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.
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.
New Kilns piece ready to stitch
So what have I achieved after 20 days of my 100 (week) day challenge? The answer – an awful lot more than I was expecting. Albeit they still need stretching over canvas I have completed three 12×30 inch Kilns pieces with another one ready to stitch. I’ve also completed twelve 8x8inch pieces in a mini-series called Canal Street with another eight pieces ready to stitch. Wow!
I have felt such a strong compulsion over recent years to make BIG that making small has felt like hard work. It’s OK when I’m just sampling something but I can feel myself shy away from making small pieces that are intended to be exhibited. With two big exhibitions scheduled for 2018 I knew that I had to get past this. Hence my 100 (week) day challenge. I’m pretty good at self-motivating but there is nothing like putting something in the public domain to focus the mind. And I am really, really happy that my good friend Linda Bilsborrow has joined me in the challenge.
This last weeks summary …
- Day 16 – 2 1/4 hours
- Day 17 – 2 1/2 hours
- Day 18 – 1 hour (and that is being generous, I was distracted by a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Sofa So Good and Netflicks)
- Day 19 – 2 hours
- Day 20 – 2 1/2 hours
I was planning on spending this coming week finishing the Canal Street pieces but I’ve nearly run out of the Madeira Cotona thread I use and my local stockists are out. Darn. Big order placed but in the meantime I’m going to use the week to develop the third series of work needed for the exhibitions. And this time I am going to work small from day 1.
(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…..