Looking back I realise that after spending hours constructing an entry at the end of October it has never been published, heaven knows where that went, what a waste of time and energy! There were lots of photos of inspirational things I had seen but there wasn’t much work produced in that period and I have attempted to remedy that.
I finished the last 4 journal quilts for the year using the same hand dyed fabrics and shapes but the position of the fabric and the stitching for each one.
The last two pieces in the style of Georges Seurat for Fifteen by Fifteen were completed as well. I really tried to use pointillism in these two, fiddly to do but I was happy with the result, especially with the last one when I found a better support for creating my dots of colour. Working in the style of Seurat with the subject of reflections has taught me a lot and I really enjoyed the challenge because it pushed me to work in different ways to get the results I wanted.
In August I posted a piece I had printed and which, now, has been finished by hand stitched around the tree forms leaving the fabric to speak for itself. The second I printed in white and then machine stitched before adding leaves cut from silk scraps. ( long thin pieces are difficult to photograph!)
Then next project which is still in the quilting stage is big, again using lino cuts but also wood blocks which I had made for me some years ago in India. Based on trees and using various different hand dyed fabrics it is, in part, constructed using a traditional patchwork format.
The year ended with an exhibition organised by the association Gaspart in la Rochelle and January will see me exhibiting twice. I am delighted to be one of six people, the others are painters or sculptors, to have been invited to exhibit at the Galerie Arnaud in La Rochelle. The end of the month I will be exhibiting once again at Fils Croisés in Cholet .
Oops, the long, dry and hot summer days have made me rather lazy. All began well with BIAT, near Lyon, where I exhibited and met up with many textile artists, some old friends, others became new friends. It was a fun packed few days and great to be teaching and exhibiting again. Below is a piece that saw the light of day for the first time.
I then headed on across France to visit old haunts and stay with friends in the Chamonix valley, good company, mountains and sunshine are always a good mix. The drive back straight across the middle of France was long and hot although a break in Moulins to lunch with old friends was a very welcome break.
The last half of June was frustrating as I had bronchitis and the medicines made me very lethargic. Then came July, I have no idea where it went, but the Tour de France kept me busy and I was even more committed to the women’s tour last week. The heat and dry ground does nothing to entice me out to walk, the ground is solid and hot and there are few plants of interest, I did notice yesterday that the few ripe blackberries can be surprisingly good. In the middle of the month I had a visit from a couple of very old friends, or should I say friends I have known for ages. It was great to see them although they did choose the hottest few days of the year so they saw more of the interior of a darkened house than the surroundings.
I am not sure what I have achieved really, for the first time for a long time I spent hours on something, cutting, printing, dyeing and reflecting only for it to go nowhere….
I managed to meet the deadline and sent a 12″ x 12″ piece off to the States for the SAQA auction in the autumn. It is based by the shape of a rose window in Vernon cathedral which I visited in June. This mix of stonework and stained glass is a pleasing one although one doesn’t usually see the pale colour of the stonework against the colour of the glass. I worked with a commercial fabric, quilting it with black thread and then added black ribbon before appliquéing the stonework .
My last two journal quilts in the second series have been revealed as has my artist piece n° 4 for Fifteen by Fifteen.
This series of four journal quilts has given me the chance to play around with stitching and the difference it makes, the four cotton fabrics have the same de-colouration but each time the positioning of the colour changes as did the stitching. I like to use my journal quilts for sampling ideas for future use, or not as the case may be.
My fourth piece, of a series of six, in the style of Georges Seurat for Fifteen by Fifteen was extremely time consuming but the end result worked. Number three had been in the style of Seurat’s study for The Circus and this one has tried to be in the style of The Circus. There is very light crayon shading but most of the colour has come from my stitches, I am trying to keep the theme of water and reflections running through all six. I machine stitched the outlines then in filled with hand stitch using running stitch and back stitch to create more texture. At times I wonder what I have let myself in for but actually I am really enjoying working these pieces, they have made me dig deep and really think about how I am working.
This week I set off on another idea, I sorted the fabrics and the idea was in my head when I suddenly turned tail and set off on another track. The last two days revolved around drawing, cutting lino and printing, the stitching can now begin!
I have also made a start on the last four journal quilts. This last week I have tried to walk every day, 5/7 days is better than none but I do find that although it takes time away from my creative time I clear my head.
Well a couple of months have disappeared and I have written nothing, April because I didn’t have much to say and May because I have been out and about. I say that I didn’t do a lot in April but I do many good walks, I decided that I would make the most of the good weather to be outside and that I would catch-up when it was wet, only it hasn’t been wet…
May began with organising ten small pieces for exhibition at the Cabane at La Port de la Pelle as in previous years, I made a couple of new birds and added some more abstract pieces happily one has already sold so I had to buckle down and make a replacement and I am just finishing another. I feel that I am really ready to tackle more serious work which is just as well because I have had confirmation for an exhibition in June/July next year.
Mid May saw me exhibiting at St Jean D’Angély for three days. It was a fantastic location and the first time that organisers has actually come to chose the work to be exhibited. I had work in two locations, actually the museum gave me a wonderful big space but only five pieces were selected to be hung there so they were a little lost. ( I admit though that I could get used to having somebody hang my work with the use of an infrared marker to ensure my labels were all straight!)
The second location was in the gallery of the Abbey where the light was good and it was easy to hang work. It was a positive exhibition in the sense that the others exhibiting with me were either embroidery biased (including Maryse Allard, Hubert Valerie, Stéphanie Michaud and Clare-Lise Calladine) or patchwork so I was the only one with art textiles and the feedback from the visitors was positive even if there were not very many of them.
At the end of the following week I headed off to the Morbihan region with the walking group amongst other places we visited Vannes, L’Île aux Moines and the Chateau of Suscinio.
I then stayed on a further couple of nights with a friend and we went to Auray, Locmariaquer and Carnac to visit the megaliths with a visit to Rochefort en Terre on the way home.
We visited Ste Anne d’Auray which had the most fantastic embroidered banners.
Barely home again and I headed off to near Limoges before taking a coach trip to Giverny and Roche Guyon. At Giverny we had a guided tour of an exhibition of work by Monet and Rothko there were only around six pieces from each artist hung in chromatic themes so as to compare the way in which both artists worked. One piece of Rothko’s work really caught my attention:
In the gardens there were crowds of people and my camera settings went awol but because the water lilies weren’t in flower and the rhododendrons were almost over it was a kind of mid-season. The herbaceous beds were really incredible although again it wasn’t quite the right season for a mass of colour. It is a garden to be visited at different times of the year to really appreciate it.
We spent the night in Vernon where the sunset on the Seine was calm and beautiful and lit the old mill beautiful in the evening light.
Then this week with the club I visited the gardens at Chaligny.
All in all it was a really interesting ten days with loads of photo inspiration and ideas buzzing around my head.
Despite all this galavanting I have done some stitching as well. I have kept up to date with my journal quilts finishing the fourth of the first series and the first two of the next. The idea always being to be the same but different. This current four are all using decolouration on commercial fabrics , the shapes are the same in each and there are only four fabrics , they are all stitched differently.
The second and third of my Fifteen by Fifteen pieces have also reached completion. Working in the style of Seurat the second was in black and white as per his pencil sketches and again I worked with reflections.
The third is worked by hand and inspired by the preliminary sketch he did for ‘The Circus’, I will go on to develop it further for the next piece.
Now I am packing to go to BIAT at Villefranche sur Soane for a four day show/salon where I hope to teach two classes one on symmetry and the other on stitched portraits. I also have a couple of new pieces which will be amongst those I am exhibiting but I am keeping things under wraps until the have been seen in public. This is a snap of the current work in progress relating to the symmetry class.
Well, I am updating but without much to say, last month I felt totally uninspired and the creative flow dried up. Recently I have been dyeing again but am not ready to show anything finished yet.
I have signed up to do journal quilts for the UK Contemporary group of the Quilter’s Guild, January’s is almost finished just needs the finishing touches.
Last weekend I was at the show at Cholet, about an hour and a half from home. There were some very good and varied exhibitions and the number of visitors the first two days was good. Once people were in the show for the most part they wandered about aimlessly, I don’t have any photographs to show because I fell into a lighting black spot, at least a few contacts were made and it was good to see old friends again. My car had a very unexpected decoration for a few hours one evening, actually I rather fancy a car like this.
The one piece I do have to show is the first of my Fifteen by Fifteen pieces. This year we have all chosen an artist and are each working a series of six in the style of our chosen artist. I made a short list from a list of 101 best known artists and then I looked at each artist in detail to see how I could produce a series in their style. It is interesting to see how many of the others have chosen from my personal shortlist! It wasn’t an easy choice because I wanted to have a progression in my series but I finally settled on Georges Seurat 1859 – 1891 as my inspiration because A) I like his work and B) despite his short life he produced a large body of work from which to draw inspiration. I have begun by using his black and white drawings as a starting point.
For Seurat black and white drawing was a perfect medium, more than using just individual lines he rubbed rough paper with a greasy crayon, therefore creating tones of blackness. He wanted to be a painter of an instantaneous view of a single moment with no movement. As somebody who often works from photographs the instantaneous moment is totally apt and something I relate to totally. For this first piece I have used a photograph of the river Charente in flood in the town of Saintes which I took on December 25th 2019.
To recreate the heavily textured paper I have used old cotton sheeting. I have used black thread and black paint but I strayed slightly by using black vilene for the reflection of the tree trunk. I made a stencil and applied the main part of the tree then stitched the main lines and applied more paint before returning to stitching in more detail. Seurat has a way of leaving patches of the page totally white which I have tried to use to give more light and definition to the piece, I found that leaving the halo around strong sunlight very difficult to blend in the lines are a little too regular and angular. Onwards and upwards for the next piece. all the group’s work can be seen at fifteenquilts.com.
Tomorrow I am heading of for a week of snow-shoeing hoping that there will be some snow, not only for the snow-shoes but also because I have packed a snow dyeing kit! No point of going to the snow if I can’t dye with it!
While wishing you a Happy 2022 I am trying to promise myself that I will update my blog more often but in order to do so I need to get back into the habit of producing work! The festive season has seen me re-cover my dining chair seats and attack a tapestry, started more than twenty years ago, which I would like to get out of the way. I also made the mistake of giving myself a 3000 piece jigsaw puzzle….
Looking back on 2021 all things considered it wasn’t a bad year for me I made new friends and sold a fair number of pieces. After three years of Serge Billards inviting me to exhibit at Face à la Mer down on the coast I have worked out what works as far as sales are concerned. I started working on small, normally 20 x 20 cm pieces, mounted on a frame and they have proved to be very popular. Although I want to sell work it is important to me that these small pieces represent my way of working, this year I made a series of birds and some small more abstract pieces.
During these last few months I have also played around with the Katazome technique after having taken an online with Sarah Desmarais, it is a resist dyeing technique that I have always wanted to try and Sarah shared her way of more available materials. After a first attempt on silk organza with ready made stencils and a paper one which wasn’t strong enough I found that some sail cloth which I had made a really good reusable stencil and I tried again. It also works well as a stencil….
I also played around with a piece of shibori, having dyed the cotton it sat on my pin-board for some time until I saw the ‘marais’, the drained marshlands near home. For me there was a tangle of trees and the water in the foreground so I densely stitched the two areas, blue horizontally for the water and green vertically for the foliage.
Since the end October when I last updated this blog life has been calm even if I was involved in two exhibitions and one show. The first was Arts Atlantic in La Rochelle which involved 200 artists, I exhibited four 20×20 cm pieces along with fifty-nine other members of Gaspart17, I never got to photograph them together because they sold within half an hour of the show opening. I spent Saturday morning at the show and was really impressed by much of what I saw especially the work of Victoria Danville Vermeersch who works by sculpting textiles .
The next outing for my work was Fil’Passion at Perigueux, it was quite quiet but there were some interesting artists present. There was one piece which really intrigued me in an exhibition of work by a local group who had not exhibited before. This piece by Amandine Bézamat seen from a distance was really striking, close up there was a more visible three dimensional aspect.
The weekend before Christmas I was invited to exhibit at Sainte Marie de Ré, they invited all thirty of us who had had exhibitions in the town during the summer season to exhibit but only six of us were interested which gave us four metres of hanging space each, apart from myself there were three painters, a photographer and a sculptor which made for a very interesting exhibition. Sadly visitors were very sparse but some those who did come were very interested, I am happy to say that I was the only one who sold anything but then it was one of the smallest and cheapest things on exhibit!
Now my work is all stored away until I go, fingers crossed, to Cholet for Fils Croisés at the end of January.
The end of November also saw the completion of the last piece for the Fifteen by Fifteen challenge about countries, mine being Pakistan. This time it was fauna and flora and I chose to take a photograph of mulberries being collected for our dessert as my starting point. I printed the photograph on ExtravOrganza and then created the leaves using the above mentioned resist technique and stencils. The background was a piece that had rust dye on it and reflected the colour of the bark and dustiness of the surroundings. The mulberries were created with small beads.
Well, time has truly flown since I last wrote, but that is not to say that I haven’t been well occupied!
The first weekend of September was the ‘Fête des Arts’ at Nieul-sur-Mer, the neighbouring village, and good friends of mine invited me to exhibit in their home; it was a lovely weekend and the visitors who came were really interested in my work which was a real boost. I am happy to say that the following piece found a new home although I was sad to se it go.
Once that was finished I headed off to Sainte-Marie-aux Mines for the EPM show where I was exhibiting in tandem with Chantal Guillermet, our work on show was based on places visited while travelling. Our style of working is very different but as a result complimentary. In the past EPM has been extremely busy attracting people from far and wide, this year there were many fewer people which meant that we had time to talk to visitors and they had good space to view the work on show. It was so good to be among people who were really interested and I was amazed that the distances some people had travelled especially for the show.
Made it to the local paper while I was installing my work.
While I was away an exhibition opened at Ste Marie de Ré where I had three pieces on display, the subject being sea shells. It was an interesting exhibition because not only was it multi media but it also had a scientific element in the guise of lectures. I used two pieces which fit the bill and made one more on the subject of shells.
Ten days later it was time to head to ‘Pour L’Amour du Fil’ at Nantes where I taught two classes both of which were over full with enthusiastic students, it was so good to be in the classroom again.
At the end of September the fifth Fifteen-by-Fifteen piece was revealed, still based on our chosen country, mine being Pakistan, the subject was literature. I struggled because the north-west of the country is not strong on literature but there is a culture of mime, dance and oral stories. I chose to depict two different tales, that of Halmasti a wolf-like creature the size of a horse spitting flames and that of Terich Mir, 7708 m the land of fairies. The full story can be read with this photograph at Fifteenquilts.com .
Barely back from Nantes and rather last minute I decided to visit the UK for the first time for over two years. This meant that I could finally deliver my niece’s wedding quilt, which I made in the spring, because I had been unableI was unable to get to the wedding in June due to COVID restrictions. I also got to meet my great niece for the first time and gave her a rag doll I had made. I had made a ball for my great nephew but sadly didn’t get to meet him due to illness in the family but at least he now has his ball!
I made two new birds to make a collection of four, I sold all the others I had made, for the Arts Atlantique show next weekend.
Now it is time to start a new body of work and I started off trying out some resist printing, now the ideas are running out ahead of me….
Having started July juggling exhibitions the rest of the month was relatively calm and not very summery, high winds and heavy rain showers, but it meant that there has been plenty to do in the garden.
At Marans I showed some new and some older pieces, I had two square metres of display space.
Then in La Rochelle it was an exhibition of small pieces so I exhibited last year’s Fifteen by Fifteen pieces and some which were smaller and had been made for the monthly SAQA Europe and Middle East gallery, these four pieces are mounted on frames and I added two journal quilts.
I didn’t spend a lot of time at any one of these exhibitions as they were all running at the same time but I did have enough time to appreciate the comments from the visitors. There were not over many visitors at any of the exhibitions, the weather was far from seasonal which didn’t help.
As a result of my exhibition at Ste Marie de Rè I was invited to hang my work at a hotel/spa just outside the town. I don’t know what will come out of it but I am happy that the work is hanging rather than sitting under my bed! There is a long corridor linking the two areas and I have 19 pieces decorating it.
I am gearing up for EPM, Ste Marie-aux-Mines in mid-September and then at the end of the month I have two classes at Pour l’Amour du Fil in Nantes which are already fully booked. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that everything will go head.
The last piece for Fifteen by Fifteen has been completed, the subject was architecture. In the Chitral valleys in the north west of Pakistan the houses are a built on steep land leaving the valleys for agriculture. As a result the houses are all on top of each other, one person’s roof becomes another’s terrace, they are built in wood and stone with some mud. I used a dyed cotton/silk mix as the upper cloth which has a texture and then after hand stitching it I cut back to the landscape that I had roughly painted on the background. I didn’t put much detail in to the background as I wanted to put the emphasis on the architectural content.
Now I am hoping to finally getting around having time to play with some new ideas that have been turning in my head for some time and allegedly summery weather is coming!
Looking back I really can’t see what I have been doing over the last couple of months but it feels as if I have been busy!
I am finally able to announce that I am exhibiting at EPM, Ste Marie-aux-Mines, in Alsace in September in an exhibition with my good friend Chantal Guillermet. The work for this has kept me busy these last couple of years and won’t be posted here until once the exhibition is underway or finished.
This week I have a ten day exhibition at Ste Marie de Rè, the subject is related to nature in general and the local landscape which is giving me the chance to exhibit older work as well as newer pieces which haven’t been shown since I came here. The following week I have space in two other local art exhibitions, one in Marans and the other in La Rochelle these will both feature newer pieces.
My last piece for Fifteen by Fifteen involved a great deal of stitching because it was all stitched by hand. It is my third piece about the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, the subject was ‘in the style of an artist’. As far as I could find the region is not full of artists but I found the work of Afshan Shoaib who was born in Peshawar and studied in Pakistan before going to London. The full story is on Fifteen by Fifteen but I really liked the way that she worked with two faces in one. Having visited the Kalash valleys in the 1990s I was struck by the differences between the lives of the women there and those in the town of Chitral, the former were very much in evidence while the latter were at home in their compounds and not seen on the streets. I used a photograph I took in the Kalash valleys and half the face is stitched accordingly the other half is swathed in a dupatta, as I was when I visited the region.
The season has started at the Cabane on the coast, The Bistrot du Port, Marsilly and I have some small pieces on exhibition.
I sold my curlew piece and then made a new one and I have recently stitched a shelduck and there is a black redstart in the pipeline.
The other piece which was completed was a small piece for the SAQA benefit auction, it started out as an exercise in colour using a colour I wouldn’t usually work with and then I developed it further.
I continue to walk and photograph what I see and will soon start a new collection of work, watch this space…
It is only after the second reveal for the year with Fifteen by Fifteen that I realise how long it has been since I last posted. Time during the ‘COVID’ period is endless and one day blurs into another, with no routine life drifts along . I think a lot about friends but lack the motivation to contact them, when I am in my bubble I am quite happy and outside contact can make me yearn for other things. Although we are only just going back into lockdown we have had a curfew since before the end of 2020, it was reduced from 6pm to 7pm a couple of weeks ago.
On the stitching front as per usual there are things I have worked on which are tucked away for exhibitions and a wedding quilt on the go which I am keeping under wraps until it is gifted and that will depend on travel restrictions this summer. All I can say is that I know exactly what I am doing in front of the television of an evening for next month or so.
This year Fifteen by Fifteen are working in a series based on a country of our own choice, each reveal has a subject in common, the first was emblems and the second landscapes. Back in the 90s I holidayed in the north of Pakistan and it is a country which intrigues me, the scenery in the Hindu Kush and Karakoram regions is spectacular and my mother was born in Karachi pre partition. I deiced to to mix two flags, the national and regional flag of the formerly North-West Frontier are, now the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. The colours used are the same in both flags, I machine stitched with three different weights of green thread before adding the painted areas.
The landscape was much harder the mountains rise so high above the river valleys and I wanted to try and concentrate on the KP region. For some reason years back I bought a very detailed map which was just beyond the region but it included the ‘road’ that I had twice travelled so I took a small section and enlarged it, contour lines and their spacing are a really good measure of the steepness of a region, I added some spot heights, the buildings marked on the map and the tracks/paths. The road, which crosses the north, is more of a track as it is a dirt road, then there are many water courses some of which dry up in the summer months. The map is old but I really don’t think that much will have changed in these high frontier lands.
This year I have decided not to do journal quilts, I was finishing my on-line course with Sue Stone and doing varying challenges with the Textileartist.org’s stitch club and I want to have time to explore different ideas without feeling that I had to complete too many things on time.
For the last unit of my Stitch my Story course I had to choose a person I know and do three portraits from the same photograph. I wanted to work on my mother and had difficulty finding a photograph, the first one was relatively easy but the next two were harder as we had to change the look and I was hopeless at it, had I known what the 3rd subject was when I did the second one I would have changed the order. I discovered that finding words to describe her character was really difficult because she was distant during my childhood and latterly suffered from dementia, my choice for the second one was then to try and age her and in her thoughts were her grandfather who she cried out for all the time.
The last one was in the colours of a jumper she had which I adored, her glasses were made more bookish, she loved reading and the cross stitches used reflect the fine counted thread embroidery she so loved to do. Her jumper reflects nature, she loved the garden and outdoors in general.
I am really pleased to have done the course and now have many ideas of where to go from here…
Next week was meant to be having an exhibition of my own for two weeks but, as is the way of things at present, it has been cancelled. Hopefully it will happen this autumn or next spring. This, however, has encouraged me to make some smaller pieces and mount them on frames as the subject for the exhibition is nature and the patrimony of the Ile de Rè. I intend to go on with the series in the weeks to come but here are the first three.
I also made a small piece for the SAQA Spotlight Auction.
During March SAQA had a seminar on Colour with weekly lectures, chat sessions and loads of resources, I managed to attend most of it even if I didn’t do all the exercises. I knew some of it and some was too scientific for me but it was great to have something to focus on. With virtually nothing in the diary for the next few months I hope to have the time to be really creative!
So, here we are at the end of the year, mid December to be precise, and I honestly don’t know where the time has gone, or more importantly what I have done with my time. I haven’t the excuse of being elsewhere, since the end of October we have been under lock-down…. I have been very focussed about walking daily and at the same time looking for photo opportunities, after a month of walking the same 5 km circuit daily I think I knew every blade of grass! With the restriction of a 1 km radius it did encourage me to be more observant and really look around me, hopefully some of the photos will be put to good use.
I have continued with my on-line course with Sue Stone and produced a couple more portraits adding appliqué and mixed media and just have the last section to do, all that I need is the right photo! I have found it a wonderful course and hopefully I will use what I have learnt and take it further.
On the subject of courses I have also continued to do some of the Textileartist.org workshops which have pushed me to try techniques I might not otherwise have tried, again there are techniques which I intend to return to.
With the uncertainty of how the world will pan out next year I still have pieces stored away for exhibitions and I would like to add to them, I have the feeling that my productivity has really dropped and I must try and get focussed. I have finished my year of journal quilts, (subject Out and About using used materials) many of which used techniques from workshops. I think that next year I might take a break from monthly journal quilts, I will see how I feel in January., although they do give one the chance to try out ideas in small pieces before making a something larger.
I have completed the monthly SAQA regional challenges here below:
The year has also ended for the Fifteen by Fifteen pieces and my series is complete. we were working on a different letter each challenge and I decided to use places I have visited as my subjects, with the inclusion of the letter in morse code.
Looking back over 2020 it has been a strange time for us all, it started for me with a flurry of activity and a heavy work load trying to complete things for exhibitions which gradually fell by the wayside, the result is a feeling of emptiness. On the whole I am happy in my bubble and I have not lacked time for reflection, the result is that I think in my head I am getting a clearer picture of the direction I want my work to go in…
Seasons greetings to those of you who have read to the end!