Textiles & Prints

Textiles and Prints: Exchange Gallery

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in Exhibitions | 0 comments

Very pleased to be at The Exchange Gallery Saffron Walden again – exciting to have so many comments in the book from different people relating  to different aspects of the work on show.  The work below is mostly made of wood with textile and metal flowers, giant and disproportionate – conjured up by the mysterious forests of the Parco  Delle Madonie.  The exhibition was inspired by a ‘Journey though Sicily – from the Centre to the Sea,’ which I did with my husband in 2017, guided by the superb Alternative Travel Group (ATG). We started in the Parco Delle Madonie, full of wild flowers, amazing rock formations and wildlife and walked downhill, in leisurely fashion,  to the delightful seaside town of Cefalu on the coast.  We fell in love with this country of wonderfully friendly people who  have a rich culture influenced by Europe, Asia and Africa.  I used a number of techniques new to me to produce the prints. One I particularly liked was viscosity printing.   In this a printing plate is constructed in a similar way to a collagraph i.e. a number of  materials of different textures are glued to mountboard and then varnished,  to produce a three dimensional effect when inked up and put through a press.   Lots of materials can be applied to the plate and it’s fun being able to use packaging and odd bits of detritus from everyday life. The old fashioned textured wallpaper, plain white, can provide very interesting printing surfaces.  Fine sandpaper is good too, and the strong, plastic net that is sometimes put round bottles. The board can also be cut and scraped, leaves, tape or fabric applied. It is good to get at least three different layers in viscosity printing to get a variety of tonal effects with both intaglio and relief methods of printing.  The inks are of different viscosities and so do not layer over each other but rather repel so that different colours are possible in different areas.    This print of some of the historic buildings in Cefalu – particularly the fine Norman Duomo, is made from different sorts of wallpaper, cardboard packaging, sandpaper and cutting into the board.  More about Cefalu tomorrow – it is a beautiful place to visit. ...

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Art as Truth – really?

Posted by on Apr 9, 2018 in Discussion | 0 comments

Art as Truth – really?

Going to the King and Collector Exhibition made me think again about the idea that art is a truthful  occupation. Not invariably I would say. Sometimes it can be a way of constructing a very deceptive front.   King Charles I’s own collection of artwork, commissioned by him, conjured up an image of a rich, peaceful kingdom governed by a serene monarch. Nothing in fact, could be further from the truth. A bitter civil war was in prospect or actually taking place during reign, he was a poor ruler and constantly raising money for ill-thought out campaigns. If we had only his private art collection we would consider his time on the throne to be serene, surrounded by a beautiful and accomplished wife and attractive children, the landscape untroubled by any  clouds of foreboding.  It reminded me of the uses of social media, where by posting appropriate photographs and texts a ‘curated’ life can be presented which is very much at odds with reality. One which can elevate social position and standing or be of use in ‘networking.’ Ultimately things ended very badly for Charles I – his death was violent and horrible. I wondered whether he had ever considered the possibility that his actions were stirring up such hatred and anger.  I have even read some articles that have drawn parallels between Brexit and the Civil War, there are a few about by historians and journalists  and there certainly seem to be some similarities – though I obviously hope they stop at voting patterns and strength of feeling, and that we are able to settle differences more peacefully. The repercussions are likely to be as long-lived.  The three pictures in one portrait of Charles I were meant to help Bernini create an accurate sculpture of the king – even to have a sculpture made required the permission of the Pope. I guess they had a very clear understanding of the powerful impact of image....

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Textiles and prints : King and Collector exhibition at the RA

Posted by on Apr 7, 2018 in Discussion | 0 comments

Charles King and Collector  – Exhibition at RA I visited the wonderful and thought-provoking exhibition of the royal art collection of Charles I, soon to end at the Royal Academy, much of it reunited for the first time since the sale of the collection after the King’s death. A good way to see beautiful art and brush up (or learn) history. It was surely a seismic event for the king to be beheaded and then, only eleven years later, for the new king to be installed, the monarchy restored, yet now this tumultuous and painful period in history can be summed up in a couple of lines. Would his older brother Henry – apparently ‘brilliant’ and ‘charismatic’ have made a better fist of things?  Charles I was  a weak and capricious king – now it’s hard to understand how he could be so consistently dim and utterly incompetent, endlessly provoking Parliament unnecessarily. The Duke of Buckingham seemed to be able to make crass mistake after crass mistake without the king realising what a liability he was. George Villiers (named in a number of roads round London) was eventually assassinated. Whatever his limitations as a king, Charles had  a deep appreciation of art and had a sophisticated strategy to collect great pieces. He was inspired by a visit to the Court of Spain during some protracted and ultimately futile marriage negotiations, to emulate his host and start collecting in earnest. He then took on professional advisers and bought discerningly and well.  Charles’  collection ranged from tapestries to miniatures. There are some wonderful Hans Holbein portraits  – drawings and paintings. The faces are full of character and individuality,  you feel they could easily break into speech and possibly have life beyond the paper or wood.   Charles was well served by his court painter, Anthony van Dyck. There is not even a hint that things were not well with the monarch and his realm from the serenity of the paintings. It was sad to see that Van Dyck died so young – his last self-portrait again betrayed nothing of the nearness of his death – he looked carefree and healthy. He clearly had an eye for the commercial (good for him) and focused on portraiture because it was so much better paid than, for example, printmaking. Apparently his plates were used and copied for many years after his death. Like all blockbusters, the exhibition was quite crowded but the size of the rooms at the RA lessens the impact of this and enable the huge pieces – like the Mantegna ‘Triumph of Caesar’ – to be shown in a way that trumpets their magnificence.  Go quickly – it ends soon.     ...

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Textiles and prints: Michael Brennand-Wood.

Posted by on Jan 23, 2018 in News | 0 comments

Textiles and prints: Michael Brennand-Wood.

Michael Brennand-Wood, extraordinary teacher. I’ve been on two courses taught by Michael Brennand-Wood at West Dean College now.  I quickly understood why so many of the group were people who had come on his courses before. Michael is simply a superb teacher as well as a distinguished artist who has lead the development of textile art for many years.  I have worked on a wooden frame (skilfully prepared by the workshop at West Dean) on both courses I have done with Michael. This time we had quite a chunky frame which I remembered to paint before hand. (It’s more difficult once you have attached your textiles). I decorated it with some upholstery trim that probably dates from the 1960s.  I found it at a charity shop some years ago in Honiton, a town once famous for its hand-made lace.  It is an extra joy when something you bought in the hope of using it in the future, eventually finds a useful place. This particular trim (brown with a golden decorative braid) made the wood look like an old-fashioned heavy gold picture frame. Very pleasing.  Ideas I originally wanted to construct an enchanted forest – using some images I had developed on previous drawing days.  These original ideas were  boxes with flowers hanging downwards and painted sides. Michael helped me build a theatre – shaped construction this time. The wooden frame looked like a proscenium arch – and cried out for a back drop. I prepared a forest floor from a piece of wood cut to size in the workshop. The back was constructed of plywood, distressed and coloured by layers of ink and paint. Some visitors looked rather surprised to see all the hammering, drill work, sanding and screw driving being done in a textile workshop! Textiles.  I made flowers out of hammered aluminium sheets petals from material shaped by a stiffening medium. I found the best way of shaping them into flower shapes was to use a mould made of flexible thin sheets of wire.  More...

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Textiles and prints; Happy New Year 2018

Posted by on Jan 20, 2018 in Exhibitions, News | 0 comments

Textiles and prints; Happy New Year 2018

I’m really pleased to start the New Year with two exhibitions in prospect. One with Will Dyke Printmaking (based in Chichester) and one a solo exhibition at the Exchange Gallery, Saffron Walden in June/July.  I have been inspired by the wonderful holiday I had in May 2017 in Sicily.  Nick and I walked from ‘the Centre to the Sea’ (Cefalu) using an independent walking route (helped by an excellent route book)  worked out by The Alternative Travel Group in Oxford. It was the most wonderful experience, walking on ancient, remote byways across country, always knowing you had the back up of an knowledgeable local guide when needed.  The most powerful memory was the profusion of colourful wild flowers, startling in their vibrant colours. I was immediately reminded of Botticelli’s ‘Spring’ suddenly seeing its accuracy as well as its beauty.  The sweet peas were the most memorable flowers. Quite unlike the rather spindly specimens that are cultivated in the UK. These deeply coloured flowers were tall, strong, magnificent. The perfume was amazing: we walked round a corner and there were hundreds upon hundreds of deeply coloured flowers and the air full of a sweet heaviness.  When I came home I made a photo stencil of one image and then printed it out in different colours. I worked into the print with pastels and watercolours to get as near as possible to the impact that the flowers had made on us. The joy went on,  working on the print (posterised using photoshop) brought back the very happy memories of suddenly seeing the wonderful vision of the flowers covering the...

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Textiles and prints : layers of colour

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in Discussion | 0 comments

Textiles and prints : layers of colour

Life is complicated. Illness makes it more so.  Although everyone dreads illness, few are able to empathise.  I have been working on a survey for lupus UK with some academic colleagues from Hull. We are trying to find out more about the impact of SLE (lupus)  on the ability to work and to find solutions to the very real difficulties.  SLE is like a tiger stalking you all the time, just out of sight, then springing out and attacking you. Low level tension continuously then sudden bursts of fear and pain.  First SLE is unpredictable – you never know where you are on the continuum of health and illness. If you are feeling good you are never quite sure how long it will last – you hope it will last for ever but know that a spurt of cytokines, a collection of microbes an overdose of sun and your immune system is on the go again.  Lupus hides,  it is invisible. No-one knows (or possibly believes) you are ill unless you actually fall over. Fatigue is a major symptom. Everyone thinks they know what it is like to be tired – they do, that is not fatigue. Fatigue does not improve with rest and yet infiltrates activity, making it eventually impossible. You need to rest but do not feel better for doing so. This survey is already helpful. It has shown that many of us with LUPUS feel these things. Where does art come in? It probably sounds daft to say that creativity can help  overcome illness.  At times it is impossible for me to create anything at all.  The physical side of creativity is rarely discussed but it is of major importance to me. A limiting factor. It is hard work being in a studio and trying to finish something.  This image is a screen print onto cloth. It is the sort of image I return to again and again. Layers of colour – tangled up with each other. Areas with two colours, no colours, one colour one on another.  Like the layers of LUPUS....

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