Posts by Sara

Textiles and Prints Sicily @ the Exchange Gallery

Posted by on Jul 22, 2018 in Discussion, Exhibitions | 0 comments

The most persistent memory of our journey through Sicily is of the wild flowers – particularly the swathe of purple, blue and deep red of wild sweet peas that astonished us in the countryside near Gangi.    Another memory is the consistent hum of bees when we walked through fields or areas of vegetation on the hills. This is a  noise I have not heard in the UK for a long time, it brought back memories of childhood and feelings of regret for what we have lost, at least for the time being.   We essentially walked downhill from the centre to the sea but there were ups and downs on the way as we made our way over one of Sicily’s  ski-slopes (Piano Battaglia) and then over some expanses of rock.  The descent into Cefalu was beautiful – intermittently seeing the deep blue of sea in the distance, then some small boats, then a jet ski-er. As we got nearer there were more and more flowers again. We had a long walk along the front to get to our hotel – all the time we could see the cathedral towering above the town.  The highlight of Cefalu for us was the Duomo – a magnificent Norman building – built by King Norman II in 1131. It is set in a wonderful sloping square, which is filled with cafes and restaurants. The evenings were balmy and perfect for an evening glass of wine in front of the amazing building. It has the most wonderful Byzantine mosaic (we could only see the reproduction as it was being restored) of Christ which dominates an otherwise sparsely decorated building. There are many ancient lanes and a wide promenade stretches alongside the length of the sandy beach. The sea is safe for swimming, although rocky in parts and clearly draws Sicilians from a wide area on hot days.  It was a restorative place in which to rest after the walk.    ...

Read More

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. ...

Read More

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....

Read More

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.     ...

Read More

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...

Read More