Thursday, 12 September 2013

Porthminster Beach Cafe

On BBC4 there is a great little occasional series called What do Artists do all Day?  Well I can tell you what we don't do all day which is to sit around chatting about the meaning of life and wondering how to translate that into paint. What we do is work bloody hard! Especially when there is an exhibition at stake with a deadline looming. I have just finished my first art quilt for Solihull Artists' Forum exhibition Reflection and believe me it has been a real labour of love and certainly not without its fair share of trials and tribulations.

Porthminster Beach Cafe (detail) 2013 - Hand-dyed cotton fabrics, acrylic & free-machine embroidery

Along the way there has been much sewing machine rage. There have been times when I could have taken a stick to my machine and thrashed her (shades of Basil Fawlty here with his incalcitrant Austin 1100 or it may have been a 1300 for any eagle-eyed motoring pedants out there.) Why is it when you are working to a deadline to finish a piece of work things start to go awry, get over complicated or never quite turn out how you want them to (a bit like life really). Well, I put my foot down and drove my sewing machine like a Ferrari (or maybe even an 1100/1300). I drove her to within an inch of her life, showing no mercy until finally she  surrendered. She ground to a halt, dug her heels in and got her own back for all the insults and sweary words thrown in her general direction. (Married life?!!). Luckily my friend June kindly came to the rescue and let me borrow one of her sewing machines but this proved equally temperamental with June's machine seemingly coming out in sympathy with the sewing machine sisterhood and becoming difficult and feisty. Needless to say I gave her a good telling off which seemed to calm her down a bit.  Some sewing machines do seem to have minds of their own trying to trip you up by spitting out birds nest tangles of threads and breaking needles. They need to be taken in hand and shown who's boss.(Yes, sounds definitely like married life).  

For my interpretation of our theme Reflection I chose to translate into stitch a photo of my daughter Emily taken while on holiday in St Ives, Cornwall. She was only 7 years old at the time but at the end of a hard day's body boarding, building a spectacular Hogwarts sandcastle complete with moat, and frequent trips to queue for toilets, teas, coffees and ice-cream, we were all pleasantly frazzled and glowing from the sun. We had then got the long arduous trek back up to the car park laden down with beach towels, flip-flops, wind break, wet suits, sun creams (Factors, 15, 30 & total sun-block for Emily which made her look like a ghost), beach tent, body boards, books and bucket and spade, so we put off the inevitable and decided to reward ourselves with dinner on the beach at the Porthminster Beach Cafe.

Porthminster Beach Cafe (detail) 2013 - Hand-dyed cotton fabrics, acrylic & free-machine embroidery

Our table was next to a huge mirror and I remember looking across at Emily and her reflection as in turn she stared back at my reflection in the mirror. I had my camera handy and could not resist snapping her as she sat ravenous after her exhausting day on the beach, impatient for her Spaghetti Bolognese to arrive. 

I had had an equally exhausting day trying to keep everyone happy with a constant supply of sand-sandwiches, drinks, crisps, books, newspapers, comics, ice-cream and sun cream applications. Whoever said sunbathing was relaxing? Everyone gets slicked up with their relevant sun factor then you go in the sea and you have to start the whole process again.  Anyone with children will know just how difficult it is to get a child to stand still long enough for sun cream to be applied and this usually results in much whinging and whining when the sun cream comes in contact with the sand stuck to their bodies and they end up being sand-papered down. Then just as you have got yourself oiled with sun cream, nicely positioned on the beach towel and just taken the book-mark out of your Richard & Judy holiday read, you get asked by someone if you wouldn't mind just putting a bit of sun cream on their back.

No, sunbathing certainly has its fair share of unrelaxing moments and don't get me started on the wetsuit merry go-round which has to be alternated with the swimsuit/bikini when going in and out of the water and anyone who has a wetsuit will know they are probably about the most difficult thing to get on and off and this had to be done several times a day to keep the little one happy. So I too was sitting reflecting on my relaxing day, impatiently waiting for a refreshing bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to arrive which when it did came in a charming ice filled seaside bucket not unlike the one Emily used to build Hogwarts. 

This is just a sneak preview of the full sized quilt so if you can get along go and see it in the flesh in Reflection which runs from 10th September to 12th October at Solihull Arts Complex with a launch event on the evening of 12th September from 6.15 - 7.45 and Artists' Talk on the evening of 19th September at the same time as above. It's a great exhibition with lots of painting, sculpture, glass, textiles, ceramics and jewellery so please come along and take a look.  

1 comment:

  1. I went to the launch event last evening and can say it was very enjoyable. Lots of great work by talented artists.