180cm x 60cm
It has been a quiet year for submitting work as everything I do is focussed on my two exhibitions in 2018 so it was very nice to be able to submit an older piece to Quilt-Art-Quilt. And even nicer to be selected! Ruins 1 will be travelling to Auburn, New York for the exhibition at the Schweinfurth Art Centre. Exhibition dates are 28th October to 7th January.
I wish there were more opportunities to show pieces in more than one exhibition. Like every artist I would like to sell more of my work but the reality is that a lot of pieces just get stored away indefinitely after one public outing. Which seems a shame.
This week I have also resumed my 100 (week) day challenge working on small art for 2 hours each week day evening. It has been a good first week back – I managed 2 hours every evening except on Thursday where I managed 3 hours. I spent most of that time finishing the 20 small Canal Street pieces. Each is 8 x 8 inches and stretched over canvas. I’m now working on the 12 x 30 inch Kilns pieces. Busy, busy, busy!
Fragments – work in progress
I’ve completed 35 days / 7 weeks of my challenge and I’m really happy with my output but it still feels like hard work making myself go to the studio some evenings.
Today I have spent 6 hours at my sewing machine sewing hundreds of parallel lines on my latest large scale Ruins piece. And I have enjoyed every minute of it. Tomorrow evening I will be stitching parallel lines on the last of the small Canal Street pieces for next years exhibition and it will feel like a chore. Same process but on very different scales. I don’t need a psychiatrist to tell me that my heart still wants to work BIG. But those small scale pieces are necessary – if only because they are more affordable. So I will keep going. Maybe when I get to 100 hundred days I will have fallen in love with working small ….
- Day 26 – 1 1/4 hours making thermofax screens.
- Day 27 – 2 1/2 hours finishing thermofax screens and starting Fragments pieces.
- Day 28 – 2 3/4 hours spent collaging 6 Fragments pieces ready for stitch.
- Day 29 – was out in the evening with the day job but still managed 1 1/2 hours – go Leah!
- Day 30 – Oops, had to spend two hours labelling and packing quilts to send to Festival of Quilts.
- Day 31 – 1 hour spent on layouts for the exhibition at World of Glass (I have more than enough small pieces, yes!) and 1 hour spent stitching.
- Day 32 – 2 hours stitchin’
- Day 33 – didn’t happen, hot and stuff day so gave in to the temptation that is ice cream and a good book.
- Day 34 – 2 1/2 hours stitch’
- Day 35 – 2 1/2 hours stitching and adding little red accents to the Fragments pieces.
When I visit a gallery I don’t tend to read the artist’s statement until after I have looked at their work. I like to savour my own responses to a piece first. But I do read the title because it provides a starting place for my response. So naming my own work is important to me and the subject of many hours contemplation. And the subject of regular discussion amongst fellow artists and on social media.
180cm x 60cm
Naming a series is an even bigger decision because you have to live with it longer. I am not a sketchbook person. All my ideas have a long gestation period in my head before I let them loose on dye and cloth. The titles of my first two series, Hidden Messages and Ruins, became fixed right at the beginning of that process. In Hidden Messages I wanted to develop a series of works around censorship in modern day China. In Ruins I wanted to develop a series of works around abandoned and ruined buildings. The titles were obvious to me and still feel just right. And in both cases I was happy to number the works rather than give each piece it’s own subtitle.
Still 3 (Rest)
99 x 99cm
I gave my third series a working title of Storm / Still as that seemed appropriate to the emotional rollercoaster I was on at the time. Although I numbered the early works they were either ‘Storm’ or they were ‘Still’ and each piece required it’s own subtitle. The series name became fixed when I added a page to my website. Strangely I named the colour family that I developed for this series ‘Dunure’ (after my favourite place in the whole world after my studio). And even named a few small pieces Dunure. But I never thought to call the whole series Dunure and with hindsight I wish I had. Storm / Still feels clumsy to me now and may be one of the reasons that I don’t think I will produce more in this series.
Liverpool Street, Salford
342cm x 154cm
So to today. For my exhibitions next year I am working on three series each focussed on industrial and urban landscapes. One part will be more pieces in my Ruins series. Another part will be on buildings and structures still in use today that shape our landscape but are invisible to most. This series has had the working title View. The inidividual pieces will all need their own subtitles as there are site specific. So far I have made one large piece (above) and am in the process of making a series of small works called Canal Street 1, 2, 3 etc. The working title of View is no longer working for me. Instead I am officially naming the series Structures. Yes it has been used by many, many artists but it is the perfect title for what has inspired my work.
New work inspired by the coal mining around St Helens
The other series is inspired by industries and iconic structures that no longer exist. I already know the subtitle of the large scale piece that is gestating in my head but I’m stuck on titles for the series of small works I am currently making based in the Bold Colliery near St Helens. And I am definitely stuck on a title for the series. I have had a working series title of Gone but that doesn’t even work as a working title. I have been puzzling over this all week. I almost settled on Relics. But then I had a ‘duh’ moment.
The title of the exhibition in St Helens is TRACES. My inspiration is those structures that have left TRACES in our memory. No brainer! This new series is now officially called Traces.
The title of the exhibition in Stockport is FRAGMENTS. The small works are just that – they are small FRAGMENTS of a much bigger series. The series of small works is now officially called Fragments.
And now I need a long lie down in a dark room ….
New work inspired by the coal mining around St Helens
After four really productive weeks of making small art I have had a disappointing week; struggling to get any level of momentum. I spent the week as I planned to – researching and creating cloth for the third string of work that I will exhibit next year. The inspiration comes from those industries, and those structures, that no longer exist – the coal mining industry around St Helens, Lancashire being a great example. I wasn’t working completely from scratch. I have learnt from a couple of failed attempts at printing cloth so I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to achieve and how. And I’d already found a great resource on line – the Sutton Beauty and Heritage site. But I didn’t know if it would all come together. I really needed to lock myself in the studio for a whole weekend to completely immerse myself in the process. Knowing that, at most, I could only work for 3 hours in an evening was enough of a limitation that it throw me. And then there was the start of major building work on our home – likely to be a massive distraction for the next couple of months. Here is what I achieved:
- Day 21 – at home all day because of builders I actually spent about 6 hours in the studio but only 1 hour on small art. Not sure what happened to the other 5 hours!
- Day 22 – 1.5 hours researching and making thermofax screens
- Day 23 – 2 hours – took a break from the new work and instead stitched Kilns 4.
- Day 24 – 2 hours printing and experimenting with discharge.
- Day 25 – a scant 1 hour washing and ironing fabrics
Only 7.5 hours in total. I don’t have the luxury of time with two exhibitions in the first half of next year so cannot afford weeks like this! So this weekend I focussed on getting my act together / pulling my finger out / got down off the fence and finally made some decisions on this series! The results are rather pale and ethereal. I have finished a piece and put it into a picture frame I had in the studio. It didn’t photograph very well and the mountboard is the wrong shade of white but it actually looks rather lovely. Certainly lovely enough to make more. Which is what I will be doing in the 6th week of my 100 (week) day challenge.
(30 x 75cm)
It was exciting and scary news time this week when Helen Conway and I got dates for the two shows we are working towards in 2018. The first one, at Gallery One, World of Glass, St Helens will run from Saturday 17th March until Friday 4th May. No problem. I’m on track to have the work I need for this show completed by the end of December.
The second exhibition will be at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery. We had been expecting an exhibition in the Autumn of 2018. And it might still be in the Autumn but it is much more likely to be late May and June. And the Gallery is huge!
Time to ramp up production. My 100 (week) day challenge was aimed at making 25 – 30 small works of art for the St Helens show. I now need to make 50+ pieces. And I need to complete the big pieces for St Helens by the end of November. Gulp!!
But this is where working in series really pays dividends. When I have an idea that I hope will evolve into a series I invest many, many hours in developing the colours, developing and printing the fabrics, and sampling to establish the basic rules of construction. Sometimes that investment just doesn’t work out but when it does it is wonderful. Because then I can just focus on making. Ideas evolve as I move from working on one piece to the next but I know that they are going to ‘work’ as they are built on a good foundation.
The next 9 months or so are going to be hard work. I had hoped to have a piece ready to enter next years European Quilt Triennial but this looks unlikely. I was planning on rebuilding my website but maybe I’ll need to pay someone to do it for me. Thankfully with my studio being at the bottom of our garden my family won’t forget what I look like. Although I may lock the door if they interupt too often…..