Thursday, 25 March 2010

Windy day

I love this blustery image by Sybil Andrews.  It has so much dynamism to it.  I bought it as a card published by Art Angels.  It's an image from the collection at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Canada.  I really like this and thisSybil Andrews (1898-1992) developed her style in the 30's, influenced by Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism. 

I'm liking alot of printmaking at the moment, I also bought this by Linda Farquharson.  Oh no!  I've just discovered she's Scottish!  I'm not doing this on purpose I promise!!  I'm sure there are some wonderful artists living and working outside of Scotland!

I've been tracked down by a lady who is opening a gallery in Derbyshire later in the year.  She's asked if I'll do some work for the gallery and also if I can teach a workshop which is all very exciting.  It also means, I have to stop showing my inspirations and navel gazing and knuckle down to some work.

Wish you were here

"To be an artist is to believe in life."
Henry Moore

I received these two postcards this week, sent from the Henry Moore exhibition at Tate Britain.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

This picture?

This picture in my studio is by my fantastically talented husband.  His website features his illustration work but he is an amazing painter and this piece called "Wales" is one of my most treasured possessions.  And you can see from the juxtaposition of our work what a strong visual influence he has on me.

I've been in my studio making slow and steady progress on my tapestry weaving.  In my "How, why, when" post I didn't deal with why I weave.  You have to be nuts to be a weaver, see Monty Don's excellent programme on weaving for evidence!  It's a slow, often tedious process but it is true that the amazing sense of creating cloth from spools of yarn is very rewarding.  And creating cloth that has a narrative, even better.

In response to featuring Scottish artists I was reminded of the work of George Birrell.  Again a strong sense of colour and pattern prevails.

Back to the loom .....not much left to weave now.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

First day of Spring

It's the Spring Equinox this weekend when the days are now as long as the nights.  Heard the birds singing at dawn this morning and could feel the energy of the world.

I love white on white and when Selvedge magazine arrived I had to post this egg image by Katya de Grunwald.  So beautiful.

Happy Spring.

Friday, 19 March 2010

How, why, when?

Thanks for such a positive response to my website!  I've felt a bit vulnerable this week letting people know about the site and knowing that they've been clicking into my blog and the inner workings of my mind!  I've felt creatively supported and also feel that I can be more honest about who I am.  There have been lots of how, why and when questions that I thought I would try and answer.  I must admit to a bit of stage fright knowing that new people are tapping in to follow my creative journey.......hello.

I've already covered how I work in other posts on this blog, but I've not really covered how I research and collect inspiration.  Obviously, I'm an avid blog reader and that introduces me to other artists from all around the world.  I also sketch when I can, though mostly that has become the jotting down of a visual idea, an aide memoire of a visual experience.  I also keep notebooks of ideas, cuttings, postcards, tickets: anything that inspires a colour or technique.

Because of the eclectic nature of my work, I'm a bit of a hoarder.  I collect fabrics and cottons, tapestry yarns, papers and books.  I commit the sacreligious act of cutting up vintage books.  I love the weight of the paper and the matt finish on the print.  I scour car boot sales for vintage childrens' books and hardbacks with interesting jackets and endpapers.  The backgrounds of my collages are pastel paper, sometimes watercolour paper.  I find these are heavy enough to stitch into without creasing and tearing.

I'm very fortunate to have a room to call my own.  It's a box room and is referred to as "That room that Mummy makes things in"!  Also known as my studio.  I've always had my own creative area and this is probably the smallest I've had, but I love it.  It brings me a sense of calm to go in there, even when it's in a mess.  It smells of old books and I like to feel the textures of the things that are in there, personal treasures and photos from my life.

Why I do my work needed a bit of reflection.  All the way through childhood I made things and loved to draw.  I was supplied with materials and encouraged by my Mum.  She taught me to sew and we made bags and clothes.  When I was seven, my Mum and Stepdad made me a portfolio out of gingham fabric with pockets filled with art materials.  I was in heaven!

I grew up near London and trips to galleries were a frequent way to spend a Sunday.  First stop for me was the shop.  Even then I needed to buy postcards to put up as inspiration.  I think what I'm expressing is that art has always been a huge part of my life.  It's right there in my soul and has to be expressed.   I loved art college, especially my foundation year for the way my creativity was nurtured and challenged.  Later I specialised in woven textiles which gave my creativity discipline and the ability to see a project through.

Then came real life!  I realised that in order to live and work creatively, the work needed to be commercial, so I changed tack and sold designs for fashion, stationery and homeware.  I sold work, earnt an income but didn't feel that I was expressing myself.  That's when I found The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron: that became my bible!  In that I found the spiritual strength to express myself and to value my creativity.

I think that's a long winded way of saying I do it because I have to!  Because if I don't I feel empty.  Because when I create I feel a resonance with the universe and feel confident in myself and my place in the universe.

That doesn't mean it's always easy to get to that place!  I have a physical space to work in and a spiritual goal attached to that creative work.  I've manage to create spaces in the week for creative time, two mornings and one day on alternate weeks.  I work as quietly as I can when the kids are asleep and I blog when my youngest has his nap.  The reality is it's a juggle.  My house has huge dust balls roaming around it  (often mistaken for cats!).  I'm getting better but I have periods of time where I'm deeply frustrated.  I have the support of a wonderful husband and family.  They all realise that I'm a better wife, mother, person when I can be me......and oh I love them for that!

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier.  The way it works is the reverse.  You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do in order to have what you want."
Margaret Young

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Heralding the arrival of ....

A little bird would like to tell you that, with a trail of stars and space dust, my website has been launched into cyberspace and as dawn breaks this morning you can find me at  Hope you like it! x

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Spring has sprung

This lovely fresh, Spring image arrived on a flyer from St. Judes Gallery.  It features the work of printmaker Penny Bhadresa.  She has great compositions.  I like how she plays with scale and space.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Cultural challenges

It has become very easy to get my creative inspiration from tried and tested places.  I love it when Selvedge drops through my door every other month, I know that in AN magazine I'll find work that's conceptually challenging and my guilty pleasure is Country Living Magazine.  Then there are the galleries; I know where to tap into my comfort zone and see a reflection of my own work.  More recently, unless something is going to look pretty on my blog then it's not worth looking at!

And so it was a New Year resolution to seek out new experiences and new places.  Following on from seeing a BBC4 documentary about the Cuban music scene, I got last minute tickets to see Danza Contemporanea de Cuba at Nottingham Playhouse.  Wow! What an experience! 

Contemporary dance isn't normally my thing and for a few minutes I did think I would get the giggles, as I did when I saw a contemporary opera.  But I was blown away.  It helped to be watching twenty one of the world's most beautiful and talented dancers.  I was taken by the mood, the colour, the strength and beauty of the dancers.  In three acts; the first was intense and discordant,  the second lyrical and passionate and the third dynamic and powerful.  Infused with global dance traditions, it was utterly compelling.  I've not felt a part of such a responsive audience for a long time.  A standing ovation was given to shouts of  "Viva Cuba!"

So now it's Monday and I'm back in the studio with the pressure of producing some new work for the Beetroot Tree Gallery.  In my minds eye there's the colour and movement from the dance, and also the colour and movement from the stained glass artists featured in Monty Don's BBC2 programme on Master Craftsmen.  One experience from the comfort of the sofa, one from outside of the box.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


Just a quickie!

I also came across this which reminded me of the idea of museum collections discussed below.

Oh, and I love this!


When I was looking for my drawings from St.Ives, I found this.  I'd forgotten about this sketchbook.  I remember being inspired by Elizabeth Blackadder and a series of work where she painted her still life arrangements looking down on them.  It gave the objects a reverence, as if they were catalogued in a museum drawer.  I've been collecting objects for a series of still lifes and I think I'll revisit this style, drawing in ink, perhaps with paper collage.

Elizabeth Blackadder, Still life with Pagoda, Screenprint 1998

Craigie Aitchison, Still life vase and flowers, 2009

Elizabeth Blackadder is a Scottish artist and I've realised I have a real affinity with twentieth century Scottish art and Scottish contemporary textile artists.  I'm not sure I can link their work, except that there is a strong sense of colour (Blackadder, Craigie Aitchison, Jo Barker) and  narrative (Lynne Curran) which appeal.  I think overriding those is the sense of design.  My work is abstracted from reality, it is designed from a collection of elements that appeal for their shape, colour, or pattern.  These elements are simplified or heightened and I envisage the overall look and colouring of the piece before I start it.

Ooh, all that introspection.....I feel quite inspired to go and draw!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Picasso and my Dad

I found this little book on Picasso, tucked away on one of my book cases.  It has some lovely plates, I'm inspired by the pallette of colours and the combining of paint and collage.  I've always liked the strong sense of structure in paintings in the Cubist style.

The book is a Methuen imprint from 1957 and it's got my Dad's name inside.  I imagine he bought it later than that, in the 60's when he was an architecture student at Canterbury.  Like him, I have a love of structure, though mine is expressed through the structure of cloth, hence the weaving.  I was given one of his drawings recently.  Chosen from a selection, I chose this one as the language of drawing closely echoed my own; distilling the image down to essential lines.

It's here!

I've spent the week ill but seem to have come through it now and come through winter.  The days are noticably longer and my world seems to be waking up.  There's an energy outside and my soul can hear the plants growing. I've had my fingers in the soil this weekend and it's been rejuvenating.  More colour is creeping in too.  Yesterday I stared at the sky and felt that I was seeing blue for the first time.

"Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see.  The question is whether or not we are in touch with it.  We don't have to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky.  We don't have to leave our city or even our neighbourhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child.  Even the air we breath can be a source of joy."

Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step
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