Thursday 24 January 2013

International Postcard Show 2013

I'm excited to say I have two works in the Surface Gallery  International Postcard Show 2013. This long-running annual exhibition features hundreds of original artworks by established artists, students and newcomers from all over the world. I didn't have time to take pictures of the cards I sent but one included a copper tag / medal saying Yours and the other a Fortuneteller game plus digital image and both are mounted on Zoffany wallpaper and include machine stitching.
All participating artists have the opportunity to exchange their postcard with another artist selected at random at the end of the exhibition.  
All artworks are priced at £15 throughout the exhibition, so this is a great opportunity for visitors and aspiring art collectors to snap up an original work of art at an affordable price. It also feels like a win / win situation as either I'll make a sale or receive a swap. The show runs until the 16th of February and apparently things are selling fast.

Medals in progress

Friday 18 January 2013

Spinning Yarns

I love old industrial buildings and am always vastly cheered to see these great old spaces get a new lease of life, I love a good yarn, a tall tale and am very partial to rust and peeling layers of paint or wall paper. I am also trying to follow Kate Lynch's mending example and am trying to use or reuse work that has served it's original purpose. So I was delighted to receive the open call from artist Nita Nathwani to add a piece of work to the show she is creating / curating at the LBC Depot in response to a former hosiery factory in Charnwood. On her posterous page she writes:-

"Doors that locked forever on a section of Leicester's hosiery and knitwear industry will open up to welcome new creativity in its cultural quarter.  The old Charnwood building is soon to breathe new life after being cobwebbed since the 1990's.  'Makers' Yard is the oldest surviving hosiery factory in the East Midlands that's currently being restored into a dynamic and inspiring workspace for creative entrepreneurs, opening late January 2013. In a lead to this opening, I will be curating an exhibition and showing my work, helped with collaboration with other makers, at the nearby LCB Depot gallery" 

It was an intriguing brief with a tight deadline but in the spirit of the new year I decided I would try and make something for the show. Nita provided an inspiring range of source images and I began by manipulating some, adding them to some of my own images of cobwebs and stocking prints, with the notion of printing them on to fabric and working from there. However the bad weather set in and I was forced to use what ever was to hand.

I think I'll be going back to work on the digital images at a later stage 

however the other images can be viewed here

Part of the Coombe Abbey Park Tea Towel Installation

Some of the textile inks failed

and many images ran in the rain

but I do find it difficult to throw good materials away. I have also been given quite a stash of strange and interesting fabrics over the years which I like to think of as the Dorothy Jones, Joan Dyer and Sheila Rastall Archive of Tailoring and Dress Making. I raided the loft and the shed/studio undeterred by the freezing conditions in both places and emerged with supplies!

I decided to make a pair of soft sculpture jugs from up-cycled hand printed tea towels and vintage woollen fabrics which answered part of Nita's brief "Your version of a jug in your material. It does not have to have a functional use."

The jugs have sheep, wool, knitting, stockings, boots, shoes and corsets over-printed on them and are constructed with both machine and hand stitching. 

Having formed part of an outdoor installation they have been aged by wind and weather.

The jugs tie together thoughts I have had about the corset industry in Market Harborough, the boot and shoe industry of Northamptonshire, the knitting industry of Leicestershire and the former importance of wool as a raw material for many garments and industries, this once precious commodity is now often seen as a waste product. 

The pieces have raw and unfinished edges, when I thought about the jug shape I wanted to make I had an image of wool sacks in my mind. The jugs have a soft, collapsing shape, reminiscent of and empty sock or stocking' I'm calling the pair Collapsing Histories, I think they are strangely touching and quite tactile.

The Spinning Yarns Makers Showcase can be seen at the LBC Depot and features a selection of work from artists and designer-makers in the East Midlands, to coincide with the launch of the new Makers’ Yard studio space in the Grade II-listed former hosiery factory at 82-86 Rutland Street, Leicester

The exhibition includes work by Nita Nathwani, Lisa Godrich, Tracie Murchisson, Carole Miles, Melanie King, Claire Newberry, Minnie Techman, and Sophie Cullinan. 

January 22nd - 7th Feb 2013
9.00am - 5.00pm
Monday to Friday

Sunday 6 January 2013

Light Thoughts

The Light Walks exhibition, the culmination of the project Jo Dacombe and I have been engaged in during 2012 aimed to bring a warming glow into the dark days of December, and to reflect on the past year of walking around Northamptonshire.

Our vision for the Light Walks Installation was to give visitors a sense of everything we had seen and done during the course of the project and to try and pack 8 walks into a small space took planning and ingenuity. As we had made foraged fare we also wanted to have a shop space rather than a gallery space in which our produce would be both exhibit and product, sculpture and part of everyday life.

I had spent a dispiriting day in November in Kettering town centre, finding many empty shops, but none that were available to us! On my way home I popped into Bee Inspired, an Aladdin’s cave of craft materials and fabric. Gemma and David saw my forlorn face and I told them of my quest, I knew they had a workshop space at the rear of the Mews but couldn’t believe our luck when they agreed to rent it to us during December/ early January.

Jo and I made a short film, which was screened during the exhibition. We took the film whilst out on the walks, with a day of extra filming to cover aspects we might have missed, we had been chasing the light all year but 2012 had been temperamental, we had to catch what we could whenever we could! I have been up to my Wellingtons in a stream with a still camera round my neck, my phone for filming whilst trying to set boats afloat in a rushing current with Jo on the other bank capturing the boats progress on her recorder. 

We knew we had enough imagery, but what would tie it together? We felt that a recorded conversation between the two of us would be good but we needed another voice and one connected in some way with our walks. Via Twitter we were able to persuade the wonderful Reverend Richard Coles, Vicar of St Mary the Virgin in Finedon to talk to us about what walking meant to him.

Finedon has always been a special place to me, over the years I’ve cycled to and sat in the Churchyard, hunted down treasures in its ever changing array of antique shops, taken part in writing workshops, had animated talks about gravity, made mosaics with one local school and prints with another: I loved being able to share its delights with Jo and our Light Walkers, two of our walks started from St Mary’s.

The process of creating the film took place both together and apart, working the images to the sound clips; going through all the material we’d collected brought back the pleasures of creating the walks, interventions, observations and conversations with Jo as well as sharing the countryside with our Light Walkers and guests. It is a film of textures, sounds and atmospheres with a gentle pace and contemplative nature, it carries thoughts and memories of these walks and other experiences of walking.

One walk we had tried to take proved impossible because the landowner had planted trees and blocked the access points so Jo & I decided to create a miniature protest to highlight the issues surrounding public rights of way and the pathways that are such a special part of our countryside.

The artificial grass, plants, trees and herbs helped to bring the smells & textures of the outdoors inside. Interventions were recreated in miniature, a bucket filled with tiny floating paper lanterns, 

an acer dressed in thin blue ribbons, an image of light and an image of water printed onto silk,

a picnic table and rug to reference all our alfresco meals. Some of our guests brought foraged gifts to add to the display.

Sharing food together was seen as a very important part of the project, the picnics created by Carolyn always added a sense of celebration to the walks. We wanted to share a mini indoor picnic with our guests and supporters. The Light Walks Team acted as perfect hosts, talking to visitors about their experience of the last year. It was great to see how their confidence had grown over time. 

We could only show a selection of the images taken during the year and we would like to tour our exhibition and film. It has been quite an adventure and we’d love to share this with a wider audience, we would welcome suggestions for venues where we could recreate the installation. The full set of images that form part of the exhibition can be viewed here

The year of walks we did with the Light Walks Team of young people are documented on our collaborative blog,

Light Walks for Dark Days was made possible by funding from the National Lottery through Awards for All, from the Midlands Co-operative Society Ltd and support from N-STEP.