I managed to see this exhibition on its penultimate day and although the gallery was busy it was easy to see the exhibits - some could not be missed because of their size.
When I saw that Beryl Taylor was scheduled to run four workshops in the UK starting on the May Bank Holiday weekend, I immediately signed up for two of them. And was very glad I did.
Beryl's skills and vision in mixed media work are inspiring. Her book, Mixed Media Explorations, is one of my favourites, especially the sections on paper cloth. The colours of the pieces featured in the book are gorgeous and even better in real life - she brought many for us to look at for inspiration.
The workshop showed us how to make a Tree of Life book. This consisted of printing, painting, stitching and embellishing fabric pages that are then stitched into a book form. The techniques included use of moulding paste, stencilling, monoprinting, block printing, beading and simple embroidery.
These are the pages of my book prior to stitching them together:
And the finished book:
But... I'm not certain it will ever be truly finished. I am so enjoying the hand stitching that I want to keep going and am, at last, making inroads, albeit slight, into my stash of beads and embroidery threads. I would like the book to be rich in texture, stitch and embellishment, with surprises on each page. So, it will be an ongoing project for some time yet.
However... I also have in mind another textile book, one that will take me out of my colour comfort zone.
I tend to work in a warm palette, as you will have seen in this website. A challenge to myself is to make a book in cool colours - blues, greys, whites, silver, with a contrast for interest, one I have yet to choose. I might limit the images to a single block and see in how many ways it can be interpreted and embellished; or a theme, maybe paisley or leaves. The ideas are still germinating and I will post whan I have made some progress!
The title of Martin Creed's exhibition is "What's the Point of it?" and some of the pieces did raise that question. Nonetheless, there was a lot of work which I loved.
The huge neon sign "Mothers", twelve and a half metres long with letters two and a half metres high, spinning round at variable speeds, is in honour of motherhood. To quote Creed "when you're small, your mother is always really big."
The 1,000 broccoli prints are gorgeous and the impact of seeing them displayed together is a visual feast. According to the exhibition guide, the individual prints were made with different heads of broccoli and all the paints Creed could find. I wish I had thought of doing them first!
There were some exhibits which show the artist's love of organisation - stacked chairs, tables, cardboard boxes and cacti displayed according to height. This is also evident in the iron beams and wooden planks, neatly arranged according to size, and his paintings of ziggurats.
The exhibit with 39 metronomes was joyful, each being set to a different tempo. And the car on one of the sculpture terraces had a life of its own, with doors, boot and bonnet opening and closing, and Radio 4 playing loudly. There was a piano in the main hall with a security guard sitting at it. He picked out all the notes with one finger, stopped and left. Speaking with one of his colleagues, I learnt that the artist showed some of the guards exactly what to do and explained that while they were playing the piano they were not members of staff but part of the artwork. I tried discussing this with the guard who had been playing but the concept was lost on him.
I enjoyed this show, which was thought-provoking, playful, shocking and beautiful.
I've always liked the work of Paul Klee but hadn't looked at it in any detail. A day spent at the exhibition at Tate Modern was an eye opener and source of inspiration. As I am primarily a textile artist, I couldn't help but see his work interpreted in fabric: sheers and solids, plain and textured, layered and appliqued.
The series of work done in 1921 - 'Fishes in the Deep', 'Aquarium', 'Pot Shapes, Transparent' and 'Red, Green Gradation' - struck me as if they could have easily have been executed in layers of sheer fabrics.
His 1926 works, 'Sacred Islands', 'View of a Mountain Sanctuary' and 'Clouds' could have been made with hand-dyed fabrics and then machine quilted. Two pieces made in 1927, 'Pastorale' and 'Young Garden (Rhythms)' are asking to be hand stitched.
And then 'Necropolis', 'In the Current Six Thresholds', 'Steps' and 'Fire in the Evening', all produced in 1929, are works which would inspire pieced quilts in a rich but controlled colour palette.
The works which look almost stitched are those produced between 1931 and 1933, including 'Castle Garden', 'Memory of a Bird' , 'Lowlands', 'Polyphony' and 'Gaze of Silence'. In these pieces the brush strokes are highly resonant of hand stitching - lines of colour in thick paint (thread), similar to the techniques of Kantha stitching. Just beautiful.
This is a big show, with lots of room to see the artworks. It merits several visits and will be a source of inspiration for future work. Watch for upcoming posts!
This year I broke with a self-imposed tradition and instead of going on the opening day, Thursday, to avoid the crowds of college students, I went on the Saturday. Never again. It was just heaving with visitors and unpleasantly hot, making it difficult to enjoy the exhibitions. However, I persevered and am glad I did so, although there was a slight sense of deja vu as I had seen some of the exhibitors at the Festival of Quilts in August.
Dorothy Caldwell's show, 'In Place', has pieces inspired by the way marks are made on landscapes. There are small works, almost sample sized, highly textured with a minimal palette of colours, and larger ones, with a painting-like quality, again with a restrained use of colour.
'A Timeline of Crewel Work 1630 - 1930' was a wonderful collection of crewel embroidery, both old and new, including bed hangings, clothing and furnishing fabrics. Crewel work is a technique which can produce richly textured pieces in jewel colours and I'm glad that there seems to be a renewed interest in keeping it alive.
'Equal On All 4 Sides' was a joint exhibition by Ruth Issett and Bobby Britnell, two artists whose work I have greatly admired. And yes, I have their books! Ruth's dyed and printed textiles and paper pieces simply glowed with colour and light. Bobby's work was more subdued but rich in tone and natural colours. Both were inspirational.
Mary Pal's workshop at the Festival of Quilts was to teach the joys of using paintsticks and joyful it was. Mary is a great teacher - enthusiastic, thorough and diligent. She imparted a sense of play and exploration as well as pointing the way to doing fine work by combining stencils and masks, layering and mixing. Although I have done a lot of work with paintsticks it is always possible to learn new techniques. I had a lot of fun making samples using various techniques and will post images when the work has been completed.
With Mary's permission, some of her work is show below:
I liked many of the paintings in this exhibition but must confess that I could not understand them all.
'Nicola as an Orchid' was beautiful - enamel painted on aluminium, spare and expressive.
'Blackbird' is a striking painting in blacks and blues - I half expected the bird to burst into song.
But my favourite was Red Barn Door, a large painting in pure deep colour, textured by brush strokes. I think it would look rather nice in Willesden!
After my abortive visit to Tate Britain on Friday, today's trip to the Dulwich Picture Gallery was a success. I went to look at the work of John Sell Cotman - mostly watercolours but also drawings and prints from etchings. Some of the work was of places in England, but the majority recorded his stays in France, documenting the architecture, mainly churches and cathedrals. There were also pieces from some of his contemporaries, including Turner. He did a detailed study of Rouen cathedral, just beautiful, but, whether it was artistic licence or laziness, omitted the magnificent tower, shown very clearly in the works of other artists!
My favourite piece in this show was a painting, A Ruined House. This was an old Tudor house painted in greys, slate and ochre composed of squares and triangles; the viewer can see right into the rooms through broken walls, with mounds of earth inside and outside the building and one external wall fallen away. It was just beautiful with the colours still fresh and vibrant.
London Quilters, to which I belong, organised a two day workshop with Gwen Hedley whose work I have admired for some time. We worked in black, white and another colour of our choice on a very small scale using A6 sketchbooks. We made marks, painted, cut and tore up paper, wove it, then isolated a small part, enlarging and stitching it. These exercises made one look carefully at seemingly random and haphazard marks where interesting patterns emerge. I will shortly post images of some of my work
I first saw the work of Barbara Gunter-Jones at Art in Action in 2011. Her cyanoprint fabrics were beautifully delicate, subtle and fresh, so when she sent me details of a workshop she was running I immediately signed up. Several of us spent a very productive day in Aldbury, printing on a variety of prepared papers and fabrics - cotton, silk, organza. We used objects we had brought and also items provided by Barbara. I don't use much blue in my own work but the results were inspirational and I can see that I might be changing my colour palette.
Here are some samples of the work I produced:
The leaf skeletons used in the workshop are available from most craft and hobby shops but there are also lots of instructions on the internet for making your own. This could be interesting to do with large leaves and if I get round to making them I will put up a post.
If you like this technique have a look at Barbara's website for more inspiration: www.barbaragunterjones.co.uk