Saturday, 29 August 2015

Sketch book challenge?

I'm going to have a go at the latest challenge here (Facebook posting 27th August)

It's a relaxed friendly approach to filling up an empty sketchbook till it's stuffed with goodies! It'll all take place over the next 3 months - a sort of collection of thoughts and deeds, purchases and inspirations over a given period of time.  I'll have a go and see if I can complete it!!

My "journal" will be called (because I like a name to start with) The Autumn Rainbow. Of course, being me, I've made a start already - not in the book, but in making things around something that's happened in the last couple of days, and which rather appropriately ties in with the idea of autumn somewhat. Leaves.

First of all, I've made a couple of blocks for printing off at a later date, and a lino cut.  These are based on leaves found on wallpaper (you may have noticed I've been doing a spot of decorating)

And, I've done a rubbing or two, and a spot of printing just to see how they might all work. Below are graphite rubbings, and underneath that are two white acrylic prints from the lino cutting. (I love the marks at the sides of the leaf on these that look a bit like bark!)

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Cardboard etching and decorating

Well, it's not a huge transformation, but I've got one or two little bits for the newly painted studio wall.

A lovely little box just right for my pencils and drawing pens.

Somewhere to hang my apron.

Do you recognize those keys from Susan Lenz at Festival??  G and I were given one each but I bought 3 and should have bought more!!

And these empty glass frames will be perfect, just perfect, for a little bit of cardboard etching that I'm going to attempt courtesy of DMTV. I can't tell you how to do it because obviously that wouldn't be fair, but I'll certainly show the results when they're done.  It's a two episode video programme and I've yet to find out how to do the actual printing.

I also said I'd share the thickened dye painting efforts, but something else cropped up just as I was about to start. Always the way!!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Yawn. Decorating. Yawn.

I don't know what it says about me - and I think I'd prefer to keep it that way - but I never want to start the creative processes if the environment around me is in a mess. I like to clear the decks and be in a beautiful cleared space.

I share my studio space with occasional dining room use. The two are not compatible, as sitting in a white cube is not conducive to feeling cosy and at ease, and a red velvet bedecked medieval banqueting hall whilst cosy, is easily ruined by exuberant paint splashing.

The lovely posters I'd recently bedecked the walls with were sagging and looking tatty because they were only held up with blue tack. I couldn't fix them permanently because the thin paper wouldn't mould itself around the bare brick.

So I put them in the kitchen. Yay. I love it even if no one else does!!  I might even be moved to cook something.

 The studio is undergoing a sagey green transformation courtesy of Farrow and Ball. If you have any ideas how I can dress the wall to make it look both beautiful and practical, please do fire away - it's not my strong point and I'd be grateful for help!

Monday, 24 August 2015

What lurks at the bottom of your laundry bag?

There's always something that lurks at the bottom of the laundry bag - usually a difficult hand wash!!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

A reaction

Following on from Laura's blog here I did wonder about leaving a comment, but felt I had more space on my own blog. All this stems from another blog where an artist, a TOH Affiliate Artist, had angered a visitor to her own exhibition/gallery at Festival of Quilts.

Basically, it was a strong initial reaction based on the surmise that a female artist was perpetuating a negative representation of women. I believe the viewer didn't identify with the portrayal of middle aged women as a voiceless homogenous mass. Do follow the links if you wish, and draw your own conclusions from the posting and the comments. Kudos to the artist. In the words of Joyce Carol Oates, “art should not be comforting; for comfort, we have mass entertainment and one another. Art should provoke, disturb, arouse our emotions, expand our sympathies in directions we may not anticipate and may not even wish.”

But because of that reaction, I thought I'd also share this: when I was stewarding the Through Our Hands gallery at Festival of Quilts, a woman I know very slightly, came up to me and told me that she didn't like my current work but preferred the stuff  "I used to do; the abstract colourful stuff". She was very generous in her praise of the lovely colours I "used to use" - which softens the fact that I had been told that the same person had said that my Life Story quilts are perverted. (A Poisonous Plant perhaps?!!)

Of course, to my mind, she's missed the point entirely. The fact that someone could use the genre of a quilt to make a political or personal statement - and that wasn't "something you'd want to hang in your living room" - was entirely alien to her, but she's not alone in her view. That's fine. Everyone is entitled to their viewpoint but how unkind.

 Without wishing to bore you again, we all know the problems I've had getting my quilts viewed at quilt shows, on pinterest, in magazines etc - the fact they've needed to be shown behind curtaining, (for goodness sake) or are not suitable for main stream shows by the likes of Grosvenor Exhibitions for example. (You would have sympathy if a business was worried that showing them might affect their profits, but that is unlikely given visitor numbers from exhibitions where they've been shown elsewhere, no, that's not it, they're actually censoring you because I'm deemed not suitable for your delicate sensibilities. Perhaps they're right!! Very sad.)

It's hard as an artist to keep going in the face of such negativity; to battle forward with an idea when others are seemingly unconcerned about the consequences of their critical views. If your work puts forward or highlights an idea that others disagree with, who says you have to be strong and take their reactions like a punch on the chin? It's also kind of vital for all of us, that artists feel they have the freedom to continue to challenge. To accept criticism and understand others is an important part of the creative process, but not if it makes someone afraid to speak their mind. We have to be little careful not to wound I think. It always amazes me that there is a detachment between the work and the artist, as if one is fair game and it doesn't affect the other.

I leave you with yet another image of Life 4 - Hello Dear What Did You Do Today.

The words on it (printed underneath the picture and I'd be really honoured if you found the time and energy to read them) remind me constantly of how safe, well fed, middle class, middle aged, and white I am, and the truth that women over 50, despite being strong, powerful, ambitious, or whatever, are also a lot of the time, invisible, through no fault of their own.

We don't have to do chores if we don't want to, or have children, (and that's not true for all cultures even in this country) but someone has to take the responsibility of caring, and for women of my generation, ignoring the basic instincts they may have, they have always had the societal pressure that it will be them. It's hard to go against how you've been bought up.

Life 4 - "Hello Dear, What Did You Do Today?"

The words stitched on this quilt are as follows:

Well dear, I worried. I had coffee this morning. Coffee is the second most valuable legal commodity after oil but is largely grown by subsistence farmers and I forgot to buy Fair Trade.

Then I took our grandchildren to school. Did you know that 90% of all childcare still rests on women's backs.

On the way to the hated supermarket to buy food, I saw that lady from the house by the park in her burkha who everyone says is lonely and abused but can't tell the police in case her family is deported, and thought about the veiling and seclusion of women and the cult of virginity and the death penalty for women's adultery, and tried to imagine what it was like to be killed with stones.  I thought of rape and how under Shar'ia law a rape victim needs four male witnesses to substantiate her testimony. In the west we might just say she's making the whole thing up.  I thought how rape could end if men just stopped doing it.

Then I had my hair done and looked in the mirror and saw how old I was.  When you get old you cease to exist, people just don't seem to see you any more. Perhaps I  should lose weight or wear high heels to make me taller and show off my legs.  Perhaps my nose needs altering or I could get my ears pierced or my teeth whitened.  This made me think of trying to look nice and how idd this was when 140 million women have been circumcised and cruelly mutilated because it reduces libido and prevents promiscuity.  No, I'll just bleach and perm my hair and put on false eyelashes and shave myt legs and pad my bra, and file and paint my toenails. I'd best skip lunch or I'll get fat.

I pottered about the garden and planted some lettuce. I thought of the women who make up over 50% of the world's population yet only hold the title to 1% of the land, and produce more than half it's food.  They work 2/3rds of the world's working hours but receive 10% of the world's income.

Then I collected the grandchildren from school and took them to cubs and ballet and thought of childbearing and the way fertility can be controlled, like the 35% of all Puerto Rican woman that were sterilized by the US Agency for Development.

Then I paid a visit to that frail neighbour who The Meals On Wheels lady told me about. She's sad and alone because her family have had to move to search for work and she's frightened and doesn't want to go into residential care but she's in the system and thinks no one is listening.

Then I came home to do the cleaning and the cooking, sort out the clothes and do the washing, and remembered what the Ladybird books taught me in school.

"Here we are at home says Daddy.
Peter helps Daddy with the car, and Jane helps Mummy get the tea.
Good girl, says Mummy to Jane. You are a good girl to help me
like this." 

When I had our children I worked part time for 20 years without sick pay or a pension and tried to nurture you all in sickness and life, and help keep everyone fed and educated.  If an Englishman's home is his castle why doesn't he clean it.  Only 3% of PLC Directors in Britain are women and only 4% of judges.  78% of all clerical workers are women, but only 11% are managers.

Then I started to work on my quilt, and you're reading it now.  Women artists only earn 1/3 of male artists.  So I stopped and made your tea. That's how I spent my day,
dear, how about you?

Friday, 21 August 2015

New Through Our Hands Magazine FREE and OUT NOW!!

Here it is! Free to read in it's entirety, on line now. Click the link below. You can share and embed wherever you wish.  If you want a copy to read off line or to go onto your Kindle etc, you can buy a PDF version for £3 here

Thursday, 20 August 2015

DMTV, pots and a love of orange and turquoise...and some hair and a scarf

Here's some progress on Life 17 The Inexorable Tide of Dinner

The beginning. Drawing the face with soft pencil onto the cloth and blocking in some flesh tones.

Deciding on the large blocks of colour (I need to do this early on so I can get a feel for the balance of the colours)  That great white mound on the left is going to be plates and dishes with mashed potato and sausages sticking out....amongst other things.

I just love orange, and find bits of it sneaking in to my paintings everywhere.  I've decided to go with magenta for this lady's scarf, but managed to get some cadmium orange into the highlights! It goes especially well in my mind with turquoise - another favourite. I've only just started work on Life 17 and will be tackling the face next.

I've recently been catching up on the wonderful DMTV shows (been a bit busy!) and I always end up inspired and unable to wait to experiment! Laura's got me going again and wanting to get out the dyes for a spot of thickened dye printing, painting, stencilling.

I bought this pot last year when I visited Poole Pottery, so you might guess where I'm going to be going with it all!  I'm going to set aside a day when Graham is otherwise engaged and run riot in the kitchen. I love the clarity and vibrancy of dye and the way it mixes together to produce beautiful surface textures. Sometimes I need a little reminder to play about a bit!!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Festival of Quilts - some close ups of the TOH gallery

Olga Prins Lukowski - Juggling Keep Them In The Air. Lots of people wanted to know how the background mesh was made.  Olga coloured a mesh used in the plastering process and bought from a builders yard.

Kintsugi Vessels by Mirjam Pet-Jacobs.

Counting the Days II by Els Van Baarle. A close up of one of four pieces.

Sue Stone. Some Things Never Change (detail)

Alicia Merrett - Distortion Fields (detail)

Jette Clover, Silent Language 

Bobby Britnell - room installation showing work by Bobby and her son

Michala Gyetvai,  L'Apres-midi d'un faune. (detail)

Susan Lenz, Wall of Keys.  Susan arrived on the Tuesday, and we didn't which may have made her job on the Wednesday even harder.  She started hammering in the keys at 9am and didn't stop until late in the evening. We left just after six and had to leave her to it.  She didn't stop, not ever, not even to eat or drink. Amazing energy. Susan was also vital to Festival taking part in workshops and discussions in the theatre. We loved her energy and fresh enthusiasm.  (Thank you Susan - you're a star!)

Just look at that huge bag of keys that she lugged with her all the way from the States.

About half way

And finally finished! We just loved it.

Jenni Dutton......And here's those Dementia Darnings that caused quite a stir

Sandra Meech, Spring on the Levels II. My apologies for the image quality - new iPhone to battle with!  I loved this and thought the detail was staggeringly beautiful.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Photo tour of Festival of Quilts

Of course some people, the kind ones, say "She's been so busy" or "She works so hard", but others - those in the know - just say "She can't do a photo tour because she doesn't know how to download the photos off her new phone, and has gone in search of a toddler who can show her how"!

In the meantime, can I recommend you visit my chum here?  Or indeed Linda, here.

Laura has plenty of pictures and they're probably loads better than mine would be anyway!!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Essentials of Preparing for Festival of Quilts

Ooooo, I'm getting excited!  I'm so looking forward to meeting everyone again and having a chin wag and finding out what you've all been up to.  Please come and say hello!

In the meantime, I thought I'd share my useful list of some of the preparations.

(Tea towels. There's a few left which I'll be taking along in the hope that someone might like an unusual Christmas present for a difficult person!) AND remember a true feminist knows what a tea towel is but prefers to use it for wiping oil off her hands after servicing the tractor.

 List of things to remember

1) Buy throat sweets.  In 2013 when I did my first Festival, I had no idea what was involved.  2 essentials for having a good time are water, and throat sweets.  The 3rd essential is covered by the Festival organizers, and that's cover for 5 minutes at selected points over 4 days for the natural consequences of the first essential!

2) Is your stand planned? Have you remembered a table and a chair to sit on? (Both are in short supply and because of that are liable to be "borrowed" This year you have to sign for them and someone delivers them when you turn up to fill the stand.) NB It always looks smaller than you expect....unless of course you haven't got quite enough work to fill it in which case, it's huge and you'll need to tell everyone you like space around an exhibit to allow the eye to rest.

3) Turn up on set up day. You need to do this so you can begin installing your exhibition. This means making sure you have your exhibition passes around your neck, and your car park pass on the dashboard. It's quite a drive to the halls from the NEC entrance, and you have to follow the signs to a man with a clipboard who ticks you off his list and ushers you to the back of the halls, where you have 20 minutes to unload before finding a parking space in the proper car park. It's really useful to have someone with you to do this bit, whilst you flap around and panic because you're obliged to rush and are disorientated (no sign posts). You can of course give up at any point, and decide to fall over in despair, but the temptation to stay down and play dead is quite large.

4) Most people wander around for hours looking professional and in control, but remember they're not. If you get really panicky, find the organizers office and stand outside and cry. They rarely let you get to the stage where tears soak the carpets before offering help. If you're a man and tears don't come easily, suck your thumb.

5) So you've hung yourself.  And all is looking good in the space. Have you got room for people? Thousands will turn up - yes they will, it's the biggest show of it's kind in Europe - and it will all get a bit squashed. Quilters - and pardon the analogy if it doesn't apply to you - like to fill huge shopping bags with gorgeousness. This gives everyone quite a large profile around the bum area. Allow for wide loads.

6) Take paper and pens to write things down. Not only for the shop if you have one, but for notes because people will ask you questions, like "Will you come and talk to our group" "Can you write and let me know how I do that?" "How do you make a really good Victoria Sandwich?" That kind of thing. You'll never remember everything in the mad rush, so a record is useful.

7) Enjoy. At 5pm on Sunday you'll never again witness people moving at such speed as at the take down!  It's all over really quickly. Go home. Have a G&T or a large Toblerone, and relax. You'll have earned it.

I'm on STAND G28. Through Our Hands - Maker, Making, Made with Laura Kemshall, Linda Kemshall and if we're really lucky Amelie too for a tiny bit.  If you see me up to strange nonsense smile and allow me some leeway - I'm on my usual mission!!