Thursday, 28 February 2013

Day 28: Last Day, NOT!!

Back at the bottom of the rubble, but over a bit.

Exciting close up!

Taken by Peter Wendes


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Day 27: Planning Ahead and Some News

Today was one of my West Dean days, working in the Craft Shop until 2; full of art and craft supplies for all the Short Courses run by the college. Think 'child in sweet factory' and you will get some idea of how enjoyable it is to work there, and how hard it is to come away without shopping. Today I did not resist: some Neocolour crayons (to expt. with rich pinks and reds for 'Rebuilder'), a wide brush (for the Hebrew lettering) and 10 sheets of newsprint to protect the tapestry and the warps when rolling up the loom. So, all necessary purchases.

I the proceeded to the loom via an unplanned planning meeting (!); the upshot of which is that I am staying in the North Transept for a few extra days - dismantling is now on March 4th - so a last opportunity for visitors to see weaving in action.

The excellentnews is that I am staying on within the Cathedral precincts to finish the piece. Not in public, but possibly open to occasional visitors by special arrangement - that I will have to check. I am so glad that I will still be able to be part of things there, as I have enjoyed this residency more than I can say.

The next part of the cartoon is now stitched in place, ready to do some work on extending the bottom of the rubble pile tomorrow.



Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Day 26: Cold!!

Really cold! Both outside and in, so ended up working in my coat as well as cashmere fingerless gloves. Good progress though, and a couple of particularly good conversations about the conundrum of being Artist and Christian and how to make work which is thoughtful, has authenticity, integrity and aesthetic appeal without alienating viewers of different faith or none. I think it is to do with majoring on universal themes, being human and real, not didactic or preachy. Someone once suggested that the Sermon on the Mount is not about being a good Christian, but about being a good human being, and that seems a good place to start the thought process....


Monday, 25 February 2013

Day 25: Video

YouTube Video

Slindon College and the Spire.

The weathervane is a cockerel, hence the sound effect at the end!

Location:Cathedral Cloisters, Eastern Arm

Day 25: More Stones and a Short Film (not Oscar nominated)

Rumboldswhyke 'Seals' Class

Slindon College

Jack's 'Cartoon Man' weaving

Thomas' 'Seascape'

The boys from Slindon College enacted the spire collapse on video, but I need to change my settings in order to load it.


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Day 23: Symphonic Accompaniment

This evening the Chichester Symphony Orchestra were performing, with Piano soloist Yasmin Rowe; Mendelssohn, Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream; Beethoven, Piano Concerto 4 and Mozart Symphony 41. I stayed and wove throughout, which was a splendid way to spend a Saturday evening. Made good progress too. A day off tomorrow, as Mum and Dad are coming to visit. See you on Monday.


Friday, 22 February 2013

Day 22: Watch It Grow




Auditioning elements for the cartoon.  Good to do this whilst I can step back a good distance from the loom.  My initial thoughts are that the text and the figure need to be bigger, even allowing for the fact that there will be three words, not one.  Cue the wide sponge brush and a saucer full of paint (my favourite watercolour pairing: Ultramarine Violet and Viridian.  But perhaps not tonight.

My apologies for not blogging yesterday; I just had no more words.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Day 20: Spires and Stones

About forty-five children and their adults came to the family event 'InSpired Weaving' this morning, and seemed to enjoy themselves weaving onto stones and cardboard spires with yarn, and paper spires with fabric. Some beautiful budding weavers to be nurtured....

Before we began, just as I am rushing about with my hair looking like Struwlpeter and no lippy on, the photographer from the Chi Observer arrived. I had thought to have escaped because they published an article last week and used an archive photo of the rubble. Clearly they wanted a pic of a current ruin! I had to strike a pose which will cause real weavers to send letters. We shall see how it turns out.

I had another of those moments of epiphany as I was reflecting on the fact that to be authentic, 'Hope' has to have work roughened hands. My little brother works with stone, so I must photograph his hands when he visits at the weekend. Whether hands will go into the finished tapestry, or an accompanying piece is tbd.

I also had a visit from a pair of charming Russian ladies and their English hosts. I learned that there is a firm here in Chi who manufacture and export conservation equipment worldwide, and have done for 50 years. By appointment to the Queen too! The Russian delegation were from the main textile conservation centre (I.e VERY IMPORTANT people), here to inspect a textile washing table prior to shipping, and we had a good conversation (via interpreter) about the dyes I use. Fascinated to learn that I use a microwave to fix the dyes . I have met some extremely interesting people in the last few weeks.


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Day 19: Tutes, Stones and More

This morning I hoofed to WD early and had a cooked breakfast before giving my first ever tutorials to three students. Hugely enjoyable learning about their work, and I hope that I made some helpful remarks. Then to more warping of stones - have now done more than a hundred without burns - and setting up the tables and stuff for the Family Activity tomorrow morning. My good friend brought me in a Toblerone (I have given up buying sweeties for Lent, but not eating them if someone gives them to me because that would be rude and unloving) and having eaten two triangles, I got back to weaving; two more boulders completed. The Lent course session was good; the image was the Piper tapestry and the poem 'The Coming' by R.S. Thomas. Not one I knew before, but fulfilled a line in another of his poems 'poetry is that which reaches the intellect by way of the heart'.

The Coming

And God held in his hand
A small globe. Look he said.
The son looked. Far off,
As through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour. The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows: a bright
Serpent, A river
Uncoiled itself, radiant
With slime.
On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. many People
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed
Boughs. The son watched
Them. Let me go there, he said.

Location:WD, Cathedral and George Bell House

Monday, 18 February 2013

Day 18: Knot the Fastest Progress

I did a presentation to WD students this morning, then headed to the loom to carry on with the soumak knotted area.  Knots are slower than weaving, but even so it has surprised me how long it is taking.  Being half term there were lots of visitors, and I had to spend some time tightening up the 20 leftmost warps with shed sticks.  I have found that the fat lolly sticks sold for children's crafts are ideal for the purpose.  I also warped another 50 or so stones for Wednesday's Family Event.  More to do tomorrow now that I have acquired more glue sticks.  I have now done more than a hundred without burns.  And my finger and thumb are healing nicely.
An older lady popped in and gave me a letter to read; her Grandpa, as a three year old actually saw the spire fall in 1861.  He was walking westwards with his mother and looking about him.  She being a sensible grown up and looking where she was going, missed it.  A lesson to us all!  The other interesting fact is that Laurence Olivier used the cathedral to film Richard III; do I recall it being a somewhat histrionic performance, or is it parodies that I am remembering?
I popped in to Time Machine briefly to catch up with Paul's doings.  Elizabeth who gave me all the Harris yarns that I am using in 'Rebuilder' was there too, and suggested that I might like to move my loom into her husband's weaving shed rather than using my sitting room.  We need to measure the ceiling height.  At the moment I feel that, after interacting with so many people for a month, I shall relish the solitude of working in my own space, but that might pall after a month or two.

And another song snippet that I heard the other day, having not heard for years and found pertinent:- 'don't mind if it falls apart, there's more room in a broken heart'

Time to stop blogging and get reading; the Melissa Raphael book is both intellectually gripping and emotionally moving.  I was talking to a lady on Saturday who has read it already.  'Enjoyed' is the wrong word for such subject matter, but she thought it a very good study.

Tomorrow I am joining the Tuesday evening Lent course at the cathedral.  For four weeks we shall concentrate on one of the artworks and a related poem and have a time of guided contemplation.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Day 17: Improved Working Conditions

This morning I ventured into (cue spooky organ music.  Scenes of Moderate Peril etc) The Garage! In search of the ratchet straps that I KNOW I have.  Also my birth certificate; being alive being insufficient proof of having been born it seems.  After two hours, and nearly immuring myself permanently behind a wall of boxes, I gave up and went to Halfords.  They do a nice line in ratchet straps, but not, sadly, birth certificates.  The bottom bar of the loom is now strapped, secure and level.

Close up of the area of reverse soumak, making the nice vertical striation effect that I wanted.  I was going to do it by deliberately inverting the working tension in the open and closed sheds to create ridges, but was not sure how easy it would be to 'recover' a proper surface afterwards.  The reverse soumak idea came to me in a blinding flash at 3am.

I finished early today, and took doglet to Pagham beach for a scamper; good breezy weather but a washed out sunset where I had hoped for a flaming glow.  Never mind, sure to see one another day.  Back to prepare my presentation for the MA and MFA students at WD tomorrow morning, fortified by toasted muffins and Jaffa cakes.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Day 16: An Unexpected Act of Kindness

I had some inspiring conversations today and my good friend Jules came in to do some drawing and keep me company for a while after her door keeping duty. At about 4.30 I was happily doing some reverse soumak knots (added texture don't you know!) when a chap appeared with a large cardboard box and asked whether I was LouLou. I admitted same and he said that he had come from Gary Francis, who would be along shortly to 'sort me out' (cue exchange of quizzical glances with Jules). He then took some scaffolding clips out of the box and the mists began to clear..... GF arrived shortly afterwards and the mists cleared completely: last weekend a very nice couple visited from Leeds, and were concerned about the state of my back weaving so low down. They were going to a Construction Industry dinner in Portsmouth and Les said that he would see what could be done about getting me some clips to move the bottom bar up (see earlier posts for the looooong saga of acro clips). Today's visit was his doing. We had to work very quietly as Evensong was about to start and the verger told me that the Dean would 'bounce' if we were clanging (I might quite like to have seen that!) and now, thanks to Les, Gary and his colleague, my bottom bar is 18" from the ground, so I can work at a better height. I have to respace the warps and replace the cable ties with some narrow ratchet straps to ensure the tension stays constant, but it is already so much more comfortable. There was a choir concert tonight and I sat quietly knotting to some lovely music. I have been very spoiled.



Friday, 15 February 2013

Day 15: School Workshops

Stone weaving by the Starfish and Sea Otters of Rumboldswhyke School.  not the easiest task for 6 and 7 year olds, but they persevered and did really well.  Two delightful groups of children, and the volunteer helpers from the cathedral education department are nothing less than stars.

And when I got back to the loom, a bagful of delicious handspun yarn from a kind gentleman who visited while I was at the very early stages of 'Rebuilder'.  Superb colours and textures, and I may be able to incorporate them into this piece.  If not, then certainly in the future.  Thank-you Mr EB of Emsworth!!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Day 14


Wednesday, 13 February 2013


Forgot to post the picture of weaving so far. Numpty!


From the Ridiculous to the Sublime (and beyond)

Yesterday and today were WD days, so I was in the craft shop and its empire (the stone store, labelling slabs of limestone; very suitable for the current project). Imagine being greeted by this at 8 am:-

Three feet high at the nose. I have offered to adopt it until next Christmas. This pic is for my bestest friend, who knows how I love robins.
I went to my loom and sat weaving throughout the Ash Wednesday service. The Old Testament reading was Isaiah 58:1-12 and made me think that I must look backwards from my chosen verse (12) to some of the other imagery. The choir sang Allegri's Miserere, a setting of Psalm 51. Achingly beautiful. I have never heard it sung live, only on recordings, and it is so much better.
And here is my background reading:-

I heard George Pattison speak last year, but have only just got the book; he recommended the other one, so I ordered it on inter library loan and started reading it last night. I shall let you know.....

Location:West Dean, Cathedral and Home

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Day 12: Too Tired to Blog

More tomorrow.  In the meantime, this:-

Monday, 11 February 2013

Day 11: In Which I Discover 3 Profound Truths

We had our first school workshop today, with a group of 29 primary yr3 and yr5 children from a school in Havant. They were an absolute delight; responsive, creative, imaginative and persevering. We did two sessions, 'Exploring Hebrew Calligraphy', which they did with drawing, patterning, texture rubbing and collage. The second session was 'Stone Weaving' where they wove into a warp ready placed round some lovely stones. It was in preparing these stones for use that I learned the three truths:-

#1 It is a bad idea to put your finger in a pool of glue from a hot melt glue gun. The clue is in the name.

#2 If you do discover truth #1, do not then pull the hot glue off. This burns additional finger and leaves the original one like this:-

#3 If (the second time you confirm truth #1) instead of pulling off the hot glue you hop about waving your thumb in the air and pull off the glue when it is cool, it looks like this:-

Thankfully, neither of these hideous wounds prevented an afternoon of weaving. Three boulders, one area of deep shadow, no photo.


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Day 10: Some More Words which have Inspired this Tapestry

“It was the steeple (of Saint-Hilaire) that gave all the occupations, all the hours, all the viewpoints of the town their shape, their crown, their consecration”

Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time

“Those country churches were places of order and decorum; to breathe their bottled faith was to internalize an age-old stillness and completion, to stand for a moment inside a community and in reach of its past.  They existed, as Proust wrote of the church of St Hilaire in Combray, in a four-dimensional space of their own.  Standing in them, you also stood in Time.  Villagers had for centuries been welcomed here by baptism, and had passed from here to their graves.  In this sacred space people had raised their collective eyes to heaven.  And those in trouble - the bereaved, the betrayed, the afflicted - had found their daily comfort in a sacrament that opened on eternity, and so made suffering holy and forgiveness sweet.”

Roger Scruton: ‘Stealing from Churches’, Chapter 5 of ‘Gentle Regrets’

“Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen: ‘Anthem’

“You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past.  You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community liveable again”

Isaiah 58:12, ‘The Message’ translation

A candle is a non-conformist.  It says to the darkness
“I beg to differ”.

Day 10: Radio Interview

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Day 9: Supplemental

I should explain more fully (as I do to visitors) why I have only a partial cartoon.  The first reason is that I wanted there to be something for visitors to see early in the process, and seeing selvedge is a bit dull, so I decided to start weaving imagery earlier than usual.  The other (and main) reason is that I don't actually have a full cartoon yet (Shock!!  Horror!!).  Three weeks ago the main elements of the corners were fixed in my mind and collaged on paper, but the central space symbolic of the transition from ruin to repair, despair to hope, just would not reveal itself.  I decided that I had to leave it alone and trust the process to make it plain.  I have more than enough to weave during the residency, and have the time to absorb the surroundings and comments, do some more drawings of the 'rebuilt' and let it resolve and evolve into view. 
Yesterday I heard a setting of the Nunc Dimittis by Gustav Holst on Radio 3, and today the choir sang it at Evensong as I wove away not ten yards from where he is buried.  It is beautiful.

Day 9: Spot the Difference

I don't seem to have made much weaving progress today, which means that I must have had a lot of conversations (or several long and deep ones).  I left the cathedral while it was still light outside for the first time as the vergers wanted to lock up earlier than usual, and I shall not go in until lunchtime tomorrow.  The afternoon might be busy, because the radio broadcast is in the morning and may encourage even more people to visit.

In wombling news, I have found some nice shallow cardboard boxes perfect for making beginner looms.  They are the ones the votive candles come in, so there will be an endless supply.  the vergers are going to save them for me.  a bit of trimming and notching with a stanley knife and voila!  I shall make a prototype and photo it tomorrow.  I do like recycling.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Day 8: Flat!

I had some extra-lovely visitors today, and was also interviewed by Spirit FM, to be broadcast on Sunday morning. Tapestry is getting a good profile! I made good progress, but have no photos to prove it because camera, iPad and phone batteries are all like the proverbial pancake. Everything is now on charge, ready for tomorrow.....

There may be a photo later on the cathedral's Twitter feed, @ChiCathedral; one was certainly taken today, and the press release is on the website

All very exciting! I now have to order some more business cards and brochures, I have given so many out.


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Day 7

It may be time to think of some more imaginative titles for my posts.

Some long and helpful conversations today - yet again leading to some reflection* and design decisions, most notably that I will include all three Hebrew words from my chosen verse in Isaiah and not just Rebuild (ubanu).  The other two are mesovev and goder (Restorer and Repairer).  Need to consult my Hebrew expert for the pronunciation.

“Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the foundations of past generations.  You will be called the Rebuilder of Broken Walls and the Restorer of Streets Where People Live”  Isaiah 58:12

On Monday I have the first of my school workshops.  28 primary children in the morning and 8 older ones in the afternoon.  They will be exploring Hebrew calligraphy, weaving onto stones and watching me weave some of 'Rebuilder'.  Subject to permissions I will post some photos, of their work at least.

These are two poems by Viktor Ullmann, Composer and Poet, written while he was a prisoner in Theresienstadt and before he was transported to his death in Auschwitz.  I heard them on Radio 3, accompanied by some of his music.  Heartbreaking hope which I struggle to comprehend


Cold is the body, cold is the world
And cold the grave into which it falls –
The room is cold, and cold the heart,
Where something still flies heavenwards?
Cold is fate, cold is death
And cold the sore necessity for life....
Cold is hell and cold is greed –
Who has overcome the animal in him?
A warm breeze wafts in from the south,
The Redeemer always rises up again!
Easter will come again – be consoled!
The sun's rays will caress the earth.


Everything will come to fruition one day
Everything will turn out for the good,
Half will not remain undone,
Love will complete the circle
And he who is freed from disgrace and delusion
Will partake of the spirit.

Whatever has gone wrong, whatever has failed,
Will be called to new deeds
In a rejuvenated life:
The old dragon will never be victorious
And you shall slay him one day out of revenge
With your sword plunged to the hilt.

Belief, hope, love, bind one
To God, whom you have sinned against
And he teaches you to come through:
If you learn to suffer and you learn to conquer,
That which painfully oppresses you
Will fade away before the light.

*ongoing and to be written about later

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Day 6

Another day, another boulder (and a half). Not a whole day of weaving today as we had a talk by Steven Frank, a Holocaust survivor ( Inspiring, painfully moving and very much in keeping with the theme of my tapestry - hope after despair, rebuilding after disaster and Life after 'death'. Talking to visitors is unearthing some subliminal truths about my work, and some of their observations need reflecting upon. A key word that arises often is 'patience'. Tapestry weaving does take patience, but I cannot tell whether I weave because I am patient, or have become patient because I weave. It is good to ask and be asked these questions, and is one of the benefits of working in public.

My new loom companion. There is a bookcase in the cathedral carved by The Mouseman, so when a friend saw this, he got it for me, so that I have a MouseLoom. It begs the question, are cathedral mice richer than church mice? I shall name him after one of the bishops whose pictures are on the wall behind the loom. Painted by Lambert Barnard in the Tudor period and all with the same face. The monarchs are opposite in the South Transept.
Other nice things that happened today:-
A robin sang to me as I waited for my train this morning.
A lady bought two of my etchings.
The doorkeepers sent a message asking whether I was warm enough and would I like some hot soup. People have been so kind here.
TWO parcels!!


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Day 5: At Last Some Weaving to See!

Surprisingly decent photo considering it was taken with my phone (not a Smart one).  I have moved on from dust and shadows to the first piece of limestone rubble.

Most frequent comments:-

"That's going to take a long time"
"That looks like painstaking work"
"...labour of love..."
"hard on the knees / back / eyesight"
"I wouldn't have the patience"

Monday, 4 February 2013

Day 4

These were taken by a visitor, Gary Levitt, who kindly sent them to me with permission to use them.
Moved onto the cartoon today, which is far more interesting for visitors.
I have also been tweeted by the cathedral! @ChiCathedral and @louloumorris1

Tomb of a former bishop. The pediment is exactly the correct height to use for back rolls when I stand up from weaving for a while. Those of you with back problems will understand!


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Day Three

Good progress on the selvedge, so I will be able to attach the first part of the cartoon tomorrow, which will prevent visitors from thinking that I am copying the 1930s tray cloth currently hanging behind the warp to allow me to see the individual threads!  Goodly number of visitors again today; weaving does seem to fascinate people.  Rather lovely weaving to the soundtrack of cathedral services and singing along to the hymns I knew.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Day Two

Half hitches: 1200
Cups of Tea: 6
Visitors: 30
Daft Questions: 2
Weaving: 2cm x 20cm (the twining and knotting took a long time!)
Photos: 0

Best Bit?  As I am kneeling on the floor bashing down the half hitches with a fork wombled from the Cloisters Cafe an artist friend asks what I am doing, in the hearing of several others.  So I tell her that I am a Performance Artist, and that my work consists of bashing bits of string with a fork.  We tried to keep straight faces but it did not work for long.  But I suppose I am a performance artist in a way at the moment.....

Tomorrow is just weaving; what bliss!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Day One

Loom built ( still no large sized knuckles, so we had to improvise with ratchet straps) and warp on. Three and a half hours on my knees. My loom building slave buddy volunteered to be a warp partner which made it a lot simpler; otherwise I would have been climbing up and down. 560 warp ends. Can you see how the tension has already started to bend the scaffolding poles? Such is the might of a girl with string after a good breakfast. That was the reason for the early start; the buddy was determined to feed us a cafe brekkie.

We had roped off the North Transept for safety reasons whilst we built and strung, but people did stop and ask what we were doing, so I was able to have some chats and encourage people to make return visits once the weaving is underway, or to follow the blog if they live too far away. Every time I left the loom to do this, buddy was left standing on the hop up platform taking the tension so I tried to keep the talks short, not wanting to try the patience of a novice - I might need help again.

Tomorrow is twining, half hitching and starting the selvedge. Rather than having a separate sampling frame I am going to use the selvedge to sample the weft mixes and shading / hatching. I have preselected the colours I am going to use, but plan to work intuitively, responding to the space I am in. I am also without a complete cartoon, and will let the tapestry evolve from the image of a pile of rubble at bottom left. I have drawn from a photograph of the rubble which filled the North Transept almost to the top of the window after the spire collapse in February 1861. Other elements which will be included are a figure taken from the same set of photographs, broken pillars in the South Transept and the Hebrew word 'Rebuilder'. I am much keener on a focus on the positive. More of this tomorrow....

And now it is time for a hot bath and some precautionary Tramadol!


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