I have recorded here some of the stages of my most recent embroidery, completed this week, and would welcome your comments. The drawing was done in central Spain near Covarrubias last summer. I hav…
I have recorded here some of the stages of my most recent embroidery, completed this week, and would welcome your comments. The drawing was done in central Spain near Covarrubias last summer. I have shown some of the stitching as it develops, explaining the processes that resulted in this final piece, a Spanish landscape that contrasts strongly with my gentler South Downs pieces.
Here is the drawing, A4, pencil, pastels, watercolour pencils, and pen.
The planning stage with mainly Madeira threads, Natesh and Wonderfil added later
I draw a few main lines directly onto the painters canvas, stitch them in and then turn to the back as most of the work is done with cable stitch. This technique means putting threads that are too heavy to go through the eye of the needle on the bobbin. I stitch on the reverse side of the canvas, couching down the heavy threads to give long, uninterrupted lines of threads- the next image shows me workimg from the back. The top thread colour is important as it affects the bobbin thread adding new colours to the piece eg the bright red is couching down a heavy metallic copper underneath.
I have to keep turning to the front, shown next, to make sure I’m happy with what I’m doing, but as the bobbin runs out every 3 minutes I get plenty of opportunity to correct any errors and add any fine details. You can see below that the fabric starts to move and undulate. I “go with the flow” in the hope I can control the final results!
-and here it is, 24cm x 35cm approx. The drawing is only ever a guide, as once I start stitching, the thought processes and techniques take over. I never try to copy my sketches, but aim to translate and interpret. Hope you found this useful and interesting!
My first entry for 2017 and it’s a look at my sketchbooks in the 90s. All the drawings here are from 1991-92 and there’s quite a change of direction. I started looking at architecture and architectural features, so here are drawings from France and Spain. I also show two embroideries that evolved from the drawings.
Beach Umbrellas, Costa Brava.( machine embroidery onto muslin) The embroidery came after making about six drawings. The first, which is the delicate pencil drawing below, was made in situ on the beach. Then I made several others, extracting shapes and lines until I felt I was ready to stitch. The final piece in no way copies my drawings but I hope shows the developing ideas
I visited France on a field trip with students, Chartres and the Matisse chapel at Vence were just two venues. Here are some designs I did after looking at Matisse’s amazing windows.( the on site sketches are difficult to show here) I eventually did a series of embroideries based on stained glass but with my own take! So you see. I didnt always makw landscapes! Art evolves all the time– The embroidery below was onto calico that I painted and then stitched.
Some more drawings from my 1980s sketchbooks to look at, from a garden in France to a student field trip to Munich via Garmisch Partenkirchen. I did not always draw with end products in mind, but to record where I was, what I was thinking and so on. Many pages are too messy or sketchy to put here, but I’ve found a few that show my journey They are shown in chronological order . Next post-the 90s! The first drawing was made in a garden in Cesson, France 1982. One of my followers might recognise the venue!
All drawings approx 20cm x 18cm French garden 1982 Detail followed by full page .
The alps at Garmisch in 1986 and yes it was cold drawing outside so it was done very quickly!
Fruit bowl 1985, pencil and coloured pencils, drawing what’s in front of whilst the TV was on
This is a pastel drawing from 1989. I was looking at landscapes and playing with potential ideas for embroidery. I did work up a series, but only have a couple on old fashioned slides!
In 1989 we seemed to keep coming across standing stones, dolmens, rocky formations on our travels, so lots of drawings did lead to a series of works in handmade pulp with additional stitch and fibres. Here’s a drawing and one of the final pieces which I made for an exhibition in 1990. The drawing uses pastel and a tippex pen
see you in the 90s next time!
With over 35 years of sketchbooks in my studio I decided to look back to see what I was doing at various times during my career. It has been somewhat revelatory! I drew differently, often more boldly, without holding back, used a wider variety of media, and frequently explored ideas that I thought I could use with my students. Back in the 80s with a fulltime lecturing post and a young family, I did make my own work, and had several exhibitions in the south of England, but I have no real record of those in visual terms. Do take a look at my drawings and ideas from the 1980s. You might be as surprised as I was!
This is from 1986. I photocopied some images, including pieces by Henry Moore, cut fragments up, pasted them down, then drew freely from them, inventing a surreal landscape. It was an exercise I did quite often, I found several in different books during this decade. I did quite a lot of mono printing and also batik at this time.
Here’s a more formal drawing from 1983 and its one of the few drawings I remember doing. On a field trip with students to Florence and Venice, on a cold, rainy March day, I sat in the Duomo in St Marks Square, and drew what was in front of me. You can see the date in the bottom lefthand corner. Its bolder and more direct compared to my current architectural studies and stays in the memory far longer than a photo!
The following mixed media piece shows me playing with pastels and pencils, thinking about land and sea in an abstract way. Its dated 1986. I did a lot of papermaking at this time, and this would have been part of my thought processes. I rather like it!
We spent several years as a family on a gite in France in Brittany. Here’s a drawing I’d totally forgotten, of the lake at Le Lendu. 1987 Pencil, pen and pastel
and finally, from my 1989 sketchbook, an abstracted drawing from a friend’s garden using pastels. Now I’m thinking I need to look at these again and start stitching from them! More to follow in my next post–
Four weeks away from home in our favourite Spanish haunts gives plenty of time for drawing, absorbing and thinking about art. Each area we visit has its own charms, from the sierra south of Salamanca, to Sepulveda and Covarrubias, both stunning little medieval towns, and finally to Isla in Cantabria in the north. Here are a few drawings that might simply act as my visual diary, or could lead to further work on stitching on my sewing machine. I have 35 years of sketch books in my studio. Maybe in my next post I will revisit some of those.
Las Batuecas, parque nacional de la Sierra de Francia
The road from Santo Domingo de Silos to Covarrubias
and our favourite beach in Isla in Cantabria
I am really lucky to be demonstrating and exhibiting at what is going to be the very last Art in Action at Waterperry, in Oxfordshire from July 13th-17th. This extraordinary event was started 40 years ago and has gone from strength to strength. It is surely the best of its kind in the UK and will be sorely missed. Where else can you see hundreds of artists working in every media imaginable, showing you how they create their work, alongside concerts, performances and lectures all held in the stunning grounds at Waterperry. So if you havent got a ticket and can make it come along and see it, its your last chance! You can even watch a flamenco performance this year! So if you come along you will find me in the textiles Demonstrators Marquee working on my sewing machine!
I’ve been busy making new pieces all year, from small portfolio ones to a range of stitched and framed canvases. Here are two of the smaller pieces.
“An Abundance of Poppies” 12cm x 15cm aprox (South Downs UK)
“Amber Glow” 11cm x 14 cm approx (Spanish memories)
It’s been a busy few weeks for me with some great promotion. Firstly my first spread in an Australian magazine, TFF (Textile Fibre Forum) #122 June 16, which shows the way in which my work has changed and progressed over 40 years of making and exhibiting, and then a piece from the wonderful Diana Springall collection of contemporary embroidery was featured and discussed on “MAKE! Craft Britain”, an hour long programme presented by Martha Kearney, on mainstream UK TV BBC4 June 9th 2016. This foray into the world of stitching set about de-bunking the theory that embroidery is craft rather than art, and Diana eloquently explained why Britain is still at the fore of embroidery. From the mid 1950s art schools taught embroidery students alongside the painters and sculptors. Students had to draw, and had to acquire the same skills as well as heir own technical expertise, and I was lucky enough to study at Goldsmiths Art School in the mid-late 60s in this way. Drawing has been fundamental to my own personal progress in textile art, and I have all my sketchbooks since 1980 in my studio, a permanent reference library, as well as a visual diary.
Here is Spanish Lavender, the piece featured on the TV progamme, 43cm x53cm approx.
and here one of my many drawings
The owners of this terrific website have started producing ebooks for sale. This is such a good idea, bringing the world of contemporary textiles to a wide audience at very affordable prices. I am delighted to say that I have a chapter in their most recent book, A Response to Landscape. This includes some fabulous work by other artists so well worth taking a look. I’ve now created a new PAGE here on my blog called http://www.textileartist.org which has links to several books including the aforementioned one. Do take a look.
In the meantime here are some of the images of mine that you can see. I talk about the way in which landscape has been a major influence on my life and my work. Both these images are based on the South Downs where I live. A summers day catching glimpses of poppies in the distance, and the Downs near Goodwood, which I see as soon as I start to travel north out of my home town Chichester
I wrote about my work for the Capability Brown Festival in my last entry, explaining how Petworth House in West Sussex was my inspiration, but this was not the first time I had used this beautiful venue for my work. Back in 1997 I relinquished my post as principal lecturer in the Fine Art department at Chichester University in order to free lance and concentrate purely on making my own work. This was a pretty scary step at the time, waking up each day with no timetable and no commitments other than going ot my studio to stitch! I began to apply for anything that looked possible for textile art, and saw a Festival of Craftmanship advertised. This was being organised by the Surrey Guild with Crafts Council support. Nothing venture, nothing gained, they wanted applications for commissioned pieces. I had carried out a commission for St Richards hospital in Chichester earlier in 1997, and this had been the catalyst that made me stop teaching. The brief for the commissions was to make work inspired by Petworth as the festival was to be held there in 1998. I was delighted when my ideas and designs were accepted.
As you will see from the images that follow, my work was completely different nearly 20 years ago! At that point architecture was the theme I had been working with, so the house provided me with wonderful starting points. I made a diptych (approx 55cm x 130 cm) each panel for the commission, and made several more pieces that explored architectural features in Chichester and Petworth. I don’t have really good photos of the work, but I think the following gives a clear idea. Here is the diptych where you can see the architectural features of the house and gardens, followed by a detail.
drawings of building features
and finally one of the other embroideries I made which I still have at home! September Haze, Petworth, 76cm x 60cm approx