“Stitched Up”…. an exhibition…

At the moment I am working on a challenging but fascinating project for an exhibition called “Stitched Up – Bringing to Life the 193 Girls from the Newcastle Industrial School 1867 – 1871”.  As one of 25 invited international artists we get to chose a girl/girls from that time and give them a voice.  What does “stitched up” suggest to you?  In relation to these girls and this exhibition we are looking at the idea of ‘accusation and betrayal’.

I love reading historical novels, especially ones that give voice to a woman or women of a different era.  I find it a fascinating way to learn about the history of the time, it makes history come alive for me.  So when I was invited to be part of this exhibition I was immediately drawn to the idea of giving a girl from the 1870’s a voice.  It was a challenge to decide who to chose but I have chosen the Young sisters, two of four sisters who spent time at the Newcastle Industrial School.

So often I get asked how long did that take, or how long does it take to create an art work? I have several answers to that question: how long is a piece of string?, twenty years – because it has taken me twenty years to get to this point in my art career, or I go into a more detailed description of what goes on before I even start a piece of work…..Recently I was reading a book by Bethan Ash, an Art Quilter, and she sums up very succinctly in one sentence – “The final piece of work exhibited in a gallery is really only a small part of the artists labour.” (Pg 88 Vibrant Quilt Collage, Bethan Ash).  Before I have even started this exhibition project:  I have spent hours researching what was happening, and what life was like in Newcastle, and in Australia around 1870, I have researched Industrial Schools of the time and what was happening with regard to children at risk, I have researched clothing worn by girls at the time, I have researched what domestic servants clothing was worn at the time, and researched a particular toy that I wished to use as a symbol to represent the girls I had chosen.

I remember loving dolls in my childhood, they represent my early childhood, I loved to make clothes for them.  As a child I also loved ‘paper dolls’ and I wondered if they could be used to represent the girls and idea of stitched up.  I discovered in my research that ‘paper dolls were first officially printed in the early 1800’s, however they weren’t always paper, sometimes they were fabric or wood.  I also discovered they represent childhood for many people……Stay tuned, it is my plan to document the process…..

Lavender, bumble bees, kitten alert and thread painting…….

lavender-bumble-beeHow do lavender, bumble bees, kittens and thread paintings all come together in a blog?! I love seeing the humble bumble bee enjoying the flowers in my garden – I’m very happy to share…..Having such beautiful lavender in the garden inspired me to create a small thread painting today of lavender.

We have recently adopted a little kitten from the SPCA and she is adorable.  She is good company but today she was very curious  and attracted to the needle going up and down on my sewing machine.  I was a little concerned that she would get her nose or paw sewn to the thread painting!! img_20161212_132302 However I did manage to get some work done without an added paw or nose.img_20161212_131834

 

The Four Seasons process…..

 

This isimg_0266-450-x-600 the photograph that inspired the original ‘Autumn Leaves’ and consequently the ‘All Four Seasons’ series, it was taken at the Melbourne Garden Show(thanks Sandy!) in 2012.  What I try to capture in my photographs is the ‘moment in time’ that my attention is caught by what I ‘see’. My artwork then becomes an opportunity to give voice to what I have been inspired by; in this case to portray the leaves and branches through line, shape, and colour. Beginning with a drawing I try to recapture the essence of what inspired me, simplifying as I draw, creating possibilities, stylising before settling on a design and then adding colour.
img_20161101_145521-437-x-600img_20161101_145504-419-x-600img_20161101_145440-450-x-600

 

 

 

 

Creating a thread painting of the drawing adds another dimension, a tactile layer that also allows for another level of intuitive expression.

img_20160915_143648-600-x-450

However in creating this series and exploring the seasons and their colours I have come to realise that there are many colours that could represent each season; we all have our own interpretations and personal connections to both the seasons and their colours.  Therefor the colours used to represent the seasons in this series are the ones that I have connected with at this point in time.

img_20161028_131845-600-x-450

I loved seeing them completed, and on view in my hall.  After spending so much time on creating artworks it feels important – if possible- to spend a little time with them, however they have now been posted.  Bon vogage and enjoy your new home!

 

‘All Four Seasons’…a commission….

For the past few months I have been working on a delightful commission – a series of four thread paintings depicting the four seasons.  There is a lovely back story to these commissions.  IMG_20160817_142935 (600 x 450)Originally I was contacted re purchasing a thread painting called ‘Autumn Leaves’ but as it had sold we discussed creating a similar one as a commission.  I said I would email a photo of the completed artwork to make sure she was happy with the image; “no need, surprise me” was the response.  Well my inner muse had her way and ‘Winter Gold’ surprised even me.  So I sent an email and photo anyway, and gave the option of trying again for the autumn colours if need be.

Her reply was very moving; I never cease to be amazed at the power of art…… “The ‘Winter Leaves’ (which I have since renamed ‘Winter Gold’) are gorgeous, and it leads me into Vivaldi’s Four Seasons when I see this piece together with the ‘Autumn Leaves’.      I was married 25 years ago to Vivaldi’s Spring, and your creations evoke emotion and flooding memories.”     This thread painting set of four seasons are an acknowledgement of 25 years of marriage, and I think celebrating seasons as an acknowledgement of a significant anniversary is quite apt; there are ‘seasonal’ cycles in nature, relationships and life.

So….four thread paintings later and “All Four Seasons” are complete and ready to post.  The following images are partial images of either the work in progress or the finished artwork.

“Summer Verdancy”

img_20161002_125111-3-450-x-600

“Autumn Rustling”

 

img_20160915_143648-600-x-450

“Winter Gold”

img_20160822_125600-450-x-600

“Spring Blush”

img_20161006_083901-450-x-600

 

 

‘Spring Bursts’…..into a thread painting….

Here’s a peek at my ‘Spring Burst’ thread painting.img_20160910_073249-450-x-600

Winter Blues finished…..

imageEarlier in the year I began this image, one in a series of four depicting this leaf design but using colour and pattern to express the season.  I began the thread painting but it got put aside for more pressing matters such as finding a home.  Recently, after a very wet spell of several weeks I picked it up again to finish. It seemed appropriate to call it Winter Blues because I find constant wet bleak days difficult.  However today it is complete…..and spring is all around us with colour and new life…..

Winter Blues 2 (347 x 600)Oh and check out my gallery pages -I have been spending a little time updating images into my portfolio…well past time!

‘Winter Leaves’

IMG_20160817_142935 (600 x 450)Work this week has seen the completion of a new thread painting and it is interesting to sit back and contemplate what conscious and subconscious influences have been at play while creating.  I was trying to use greens/pink/lemons as the colour scheme but kept being drawn to these burnt reds, browns and yellow colours – I wonder why?  The obvious conclusion is that I have been heavily influenced working on the 12′ x 12′ Yellow challenge, which saw me using the colour yellow as an autumn colour.  IMG_20160822_112607 (600 x 450)

 

 

 

However when I finished this thread painting I realised the colours aren’t neccessarily autumn colours but rather winter colours and I thought of the trees in my street that I drive or walk past everyday.  Although they are deciduous trees many of them still have many brown leaves attached – this is the subtle and subconscious influences at work.

IMG_20160823_082546 (450 x 600)So here is the finished ‘Winter Leaves’ thread painting…..Winter Leaves (257 x 600)I am not ordinarily a lover of the colour brown but I do really like the colour combinations in this thread painting.IMG_20160822_125706 (450 x 600)

Friday afternoon thoughts on inspiration…..

IMG_20160812_114409 (600 x 450)This is my next ambitious project, a sizeable art quilt combining all techniques that have been part of my repertoire for the past 3-4 years : raw edge applique, hand colouring/painting, and thread painting.  It was partly inspired by Michele Hill’s book “More William Morris Applique” and while it is very different to Michele Hill’s creative work in her book, the creating of beauty for the home with resonated for me. “Morris believed that beautiful surroundings in the home promoted creativity and happiness.” (Pg 5)

IMG_2269 (600 x 568)I have always been drawn to the ideas of the Arts and Craft movement; “with its emphasis on craftsmanship, quality materials and designs drawn from nature” (Charlotte Kelly, Living in the Arts & Crafts Style) to Art Nouveau; “a style of decorative art, architecture and design…characterized by intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms” (Google) and Art Deco;  the “distinguishing features of the style are simple, clean shapes, often with a streamlined look; ornament that is geometric or stylised from representational forms…” (Encyclopaedia Britannica).  The resonating theme for me with all of these movements are designs based on nature, stylised, and flowing or linear in character.

I also enjoy reading Historical fiction and am intrigued by the idea that British nobility would have many wall hangings – mostly embroidered – not only Changing Seasonsto add beauty but also warmth and often privacy.  These could be packed up easily(perhaps!) and moved to the next location, creating another space of beauty, warmth and privacy.  I have a fantasy that the textile arts were given great pride of place in the home, not only for their beauty, and practical application but because they also told a story of the makers.
Sometimes the rooms of the Arts and Crafts movement that I see in books, while they are beautiful, can feel a little over the top decorative and I was intrigued to read in Michele Hill’s book that “Morris preferred to whitewash the walls…and draped walls with carpets or tapestries…”(Pg 11)

Combining techniques….

IMG_20160726_111432One of the joys of moving into a new home is waiting and watching what grows in the garden at different times of the year.  I am watching bulbs and flowers grow that I wasn’t able to grow in my previous home because of the difference in climate.  Although I have been able to grow freesias previously, this is my first freesia flower of the season.  The other flowering plant is a Hellebore, which brings back memories of winter time garden in London.IMG_20160726_110443There are daffodils about to flower, and a variety of bulb plants which I haven’t identified but as yet haven’t seen any tulip plants, maybe it will be up to me to plant them next year!

However I have been re-inspired by the tulip shape to continue exploring them in my creative work.  This was initiated by the recent workshop I facilitated and I have continued to push and explore by combining a few techniques.  This image is of the samples I created for the workshop; raw edge applique, free machine quilting, and hand colouring. 20160630_092201 (450 x 600)

Next logical step is combining skills in thread painting, quilting and hand colouring.  The result is a semi 3D effect which I like and I am now working on a much larger piece…..IMG_20160726_115808 (528 x 600)Love those tulips!!

The colour pink….roses…grevilleas…an art quilt and thread painting

Last Friday I was surprised by the delivery of a dozen roses for Mothers Day! What a treat and delight and they still look gorgeous.

IMG_0959I have been enjoying them all week and I’m sure they are influencing my choice of colour as I create.  As usual I have several projects that are being worked on simultaneously.  Today saw me hand colouring a small art quilt(approx 30cm(w) x 65cm(h)) inspired by the unusual Australian flower – the Grevillea.IMG_0960

 

For a long time I found these flowers challenging to draw because they are spidery and intensely busy in their make-up.  In researching the Grevillea flower I find great descriptive words like ‘distinctive’, ‘filamentous; and ‘toothbrush-like’.  However once I teased out what I thought was the essence and structure of the flower they became easier to portray, and my drawings became a cross-section of the flowers.20141003_085023

 

The following image is a thread painting of the Grevillea flower I created last year.  I think I have emphasised the filamentous aspect of these distinctive flowers!! According to  www.freedictionary.com filamentous means “a fine or very thin thread or fibre” – I even like the reference to thread and fibre!

IMG_2276