Textiles & Prints

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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Textiles and Prints; both at Matisse in the Studio

Posted by on Sep 20, 2017 in Discussion, Exhibitions, News | 0 comments

One thing you must do this autumn – sunlight and inspiration Make sure you go to https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/matisse-in-the-studio – it’s a wonderful exhibition of an eclectic mix of artworks and the objects that inspired them.      Jonathan Jones, writing for The Guardian  said the exhibition was less about art and more about the creative process (as if this was a fault). For me, and anyone else studying art, it makes it even more important to see it not once but many times. Mr Jones felt that the exhibition amounted to ‘genius crowded out by bric a brac.’   As a lover of bric-a-brac myself this would also be an attraction – a genius’ s bric-a brac collection, what could be more appealing? It is so much more – Matisse’s beloved object that he carried around throughout his life and with which he populated his studio – old friends themselves- are transformed into some of his most famous works.  Laura Cumming describes it much better for me – ‘a few of his favourite things’ ….’reused, reworked, transformed into new phrases and poems’ To  see how much-loved possessions, everyday things,  that Matisse had lived with and had studied  over many  years were transformed into great inspiring art that has come to be part of our lives. The creative process is in some ways a mystery to be entered into rather than understood. Some feel it can never be understood. I have now worked with two artists at West Dean – Sarah MacCrae (jeweller and silversmith) and Kate Boucher – who both use processes to work through an idea and develop it into the beginning of a finished artwork.  Both suggest taking an image, then concentrate on one area and then working into it. Perhaps drawing it twice as large, or half as big, drawing it upside down. The image then becomes yours and you make choices about...

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Art in Verona: not a print in sight.

Posted by on Sep 9, 2017 in Discussion | 0 comments

Visited the Torre dei Lamberti today  – a wonderful climb to spectacular views over Verona. I cannot think of any tall building of today, built with many more aids to design and construction, that matches it for beauty and grandeur. There are so many of these astounding buildings in Italy (think Siena) – this one essentially built to show off the wealth and power of one family.  Trying to work out what it is that makes it so imposing and yet attractive is harder than it should be. There is its age (started in 1172)  the warmth and solidity of the brick work, which alternates with tufa. This is a soft porous rock, a limestone, made of calcium carbonate which was supplanted by travertine or marble in many later Italian buildings. It is reassuring and magnificent at the same time.  A work of art that is part of the fabric of every life.  It was added to over many years and houses two great bells, the Rengo and Marangona, which regulated city life.  You can look out over the city, orientating yourself with ease, the Via Mazzini, the Via Stella, the station in the distance. The ancient part blending well with the newer areas over the river.  We came down from the Tower and climbed the great gothic staircase, the, Scala della Ragione, (stairs of reason)  to the Palazzo della Ragione, which houses the new gallery of modern art.  The buildings around it are so ancient that I wondered what modern would mean – but it was a very interesting exhibition in stunning surroundings. Light and airy and with plenty of space giving the exhibits – paintings and sculptures – room to be seen at their best.  It made me ask what makes an artist become famous all over the world, a household name – so many of these were distinguished but not widely known.  It was also clear how important art was to the modern Italians to express the tensions, the horrors, the joys of becoming a nation and then being asked to ‘return to order’ during the second world war.  ‘The Manifesto del Realism di Pittori e Scultura’  (The Manifesto of Realism in Painting and Sculpture.’) was a protest against this and Emilio Vendova an important voice in the idea that art was part of protest and politics.  In times of turbulence and violence art is part of the debate. ...

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Drawing with Kate Boucher

Posted by on Jun 11, 2017 in News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Back to the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at West Dean College – fantastic teaching in a beautiful setting.  Today we were discovering how to use charcoal to draw landscapes – and also thinking about how we discover new ideas.  Kate Boucher is a QEST scholar and has thought deeply about how we have creative ideas (i.e. what sparks them in the first place) and how we develop them, as well as being a fine artist in textiles, forged steel and charcoal. She is also a wonderful teacher and full of ideas as well as practical ways to approach creating a piece of art.  Today was incredibly useful –  we used one photograph over and over again as an inspiration for charcoal drawings, sometimes combined with watercolour and /or graphite We learned: not to use the charcoal like a pencil but to use it on its side, or held loosely at the end of piece exploiting its natural properties rather than trying to make it work like something it is not. It is a an organic material, essentially a twig.  the difference between conte and willow charcoal, the former being compressed with a binder and less likely to splinter or crumble to use our fingers to apply watercolours (not to apply charcoal or to smear charcoal as the sweat and proteins shed by our fingers makes the charcoal less amenable to being rubbed away) to use cotton cloths to both remove or attenuate or  spread charcoal out on the page in a thin almost luminous layer to use rubber erasers to remove charcoal – both putty rubbers and hard rubbers.  There are even subdivisions of rubber erasers within these subdivisions – they make very different ‘marks’  to time ourselves to take actions and experiment within limited parameters and with limited equipment so that we explore the idea to its limits  to spend 1- 5 minutes only on each sketch  to deckle our paper with a wooden knife (very effective) to organise ourselves so there is minimum time between having an idea and finding the equipment to execute it! (note to self, get organised) All in all a wonderfully useful day – and the idea of exploring how we come to a creative idea and then do we begin to understand how we want to use it that idea.  I will certainly use what I learned today in my textile work …a few images below. ...

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