Monthly Archives: December 2015

2015 round up

Well it is that time of year! And it has been quite a year for me as an artist. Lots of ‘firsts’ and very few disappointments. So, here is my recap.

Ruins 1 180cm x 60cm Shortlisted Fine Art Quilt Masters 2015

Ruins 1
180cm x 60cm
Shortlisted Fine Art Quilt Masters 2015

The biggest thrill of the year was having Ruins 1 shortlisted in Fine Art Quilt Masters. My first selection into a major exhibition and I still can’t quite believe it. I had 3 other pieces selected into exhibitions in 2015. Sin City 2 was shown in ‘Inspirations’ at the Knitting and Stitching Show, Olympia. After Image was selected to show in CQ ‘Elements’ at Festival of Quilts and is still touring. And Ruins 4 was shown in ‘Structures’ at The Old Fire Station, Henley-on-Thames.

Transitions by Etcetera at the Platform Gallery, Clitheroe

Transitions by Etcetera at the Platform Gallery, Clitheroe

Another big first for me was my first exhibition as part of Etcetera. Transitions showed at The Platform Gallery in September. There was a steep learning curve but it was worth it! We’ve had great feedback and have already confirmed exhibitions at Ryedale Folk Museum and Gallery in March 2016, Stockport Art Gallery at a date to be confirmed in 2016 and Didsbury Parsonage in January 2017.

Although I have had this website for a couple of years I only started this blog at the end of December in 2014. This is my 54th post which I reckon is pretty good going. I don’t think I will ever be a ‘prolific’ blogger but the comments I have received along the way have meant a lot to me – thank you all!

And finally this has been the year where I have found my voice. A horrible and much over used phrase but most people will know what I mean. Hidden Message was my first series and it taught me a lot about building from a strong idea or base. But it did not ‘flow’ from piece to piece. The Ruins series has and continues to flow through my mind, throwing up endless possibilities. I finished 4 Ruins pieces in 2015, have two more in production and lots of scribbled sketches to work from. Ruins felt so ‘natural’, so ‘right’ but very different from Hidden Message that I worried it might be a one-off. Thankfully in the second half of 2015 I found myself developing a new colour family, a new collection of fabrics and finally new pieces in a series I’m calling Still / Storm. The inspiration behind this new body of work is very different to that for Ruins and has been inevitably influenced by my home life. But when I look at the two I see something that is recognisably ‘me’. And that feels pretty amazing.

I’d like to wish everybody who has taken the time to read my blog the very best for 2016. I look forward to sharing it with you.

Leah

 

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Counting Our Blessings

Even the studio gets it's own Christmas Tree!

Even the studio gets it’s own Christmas Tree!

Tomorrow will be the first anniversary of this blog. I began with a post called ’15 years of blessings’  based on a story told by American singer songwriter Jim White. It goes something along the lines that you should count up your blessings, a minute here or an hour there, and put them in a jar. And if, at the end of your life those blessings add up to 15 years then you’ve had a pretty good life.

This time last year I counted having healthy and happy children as one of my blessings. The last six months have shown just how fragile the health and happiness of our oldest son was. But through some dark, dark days we were supported by a great family and wonderful friends. In particular I will be forever grateful for the support of the Etcetera ladies and my good friend Ruth Brown. And I was reminded just how fierce and powerful an emotion love is. So today, when I count my blessings I include my children. Full stop.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas. And don’t forget to tell your loved ones that you love them!

Wall of Fabric!

Palette of fabrics ready to use in Still / Storm compositions

Palette of fabrics ready to use in Still / Storm compositions

After several weeks at the bench I am now happy with my collection of fabrics. Some are beautiful in their own right and some will be beautiful when cut into strips. The majority of the 18 square metres of fabric will be used to make ‘Still’ pieces but I’ve included some darker fabrics to get me thinking more about ‘Storm’ pieces. I love pinning them to my design board – so much more fulfilling than having a neatly stacked pile!

Doubtless I will discover that I am missing a vital combination of colour and line. But for now I have finished with ‘wet’ process. So I have given the studio a really good clean (including cleaning windows!) – why do I like cleaning my studio more than my house? For that matter why do I love ironing my printed fabrics but hate ironing clothes? I suspect some of you know the answer!

Stuck on the Okay Plateau?

Thought it was worth sharing a link to this blog entry by Lisa Call in which she writes ”Just making art is not all it takes to becoming a better artist. We could spend years churning out the same average artwork over and over unless we take the time to practice our artwork with the goal in mind of becoming better.”

NO TIME FOR TEA (2013) 104cm x 98cm

NO TIME FOR TEA
(2013)
104cm x 98cm

Lisa has a great blog. Yes, she uses it to actively market her art and her teaching. But she shares so much along the way and she often gets me thinking. In this piece Lisa talks about the things we can all do to push ourselves beyond average and sites working in series as the mechanism she uses to grow and develop. And I couldn’t agree more. For me the great advantage of working in series is that you don’t have to try and resolve all your good ideas in a single piece. Before making a conscious decision to work in series I would often feel paralysed and unable to even start work because I could not see how to get all my ideas and thoughts into one piece. Or I would get disheartened half way through working on a piece when I realised that it would have more energy if I had used turquoise instead of moss green. Knowing that you’re going to make lots of pieces around a theme or an inspiration is wonderfully liberating. The development of ideas from one piece to the next is a form of continuous improvement that prevents us getting stuck on the Okay Plateau.

So in the spirit of sharing I will let you into a secret – the first piece I made in my Hidden Message series is better known as No Time for Tea and bears absolutely no resemblance to the pieces that followed. I knew that I wanted to say something about modern Chinese society and how weird it is that the population aspires to a Western lifestyle whilst living in a country with single party politics and rampant censorship. The piece didn’t have the gravity I was aiming for but it did contain elements that I wanted to develop further. In one sense it was a failure but I love it anyway!

Judgement Day!

Fabrics printed using a soya wax screen

Fabrics printed using a soya wax screen

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks at the bench printing fabrics. I love it! It is a little bit like a merry-go-round, once you’re on it is difficult to stop. But stopping and assessing is really important so yesterday I cleaned, tidied and finished rinsing out and ironing the fabrics. This morning I looked at what I had printed. I used the samples that I have been stitching to help and used the trick of framing small sections. I have printed approximately 18 square metres of fabric. About half is ‘perfect’ and so will be put through a final machine wash to make them ready for use. The other half need additional work. Some just need a few lines adding but some need some serious intervention! (And, being honest, a couple probably need throwing in the bin!). These will all be soda soaked again and hopefully printed over the next week. So lots more fun at the bench!

Sorted fabrics - those that need additional work are at the back

Sorted fabrics – those that need additional work are at the back

Beautiful soft greys achieved through breakdown printing and glassine monoprinting

Beautiful soft greys achieved through breakdown printing and glassine monoprinting