Saturday, 28 November 2015

We're having a Beige Saturday instead of a Black Friday!


FREE UK p&p on the TOH book until Christmas!!

This makes it £10 for 84 full colour pages of glorious images from all the artists here at Through Our Hands.

There's also lots of books and small items for sale in the website shop, that aren't available in book shops or anywhere else.

If you let us know when you order, you can often get the artists to sign their own books for you. Laura and I can also ship the TOH book to anywhere else in the world for just £5.

Why not send one to a textile friend as a gift - just let us have the address (there's space on the order form) and any message you want to add.  Or if you're perplexed email us at

Monday, 23 November 2015

Diary catch up

A couple of pages to share.
This page is in response to a visit to Alrewas - you may recognize the statue from an earlier posting. As it's been taken from a photo of it, you can sense the solidity of the stone in the folds of the fabric, that's come through because I've copied it.

As it's a black stone monument, I thought I'd try something I haven't done for years, which is to take a page or shape and completely blacken it with charcoal and use a rubber to remove the highlights.

Usually you use an ordinary rubber but because the image is so small in my book, I've used a battery powered eraser in order to get the fine lines. Not sure I like the fiddlyness of doing this particular image that way, but there's tremendous scope for something larger scale and more relaxed.

Here's the detail

We recently visited family in Dorset, and this monoprint is of the pier at Boscombe near Bournemouth. We arrived on a beautiful sunny day, but by evening the wind had started to whip up into a storm.

It was the tail end of storm Abigail and hit the coast during the afternoon of 14th November. The sky was dark and streaked with red. The sand blew into our faces and it was difficult to walk against the wind and the outlines of the pier were obscured. But we managed it and ended up in a very nice pub. This coloured and layered monoprint is how it felt to me.

And this was the pub!  I loved the atmosphere and wonderful drawings and photos of Chaplin dotted around the rooms, including this one of Einstein.  I used black and white acrylics to get this effect, and again, used a photo to copy - one that was in the pub.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A beautiful day.

I've been spending a few days at the seaside. Granted, it's not to everyone's taste to battle with the wind, spray, rain and flying sand common on the beach in November, but I find a beautiful peace there. I think it's the endlessness of it - the opposite effect to claustrophobia! Of course, there aren't many people there either, so you get a sense of battling nature all on your own.

I made a start on the latest quilt, only to rethink it after a few hours work.  I need a huge roll of paper really to draw out what I want to do and clarify my thoughts, so I'm just waiting for that to arrive, along with some new acrylic open paints, which I want to try. They say they act in the same way as oil paints - I'll let you know!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

New Work

So, moving on from the last sad little posting, to new work.

The first thing I need to do is establish a working theme, which I think I already have in the proposed Life Story quilt, The Futility of Self Worth - or maybe the more humorous The Inexplicable Tide Of Dinner.  I then need to establish a size. Yep, odd that isn't it?! But about 150 x 300 cms perhaps. I'd like to go bigger but my house isn't large enough to work on anything bigger than that. I need to know at the beginning how much space I'll have to play with.

My inspirations for style are probably Hogarth (who I think is wonderful) and Grayson Perry (ditto) and my own collage above of some of the Life Story quilts.

I confounded a few people with my last posting about this, and that's probably because I'm not entirely clear myself and my new idea will evolve as I go along.

I shall be doing lots of paintings, collages, printing, etc  I'll be off to make a start soon.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015



I didn't expect to be moved but I was.

I didn't expect to shed a tear standing in front of the tiny seat in a Bofors gun, but I couldn't help myself.

The gun is called Bofors after a small town in Sweden where it was made, and was attached to ships - in this case during WW2.

Alrewas is full of monuments to the dead of war, to all the men, women and children who lost their lives when they shouldn't have done, and is there simply as a place to visit and remember them.

What was chilling was the enormity of the site. I was struck by the thousands and thousands of names on the Armed Forces Memorial, (above and right) which lists those killed since WW2, and even more chillingly, the amount of space left blank to be filled in at a later date.

Being an aboretum the site is surrounded by trees planted in memory, and in a few year's time they will be huge and provide shelter and silence.

I went because my family have discovered an uncle who died in 1942, when the petrol tanker he was on, the Narragansett, was sunk by torpedo fire. The link takes you to a blog where the full story is explained, but the sentence below is the one that made me cry when I looked at the gun. It is a record of what the UBoat captain said about the attack.

(The ship was a merchant ship carrying petrol back to the UK from the USA, and was torpedoed repeatedly before catching fire and sinking, and it would appear that my uncle - who was a gunner in the Royal Navy and who's job it was to defend the cargo ship - went down fighting.)

"He notes that on the afterdeck there are deck guns and also machine gun fire coming from the ship. Since he does not note any lifeboats leaving the tanker presumably they Allied merchant sailors and gunners decided to stick it out on their ship and fight it out or flee"

What a ghastly experience it must have been. The ship, carrying petrol and on fire, holed by several torpedoes and sinking. No help at hand or chance of rescue and no life boats. You can't jump ship as the petrol floating on the sea is bubbling with flames around you, so you go down fighting.

Stanley Dennis Gregory

Died 23rd March 1942 aged 20 years.

Rest In Peace.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Moving on

After such a hectic time with Through Our Hands last year, it was only natural to heave a sigh and take 5 minutes to regroup and rest the spirit if not the body.

 I have purposely given myself "time-off" from the Life Story quilts whilst I rethink my directions in creative life. I'd allowed myself pottering time until the end of November with the intention of switching off completely whilst I rethink.

I have no plans to abandon quilting of course and both the painting and stitching will go on and on I hope, but we all need to rethink directions now and then.

Fortunately for me, feeling inspired to do new work has never been a problem and I have lots of ideas in the pipeline for the Life series, but I feel the need to evolve and develop in order to be innovative and fresh.

Evolving for me is more about technique than it is subject matter.

Of course, getting quilts taken seriously by the established art world is still a problem. You are up against lots of prejudices before you even start. There are many reasons for this, one being that I'm quite possibly not a good enough artist!

Sure, I manage to get into Open Art Competitions in established galleries, but I do realize that I'm sometimes chosen to fulfil the judges need to show a rounded exhibition and there are not that many quilters interested in submitting.

Quilts can be wonderful, the problem is getting people outside the sphere to see that, and I am not discussing the merits here. Open competitions help of course, and Through Our Hands was established to help other artists overcome that little hurdle and is doing well with currently 27 Affiliate Artists and lots of ideas in the pipeline for exhibitions as well as our first book, the magazine, website with shop etc.

There's a challenge of sorts there for me though, and you have my premise for rethinking. And my solution?  Well I have an idea of presenting my work in a slightly different way.

Painting quilts remains a challenge in itself as it's quite difficult for me to get the effects I want.  I'm quite graphic out of necessity as a stitched line provides a boundary as well as an extra layer to a painting.

This can be a problem and I feel limited in the current way of working. Sure I could get loose and painterly within the stitched lines, but I'd like to move outside of those lines completely.  It sounds odd, and isn't really, being just a shift in structure for my work.

What am I on about?

Well, you know me.

 Please do stay and watch if you'd like to whilst I try!!