Thursday, 3 April 2014

My Glamorous Life

Last Saturday I met up with my friend Sheila at Tate Britain - the long awaited trip which had been postponed repeatedly by weather and transport problems.  The galleries were nicely quiet, and we managed to visit 'Ruin Lust', 'Richard Deacon' and the standing collection, fortified by a sandwich lunch and a cream tea!  We ended our day sipping prosecco before our respective trains home.

This was a great contrast to Friday and my primary school Visiting Artist role.  I spent much of the day kneeling in mud tying string to a chain link fence!

Nylon, jute and hemp rope ready to be unravelled for weft.

The tool basket.

Half warped.

Patent tensioning device!

All warped and some weaving completed by Class One (Reception and Year 1, aged around 5)

The warp is recycled cotton from Texere Yarns; the weft is one strand each of the unravelled hemp, jute and nylon ropes.

The plan is that the children will continue with the weaving between my visits.  I set them the challenge of 30cm by 25th April - given the Easter break from tomorrow until the 22nd, I hope they have been busy up to now!  Upon this foundation we will be weaving six coloured footprints using yarn made from recycled carrier bags.  More later.

The blue (and now also a bit green) tapestry continues apace, but cannot be blogged just yet.  I am loving weaving in the professional studio!  The tapestry positively eats wool, so there has been a lot of dyeing to do - my second favourite creative task.  I remain clam like (see below)

After 'Ruin Lust' I was privileged to visit some real ruins and follies on the Estate where my brother now lives and works.  Inspired to revisit some of my drawings and experiments with verdigris, rust and moss, I have acquired a new sketchbook and am beginning to build ideas for a new body of work combining tapestry and photography.  Now all I need is to carve out some studio space……….

Friday, 14 March 2014

Only At West Dean.....

.....can you drop your favourite, very precious, ebony bobbin on a stone floor so that it breaks along the shaft, and then have it invisibly mended by a master violin maker. Thanks Shem!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Back Where I Belong (Tangled Up In Blue)

What a lovely two days! Greeted by the car park robin as I arrived yesterday, weaving visual research samples to experiment with textures and mixes, dyeing yarns......
Tomorrow two more 'Postcards' workshops, and a split day on Friday- Studio in the morning and 'Postcards' in the afternoon. I plan a Tate-a-thon on Saturday (Richard Deacon at Tate Britain, Tate Boat and then a revisit of Paul Klee at Tate Modern). Complete collapse-in-a-heap will probably ensue on Sunday.
I am back where I belong, at a loom (or in a dye room) and happy as a clam - hence the photo.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Latest from LouLouLand*

*home of the portfolio life.

GCSE Textiles Day? - Check
First of four 'Postcards Home' schools' workshops? - Check
Commission for local primary school in planning stages? - Check
New job in professional tapestry studio? - CHECK!!

The 'Postcards' workshops are designed as an exploration of historical (WWI) postcards, imagery from the memorial chapels in the Cathedral and thinking about the messages pupils would choose to send home.  Pilot sessions this week with various schools, ready to be rolled out in the autumn - led in future by the education volunteers trained during this week.

The school will have a series of six outdoor tapestry panels based on their school 'footsteps' and incorporating figures drawn by the children.  We begin weaving later in March; I shall be on site one day a week for six weeks and groups will continue to work in-between.  It's a lovely friendly school and should be a very enjoyable project.

The big (and long-awaited) news is that I am going to be working in the West Dean Tapestry Studio for  a while on a commissioned large tapestry as part of a team of weavers.  It is a brilliant chance to experience being a studio weaver - with all the differences from designing my own work entailed in that.  I do not know yet whether I will be allowed to blog details of the project (sometimes work from the studio has to be confidential until exhibited), but I can certainly share my experiences / lessons learned etc.  I start tomorrow, just two days this week because of 'Postcards', but thereafter will be four days a week on the weaving bench.  VERY excited by this new phase!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Still no studio space, still waiting on a few things, BUT, my short term Visiting Artist role at the Cathedral begins on Friday, and I have confirmed a short residency / commission in a local primary school for a few weeks time. An artistic 2014 begins at last!
I have been rediscovering the joy of intricate knitting in my absence from the loom - I can't survive without some sort of yarn thing going on ��. Vikkel braids, Icords and stranded colourwork are my new skills, a sheep themed tea cosy my new production:-

And yes, that is the catkin's leg, a dictionary, a bible, an iPad lead, knitting pattern, poetry book, turquoise tam and some knitting paraphernalia in the pile on my bed. Some might call it clutter; I call it 'Still Life with Tea Cosy'.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

It's been a while.....

I am still a bit in limbo - two rejections* and one application still pending (the exhibition to be announced in January); thus I have no settled studio space as yet, and nothing concrete to be planning for. There is one rather exciting possibility that I cannot share until it is definite, and another, overseas, residency to put an application in for. It could all be very unsettling, but is part of the portfolio life that I am learning to be relaxed about.
I do so miss my wise counsellor (the one who introduced me to the phrase 'portfolio life'), who I used to be able to run all my schemes past, even the maddest ones, and who knew me well enough to know what would be good and what not, who was endlessly encouraging, kind and supportive - and irreplaceable.

* there is the possibility of a reapplication with an adjusted business plan, but I am still considering my options in the light of the subsequent possibility.

Image courtesy of St. Peter's church, Guildford.

"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us".

I have the joy of two weeks break, for several days of which my Boy will be with me. Much joy!! We began the Christmas festivities today with Carols by Candlelight followed by mulled wine and mince pies, and will go to the Cathedral carol service tomorrow for a different flavour. Of music, not pies. I shall take a few days off with family, and then do some work stuff (web site, applications, maybe even some small weavings at home) as well as some prolonged reading-of-good-books. See earlier posts for details of my stockpile! I have just finished the beautiful and sad 'The Hare with Amber Eyes' and resumed 'The Poetics of Space' after a two year hiatus.


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Still Here....

.....just not there anymore!

I took the exhibition down last Thursday and have spent the time since catching up with other things, including various applications / proposals.  The results so far:-

Applied Arts Commission Proposal - not shortlisted
Residency / Sponsored Studio Application - called for interview
Juried Exhibition at the Oxo Tower - results in January

I taught two tapestry workshops on Monday - nine people at each, very encouraging! I have also been doing some editing work and planning how to fit everything into my tiny abode once I bring it all back from the Cathedral studio in the next couple of weeks.  Not so much a quart as a gallon into a pint pot.  I think that I shall stack all the boxes in a Manhattan-like grid pattern and play at being a giant.  I shall not be hosting any dinner parties until I acquire a new studio; strictly picnics!

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