Thursday, 24 September 2015

At Home with Vanley Burke

Working at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham I am lucky enough to get to meet artists who exhibit there and I have to say that it's been an absolute joy and privilege to meet, work and get to know photographer Vanley Burke whose exhibition At Home with Vanley Burke draws to a close this coming weekend on 27th September.  The entire contents of Vanley's flat in Nechells were transferred to Ikon and set up exactly like his home so as you enter the first floor gallery you step into Vanley's hallway then move to his kitchen, bedroom, office, living room and even his balcony with all his plants. 

Vanley left Jamaica in 1965 with his parents at the age of 14 to come and live in Birmingham. He took his first photograph on a Kodak 127 Brownie given to him by his parents and this love of photography stayed with him establishing himself as one of the leading phtographers of black culture in Britain.  Here are just some of the images I have collected over the last few weeks of my favourite things in Vanley's flat.

Vanley's first camera

This is one of his old ones but you never see Vanley without his trademark trilby hat

Jamaican Rum

Just some of Vanley's video tapes recorded from his favourite TV programmes & films over the years

Just some of Vanley's vinyl record collection which we got to choose from and play everyday on his record player.   

One of Vanley's iconic images with his vast record collection in the background.

Khus-Khus perfume made in Jamaica which Vanley would dab behind his ears when he was in the gallery

Out of all the exhibitions I have ever worked on at Ikon this has got to be the one I  have enjoyed the most and we have have all got used to Vanley dropping in to his flat for a cup of his favourite Rooibus tea where he would often sit at his kitchen table playing dominoes and chatting to visitors. It really has been a pleasure . Vanley we will all miss you. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

I'm the Boss of Me

Being on holiday has kept me from posting on my blog but while I was away in the beautiful town of Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula of Croatia I came across this pearl of wisdom in one of the many gift shops (a lot of Made in China tat the like of which you see in gift shops all over, in fact one shop even had a notice up saying 'Our souvenirs are NOT Made in China', but that said I came across many genuine artisanal and hand made souvenirs to bring home). I use witticisms and funny one-liners a lot in my work writing them in sketchbooks or  embroidering the words in wooden embroidery hoops to hang on the wall but I loved this one and thought how true it is, that everyone in their life should be their own boss and not be dictated to by others. 

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Festival of Quilts 2015

Earlier this month I visited The Festival of Quilts which is is something I never miss. There were over 1000 competition quilts along with exhibitions of individual and group textile artists.  A great way to immerse oneself in the joy of stitch and  of course a great excuse to stock up on bits and pieces for the studio/work room/sewing room/girl shed and add to your stash. I love the art and pictorial quilts and it's hard to believe sometimes that they are quilts and not paintings but here are a selection of my favourites.

There was an amazing exhibition from Through Our Hands, a group of affiliated textile artists, curated by Laura Kemshall and Annabel Rainbow, with a mix of stitching, print, paint and mixed media.  

Genevieve Attinger

Annabel Rainbow

Jenni Dutton has created a series of drawings called The Dementia Drawings which evolved from the time when she was a carer for her mother.

The drawings are actually darned portraits using thread sewn through netting stretched over canvas and are based on family photographs from albums that she and her mother looked through and became a way for Jenni to explore the themes of ageing and her mother's gradual loss of memory.

This was one of my favourites from the group category where here each artist has sewn a panel each for form one large quilt.

This textile group had based all their quilts on images of food.  I love these tomatoes.

This was just a small selection of my favourites and I could have included many more but the blog would have been a mile long if I had. It was another great Festival of Quilts and I always come away with masses of inspiration not to mention more fabrics to add to my stash. I couldn't do a FOQ either without visiting my favourite art suppliers Art Van Go and this time I treated myself to a Gelli Printing Plate which I have always wanted. I just need to learn how to use it so lots to get on with for the coming Autumn and Winter months.  Happy stitching!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Journeys #7 - Masking Tape just got Better

Every artist has a roll of masking tape in their kit.  We all know how invaluable it is for its adhesive qualities but did you know it can be used to make your own decorative tape rather like Japanese Washi Tape.

For my 'Journey' here although I have used the masking tape as it was originally intended, for sticking, you will see that it has been painted over.   This was achieved by using a great technique I learnt last year on an Art Van Go printing workshop.  

The object of the workshop was to create colourful printed textiles so masking tape was stuck onto large squares of white cotton in a grid like pattern to mask off areas which were then printed over using fabric paints and various printing blocks and stencils.  

The masking tape was then peeled off. 

The process is repeated several times with the masking tape each time reapplied in a different grid pattern and using different coloured paints.

You are left with a colourful decorative surface printed fabric which can be used in various projects such as patchwork and quilting.  The lovely decorated masking tape is therefore actually a by-product of the whole technique but rather than just throwing it all in the bin once it has been peeled off the fabric, Viv from Art Van Go suggested we stick them in a sketchbook as they are just too nice to throw away.

For this one I cut an apperture in the preceding page which then forms a frame to what is underneath.  So for something that was destined for the bin I think it's a great way of creating your own Washi tape and can be used to decorate any surface. Masking tape just got better!