Saturday 18 February 2023

Magdalena Abakanowicz at Tate Modern, London

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Abakan January-February

This exhibition - Every Tangle of Thread and Rope - is definitely not to be missed.  If you can get there - GO!  Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930-2017) was a Polish artist, most well known for her monumental woven structures of the 1960s and 1970s known as Abakans, which were named after her.   

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Design for Tapisserie 21 Brune

She studied painting and weaving at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, graduating in 1954.  At this time the Soviet regime was becoming more liberal and there were funding opportunities for craft and folk art through the state sponsored Association of Polish Artists which she took advantage of.  Artists designed items that were then produced by artisans.

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Tapisserie 21 Brune
(Woven by Maria Lydzba)

She lived in a studio apartment in Warsaw with her husband where creating artworks that could be folded up was a distinct advantage.  Her style of weaving was improvisatory.

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Abakan Orange (1968)

She saw a strong connection between her work and the natural world, seeing fibre as the basic element making up the organic world.  She said "It is from fibre that all living organisms are built, the tissue of plants, leaves and ourselves... our nerves, our genetic code, the canals of out veins, our muscles...We are fibrous structures."

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Abakan Red

Her weavings use sisal and sometimes wool, horsehair and rope and move from the rectangular to the more organic 3D free-hanging Abakans. Referring to her installations as "environments" Abakanowicz was interested on the immersive and performative possibilities of her arrangements in particular spaces and liked to light them dramatically.

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Abakan Yellow

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Abakan Orange (1971)

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Abakan Orange (1971) detail

Some of her works bring to mind garments and others body parts with elements spilling out of them.  I think her Abakan January-February (see first image) looks like a pair of lungs.

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Situation Variable 2

Abakanowicz's work brought to mind that of Sheila Hicks who was also making remarkable textile art in the same period and upto the present. (You can read more about Hick's exhibition "Off Grid" at The Hepworth, Wakefield in 2022 here). 

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Embryology 

In the 1980s Abakanowicz began to move away from the exclusive use of fibres and never liked being referred to as a fibre artist.  

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Anasta

To my mind her Abakans are her triumph which are completely spellbinding.  It's a marvellous exhibition - on until 21 May 2023. 

Sunday 5 February 2023

Stitched Postcards for York Embroiderers and Stitchers

Woven bee with knitted wire wings

I am a member of York Embroiderers and Stitchers who are a friendly group of stitch and textile enthusiasts of all levels of ability and experience. We meet monthly at Haxby Memorial Hall near York. Over recent months there has been a stitched postcard project that I chose to be part of. We have been split into groups of six and have made postcards for the other members of our group.  This means we have each made 5 postcards for group members. Now all of the postcards have been distributed I thought I would share with you the 5 postcards I made. The theme for the postcards was Wings which could be real, imagined or abstract.

My first postcard featured a handstitched bird inspired by Scandinavian folk art and uses backstitch, fly stitch, double cross stitch and chain stitch.  I'd designed this stitched postcard for a workshop several years ago. (You can read about it here.)  It was nice to stitch it again and choose different threads.

Handstitched Scandi Folk Art Bird Postcard

I tried to match my postcards stamps to the subject on the front where possible...

Bird stamp for a bird postcard

For my second postcard I chose an aeroplane for a different set of wings...

Plane Postcard

Here I handstitched onto a photocopy of a plane using fly stitch for the wings (very appropriate, I thought) and also included some machine stitching.  I managed to find a plane stamp too...

Plane stamp

My third postcard was for our December meeting and so it seemed appropriate to stitch an angel...

Angel postcard

This angel has an embellished body, sheer fabric sandwich wings, pewter charms, beaded hair on khadi paper painted with watercolours and torn envelope clouds plus a typewritten angel banner. I also managed to find an angel stamp...

Angel stamp

In January, we had to have something metal on our postcards so I decided to knit some wire wings for my bee...

Bee postcard
The bee has a woven body.  The background is watercolour on khadi paper with some handstitched flowers and a bit of swirly homemade felt and a bee stamp for the reverse...

Bee stamp

The final postcard for our February meet-up featured a felt butterfly, appliqued and embroidered on a watercolour painted khadi paper background, flying through some handstitched appliqued felt flowers...

Butterfly postcard

with a butterfly stamp on the reverse...

Butterfly stamp

And of course it wouldn't be the whole story if I didn't share with you the postcards I received....

Whitby Abbey at Halloween on hand-dyed fabric is the subject of Annie's postcard. Check out the bats...

Whitby Abbey - Annie Smith

A lovely combination of peach and grey stitching makes up Pauline's Nuthatch...

Nuthatch - Pauline Twyman

Nicky has produced a beautiful blackwork angel...

Angel - Nicky Brunger

Judith uses paint and stitch for this delicate butterfly and flowers postcard...

Butterfly & Flowers - Judith Johnson

Nadine made this super mixed media bee postcard with lots of info about the scissor bee which is the smallest bee species in Britain...

Mixed Media Bee - Nadine Paver

It was great fun to join in and it was all organised by the amazing Chris Beavers, one of our members.  You can see everyone's postcards here on instagram or facebook.  Why not get in touch and come and join YES?

Wednesday 1 February 2023

Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show 2022 - All the Other Exciting Bits - Part 3

Hawes Yarnbombers - Crocheted Shrek

It occurs to me that in my previous posts I missed out some of the other wonders of last year's Knitting & Stitching Show so I'm going to whizz through just some of them!

Hawes Yarnbombers - Crocheted Ogre Princess Fiona & Lord Farquaad

First of all (largely because this is what I came across first) the Hawes Yarnbombers had a Shrek display and as a Yarnstormer myself I thought I should tantalise you with some pics! And here are their useful top 10 tips if you want to try some yarnbombing/yarnstorming yourself...

Hawes Yarnbombers Tip 10 Yarnbombing Tips

You may not know but the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) celebrated their 150th anniversary in 2022.  They had some amazing work on show.  Guislaine Peart's creative box Larder contains 82 pieces of cardboard covered in fabric and stitched together and has stumpwork foodstuffs - fab!

RSN Advanced Diploma Student Ghislaine Peart - Larder

Paris Morthorpe's creative box was a Colonial Williamsburg House and Garden...

RSN Advanced Diploma Student Paris Morthorpe
- Colonial Williamsburg House and Garden

Those stitchers amongst us may find the online RSN Stitch Bank very useful too. At time of writing it contained 275 stitches. Each stitch entry contains information about its history, use and structure as well as a step-by-step method with photographs, illustrations and video.  You can access it here.

The Quilters' Guild had an exhibition relating to quilts and the written word - Text & Context...

Winifred Dodge - Clothes Label Coverlet

Winifred Dodge's Clothes Label Coverlet was made in the 1980s from over 2000 woven clothes labels - some firms are no longer in existence.  It shows one way textiles can incorporate text that often goes unnoticed.

Lesley Brankin - Belonging

The radiating words in Lesley Brankin's Belonging quilt reflect what the Quilters' Guild means to its members and was a collaborative piece.

Jo Avery - Intertwined

I loved this colourful quilt of geometric flowers and leaves by Jo Avery.

And who could fail to be impressed by Shenley Brook End School's Going for Gold quilt inspired by the gold collecting dragon in Tolkien's The Hobbit...

Shenley brook End School - Going for Gold

The Embroiderers' Guild had work on display, including EG Scholar David Morrish...

Embroiderers' Guild Scholar - David Morrish

and graduates, Suzy Ager...

Embroiderers' Guild Graduate Showcase - Suzy Ager

Eliza Gommershall...

Embroiderers' Guild Graduate Showcase - Eliza Gommershall

Adrian Wa...

Embroiderers' Guild Graduate Showcase - Adrian Wa

Amelia Fern Gething...

Embroiderers' Guild Graduate Showcase - Amelia Rose Gething

Embroiderers' Guild Graduate Showcase - Amelia Rose Gething

All in all lots to be excited about. Looking forward to the next Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate (16-19 November 2023) already!