Sunday, 19 May 2013

Watercolours in the Garden

Can anyone remember at primary school whenever it was a lovely sunny afternoon the teacher would often drag pupils away from their desks and have the lesson outside in the fresh air sitting on the grass instead of  sitting in a stuffy classroom. Yes I remember it well - the soggy knickers from sitting on damp grass, grass stains on your summer frock which of course would get you a right telling off from your mum and trying to keep the pages of your exercise book from blowing in the breeze so you could actually get something written in it. Yes it was a sure sign that summer was well and truly here so not wanting to miss out on all the beautiful sunshine, this afternoon I gave myself permission to take my watercolours outside to paint in the garden instead of my stuffy workroom.

Here I've been doing some mixed-media sketchbook work combining watercolours with oil pastels to create a still life study.

Whilst I was out there and trying to get myself into Chelsea Flower Show mode I took a turn round the garden with my camera to see what I could capture on film.  The garden seems to have suddenly sprung to life with everything becoming much greener and more colourful after such a hard winter and cold soggy spring.

Clematis Montana

Clematis Montana

 Clematis Montana buds waiting to burst into flower


Apple Blossom

Aquilegia (Columbine)

Acer Palmatum Dissectum

All this sudden and unfamiliar sunshine proved a bit too much for Butty (Buttercup) so she decided to retire to her penthouse in the shade for a  bit of a snooze.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Zoe Hillyard - Ceramic Patchwork

Our talk this month at the Solihull Embroiderers' Guild was given by textile artist Zoe Hillyard. Zoe constructs vases combining ceramics and fabric which she describes as ceramic patchwork.  The technique she uses involves carefully smashing ceramic vases that she mostly acquires from charity shops and market stalls, wrapping the broken pieces in a variety of fabrics and then hand sewing the pieces back together again to mend the vase and form a patchwork.  Sounds ingenious and looks amazing.

She describes her work as "a mending process to revive discarded and broken ceramics, creating a new tactile aesthetic for familiar forms. Leaving their original function and mass-produced anonymity behind, each piece becomes a unique decorative vessel with a flawed beauty that is the result of its material histories to date. The making process requires a leap of faith, but results in a fresh new re-incarnation."

Much of Zoe's inspiration comes from her travels abroad, particularly her 12 months sabbatical in Mongolia working as a teacher for the VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas) for the Mongolian Textile Institute and spending time with people in remote communities where she says lives are influenced by the landscape and climate and how fibre and textile skills often play an important part in livelihood activities.

During her talk Zoe also spoke of the importance of her work at Birmingham City University as course lecturer on BA (Hons) Textile Design, The course combines Constructed Textiles, Embroidery, Printed Textiles and Surface Design or Textile Retail Management.

I first came across Zoe's work at the Made in the Middle touring Exhibition last year at the MAC in Birmingham.  

Commenting on her own work she says:

 "The design process, for me, begins with materials - both raw and recycled and Ceramic Patchwork reflects this approach.  It builds on my interest in hand craft processes, construction and form, and in my belief that items should be treasured for the long-term."


Friday, 10 May 2013

A Day at the Races - (The British Quilt & Stitch Village 2013 @ Uttoxeter Racecourse)

Had a grand day out at Uttoxeter Racecourse a couple of weeks ago with the Solihull Embroiderers' Guild . visiting the British Quilt & Stitch Village.  Its a great little quilt and textile show, very accessable and much more do-able in a day than the Festival of Quilts at the NEC which although I really enjoy, always find so overwhelming and you just can't do it all in day.  The show was previously owned and run by Margaret McQuillen of MQ Exhibitions but it is now owned by TPL exhibitions who have made much  more use of the whole racecourse by exhibiting in the outer buildings and pavillions turning it into a 'village'. The show began life as "Quilts in the Garden" at Trentham Gardens in the north Midlands, and has gone from strength to strength now including complementary crafts such as embroidery, beadwork, felting, printing and mixed-media, in fact anything to do with stitch.

The exciting thing for me was I got the chance to exhibit some of my own work at the show as a member of Running Stitch Textile Group who are a group of seven textile artists who meet and exhibit regularly.  It was a great opportunity for us to show some of our work in advance of the exhibition we are holding at Solihull Arts Complex in September.   Above is one of my own pieces which I had previously exhibited as part of my degree course at Solihull College.  The Cycle of Life is in response to the endless cycle of washing and laundry that seems such an intrinsic part of a woman's life but also a wry comment on the trials and tribulations of advancing middle age. 

The Cycle of Life -   Jacqui Thomson (Quilted Pillowcase)

The Cycle of Life (detail)

Curves - Jacqui Thomson

More work below from Running Stitch. Apologies to Julie & Anne whose work was brilliant but did not photograph well because of the reflections on the glass frames. 

The Cottage - Pat Kravos

Sunset 2 - Helen Wallis
Here is my friend and mentor textile artist June Parkinson exhibiting her work and demonstrating some of her mixed-media and stitch techniques.

Around the show there were some beautiful quilts and textile art works on display and here is a selection of some of my favourite pieces.  

There were also lots of traders at the show so managed to bag myself some fabulous fat quarters and a beautiful basket from The African Fabric Shop which I thought would be useful in my sewing room to store some of my stash of fabrics or SABLE.     

Finished off with a quick gallop round the racecourse ....

....and into the winner's enclosure to finish our grand day out at the races.