Thursday 19 December 2013

Lace pattern books

Lace pattern books are an endless source of fascination and inspiration. The one shown here is on view at the Calais Lace Museum and shows examples of machine made lace from 1897. I like the serendipity of lace pattern books because you never know what pieces of lace will be juxtaposed. This one shows various net and filling patterns and then four pieces of intricate lace that don’t seem to be related at all. Often you see pages of one design adapted for different uses, such as frills, insertions and edgings but here the patterns seem unrelated. Several of these books are on exhibition at the Museum and there are many more in store.

Friday 13 December 2013

Setting the scene: New landscapes in craft

This exhibition at the Craft Study Centre includes the work of ten artists who use landscape as their inspiration for the construction and arrangement of craft objects. I much preferred the constructions to the arrangements. Tony Hayward used traditional oil paintings of landscape and manipulated them by appearing to peel back the layers of the painting and thus render them three-dimensional (see ‘The rock and the stump’ in the photo above). Paul Scott referenced the landscape images from 18th century blue ceramic transferware to produce his own blue ceramics of modern agricultural scenes, in which cups became trees and saucers the cultivated land. Mimi Joung used ceramics to transform the emotional landscape of her letters to her mother into a physical sculpture of the lines of writing. While in ‘Grey gardens’ Helen Maurer had produced a diorama from glasses and images of birds. These were placed in a glass box linked to a moving light source which generated different landscapes as it passed across the objects cleverly making the birds appear to fly through the scene. The artists had all responded to the idea of landscape in different ways which produced an interesting exhibition.

Monday 9 December 2013

The subversive stitch revisited: the politics of cloth

I really enjoyed this conference at the V&A last week. It explored the legacy of Rozsika Parker’s groundbreaking book ‘The subversive stitch’ and began with papers about the history of embroidery and then moved on to the politics of cloth today. As well as the papers it included some film screenings and workshops so it was a full programme. In fact such a full programme that I didn’t see everything because I was busy networking with new friends and old. For me, the highlights of the conference were Griselda Pollock’s paper on femininity, Jenni Sorkin’s interview with Elaine Reichak, Matt Smith’s paper on the Unravelled project and Kimberly Lamm talking about Ghada Amer. Unfortunately, Griselda Pollock couldn’t attend the conference but had sent her presentation instead. She spoke of Rozsika Parker, with whom she had collaborated, and told us about the power of textile and its cultural meaning. Elaine Reichak showed images of her embroideries that juxtapose traditional themes with modern texts and explained how one’s career is shaped by invitations to exhibit rather than a master plan. Matt Smith talked entertainingly about his work on the Messell family for the recent Unravelled exhibition at Nymans house. Many other presenters showed how textiles are being used as political weapons in ethical and social debates and are challenging structures of power using subversive stitching.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Lace Effects 1

This exhibition at the Calais Lace Museum is the first part of the Lace Effects exhibition. It runs until May 2014 and will then be followed by Lace Effects 2 which runs from May to December (and will include one of my curtains). The first exhibition includes the work of artists who offer a new perspective on lace inspired by fashion and the second one includes works which question traditional handmade lace techniques. I felt that the link between lace and the work exhibited in this first exhibition was tenuous in some cases but they combined to make an interesting exhibition. My favourite piece in the show was Claire Jackson’s ‘Webbed dress’, which you can see in the image above, which incorporated ‘lace’ made from burnt out viscose satin. It thought it retained the delicacy and beauty of lace using a completely modern technique.

I also liked ‘Perito Moreno’ by Lieve Dekeyser. This was a series of Plexiglas panels digitally printed with photographs of bobbin lace and again it referenced the lightness and transparency of lace and produced beautiful shadows of the images. Brigitte Amarger had also used images of lace, this time on radiographic film, to produce her ‘Dentelles a l’ame’ which formed an impressive installation. Another interesting installation was ‘Lace tracks’ by Hannah White which included a video and images of reflective lace on sportswear, showing lace in a decorative and functional role. This is just a sample of the pieces on show as the exhibition includes the work of 23 artists, so if you want to see it for yourself go to Calais before it ends on 18 May.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Iris van Herpen exhibition

While I was at the Calais Lace museum I also saw this brilliant exhibition of the work of Iris van Herpen. She makes fashion pieces – you can’t really call them clothes – based on a variety of different topics and in many unusual materials. The pieces in the image are called ‘Chemical crows’ and are a result of her fascination with alchemy and the idea of transmuting materials. In this case gold-coloured umbrella ribs have been transformed into fan-like wing shapes and the threads attached to them give the impression of feathers in motion. The gold colour is a reference to the attraction crows have for glittering objects. Other pieces in the exhibition included dress shapes with enormous collars made from metal thread to represent the industrial smoke from refineries and a huge ‘glass’ collar based on a splash of water. To create these effects she uses techniques as varied as three-dimensional rapid prototyping, hot air guns and pliers.

Monday 25 November 2013

Lace machines at Calais Lace Museum

It was fascinating to see the Leavers lace machines working at Calais Lace Museum. I finally learnt how machine lace was made. As well as the working machines, there were several videos of the various processes and people involved in making a piece of machine lace, including the designer, draftsman, jacquard card cutter, bobbin winder, twist hand, lace cutter and embellisher. I found the videos very interesting as the whole process was brought to life by seeing and hearing the various workers describing their jobs and showing how the different tools are used. Hearing the big machines working, seeing the jacquard cards clattering round and realising how quickly large widths of lace are produced was amazing. As the mechanic who keeps the machines working said in his video ‘The people who designed these machines were geniuses. We still use the old machines because the system they use cannot be improved’.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Lace display at Calais Lace Museum

The lace exhibition at Calais Lace Museum is beautifully displayed. Large portraits of people wearing lace are overlaid on lace like panels and these hang between cabinets containing historical lace. The cabinets are like tables with glass above and below so the lace in them casts a lovely shadow on the floor beneath. The exhibition focuses on lace in fashion but is also keen to show how the lace was made and there are many examples of pieces under construction and diagrams showing how both bobbin and needle lace are made. At the end of the gallery is a section on machine laces including several manufacturers’ pattern books and examples of design work which I found very interesting.

Friday 15 November 2013

Calais Lace Museum

I enjoyed my first visit to the Calais Lace Museum yesterday. The building is an old lace factory, the exterior of which has been clad with glass panels that reference the Jacquard cards used to make machine lace. The museum has been thoughtfully laid out and I learnt a lot from my visit. There is an exhibition of handmade lace, including some portraits and examples of fine lace and a separate a display of historical lace fashion. There is a large area explaining how machine lace was made and the various processes involved including some working lace machines with demonstrations every hour. I finally learnt how machine lace is made from the demonstrations, videos and artefacts on display. There is also an excellent resources centre with books and magazines and there were also some manufacturers’ sample books available for handling (with the gloves provided). Contemporary lace is not overlooked either. The Lace Effects 1 exhibition is currently running, there is an exhibition of Iris van Herpen’s catwalk collection and the shop had some interesting modern lace for sale. The museum is definitely worth visiting if you are interested in any aspect of lace. I’ll blog about the various exhibitions separately .

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Pasold conference 2013

This 2 day conference last week at Goldsmiths, University of London, included 14 papers considering how tacit knowledge of material in textile archives can enrich research. Carolyn Steedman was the keynote speaker and she spoke about stockings and stays, without having examined any textile collections, which rather surprised the audience. Instead she used secondary printed historical sources to uncover the social history of stocking making. In contrast, Ariane Fennetaux had researched pockets and showed us that they could often be dated by their fastenings, laundry marks or embellishments, things often not recorded or visible in images of the artefacts. Another contribution I found interesting was the talk by Bernice Archer and Alan Jeffreys of the Imperial War Museum, on embroideries made by women in internment camps in the Far East from 1941 to 1945. Many of these embroideries recorded the women’s journeys from capture to imprisonment and were often the only record made of these events. Some of the pieces recorded the names of those in the camps and often were made and hidden from the prison guards at great personal risk. On the final day, Annin Barrett and Caleb Sayan showed us the digital textile archive they have created and we then had a visit to the Goldsmiths textile archive where we saw a selection of the pieces it holds.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

The hidden mother Linda Fregni Nagler

One of the installations I found interesting at the Venice Biennale was Linda Fregni Nagler’s uncanny series of photographs of The hidden mother (2006-13). These photographs depict mothers and children from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. However, the mothers are shrouded so they are visible but remain in the background of the picture like a curtain or piece of furniture. Their faces cannot be seen and the focus remains on the child. At that time photographs required a long exposure time and children who could not sit still for that length of time were held still on their mother’s lap, but because the mother only wanted a picture of the child she remained shrouded. Ironically rather than making the child the focus of the image, the uncanny shape of the mother in the background becomes the focus.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Venetians: Pawel Althamer

Pawel Althamer filled a space in the Arsenale exhibition with his ‘Venetians’; life-sized sculptures of local Venetians. He cast the faces and hands in plaster and joined them to bodies made of extruded ribbons of grey plastic. They formed abject groups of skeletal forms in the bare brick-lined room and reminded me of the plasticized bodies produced by Gunther von Hagen.

Friday 25 October 2013

Its not chaos Rashed Alakbarov

I saw this sculpture in the Azerbaijan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Rashed Alakbarov makes sculptures which only reveal their subject when their shadows are seen, rather like the work of Noble and Webster. He exhibited some very clever constructions and their shadows. I liked this one because it was slightly different – it didn’t rely on you seeing its shadow but you had to stand in just the right place to read the message hidden within the chaos of metal.

Monday 21 October 2013

Nell’acqua capisco

We found this exhibition by chance walking though Saint Mark’s Square. Not only did it provide a great view of the Square, San Marco and the Tower but there was also some interesting art. I particularly liked Variable space (2007-8) by Marina Paris (see image above), a series of photomontages of buildings that elided their material form and their reflections so you couldn’t be sure quite what you were looking at. It seemed very relevant to be showing it in Venice where the water in the canals confuses perception in the same way. Barbara Salvucci’s delicate drawing Ofelia (2013) was also fascinating. It covered three panels and depicted the shape of an insect’s wing in fine ink lines that crisscrossed each other to provide depth and life to the form. We discovered that there was another part to this exhibition but unfortunately it had closed last month – another facet of the Venice Biennale, where space and time appear to run at their own pace.

Friday 18 October 2013

Venice Biennale

We returned from the Venice Biennale in the early hours of this morning. Quite a varied selection of work, but the first piece we saw was Marc Quinn’s ‘Alison Lapper pregnant’ on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore opposite Saint Mark’s square. This version is not a sculpture, as it was on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, but a huge inflatable. It looked very solid from a distance though and stood out clearly in front of the church of San Giorgio, even though it was a misty day. As we looked at it a huge cruise ship sailed round the island in front of us like a moving wall of apartments. This experience made us appreciate Jeremy Deller’s ‘We sit starving amidst our gold’ which depicts William Morris bodily throwing a huge yacht into the lagoon, which we saw later in the Great Britain pavilion.

Friday 11 October 2013

Water bobbin lace fan

This is the small silk paper fan I made for the Valtopina Lace and Embroidery Museum exhibition. The theme for the exhibition this year was a fan based on one the four elements: earth, air, fire, water. I chose water, although I have since decided to make a series of four fans, one for each element, using the same pattern but different colourways. I wanted to make a fan that could be used rather than just a fan leaf and came up with the idea of using a wire form and embedding the lace in silk paper. I took photos of each stage of the process, which I’ll post another time, so you can see how I made the silk paper and embedded the lace within it.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Cloth and memory {2}

The exhibiting spaces at Salts Mill are large, as I remember from the room in which I had my installation last year. This year, the number of artists has been increased from 3 to 23 and the exhibition is housed in the old spinning room which runs the entire length of the building. The image above showing the work of Yoriko Murayama in the foreground with that of Machiko Agano to the left shows about a third of the space.

It’s impossible to describe the work of all 23 artists so I will just concentrate on those whose work is relevant to mine. Caren Garfen’s work looks at the lives of women in Saltaire based on a study of the 1891 census. She commemorates each of the women by hand stitching their names and details on a reel of cotton, hence the title of the work ‘Reel lives’. The apron strings record the types of employment open to men and women, taken from the same census; the long blue tie bearing the men’s opportunities while the short red one lists the women’s employment opportunities.

Caroline Bartlett uses hand stitching in suspended embroidery frames to emphasise the stillness and emptiness of the once noisy spinning room. At the heart of each is a hard, fixed porcelain circle bearing the imprint of a textile fragment suggesting lost memories and traces. Hilary Bower’s work, comprising large grey hanging sacks also captures the scale of the building and the unnatural silence of this room. They appear as silent witnesses, waiting to be reanimated.

Koji Takaki’s work Ma is made up of translucent cubes that appear to be floating away from the main hanging. They reminded me of windows and bubbles, breathing light and air back into this disused room.

Thursday 26 September 2013

More Italian roof tiles

As many of you liked my previous post showing one of the panels from my Italian roof tiles series I thought I’d post a picture of one of the other panels. Both of them use the idea of tiles in different orientations and both are made using contemporary bobbin lace. They incorporate many different types of threads and ribbons and are backed with handmade paper and newspaper.

Friday 20 September 2013

In the name of honour

This exhibition at 1 Mayfair considers victims of domestic abuse and honour-based violence around the UK. It doesn’t seem to have been well advertised or to be very accessible and is only open for a few days. When I arrived on Thursday I had to persuade the doorman to let me in to see it and he kindly allowed me a quick look round. I was so pleased he did though as it was a very thought provoking exhibition. The work was for sale so I couldn’t take photos so the image shows a general view of the beautiful building that housed the exhibition.

In the foyer was Lise Bjorne-Linnert’s wall of name tags each one representing a woman who has disappeared and is presumed murdered in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. I first saw these name tapes and took part in the Desconocida exhibition in Epsom and it is sad to see the number of names has increased since then. Several other artists used stitching in their work to represent these women’s issues including Shadi Ghadiran who showed an image of a woman sewing a spider’s web in front of a latticed window to question how women comply with their own imprisonment in the home. Reena Saini Kallat showed a series of images of women knitting letters in red yarn which spelled out the phrase ‘Our bodies are moulded rivers’ a quote from the German philosopher Novalis. It was interesting that none of these works actually exhibited the textiles only images of them. I felt Lise’s work was stronger because of the physical presence of the textiles.

Other powerful images included those of Asoo Khanmohammadi who displayed photographs of the kitchens of Iranian suicide victims most of whom are young married women aged 15 to 34 years. These images of ordered domesticity were titled Ilam (the place where the photos were taken) and Absence. She also exhibited a photograph entitled Bride which showed a woman dressed for a wedding but wrapped in bubblewrap to consider the commodification of women. Another interesting series of photographs were those in a triptych by Mandana Moghaddam showing a pregnant woman lying in a room with water pooling on the floor around her. The water gradually rose around her and eventually submerged her indicating the overwhelming experience of childbirth. This was a moving exhibition which deserved to be seen by more people.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

More Fans

As promised here are some images of the contemporary fans that caught my eye at the fan exhibition in the Museo del Ricamo e del Tessile in Valtopina, Italy. The image above shows Elementi by Maria Bissacco. The theme of the exhibition was the four elements (air, fire, earth, water); some people depicted all four as Maria has done, others chose to concentrate on one.

Another of my favourites was Vento di mare woven by Patrizia Casini incorporating double cloth in which sequins were trapped to give the impression of seafoam. She also had a companion piece to this one entitled Lingue di fuoco in which her subtle use of colours and beads beautifully depicts the tongues of fire.

The theme of Fiona McPeake’s fan was coral. I love the way she has manipulated the leather to form a fan like shape. The exhibition at the Museum runs until December so if you are visiting Perugia it is well worth a visit. It includes an excellent exhibition of antique fans as well as the contemporary ones. They are beautifully displayed and there is a lavishly illustrated catalogue to accompany it all.


Sunday 15 September 2013

Cloth and memory {2} seminar

I managed to get to Salts Mill to see the Cloth and memory exhibition on Friday, having been away when the private view was held. I chose Friday because there was a seminar about the theme of memories and cloth and a tour round the exhibition with Lesley Millar, the curator. The seminar was held in the room that had housed my installation last year so it was full of cloth memories for me and I also found a small red thread that I’d left in a corner as part of a mini-installation. Some of my counting marks also remained on the walls and over tea one of the other delegates (having realised I was the culprit!) said she’d been puzzling over them wondering if they had been left by the original spinners and weavers. The seminar began with Lesley asking Celia Pym about her work which involves darning into sweaters she has hand knitted. Celia explained that his process of replacing and putting back together echoed the initial feelings she had experienced on her site visit to the Spinning Room at Salts Mill. The discussion then progressed to other projects Celia has worked on and her admission that she likes to wear other people’s clothing. This led to reminiscences from the other participants about occasions when they had worn other people’s clothes and the reasons for doing so. The discussion then extended to types of cloth and the feelings and memories they engendered for the participants.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Fans at the Valtopina Textile Museum

The recent lace and embroidery exhibition in Valtopina also saw the opening of a fan exhibition in the Museo del Ricamo e del Tessile. It consists of a beautiful selection of antique fans and a parallel exhibition of contemporary fans in lace and embroidery. They were beautifully displayed - some on the flat round forms you can see in the picture above, others in cases on the wall.

Some like this one by Ewa Szpila were attached to open round frames so you could see both sides. This image also shows the beautiful catalogue on a stand next to the fan.

And some antique fans were displayed in a very Japanese looking arrangement of acrylic fan shapes and poles on the wall.

I’ll post pictures of some of my favourite contemporary fans another time - and of course my own silk paper one.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Valtopina exhibition

I’m just back from the Lace and Embroidery exhibition at Valtopina, Perugia, Italy where I was exhibiting as a guest of Maria Bissacco. It was an amazing experience. I had lots of visitors to the exhibition– over 200 on the Saturday afternoon alone. Trying to explain my work in Italian was a challenge but people were very helpful and we managed. As well as the exhibition I was involved in, there was an interesting exhibition of fans, both antique and contemporary, in the Museum, and examples of beautiful lace and embroidery in other venues. I’ll blog more photos when I’ve had a chance to download them all.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Italian roof tiles

This is one of the pieces I am taking to show at the lace and embroidery exhibition at Valtopina near Perugia, this week. I thought an Italian city would be an appropriate setting for my Italian roof tile series which is made up of five panels of coloured contemporary lace based on drawings of roof tiles I have made over several visits. I am also showing some of my large silk paper hangings as well as bags and necklaces. I’m looking forward to seeing the other exhibitions too – I’ll post images next time.

Friday 30 August 2013

Be our guest

There are still a few days left to see this exhibition celebrating the B&B at the Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown, Powys. Apart from my curtain with pins and needles, marking the passage of time in the same way as a prisoner, there are lots of other quirky and fascinating exhibits. One of my favourites is Janet Farahar’s ‘His/Hers: is He/Are They?’ Two cross stitched panels of the words His and Hers, often seen on guest towels, with the H of His and the rs of Hers smudged so they read ‘is He’. I like the fact this has so many possible meanings: is he faithful; is he gay; is he who he seems? There are many more clever ideas in this fascinating show. It runs until 4 September so catch it if you can.

Monday 26 August 2013

Lace for Valtopina

I’m honoured to have been chosen to mount a lace exhibition in the School of Embroidery at Valtopina, Italy, as part of their 15th exhibition of embroidery and cloth. I’ve been making final decisions about the pieces I’m going to take. Travelling by air means I’ll have to take the lace with me in my hand luggage so I’m choosing pieces that are small, like bags and necklaces, as well as bigger pieces that will roll up for the journey but will fill a larger space when they are hung. The exhibition runs over the weekend, from 6 to 8 September.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Lace handkerchief edging of the Infanta Isabella

The lace edging on this handkerchief, held by the Infant Isabella Clara Eugenia, Archduchess of Austria, reminded me of the lace I recently saw in Bologna. This painting by Frans Porbus the Younger was shown in the In fine style exhibition and dates from the end of the 16th century – the same time as the lace. It is very accurately painted and shows how valuable lace was to be included in such a portrait.

Friday 9 August 2013

Old bobbin lace

I saw this late 16th century Italian bobbin lace in a museum in Bologna. Unlike some of the more ornate early laces I think the design of this works well. Often the areas where all the bobbin threads come together swamp the rest of the design and look out of place, but here the thicker areas of cloth stitch complement the more open plaited areas quite well.

Monday 29 July 2013

For sale

I was amused to see this charming young lady in a painting by James Collinson entitled ‘For sale’ at Nottingham Castle. Her inviting look and rosy cheeks make you wonder what is for sale here. She’s holding a little purse – is she buying it or selling it, or inviting us to buy it for her or even selling herself. I’ve been doing some research into Victorian needlework and these sales of work. Charlotte Bronte is particularly scathing about them in several of her novels. They epitomise the era so well though. Many well to do young women had nothing to do except make useless craft gifts which they then tried to sell to their friends and family for charity. In many ways a metaphor for the useless lives these poor girls were forced to live.

In fine style

The subtitle for this exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, is The art of Tudor and Stuart fashion. As that suggests, there is plenty of magnificent art depicting the textiles and lace of the fashions of the period, but also some artefacts which allow you to examine the textiles first hand. Each painting is so detailed that you could spend hours examining each one and many of the costumes are painted in such detail that you could use them to draw up a pattern for the lace or embroidery. In the early part of this period, textiles and accessories indicated status and gave other subtle clues to the sitter’s religion, social position and lineage, and this is why they were painted so exactly. Towards the end of the period, ideas had changed and the textiles are painted in a more impressionistic manner. This is a fabulous exhibition for anyone interested in the fashions of this time; there is plenty to see, you can take your own photos, there is a multi media guide, and an excellent book to accompany it - which I’m just about to start reading. It’s open until 6 October 2013.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Studies in form and substance

I saw this exhibition today at the Crafts Study Centre – it’s an interesting mix of textiles and ceramics from the UCA Farnham collections, curated by Linda Brassington and Hannah Facey. The textile collection was begun by Ella McLeod, who founded the textile course at the Farnham School of Art in 1949. The aim from the start was to form a working collection that could be used for teaching students techniques and design and to inspire them. One of the most interesting exhibits was a series of letters from Ella McLeod to Miss E Stewart MBE of the Highland Home Industries negotiating the purchase of a fine 2 ply knitted shawl. Miss Stewart sent a selection of shawls of different qualities for the students to examine and the college then bought one and returned the others. I was struck by the generosity of Miss Stewart in sending six shawls for the students to handle and examine knowing that the college would only buy one of them.

Friday 19 July 2013

The fabric of memory: comments

I’ve been putting away the work from The fabric of memory exhibition and reviewing the comments made by some of the viewers. Most of them comment on how well the work of the three artists fitted together and how suitable the work was for the site. One viewer says ‘the work forms a beautiful composition, I can’t believe they weren’t made specifically for the space’. Another comments ‘a sensitive and beautiful installation’ and continues ‘as if the work was created for the site’. Another viewer says ‘the pieces ‘work so well with the site’. Textile exhibitions do seem to be shown to advantage in the Crypt gallery, I think it’s the combination of non-white brick walls and the slightly derelict air of the place, as well as the fact that the works are separated into various sites and alcoves so each is shown to advantage without the distraction of other works near them. It certainly proved an excellent site for our exhibition.

Monday 15 July 2013

The fabric of memory

We had a good response to ‘The fabric of memory’ exhibition at the Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, last week with about 30 visitors a day; a mixture of textile people, artists, tourists and regular visitors to the crypt and church. The site is very sympathetic to textiles and the venue drew our work together very successfully. As well as the alcoves that framed each section of my work (see Escaping above), I also used the structure of the building to highlight the gradual return of memories and how they flood back using the metaphor of cloth and these tunnel like vents to the outside (see a detail of Exuding below).

Friday 12 July 2013

The fabric of memory: a busy day

I spent the day yesterday in the crypt - not a phrase you often have to use - stewarding ‘The fabric of memory’ exhibition at the Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London. We had a steady stream of visitors and it was great to chat to them and hear their comments on the work. The image above shows the entrance pasage with the work of Beverly Ayling-Smith and the image below shows Mediation by Gail Baxter hanging in one of the alcoves.

The exhibition runs until 14 July, from 11 am to 6 pm every day except Sunday when it closes at 4 pm so there is still plenty of time to come and visit.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

The fabric of memory: setting up

We set up ‘The fabric of memory’ exhibition at the Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London yesterday – it was pleasantly cool in the crypt despite the summer heat outside. I’ve set up three installations each with a photographic image and associate fabric – this one shows ‘Enlarging’ with an oversized ninepin lace edging escaping from the nail which is impaling it in the image. The theme for all my three installations is how memories overwhelm their site of containment. The other people exhibiting are Gail Baxter whose work considers absences and voids and Beverly Ayling-Smith who reflects on mourning and melancholy. The exhibition opens tomorrow (10 July) and runs until 14 July, it’s open from 11 am to 6 pm every day except Sunday when it closes at 4 pm.

Saturday 6 July 2013

The fabric of memory: preparations

I’m getting everything together for setting up ‘The fabric of memory’ exhibition at the Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London on Monday. I am putting up three installations each including a large photographic image and a piece of fabric or lace to accompany it. The image here shows my oversized ninepin edge which will be hanging from the ceiling in front of an image of a similar, but smaller, piece of lace. The underlying theme for the three installations is how memories overwhelm their site of containment. Also in the exhibition will be work by Gail Baxter considering absences and voids and work by Beverly Ayling-Smith dealing with mourning and melancholy. The exhibition will be open from 10 to 14 July and from 11 am to 6 pm.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Double screen: Wendy Ramshaw

This beautiful steel screen by Wendy Ramshaw was commissioned by the V&A and is on display there. The inner frame contains eight segments made from glass, wood, textile, metal, stone, paper, ceramic and plastic which symbolise the collections held in the V&A. She made it in 1997.

Monday 24 June 2013

Souzou: Outsider art from Japan

This exhibition at the Wellcome Collection celebrates the work of 46 self-taught artists living and working in social welfare facilities in Japan. Souzou means both creation and imagination in Japanese. I was most interested in the textile art but was also fascinated by some of the paintings. Noriko Tanaka’s ordered running stitches showed life and movement as did Toyo Hagino’s sewn geometrical shapes, while Yumiko Kawai’s three-dimensional breast-like shapes were intricate constructions. Other textile artists included Satoshi Morita who uses other people’s discarded thread ends to embellish blankets and Norie Shukumatani who couches threads to produce stylized images. As well as the textiles I found Norimitsu Kokubo’s fictional cityscapes fascinating. Each street and building is carefully rendered like a three-dimensional map and because they are so detailed I was amazed to find that the cities are fictional and not places that he has visited. One vast, densely worked, cityscape he is currently drawing is about 2 m high and will be 10 m long when it is finished. I also found Kenichi Yamazaki’s engineering drawings, incorporating points made by a compass, interesting, probably because they reminded me of lace prickings. Shingo Ikeda’s notebooks full of densely written figures and notes about subway journeys probably best summed up the art in the exhibition, it was all compulsive, dense and repetitive, and slightly uncomfortable because of that, but nevertheless fascinatingly beautiful.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Oriel Davies Gallery: Be our guest

I sent off my work to the Oriel Davies Gallery for the ‘Be our guest’ exhibition today. The exhibition is celebrating the bed and breakfast in many and various quirky ways. I’m showing a curtain entitled ‘Wish you were here’ pierced with a row of pins and needles in the tally pattern of counting units of five. Many people who use B&Bs are workers away from home and the tally marks on the curtain suggest that they are counting the days until they can return home. This misuse of pins also suggests the sharpness and pain of separation and subverts the cosy homeliness of the B&B. There are about thirty exhibitors and from the illustrations in the invitation there seem to be some very entertaining pieces. The exhibition opens on 29 June and ends on 4 September.

Thursday 13 June 2013

Beauty is the first test: a film by Electric Egg

As one of the five case studies in the Beauty exhibition I was videod in my studio last month by Steve and Neil from Electric Egg. They filmed me making lace, designing a pattern, winding bobbins, pricking a pattern and also interviewed me. They have now combined input from the five of us to produce a response to the theme of the exhibition and you can see it on Youtube or Vimeo. It gives a great idea of how craftspeople go about their work and shows how we all use maths in our practice and its fun working out whose hands you're seeing and whose voice you're hearing at any one time. The five case studies are Gail Baxter, David Gates, Stella Harding, Margo Selby, Carol Quarini. The film will be shown as part of the ‘Beauty is the first test’ exhibition which is at the National Centre for Craft & Design at Sleaford in Lincolnshire, until 30 June, it then tours to the Bilston Craft Gallery, Wolverhampton, from 7 September to 2 November, and will then be shown at the Platform Gallery, Clitheroe, from 16 January to 19 April 2014.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Light and line

This exhibition at Nottingham Castle brings together the work of Polly Binns and Anne Morrell. Although at first sight their work seems quite different because Polly works in muted cream tones and Anne mainly in vibrant colours, they are inspired by the same observed moments in the natural world, particularly tidal areas. I liked Polly’s recent work especially the ‘Tide worn’ series of muted dyed panels with simple stitching and seaming representing the intertidal area. Anne’s ‘Verdure’ panels also included simple running stitches and I did not appreciate their luminous quality until I moved down the gallery and saw them from a distance. I also liked her ‘Palimpset’ which includes gathering, cleverly shaped and stretched, so the gathers appear off set, like tidal marks on the shore. It is an interesting exhibition which highlights the connections between the two artists.

Saturday 8 June 2013

Gawthorpe Hall: lace exploration day

The Gawthorpe Hall lace collection is extensive, both in the number of items and its range. The bulk of the collection was made by Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth throughout the twentieth century and many of the pieces have her notes attached to them. Because Miss Rachel was a collector she obviously tried to find samples of all types of lace, so the collection is wide ranging and includes bobbin and needle lace as well as tambour and needle run laces. At the recent Lace exploration day we were shown lace from the sixteenth century through to the twentieth. Many of the pieces are exquisite including some lovely point de gaze, and a beautiful Duchesse flounce and lace dress panel, but some of the more simple samples are interesting for the techniques they show. It is a wonderful collection and it was lovely to have the chance to see so many interesting pieces.