Tag Archives: etcetera

Looking back on 2016

Sun setting over Arran (June 2016)

Sun setting over Arran (June 2016)

It is that time of year when we look back at what we have done and, possibly foolishly, make promises about what we will do in 2017. So today I am looking back at 2016 and tomorrow I will look forward.

2016 has been an amazing year for me as an artist. The big stuff: I had pieces selected for Breakout: Quilt Visions 2016, SAQA Wide Horizons V, Fine Art Quilt Masters, Quilt National 2017 and SAQA Layered Voices. My piece Ruins 5 won the Art category at Festival of Quilts and I made my first ‘proper’ sale just before Christmas when Ruins 4 sold whilst on show at Quilt Visions in San Diego. I had two exhibitions as part of the Etcetera group, have had older work touring with CQ ‘Elements’ and had a couple of pieces shown in Visions Art Museums on-line exhibitions. WOW, not sure if my head will squeeze through the studio door!

I have made a determined effort in 2016 to increase my presence on social media. Having resisted for many years I have embraced Facebook, and to a lesser extent Instagram, and made many new friends along the way. I think this has really helped drive traffic to this blog and my website. This piece will be my 63rd post in 2016, a nice increase compared to 52 posts in 2015. But the real growth has been in visitors and views. In 2015 I had 3069 views by 652 visitors. As of this morning I have had an amazing 9635 views and 2262 visits in 2016. 66% of views are from the UK and 21% from North America. Another WOW!

So have I been successful because the planets have been aligned or the gods have smiled down on me? No, it is a combination of hard work and luck. As of this morning I have spent 964 hours in my studio this year – that is an average of 18.5 hours per week. I put in extra hours during the 3 months that I was ‘between jobs’ and this compensated for the hours lost whilst I went through the shock of redundancy and whilst I focussed on my new day job. I didn’t keep accurate records in 2015 but will continue to do so in 2017. I completed 18.87 square metres of work in 2016 compared to 9.57 square metres in 2015 but this is somewhat misleading as I started 2016 with 2 large Ruins pieces part made and a large stack of printed fabric ready for other pieces. Working in series definitely increases output.

2016 has been a pretty awful year for many, many people with loved ones lost and a frightening surge in voilence and hate around the world. There is much to be miserable about much to take comfort from. A hug, a memory of a beautiful sunset, a fragile pattern and wonderful colour on cloth … Happy New Year everyone!

Hidden Message – Working in Series

Hidden Message 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 11

Hidden Message 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 11

The new Etcetera exhibition opens at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery this Saturday and runs to 15th October. There is a preview between 7 and 9pm tomorrow (Friday 9th) if you are in the area and want to stop by.

I am showing these pieces from my Hidden Message series. There are four small tiles stretched over canvas and two quilts. Hidden Message was the first time that I intentionally decided to create a series of pieces from one source of inspiration. It has been an interesting learning curve – my starting point came from trips to Shanghai and the really bizarre cultural conflict between modern, urban China and it’s one-party politics. My initial ideas involved bright colours, teapots, brand names and neon advertising signs. I made one piece, called No Time for Tea, which I loved but felt absolutely no desire to progress.

Instead I switched to a complex, muted colour family, broken fragments of skyscrapers and fabrics printed with words associated with censorship. I created two large pieces. Hidden Message 2 was originally 12 separate sections stitched onto a fabric background and Hidden Message 3 was originally 4 banners joined at the top. Both of these pieces were eventually cut into separate tiles, stretched over canvas and shown in the Etcetera exhibition at Ryedale Folk Museum earlier this year.

I kept working in this complex colourway eventually creating the Hidden Message Skyscrapers set of 8 panels. But I also decided to try out the fragmented structure and patterns in a restricted colour palette of shades of grey and red. The resulting pieces have always felt like odd-balls. They just don’t ‘work’ if I put them alongside other pieces from the series. At one stage I was considering throwing them away but I’m glad I didn’t. The exhibition in Stockport has given me the opportunity to hang them together and to assess them away from the other pieces in the series. They are their own little mini-series!

I found my ‘voice’ but where is the volume dial?

Work in Progress

Work in Progress

Over the last couple of years I have definitely found my ‘voice’. Or my ‘visual style’. Or whatever you want to call that sense of confidence that comes from developing a set of processes (or studio practice) that transforms ideas into finished pieces that are recognisably ‘me’. I can point to three things that helped – making a conscious decision to work in series, attending a Colour Studies course with Leslie Morgan and moving into my purpose built studio.

I currently have two ‘active’ series. The Ruins series which has given me so much success and the Still / Storm series which still feels in it’s infancy. In both cases I started by developing a colour palette then developed a set of printed and / or dyed fabrics. I collage and stitch samples during which ideas for ‘full sized’ pieces start to flow. Some ideas are very vague and require more sampling. Other ideas pop up fully formed. And demanding attention. Like the piece I am working on now.

I keep a list of potential ‘calls for entry’, particularly those without a theme or size restrictions. But I let the work itself dictate what size and even what form my finished pieces will take. And I no longer give in to the temptation to create ‘one-offs’ to fit a specific call for entry. This limits where I might place my work but sometimes there is a really good match between my work and a particular call. Such as the current SAQA ‘Layered Voices’ call. The piece is going to be 4 metre long strip hung such that the bottom section is draped and partially hidden on the floor. It will be double sided. And stitched with hundreds and hundreds of parallel lines. And every end of thread will be carefully sewn in. So shouted my voice!

Unfortunately my voice does not care that the call ends on 30th September and that I start a new day job on the 12th. Or that we are hanging the next Etcetera exhibition at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery this week. Ho hum. Better get back to my sewing machine!

Just one part of creating Art

I love creating Art. I love the dyeing and printing of fabrics. I love the cutting and composing. I love the layering and stitching. I even love adding the bindings, labels and hanging sleeves. But Art is not Art in my mind unless it is seen by others. And that means spending time on administration and on self-promotion.

On activities like writing this blog post.

On refreshing my website – I have updated the About section and added new images to the Hidden Message and Storm / Still pages. I’ve also updated the ‘Latest Works’ image with one of my minitature quilt ‘Vestiges’.

On getting together with other Etcetera members to finish preparations for our next exhibition at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery – the exhibition runs from Saturday 10th September to Saturday 15th October. Yesterday we used a scale model to work out the layout of the exhibition. We discussed critical details of the Preview Evening (Friday 9th September from 7pm to 9pm) such as how to distribute invitations, how much wine to buy, whether we should have music etc.

On researching potential opportunities to exhibit, on keeping my database of completed works up to date, on monitoring my progress on projects against key deadlines, on answering emails etc etc.

In fact all of the types of activities you would work on if you ran a small business because that is what being an exhibiting artist is.

Meet the artist – Etcetera at Ryedale

Work by Sandra Wyman

Work by Sandra Wyman

Whilst I am enjoying a very relaxed 4 day weekend in my studio Linda Bilsborrow and Sandra Wyman from my exhibiting group Etcetera will be at Ryedale Folk Museum tomorrow (Saturday) between 2pm and 4pm for a ‘meet the artist’ event.

The seven members of Etcetera have created seven very different interpretations of the word ‘Transitions’. Linda’s Lifeline series deals with the transitions between different life stages – the phases of our lives that we all go through but cannot really see until we look backwards. Sandra has created a series of pieces that are autobiographical and represent a time of profound personal transition and self-discovery.

The Museum is in Hutton-le-Hole, North Yorkshire. The exhibition runs until Saturday 7th May.