Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Three weeks to still see…..

… and if you are in Edinburgh, two remarkable exhibitions at the Dovecot Studios. 


Woven yarn cascading down the stairwell.

Dovecot are an internationally known studio of weavers and rug makers, who since their inception in 1912, have made a point of working with contemporary artists of the day.  They are now based in the renovated Victorian baths in Edinburgh.  The space has been used in a very creative manner, allowing the public to get close to the weavers, while still retaining an air of calm concentration throughout.  This was a real nostalgia trip for me, as the building was still a swimming pool when I was a student.  

The first exhibition, " Follow the Thread" on the top floor is  a gallery of collaborative works between contemporary artists, to make bespoke rugs.  I loved this exhibition, although there are no more than 15 rugs on display, as there are full explanations of the rationale for each piece, and an explanation of how two of the most complex pieces were transferred from the painted image to the tufted rug.  The samples of blended yarns was particularly instructive and made me look much more closely at each finished surface.  No photography allowed so images of the rugs can be found here.    The weavers and tufters are working below as you go around the gallery, so there is a terrific understanding of how the pieces are made.

Downstairs, a much quieter, almost monotone exhibition" From Fleece to Fibre" charting the making of a tapestry of a painting by Victoria Crowe.  This tapestry has taken over a year to weave.  It is a masterpiece of understatement, and it is wonderful to now view both the front and the back, as the back is labelled with the names of the different sheep whose wool contributed to the final piece. 


 Much more challenging to see were two exhibitions at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, " Witches and Wicked Bodies".  I had been looking forward to this one, but found it all a bit samey and rather hard to concentrate on.  The preponderance of engravings, etchings and lithographs made it hard going and I wasn't really taken by many of the modern pieces.  Not a must-see for me.  Then across the road to see " From Death to Death and other Small Tales".  I suppose the clue should have been in the title, but this consisted of some very gory and odd pieces ( a comment in the visitor's book was apt and pithy - "usual conceptual kak"), so much so that it was a huge pleasure to go in to a room to a piece by Ernesto Neto, " It happens when the body is the anatomy of time".  I should have suspected that a piece of his was coming, as the whole exhibition was pervaded by the aroma of cloves, cumin and turmeric.


It really felt like meeting an old friend and brought back so many happy memories of this exhibition.  It is too boring to wonder what state that parquet will be in after having several kilos of turmeric on it for a few months?

Coming after a couple of days of skies like this, life is full of many good things.




Thursday, 22 August 2013

August journal, N16, I move to London


Commercial fabric, dyed with coffee, machine quilted with various threads.

I moved to Stoke Newington, which was not "up and coming" at that time.  Although the tube network is extensive, the only way I could get to work, at University College, in any reasonable time was by the 73 bus, hence the additional little red line between Holloway Road and Euston.  The red binding is to remind me of the bus and of my lab' work at that time, with hundreds of round petri dishes, growing blobs of muscle cells.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

There are works in progress….

… well as all of this gallivanting about.  Preparations for the next journal quilt, wherein I finally reach London.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Japanese loveliness

One of the advantages of working central London, is access to free, after-work talks and events.  They seem doubly free when you don't have to pay for a train ticket to get there - all psychological I know.  So yesterday evening, saw me at the Japan Foundation for a talk by several of the artists who are exhibiting at Cloth and Memory (2) at Salts Mill in Yorkshire.  The room was full to overflowing, and many of my lovely Morley friends were there.  Kim of Flextiles has put up a great blog post.

I was feeling a bit ambivalent about making the effort to go and see this exhibition, but it is now on my list of must-sees.  I missed the most recent exhibition" Lost in Lace" curated by the same curator, Professor Lesley Millar and have regretted it ever since.

Next up, hopefully, this talk on 16th September. 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

London Day Out

Although I am now back working in London, I still love a day out viewing art in venues new to me.  One of these explored today which, before I travelled there on public transport, I could not understand why I hadn't visited before , was Dulwich Picture Gallery, to see the exhibition A Crisis of Brilliance.  This was in preparation for some work on next year's Morley course, which will have a First World War theme.  The exhibition was just the right size, about 5 smallish rooms, drawings and paintings, and possible to get really close to the work.  Some of the pieces on display are very famous, like Stanley Spencer's self-portrait, but others are not so well known.  I loved the whole thing, and it reminded me how much I enjoy the work of the artists of that period, and those that cam a bit later, like Ravilious and Bawden.  

I'll be off to the Imperial War Museum next , particularly to see Paul Nash's painting " We are Creating a New World".


An unexpected bonus in the gardens were two ancient mulberry trees in full fruit, absolutely delicious but leaving murderous-lookng red stains on hands and lips.  I can see why these have never become a commercial crop.  Topped off by a coffee and a muffin in the wonderful cafe, a great morning.


Then off to the London Glassblowing Studio, stopping off en route to look at the vertiginous job of cleaning the windows on The Shard.



When we got the studio, Louis Thomson was making a piece.  The heat from the furnace was astonishing, and we were sitting well away.    Another refreshment break at the cafe of London Fashion and Textile Museum, but not enough time to visit the Zandra Rhodes exhibition.  Another wonderful day full of inspiration.


Thursday, 1 August 2013

CQGB Challenge, July, EHI, Royal Connections


July EH1 Royal connection

Experiments with colouring white sheeting with various crayons and pencils: Inktense pencils ( sky), Artbars ( skylight windows), watercolour paints( walls), watercolour crayons ( roof). Houses traced with biro, then quilted, both with walking foot and FMQ. Postcode quilted into the sky.

I think my favourite is the watercolour crayon as it just sinks into the cloth and then blends beautifully.

Edinburgh University had a large and varied portfolio of property available for rent by students. One of my last flats was on the Royal Mile, right next to Gladstone's Land,( owned by the National Trust for Scotland) and about 2 minutes walk up to Edinburgh Castle. It is now part of a set of luxury holiday flats, so presumably, no longer owned by the university.

I had a very, very small room, and it was still really difficult to keep it warm due to the stone walls and draughty, but authentic, windows.

CQGB Challenge, June, EH9, political awareness


Breakdown-printed recycled cotton sheeting as background, commercial stencil applied with Markal painsticks. Machine quilted with postcode and various quilting patterns, hopefully reflecting the ripples of positive change that can occur when individuals act together.

When I was a student it was in the turbulent late 70s. I went on several demonstrations and although never a member of a political party, I have continued to act on behalf of causes I believe in. I believe there is little point in moaning about something if you are not prepared to offer time, money or moral support to get it fixed.