Maria Walker
Altered book - Maria Walker

It was fascinating to hear about the letters, their content, the coincidence of Maria and Angela's meeting, their subsequent exhibition and all about the work that came out of it all.  Thank you, Maria.

Maria Walker

Maria's more recent work has involved large scale textile pieces using old sheeting, stitched with an overlocker and looped exploring the concepts of memory, decay and continuity.  Some of this was exhibited recently at the Saltaire Arts Trail.