I’ve written before about how creating a dedicated studio was a big part of my personal development as an artist. We did the original build just over 3 years ago (Story of my Studio) at which point I shared the space with my son Cal who was starting his own picture framing business. When he moved into his own studio in May 2015 I was able to add an additional print bench and another small design wall. At the time I wanted it to be a space that was attractive and inviting as well as practical and that definitely influenced the layout. We built a lovely bench along the back wall that sat in between two small design walls. My sewing table sat between the two print benches because I liked the symmetry of the layout.
But over that last couple of years my work has evolved. My pieces are bigger than my design walls. When I print now I make 4 – 6 breakdown screens at a time and have multiple pieces of cloth on my benches. Having to constantly walk past my sewing table to get to one of the benches is good exercise but a disaster waiting to happen with dripping screens. And I’ve now got a lot more finished pieces that need to be stored carefully.
So it is time for change. Phase 1 has involved removing the bench from the back wall and building a new installation along one of the short walls. The old deep shelving designed for Cal’s wood and tools have gone. The garden chair cushions have gone into a new store in the garden. The separate desk used for my computer has gone. Instead Cal reused the bench and built new shelving that is a better size for my needs. We have moved the sewing table and print benches around so that my ‘dry’ area and ‘wet’ areas are now separate.
Work in Progress but tidy enough to start stitching again!
My new 7.5 metre long design wall will be built in ‘phase 2’ over the Easter weekend and I am open to suggestions on the best way to do this. I’m also going to change some of the lighting. And, if we get time build a book case.
But for now the studio is clean and tidy (enough) that I can get back to stitching. And the sun is shining. Life is good.
It is with very great pleasure that I announce my second exhibition with Helen Conway. It will take place in early summer 2018 in the fanatastic Gallery One at The World of Glass in St Helens.
Helen has written a great blog with photos of the gallery and insight into her inspirations and intent for the exhibition. Helen was brought up in St Helens; her family has lived there for several generation. It has provided the backdrop to her development as an artist. In her work she will trace her families lives and tell their stories. She will also explore her own history and the development of her creative process.
My art will continue to explore the urban and industrial landscape. St Helens has a strong industrial heritage. From the glass works which still exist today to the coal mines that now only exist in the towns collective memory. I want to build a collection of works that, whilst abstract, contain traces of man-made structures that the people of St Helens will recognise. Drawing them into the work, triggering memories.
Helen and I have set an ambitious schedule. Gallery One is a big space. As is the gallery at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery where we will exhibit in autumn 2018. We are committed to creating work specifically for each venue. We are also determined to create exhibitions that are cohesive; where there are links between each others art. It is both terrifying and exciting. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey!
I make a mean lasagne. I could eat it every day but hate washing saucepans so guess what – I don’t want to make lasagne every day. But I love all aspects of breakdown printing and I could very happily spend every day making beautiful fabric. I love mixing the dyes and preparing the screens. I love pinning out my cloth and pulling the screens. I even love washing my screens, washing the objects I use on my screens and washing my printed cloth. Because I love it I have spent hundreds of hours learning to sort of control the outcomes and it now forms the foundation for all of my art.
I made my first breakdown screens during a Committed to Cloth workshop in 2010. I wasn’t really aiming for anything – I just picked a couple of colours and made two screens.
I printed the golden yellow screen first by pulling through with more golden yellow. I wasn’t that impressed. Then I pulled the petrol green screen on top. I was worried that I had lost all the first layer. And then I washed the cloth and feel in love.
The joy of breakdown printing for me is in the detail. Those tiny areas of texture that are impossible to create in any other way. When I made that first piece of printed fabric into a piece of finished art I added stitch that mirrored some of that detail. Today I use breakdown in a very different way but thought you might like to see how I started!
Knots and Crosses (detail)