Monday, 27 August 2012

A Hole in the Wall - A Grand Day out in Walsall

High on our list of  'must visits' on our 'Summer Staycation' this year was a day out in Walsall, primarily to visit the New Art Gallery Walsall to see their current exhibitions.  Mark Power's exhibition Black Country Stories mixes photographs, video and sounds of everyday life in and around the Black Country.  Power says his aim is "to reveal the splendour of the forgotten and the everyday, where a quiet yet simmering beauty begins to emerge."  The image above of the back of a derelict building juxtapositioned with a mural of a hole in the wall caught my eye in the gallery. Then to our complete surprise later in the day we discovered the real mural quite by accident and below is my own photograph of it.  Looks like the tree was chopped down.  

The mural was commissioned in 2007 by the the Hole in the Wall Curtain Shop which is a labyrinth of rooms stocked floor to ceiling with curtain, home furnishing and dress making fabrics. Quite a paradise for me with my passion for textiles. The place just goes on and on, over 3 floors plus an attic full of remnant bargains. The Hole in the Wall mural can be viewed through a hole in the wall just by the entrance to the shop.

Despite being overwhelmed by the sheer choice of fabrics I came away with some ticking material to make a floor bean bag and hessian for rag rugging. 

Amongst the exhibits is Power's series of photographs of footwear seen from pavement level and against the grey of the concrete paving. One of his videos, filmed in a  local beauty salon was of a girl having her face made up and false nails applied and painted.   The accompanying commentary was a list of names describing the colours of make up and nail varnish that read like a poem and spoken by a Black Country woman. Another film showed a tattoo being applied to someone's arm and two people having their bottom lips pierced which even though I found quite gruesome and wanted to look away, still held me captivated.

Gavin Turk's Bin Bag Sculpture in Bronze

Also at Walsall Gallery was Street, an exhibition bringing together artists who explore the darker side of the urban environment.  A street can mean home, community, and wealth but it can also be a place of violence, loneliness, decay and corruption.

On then to the Black Country Arms for a tasty lunch of faggots and peas and some excellent real ale.

Spotted this interesting view through the window

A really interesting day almost on our doorstep.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Festival of Quilts 2012

August means only one thing in the quilter's calendar and that is the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham, the biggest quilting event in Europe with over 1000 quilts entered into the competition. It was very inspiring and although I love the colour and designs of some of the Traditional Quilts my favourite ones  are in the Art, Pictorial & Contemporary Quilts categories.  I snapped a few of my favourites.

I just love the bra in this one

I got to test drive a long-arm quilting machine which is an amazing piece of machinery and I felt like I had the  controls of an aeroplane. It just flowed over the fabric and so much easier than having to move the fabric underneath on a conventional sewing machine but alas I hadn't got a spare £9,999.00 to spend, plus it would have taken over most of my Girl Cave so on this occasion I gave it a miss. It was a shame because a nice American gentleman was doing his best to sell me one but the lady next to me succumbed to his charm and bought one instead.


Look closely and you can see I've written my name. Would be fantastic for writing text which I use a lot in my work. 

This is my good friend Nadine Reid who has just graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in Textile Design (Embroidery) and was exhibiting on the Graduate Showcase stand.  Nadine layers fabrics, then stitches, cuts and frays the layers to reveal a myriad of colours. She had quite a bit of interest shown in her work from suppliers and other designers so Good Luck Nadine!

These are the exquisite art dolls of textile artist Marie Roper who sadly passed away at the end of July.  The Festival dedicated a stand to showcase her work.

Best in Show - The Quilters' Games

The Quilters' Games had to be my favourite which not surprisingly won Best in Show and was from the Group Quilt category.  I loved the Rotary Relay, the Synchronised Sewing, and the Quilters' Bolt with the ladies and their 'Fat Quarters'. It made me smile anyway and I left with lots of ideas and the inspiration to get sewing again after the summer lay off, and the good intention of entering a quilt of my own for next year.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Heston cooks a Big Breakfast at Moor Street Station

Had such a surprise last week when we got off the train at Moor Street Station for a day out in Brum to find Heston Blumenthal cooking breakfast for some of the staff at the station.  Looked like they were going to tuck into a hearty breakfast of egg, sausage, beans and toast but of course where Heston is concerned things are never what they seem. 

He served up individual fried eggs' for the staff from the giant 'fried egg' which is actually made up of set yoghurt for the white and the yolk is pureed mango.  He was filming for his next TV series for Channel 4 and I guessed he was focussing on how unhealthy a fried breakfast is compared to yoghurt and fruit but we will have to wait till next year when the series is broadcast to find out the full story.

Didn't have time to stay and see what he served up next but the producer told us that the beans were actually baking potatoes in tomato sauce. The sausages looked like huge rolls of sausagemeat in skins and the bread looked as if it was real bread but rolled out with a rolling pin to make bigger. I can only imagine how disappointed the staff must have been when they came into work expecting a slap up full monty of a breakfast cooked by non other than Heston Blumenthal only to discover they were sitting down to a breakfast of fruit and yoghurt. 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Girl Cave Power (Phase III) - Result - Hand-Dyeing my own Fabrics

So, having claimed  Darling Husband's Man Cave and turned it into my own Girl Cave this is what I have been up to, which is dyeing my own fabric.  It's something I have wanted to do for ages but have never had the courage until I saw Laura Kemshall's video workshop on Hand-Dyeing on DesignMatters TV which I subscribe to.  Linda Kemshall's DMTV is a great way of learning creative textile and mixed-media techniques, like having your own in-house tutors.

I used the Procion MX starter kit from Art Van Go which include 6 small pots. These are the 4 colours I used to create the fabrics above and below and am really delighted with the results.  All set now to use them for quilting, patchwork, applique etc.

Looking forward to lots more dyeing sessions in my Girl Cave.  This is just the start.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Girl Cave Power (Phase II) - Renovation

After much negotiating with Darling Husband this is the space that's been allocated to me as my 'studio' space. Shades of Solihull College here. Students of the BA Fine Art course, past and present, will know exactly what I mean here as studio space was/is always an issue with everyone jostling and haggling for enough wall space.

Lots of room for manouevre and expansion though if I play my cards right.  The 2 ceramic cardigans are from my Final Major Project on Foundation Course.  I've propped them against the wall to hide the breeze blocks a bit but they are earmarked for the hall & stairs if it ever gets finished (another of DH's WIPs - Works in Progress). 

Have only been allocated 2 shelves.

Job done! All set up now ready for my first project which will be hand-dyeing fabrics.