Monday, 12 October 2015

Still Here

Tonight I finally finished the construction of the line image in wrapped copper wire on 'Derrière II'. I have been somewhat distracted otherwise occupied in the last few weeks; three residency proposals written, lots of computer hours worked, the Sark cartoon drawn and a research proposal underway. Upon rereading the entry criteria for the end of September deadline, I realised that this piece of work was not quite the thing for it, so I am now making other plans for her. The other major task has been to clear the rest of the sitting room so as to make workspace for the scaffolding loom. I also decided to replace some framed prints with my own Work - as you can see. 'Curvaceous' is the favourite of all my tapestries to date, and it seemed a shame to leave her rolled up in a box. Once the current piece is finished, the ring loom will go into the loft and the scaffold will come up from the garage. Colour will once more be in the yarn palette as I weave for 'Calypso', a joint exhibition at the end of November, celebrating the flora and foliage of Jamaica.

And the residencies? One application is still pending, one I have to give a presentation at the end of November and the third I WAS OFFERED. My jig of joy last Monday was something to behold after a weekend on tenterhooks! Next March I am going to be Artist in Residence at Portsmouth Cathedral, working on themes of memory / memorial / commemoration with the idea of weaving as an act of defiance against chaos and disorder. Very exciting, especially as it will be informed by and, in turn, inform my research project.

With all this, a small commission for Sark and the woven maquette for 'Shrine' * to get underway, followed by 'Shrine' itself, I have enough to keep me out of mischief until late 2016, if not beyond.

* the working title for a return to large scale Work. The paper maquette is on my desk as an allurement.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

With less than a week to the submission deadline, I am weaving like an absolute machine whenever I am not at work*.  The copper wire visible here is now wrapped in.
I am plotting like a good 'un for future projects - and need to make a big planning chart to keep track.  I may well be building my scaffolding loom again soon (with a little help from The Boy) in order to accommodate my plan for world domination.
There is also the joyful prospect of four whole studio days from Friday to Monday - what a treat!

*I have a code, work for what I do to pay the bills, Work for the creative stuff.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Home is the Sailor....

Les Autelets, Sark. More of this later.....

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Derrière II - Part the First

Note the Heath Robinson tensioning and shedding system.

I am using the same weft as before, but a linen weft I bought from Weavers' Bazaar. It is a delight! I warped up quite softly as linen can be hard on the hands, and also the tension was beginning to bend to steel centre pole of the loom - the same problem I had back in 2010 with the enormous ring loom.

Wrapping the copper wires to 'draw' the image.  I am using two wires side by side this time because of the 140% enlargement.  It is more of a challenge with the image upright instead of on her side.

Embedded steel wires ready to be rusted once weaving is finished.  The idea is to suggest the folds and creases of the blanket the model was sitting on.  I am still cogitating how to work the background above the elbow line - to make both the tapestry, and the weaving of it, more interesting!

Monday, 27 July 2015

'Derrière' - the Latest

I heard on Friday that 'Derrière' has been shortlisted for the Sussex Artists' Award; *did a little happy dance*. The final judging takes place at the end of August at Pallant House Gallery. I am working to get 'Derrière II' completed by the end of August ready to enter her for another juried exhibition / competition. Deadlines are good for me; fuelled by strong tea and the Proms on R3 I am weaving at every available opportunity. Working at home (=Home Studio) is A Good Thing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Home Studio

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Every Artist Should Read This Book

I have just finished reading 'My Name is Asher Lev' and am about to read it again. It is one of the best books I have ever read; understated prose that cuts deep and describes something of the pain and yet necessity of creation.

Now to find a copy of the sequel......

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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Aides Memoires

Like most people I have a selection of electronic means to help me remember things I have to do and places I have to go, but I still find the trusty post-it note a very useful tool for marking pages in books and jotting down ideas.  The adhesive does not work well on MDF, and runs out of 'stick' fairly quickly anyway.  I have invented the Memory Stone! Once the strips fail to adhere to the stone, there is a handy hole to hold them until dealt with. Visible reminded rather than notes hidden in diary pages.

Had an encouraging email today in response to one of my 'make your own opportunities' proactivities.  Further research required, but quietly hopeful.

Today is the last day of my 'sabbatical'.  Am hoping that I have the self-discipline to continue the journaling and drawing habits that I have developed in the last eight weeks.  One sketchbook- journal is almost full (I will acquire the second volume at WD tomorrow) and I have a goodly number of ideas to work on in my  upcoming studio days.  Onward and upward!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Serendipity (or Fortuitous Finds)

Mooching in the second hand book bit at TimeMachine yesterday I came across this; it is an absolute delight! About a small boy with an unstoppable urge to draw and paint, living in a family and culture who do not understand and somewhat fear his gift. The best lines so far?
'I grew up encrusted with lead and spectrum-ed with crayons. My dearest companions were Eberhard and Crayola. Washing for meals was a cosmic enterprise.'

On Saturday I modelled for an 'Oil Portrait for Beginners' class. Five portraits; what was interesting is that the one with the best likeness was by someone who had not drawn or painted 'since school'. I had forgotten how tiring 'sitting' is; my derrière was quite sore at the end of the day!

On another note, I am still having problems with Blogpress on my iPad. I cannot upload photos directly anymore, but have to go via the old web based editing, which has lost me the ability to share immediately with FB and Twitter and forces me to use Picasa to upload photos at all - at least from the iPad. Has anyone out there in the blogosphere had the same problem? And, more importantly, found a way to solve it? I have reinstalled Blogpress and checked the settings in OS, but no joy. It is a minor problem I know, but irritating nonetheless!

Friday, 26 June 2015


Very pleased to have found an old stretcher of exactly the right size and an IKEA linen curtain  to cut up and use as a mount. I did have to remove a (hideous) old painting of mine, but managed to do so without making any holes in myself.  There is still a distinct odour of vinegar, but it should dissipate by the time to exhibit.  I have entered it for The Sussex Artists' Award.  Now the waiting game. And a trip to the beach later as a reward.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

You Know What This Means…..

The weaving is completed, the tapestry cut off and the finishing stages in progress….

The outline of the figure is saturated with vinegar and a pinch of salt - a friend of mine in Metals Conservation at WD recommended the addition of salt to stabilise the verdigris.  The sample wrapped wire I tried yesterday turned green in a few hours; I am hoping it will be as speedy here, especially if I keep wetting it.  It has to be photographed (on a mount) and uploaded for a juried exhibition tomorrow, and the tufts still have to be trimmed and the warps stitched down on the reverse.

I have to say that I am pleased with the way the image has worked as a wrapped line - there is at least one other drawing that I may treat in the same way.

Saturday, 20 June 2015


I decided that, instead of being dissatisfied about not having a 'proper' studio (and having returned The Boy's room to him. Mostly) I would embrace the fact that I can work at home and learn to enjoy it (#homestudiojoy) It has meant a bit of moving stuff around, but I could now accommodate the scaffold loom if I needed to for big work, I have the whole of the dining table as a creative space, the Ashford loom is by the window in good light and a cool breeze,

and my most referenced books are near my arm chair.

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Loot & Loose Ends

I have been beach combing again; yesterday at Prinsted (top of Chichester Harbour) and today at Bracklesham (open sea, and a feisty breeze).  The brown stone and crumpled metal are Prinsted finds, the holey and heart shaped stones at Bracklesham.  We (doglet and I ) also found ourselves in a promotional video for the beach cafe; huddled in fleece, doglet anchored to my chair -  a fine example of the English seaside on Midsummer Eve!  I feel it likely that we will end on the digital equivalent of the cutting room floor.  I have not been to Bracklesham for a few years and had forgotten how bracingly good it is.
Derrière continues apace; I set myself the deadline of entering it for a juried exhibition.  I need to finish the weaving by Tuesday at the latest so that there is time for the verdigris to develop along the wrapped wires…  I lost a couple of days earlier this week on a mission to London; on Wednesday I braved not only the North Circular but also the South Circular and the Hanger Lane Gyratory - mentioned so often in traffic reports.  I realised as I toddled round from Barnet to Barnes that I know people at many points only just off the whole route; I gave royal waves in their general directions.  
Now to return to the loom for the evening; Rachmaninov's Vespers on R3 from a couple of weeks ago.  Isn't iPlayer radio a wonderful thing?

addendum The long Ghiordes knot tufts will be trimmed much shorter.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Drowned and the Saved

With all that is in the news at the moment about migrants and whether they should be saved from sinking boats, I have been thinking once more responses to great need.  It seems to me that the only question that should be asked is

"Are we both human?"

The only decent answer is

"Then I will accord you the honour and respect that your value as a human being demands; because I have not surrendered my human-ness to ideology, nationalism or self-interest"

I have such a picture in my head for my 'Being Human' series!  The trick will be to close the gap between my vision and the contents of  my sketchbook; that only happens with disciplined and sustained drawing.  As the vision calls for pastels, I am going to have to have a foray to acquire some from the local art shop at the weekend; at some point I have loaned mine out and they have not been returned.

I am treating this time of recuperation as a sabbatical; the reading and reflecting that I am able to do now can only be of benefit as it feeds into my future creative practice.

Right now, the sun is shining and the skies are blue, so I am going to take the doglet out to my favourite fallen tree under the oaks and think nice thoughts…...

Friday, 15 May 2015

New Book Joy!

Inspired by reading 'Syllabus' (Lynda Barry) I ordered this, which arrived this morning. I have allowed myself to read the introduction, but am employing my inner Boarding School Matron (she who proves very useful with troublesome customers!) to make myself do some drawing and writing before I read anymore. I am perfectly capable, at the best of times, of becoming completely engrossed in a book to the exclusion of all else (except tea; I will always make time for tea): at present, with my brain now back to normal (The Boy may beg to differ; he thinks I am eccentric beyond words) but my body still in need of lots of rest, reading is my main occupation, though I also have my art bag next to me and a small sheet of MDF as a drawing / painting surface; when I cannot sit at loom or desk I can work in my bed :-))

I have been weaving, but have found that 20 minutes is the most that I can manage at one go. I have gone back to 'Derrière', the life study piece with embedded copper wire. Photo to follow........

Thursday, 30 April 2015


The first cathedral handling sample as it was before I went into hospital.  I added a centimetre of the sunshine yellow to this on Tuesday and intend to do some more today.  I am somewhat ashamed about the slope on the foundation edge and intend to do something about it if I can beat hard enough!!

This is a detail from the Anglo-German tapestry in the Cathedral; I have the sample piece hanging above my workspace as inspiration.  The handling samples are being made for the Dementia Friendly tours which the Education Department are piloting. They currently have some of my sampling pieces but I thought it would be good to have some specially made ones which relate to a work within the Cathedral.

Flowers from my Friend

Beautiful, aren't they?

Friday, 24 April 2015

Time to Come Clean.....

....about my absence from the blog.

Unfortunately, the day surgery was not the end of it all; the biopsy showed some abnormalities which led to an MRI and blood tests which led in turn to a gynae-oncology consultant and finally to surgery.

On Tuesday I had a total hysterectomy, the wonderfully titled 'bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy' and biopsy.

Yesterday (Thursday) I was discharged with a HUGE bag of drugs - sixteen pills and one injection per day (I was somewhat apprehensive about doing it myself, but it was OK), a bit tired and sore. Every single member of staff that I encountered was kind, efficient and lovely. I cannot fault the care I received in any way. The NHS is a marvellous thing and we are very fortunate to have access to such excellent care without the worry of how to pay for it.

Today I managed to make a cup of tea for myself, though The Boy is being a splendid nurse in every way. I also swatted a moth with a rolled up magazine (fellow wool workers will understand the pathological hatred of wool moths, who are getting frisky at this time of year). Said swatting did cause some alarm to The Boy as he was in the other room and only heard the thud and victory cry of 'hahaa!!'.

The excellent news is that my physio has said that it is fine to try weaving as soon as Monday.  I can do 45 mins and see how I feel on Tuesday. If OK then can gradually increase the time, in short stretches. Very happy beaming face to be told that, especially as I will be off work for some weeks and not allowed to drive for a few. If I can weave then I will be content. I have a piece already started on the loom as well as a frame with the handling samples for the Cathedral. Warping would be out of bounds! I have also been stashing some good books for my recuperation time, so I will not get bored.

Friends,family and colleagues are being very supportive.

I feel very blessed.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Experiments (or, 'why my home smells like a chip shop')

Sample strip woven on a raw silk / unbleached linen warp. The weft is spun silk, raw silk, linen and wool. Wires are either embedded or wrapped. Now soaking to see what happens when the verdigris and rust form on the wires and leach through........

I can now reveal that the 'large pointy building' mentioned in the previous post is Chichester Cathedral. The first of three textile art workshops for beginners and intermediates will be on June 13th; subsequent ones in September and November. Flyers are going out in the next newsletter mailing. Nurturing creativity in others is one of my passions, so I am very happy :-))


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Tired, Feeble and Otherwise Lacklustre...

.....I had really begun to think that I had lost my creative mojo. Not a nice feeling! At the beginning of December I found out that there was a reason for this - I am quite badly anaemic. I have been having some tests and there is some investigative surgery to come at the beginning of March; the results of that will determine whether further surgery is required (am hoping not, obviously!) Nothing life threatening, thankfully, just a (mal)function of my age and gender. By dint of chewing iron bars (or the dietary / pharmaceutical equivalent) I seem to be gradually coming back to life and the enthusiasm for it, a HUGE relief. Cue much smiling:-

Smile One: I have started doing some small experimental weavings as planned earlier, and, depending on the results, expect to revisit some past drawings as cartoons for small tapestries. Verdigris and rust are brewing in my kitchen, yarn bundles are wound, the loom is tightened, HOORAH!

Smile Two: planning some paintings-as-cartoons for some exposed coloured warp tapestries for a joint exhibition in November with my painting friend CJ. I shall be getting a parcel of coloured 16/2 linen from Sweden, HOORAH!

Smile Three: designing and delivering some Adult Ed creative workshops at a certain large pointy building to the east of here. Nurturing creativity n others is one of my favourite things, HOORAH!

Smile Four: the possibility of some dedicated studio space to share with another painter friend, SM. HOORAH in waiting.

Smile Five: attending a symposium at Goldsmiths on 'Threads and Codes' which sounds most interesting. HOORAH!

And the sun is shining outside, I have made some changes to my son's bedroom which I commandeered the studio, and have a full day available for weaving tomorrow. HOORAH!


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