Posts by Sara

Textiles at the Oceania Exhibition – Royal academy

Posted by on Oct 14, 2018 in Clients, Discussion | 0 comments

  The Oceania exhibition brings together the greatest collection of art from the island cultures dotted across the Pacific Ocean, Micronesia, Polynesia and  Melanesia. The Pacific occupies a huge area,  over a third of the earth’s surface. It includes Hawaii, New Zealand and New Guinea. The exhibition is hugely affecting with strong, graphic statues and carvings – their influence on Western 20th century artists like Picasso and Henry Moore are clear to see.  Most of the artworks were traded rather than stolen stemming from a culture of gift giving amongst the Pacific peoples who would give to visitors they wished to continue to trade with. The fantastic artistry and craft skills of some of the gifts – like barkcloth – were not fully appreciated by some recipients like Captain Cook.  Barkcloth (or tapa cloth) is made by hammering wet bark on an anvil repeatedly until it forms very thin sheets – it is often mistaken for paper and (apparently) has a soft, pliant feel. In the Pacific the bark used comes from the breadfruit or mulberry tree. The cloth is then decorated by being dyed in intricate geometric patterns. In the Oceania exhibition the pieces displayed reminded me of patchwork quilts. Originally they were used as wall hangings and were part of the important  ceremonies around births, deaths and marriages.   The barkcloth is simply stunning – although (of course) you cannot touch it you sense that it is soft and pliable, delicate yet strong. I’m going back to the exhibition and will take a better picture next time....

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Textiles – the dangers to us all of textile misuse

Posted by on Oct 8, 2018 in Discussion | 0 comments

Textiles – the dangers to us all of textile misuse

Fewer clothes and re-use and repair Good to see Stacey Dooley’s  reminder of how much damage to the planet we are doing in our failure to use textiles responsibly. She also demonstrates the problems that making lovely, fresh cotton does to the planet. I don’t know about you but I always thought of cotton as an organic, natural product. Of course it is a plant but it takes so much water and so many toxic chemicals to process cotton that we cannot go on as we are.  We need to go back to making quilts from the original components – scraps and remnants of clothes or reusing good areas of partly worn clothes, instead of generating new cotton that we then cut up to make new pieces of material.  There are manufacturers – like Patagonia – which make a huge effort to manufacture responsibly. Of course their clothes are more expensive but they do last longer so requiring less use of raw materials and environmentally sustainable.  This was the original aim of OLSA to use textiles more sustainably and we’re about to revamp our website to show more of our use of material that would otherwise go to landfill. Perfectly good material that would otherwise go to landfill. ...

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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.    ...

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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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