In response to many enquiries about my working practice, I created this page to give an insight into some of my pieces and the processes behind them in a little more detail than the entries on my Blog page or the Galleries. Enjoy and feel free to ask me questions through the Contact page.
Forced to Flee : 'Page 27 - Exodus 1'
When I was compelled to make an artwork responding to The List, I knew exactly what I was going to do - the text would be the most important part of the work, with images of fleeing people superimposed on it in varying degrees of transparency and opacity to ensure the text was legible.
The first step was to transfer the text to fabric. At first I planned to simply use printable sheets of A4 fabrics and fuse them onto a background but soon had second thoughts - it would be tricky to get clean alignments of the text, the fabrics would fray and the stencil print would highlight the joins. I had known about but never investigated the possibility of getting a print done commercially. On a recommendation. I contacted a local company who specialise in digital printing on fabrics, sent my image and received the print in less than a week. The image was crisp and clear on top cotton sateen, a lovely fabric with a soft handle.
I made line drawings of men, women and children fleeing, scanned them and cut out several acetate stencils. The images were created by stencilling with black Markal Paintstiks, using both the positive and negative images. Each figure was outlined with tiny back stitches; while sewing, my thoughts were inevitably on those who had died, both named and un-named, wondering about their histories. The background was machine stitched.
You may be wondering about the title - 'Page 27' refers to the page number of the supplement and 'Exodus 1' to the first piece in what I hope will be a series of works for a future solo show.
The Georgics of Virgil
I created a body of work for three group exhibitions in 2018 - my pieces were based on John Dryden's translation of Virgil's The Georgics. I was drawn to this theme for several reasons - spending prolonged periods of time in rural Northern France I was more aware of the rhythm of seasons and the changing agricultural landscapes than I would ever be with day trips out of London; the many translations of Virgil over the centuries shows a relevance and appeal to modern readers; the imagery conjured up in the text were instant inspirations for depiction in textile. I particularly liked Dryden's translation with its rhyming couplets.
This piece, Vines, was inspired by the descriptions of choosing suitable terrain, planting the vines, training them into elms, pruning and harvesting. I started by painting the calico with Inktense blocks, building up the layers gradually. Text was then written on by hand using a fine tipped applicator and liquid acrylic inks and although it is just possible to read the writing my intention was to create a layer of colour and texture. I made acetate stencils using the ScanNCut and my blog post scan-and-cut.html gives a bit more information about this piece of equipment. Markal Paintstiks were used to create the images through the stencils. I have used Markal in many pieces of work as it is possible to get wide gradations of colour and texture. Contrary to my usual practice of machine stitch, this piece and most of the others in the series, were completed with hand stitching.
These close up pictures help give a better view of some of the processes I've mentioned:
I joined Studio Art Quilts Associates in 2016 to keep in touch with the wider world of art quilts and to explore the possibilities of entering work in international exhibitions. In August of that year I saw SAQA's "Silver" show at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham - inspirational. I also saw the call for entries for "Made in Europe" but it was some months before I decided to enter a quilt.
I wanted to make a piece which was decidedly London - after all, that's where I live. Inspiration struck me at the end of November - I would make a quilt based on my journal quilts for 2015 on the theme of the concrete brutalist architecture of the Southbank. However, I had to work quickly!
I had taken a photograph of the National Theatre some time ago and this was the source of my inspiration. I printed it out to scale (120cm x 70cm), making two copies, and then started creating the fabrics for the piece. Yards of white cotton was monoprinted using a Gelli plate, one of my favourite techniques. I used acrylic paint, applying it with a roller and creating a range of colours from black to light grey. I was not trying to make perfect yardage, but textiles with textures. All the textiles were then fused with Bondaweb
I used one of the copies of the scaled photograph as the pattern, cutting up the different elements to be used as templates. The printed cloth was auditioned for colour, tone and texture then the pattern pieces were each cut out, corresponding to the image, and fused onto the background fabric. Extra texture and colour was applied with paintsticks and the whole piece was machine quilted. The last stitches went in on Christmas Eve - I had to finish it by then as I had been using the dining table to work on and Christmas lunch and quilts are incompatible!
I submitted my entry online with photographs and was delighted to learn that it had been accepted.
In 2017 Southbank 13 was shown in Daytona Beach, FL, Lancaster, PA, Paducah, KY and Grand Rapids, MI. This year, 2018, it was shown at venues in Europe.
The photographs below show some of the monoprinted fabrics and a detail of the quilt. In isolation, the printed fabrics can look quite ugly and messy but selective cutting out and the right placement can create a passable representation of the brutalist concrete architecture of the era