Exhibition Visit: New Quilting, Rheged

My friend, Margaret, and I went to see the New Quilting exhibition earlier in the week. It was hosted by the Rheged Centre in Cumbria and runs until Sunday 23 April 2017.

There were a variety of styles of quilting, from art quilts to historical pieces from the Helbeck Hall collection, and some three-dimensional work. As ever, the lighting was rather dim to preserve the textiles, so my photographs have a yellowish tinge to them.

I have been a fan of Elizabeth Brimelow‘s work for a number of years, and was pleased to see that she had several pieces of work in the exhibition. She is interested in landscape, especially nature, history, and the effects of farming on land. Her work begins with drawings, that are then translated into textiles through stitch and fabric manipulation.

Elizabeth Brimelow, Round Meadow, (silk fabric, labels, hand & machine stitch, hand quilting, knotting).

This piece was described by the artist as “… a journey through my sketchbooks …”, and featured plants, ponds, land features etc on a narrow band of fabric, which was coiled into a spiral for display. I would love to have seen it uncoiled to appreciate all the little details. As well as an unusual way of presenting work, it is a wonderful visual diary of all the things the artist has taken the trouble to observe, draw and stitch.

Elizabeth Brimelow, 461 Days – A Slice Of My Life, (fabric, card, stitch)

This long, concertina book had a scrap of fabric and a brief written note to represent each of the 461 days of the diary. Another interesting idea for making a personal journal.

Elizabeth Brimelow, Mellow Yellow (silk, appliqué, reverse appliqué, hand and machine stitch, fused, hand knotted)

I feel that this quilt relates to the coursework that I am doing at the moment: drawing plants (autumn fruit, leaves and berries, in this case) and combining them in a textile; using a variety of techniques and marks to represent the objects.

Sara Impey‘s quilts feature free-motion sewing machine stitched text as an integral part of the design.

Sara Impey, Social Fabric

This quilt told the imagined story of the piece of antique mattress cloth that the artist had found at a car boot sale. Sara ponders on its significance, its previous owner, and what it went through to end up at a car boot sale. She states that the associated memories make our possessions unique. I thought that this gave poignancy to what could have been an overlooked or discarded piece of cloth, and it underlines the way an item’s history can affect the way we see it and feel about it.

It reminded me of Julie Arkell’s French market find of a scrap of ribbon with the word ‘MAMAN’ embroidered on it. It conjures up the image of child carefully making a hand-sewn gift for her mother, which was then treasured for many years before eventually ending up in a house clearance, being sold at a market and finding a new, appreciative owner. It gives this tiny scrap of fabric and thread immense meaning beyond its constituent parts.

julie arkell maman ribbon

Source: Julie Arkell, Home, exhibition catalogue, Ruthin Art Gallery, 2004, p36 (detail).

Kate Dowty is a new artist to me. She has a background in graphic design and her works are all wall hangings with a focus on colour and texture. I loved the colour palette of this quilt, inspired by the music of Miles Davis and the artist’s ‘Winter blues’. I feel that it captures emerging from the dark days of winter, along with the improvisation of jazz music well. The beautiful indigo colour is enlivened by the textures of the different types of fabric patches and the dense stitch. The red lends a sense of electricity and makes me think of ideas fizzing into being.


Kate Dowty, Out of The Blues (fabric collage, machine stitch)

This piece had raw edge patches and was not ‘finished’ at the edges. As a personal preference, I like the image to go all the way to the edge of the quilt without a border, so this appealed to me. I am always interested to see how the quilts are constructed, and another quilt by this artist, Everything Connects, seemed to be made up of small units, which had then been sewn together at the end (much easier to handle under the sewing machine, from a practical point of view!).

Marita Lappalainen was another new (to me) Finnish artist, whose work I found very appealing. She says that her work is based on her own experiences, but she is happy when it resonates with others. She works mainly in appliqué and hand quilting using recycled textiles for ecological and other reasons. These textiles are imbued with meanings, signs, memories and the touch of “… times long gone”. The artist likes the fact that textiles made and owned by others will live on in her work.

Marita Lappalainen, Sweet City (recycled woollen fabrics, knitted garments, crocheted potholders).

I love the fantasy buildings with their abstract, but “fairy-tale-like” exuberance. The repetition of shape; the variety in textures; the colour palette of pinks, mustard, red, brown and green; the mixture of tones; and the placement of the composition on the ‘canvas’ were all elements that I felt made this piece successful.

This is a small taster of what was on display and it was well worth the visit for those interested in textiles.


What can I learn from these artists?

Elizabeth Brimelow – draw what interests you, and translate those drawings into fabric and stitch. Her ideas for visual journals were something to bear in mind and show new ways of presenting textiles.

Sara Impey – consider using text as an important element of a composition: to tell a story, to make a political point, or social comment, or to add humour to a piece.

Kate Dowty – don’t be afraid to use raw edges in quilts; make a larger piece out of smaller units, which can be joined at the end of sewing. Link the colour palette to ideas and emotions.

Marita Lappaainen – use recycled textiles; concentrate on:- composition and placement; the colour palette used; repeated motifs and tonal distribution.





Julie Arkell, Home, 2004 exhibition catalogue, Ruthin Art Gallery, Wales


http://www.quiltart.eu/elizabethbrimelo.html Accessed 21/04/17

http://www.katedowty.com/index.html Accessed 20/04/17

http://www.maritalappalainen.fi/ Accessed 20/04/17

http://www.quiltart.eu/elizabethbrimelo.html Accessed 20/04/17

https://www.rheged.com/event/new-quilting/ Accessed 20/04/17

http://www.saraimpey.com/ Accessed 20/04/17


Coursework Part 5: Project 2: Building A Response: Research

I borrowed several books from the library featuring the work of David Hockney and Vincent van Gogh because I admire the lively and colourful way that those artists depict flowers in their artwork, but felt that their work did not really represent the direction that I feel drawn to, of simplified or abstract landscapes and plants based on observation. I therefore identified a few artists and a jeweller that I feel are working in a way that I feel empathy with. So although these artists do not all depict flowers or plants, their way of working is something that I wished to examine.

Sarah Symes is a Canadian artist, who has also lived and worked in the UK and USA, but is now in Squamish, Canada. She trained and worked in graphic design before becoming a professional artist.

Sarah Symes (titles added to each image)

Source:- http://sarahsymes.com

Sarah works by cutting textiles into the shapes she requires, pinning them to a base textile, before machine sewing the pieces into position. The image shown at right, above, was digitally designed and printed onto banners and was one of three award-winning designs that she produced for display in her local town.

The artist describes her working process as beginning with sketching. She then selects forms which suggest the landscapes she is depicting and aims to depict feelings, memories and emotions through her chosen colour palette. Textiles are purchased, washed and some are hand dyed to suit her requirements. The finished artworks are built up in “… an improvised process, like painting or collage, enabling the gradual build up of colour and texture.”

I like this artist’s work because the pieces are very evocative of the subject matter she depicts, but allow the viewer to bring their own associations to the shapes and colours she uses. For example, I can see buildings and windows in the Havana piece, and the colours evoke brightly painted buildings, dry earth and sun to me. Others may see something quite different.

 Leisa Rich is a Canadian artist whose work I had seen when researching drawing for this part of the coursework. Her layered work and experimental combinations of media are of particular interest to me.

Leisa Rich, titles appended to each image

Source:- http://monaleisa.com

Leisa takes an experimental approach to her artwork, but states that her favourite techniques are 3-D printing, and free motion machine embroidery. She mentions an interesting, heat-sensitive base material that she enjoys working with, called ‘Fosshape‘, (which I see is out of stock with the UK supplier, but is worth noting for future experimentation). Other materials used by the artist include:- thread, plastics, fabrics, mixed media, and re-purposed waste materials.

The framed pieces shown above are made from two or three layered frames featuring plastic with cutaway areas, stitch and paint or other media. The frames can be recombined in different configurations according to the viewer’s whim. The layering gives an added dimension to the artwork, and I like the simple method of presentation, and the technique of building an artwork out of smaller units.

Her artist’s statement has a touching story of how she came to make art. In it she says “… it is art I come back to, to notice, to capture, to recreate that feeling” [of a peaceful childhood in which she noticed everything]. Tiny objects which are often ignored are recreated in her art, through suggested structures, forms and textures.

I came to see Anna Gordon‘s jewellery through reading Kyra Cane’s book “Making & Drawing”. Stylised versions of plants, with abstract additions in some cases, have lingered in my memory.

Anna Gordon

Sources:- http://www.annagordon.com and Cane, 2012

Anna draws on all sorts of sources in her environment for inspiration, including nature and the repeated motifs found in textiles such as Japanese silks. She sketches her ideas before making the pieces by hand, trying to capture the quality of her drawn lines. Thought is given to how the “sketch” (ie, jewellery) will appear on the body, causing light reflections, shadows, movement and contrasts. The artist works with simplified organic and geometric forms in metal, combined with natural media, gemstones and/or enamel.

I find these reinterpretations of natural forms very successful, and the strange little additions give a moment of added surprise. The artist’s method of development, trying to capture the nature of her drawings in a new media is particularly pertinent to the forthcoming projects in the coursework.

Philip Hughes is an artist interested in landscape and the affect of man on that landscape. His work includes paintings, drawings, murals, rugs and tapestries. I recently discovered his work in the form of a book called “Patterns in the Landscape: The Notebooks of Philip Hughes“. I was captivated by his drawings and notes made in situ, showing landscapes in the UK, Australia, Iceland and the USA, amongst others. He worked, at that time, on recycled brown paper sketchbooks in pencil, making linear, contour drawing-type marks to describe the view in front of him. Small amounts of painted colour are added for later reference when making the finished artworks. I loved the look of the flat colour and pencil lines on the textured brown paper so much that I have ordered a kraft paper sketchbook (which I hope will be similar) to try for myself (and the paper seems appropriately ‘earthy’ in texture for representing plant life upon). In Philip’s drawings, some of the land forms are quite recognisable, but others evolve into abstract patterns. The colour palettes are very evocative of the particular country (or area of the country) depicted, and together with the artist’s notes (which might mention the weather, an animal seen, or details about the location) make a fascinating journal of his travels.

Philip Hughes

Source:- http://www.philiphughesart.com

Colour palettes and carefully observed forms in the landscape seem to be key to this artist’s work.

Yesterday I went to the New Quilting exhibition at the Rheged centre in Cumbria. The work of textile artist, Janet Twinn was particularly relevant to this part of the coursework. For the art quilt shown below, the artist made a number of drawings and took photographs of garden plants to inform the shapes she would use in the piece. She then considered the colour palette. Janet dyes her own fabrics and/or paints or prints them, and keeps records in a separate technical book. In her artist’s statement, Janet says that colour is the most important aspect of her work, and that she is interested in its “… emotional effect on our senses and in how it can convey mood and atmosphere.”

Janet Twinn, Green Blooms, and developmental work for the piece

I felt that this art quilt was successful in conveying a sense of vibrancy and growth both in the use of colour and in the suggested plant forms. The palette used has analogous greens, including muted shades, combined with contrasting orange and purple from the secondary triads of the hue continuum. The use of hand coloured and decorated fabrics allows the artist control over the pattern and colours she creates.


What can I learn from these artists?

Sarah Symes – begin with sketching from first hand source material. Consider the forms used (representative of the source material), and colour palette (what associations does it evoke?).

Leisa Rich – take the time to notice small details (through use of the sketchbook and careful observation). Adopt an experimental approach and consider using new technologies and novel methods of presentation. Build a large artwork from smaller units. Consider the possibilities offered by layering and compositions that can be reconfigured.

Anna Gordon – concentrate on drawing from source material, then capturing the nature of that drawing in the new media (ie, paper, yarn and textiles, for me). Consider mixing unexpected elements with natural forms, such as geometric shapes.

Philip Hughes – make carefully studied drawings from first hand observation of source material. Keep notes and colour samples for future reference. Develop abstract forms from accurately rendered sketches.

Janet Twinn – use drawings and photographs of directly observed source materials. Use further drawing and painting to simplify and develop designs and colour palettes. Consider altering materials to your exact requirements.



Cane, K Making & Drawing, 2012, Bloomsbury, London, pp 14 – 17

Hughes, P Patterns in the Landscape: The Notebooks of Philip Hughes, 1998, Thames and Hudson, London


http://www.annagordon.com/gallery?dsc_0109-jpg Accessed 18/04/17

http://www.janettwinn.co.uk/artist.html Accessed 19/04/17

http://monaleisa.com/ Accessed 18/04/17

https://www.parkinfabrics.co.uk/fosshape-300r.html Accessed 18/04/17

http://www.philiphughesart.com Accessed 18/04/17

https://www.rheged.com/event/new-quilting/ Accessed 19/04/17

http://sarahsymes.com Accessed 18/04/17

Exhibition Visits: Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

This 500 acre park is host to more than 80 sculptures (I will need to make a return visit to see all of them! For example, the works by Andy Goldsworthy were a little too far to walk to on a cold, March day). Two works that I found particularly memorable were:-

James Turrell’s Deer Shelter Skyspace, 2007

This sculpture uses a disused deer shelter (who knew such a thing existed?!), which has been converted to have austere stone seating in a dark, windowless, grey, underground room. The only light is shed through a square, cut into the ceiling, through which you can see the ever-changing skyscape (again grey, on the day we visited, but with subtle variations and movements in the clouds – rather like a Rothko painting). It felt like being in a sensory deprivation room, with only the sky to look at and contemplate. As a calm place for meditation, I thought it would work, but I imagine that it gets rather busy on sunnier days. This American artist has explored light and skyscapes throughout his career, his most well-known work being the Roden Crater project in the Arizona desert, and links have been drawn to a quote from his Quaker grandmother, who said “Look within yourself and welcome the light”. I see a connection to structures made by ancient civilisations, such as Stonehenge, that celebrate alignments of the sun, moon and planets.

Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree, 2013


This sculpture is constructed from ninety-seven iron sections, cast from the parts of numerous real trees. The individual casts are re-constructed into the shape of a tree using traditional Chinese joints, in which the nuts and screws are obvious. The roughness of the bark and fissures in the wood are re-created. The artist has stated that his work with fragments highlights the importance of the individual in creating the whole. And that the use of found wood relates to culture being influenced by its forebears.

As we approached the chapel, in whose grounds this sculpture stands, we kept looking at real trees at a distance, wondering if they were the artwork. The non-contiguous nature of the joins and the unnatural regularity of the construction mean that it stands out as manmade, and was instantly recognisable when we found it. I found it to be almost beautiful, but not as beautiful as a real tree. For me, it said something about our inability to capture the perfection (and imperfections) found in the natural world. The rusting nature of the materials used means that it will eventually disappear, much like the natural life cycle of a real tree.

In an interview with smithsonian.com, Ai Weiwei discusses the influence that they Zhou Dynasty Chinese art has on him (2-3,000 years ago), describing it as “… the highest form in human art”. He also remarks upon the wholistic approach of these artists and craftsmen “… with philosophy, aesthetics, morality and craftsmanship – it was just one…”. Another link that the artist draws, is between his work and van Gogh’s: that artist’s approach to his work as being like a form of religious worship.

Disobedient Bodies at The Hepworth Wakefield

This exhibition is curated by fashion designer, Jonathan Anderson. It explores “the human form in art, fashion and design.”

Sculptures are displayed next to the work of fashion designers and design objects, provoking comparisons in how the pieces interact and how they depict the human body.

There were also photographs by Jamie Hawkesworth, featuring local school children wearing some of the clothing.

Wakefield Kids by Jamie Hawkesworth

Jamie Hawkesworth, part of the Wakefield Kids series 09/15

Source:- http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/gallery/23638/8/wakefield-kids-by-jamie-hawkesworth

This child wears an Issey Miyake Bamboo Pleats dress, which clearly illustrates the way the clothing affects the form and outline of the body, when worn.


Jean Paul Gaultier, Cone dress, 1983/84

This dress was paired with Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure, 1936, carved in elm wood. Apart from the pose, I did not find much in common with these two pieces: the wooden sculpture being rounded, hard, shiny, recognisably human and timeless: the cone dress feels rather dated and very much of its time (1980s), with its exaggerated and cartoon-like female shape. Although they do show a similar abstraction, and a link to undulating landscapes.


Issey Miyake, Lantern dress (seen at right, above), 1994

Isamu Noguchi Akari (Ceiling Model E) (at left), 1954

Isamu Noguchi, Akari (Ceiling Model 31N) (centre), 1954

These objects had an obvious connection in form, derived from traditional Japanese lamps. I found the pieces quite beautiful – sculptural, yet luminous and delicate in construction. When seen on the body, the Issey Miyake dress looks surprisingly wearable, while giving the wearer a uniquely different silhouette.


J W Anderson, 28 Jumpers, 2017

This playful series of giant jumpers were touchable, and made a dream-like exhibit. Some had wear and tear holes repeated throughout the length, making them appear to be ‘old favourites’ from someone’s wardrobe. Their size seems to be elevating their importance and making us contemplate the everyday patterns, designs and textures to be found in our own home. It was interesting to watch visitors interacting with the objects – when one is so used to ‘not touching’ artworks in an exhibition. It underlines the tactile nature of textiles, which provoke an almost irresistible urge to reach out and feel them.

The Hepworth Wakefield

Other items on display at the museum were the Hepworth maquettes and models discussed previously in this article.

In a collaboration with Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge and artist, Anthea Hamilton, a collection of objects from the Kettle’s Yard collection have been displayed with specially commissioned pieces (such as large African, braided grass rugs, which lend a wonderful, straw-like aroma to the gallery), and a grand piano. Kettle’s Yard is the collection of modern British art owned by H S Jim Ede, normally housed in a series of modernised cottages, in which the owner lived and displayed his collection, alongside furniture and natural artifacts. He and his wife, Helen, lived there between 1958 and 1973, and donated the collection to the University of Cambridge in 1966.


Anthea Hamilton, Christopher Wood Kimono, 2016 (indigo and eucalyptus dyed cotton, natural cotton, silk, metal)

Anthea has been inspired by a self-portrait by Christopher Wood from the Kettle’s Yard collection and has used the colour palette and pattern of triangles in the jumper shown in the painting to inform this new artwork.

I very much liked this piece, with its geometric pattern, yet handmade look, showing slight variations to each of the shapes. It has a Japanese look and feel in form, but the colour palette derived from the painting gives it a link to the collection and shows the artist’s response to what she has observed and taken from the painting.


Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Bird Swallowing a Fish, 1914 (original plaster), Posthumous bronze cast, 1964

I love the humour and simplified forms in this piece. It takes a moment to work out what is happening, but it has a nice sense of balance and harmony. The smooth surface and monotone colour palette focus your eye on the narrative, and shapes present in the piece.


Anthea Hamilton, Vulcano Table, 2014 (blown glass sculpture).

This striking sculpture quickly caught my attention, with its balloon-like blown glass forms apparently caught in mid-fall. The simple red and black palette forms a connection to the volcano of the title, as does the oozing, lava-like appearance. The artist has linked this piece to the Kettle collection in the way that functional items (such as the desk that the glass forms rest on) can be a new setting for displaying art (as opposed to being confined to a gallery). I applaud the idea of art forming part of everyday life and being displayed around homes, offices and public buildings for all to enjoy. In practice, there is always the problem of damage and theft to contend with!


What can I learn from these artists?

The sculptures at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park showed ways of working with nature, highlighting one aspect (eg, light) as a way of contemplating the whole of nature and our place within it.

Working with 3-D objects that will be:- viewed from all sides and angles; must be weatherproof; possibly interactive; and look at home in their environment are all aspects of sculpture to be born in mind.

The Disobedient Bodies exhibition made me consider the ways in which the human form can be an influence on art, design and fashion – acting as a canvas on which the artist or designer can paint their own ideas. I rarely use figures in my own work, but this is an area that I am interested in. I can practise drawing and modelling figures to gain confidence in representing the human figure, which opens all sorts of possibilities for future development (such as wearable art, jewellery, fashion and depicting the figure in artworks).

The Hepworth Wakefield: Anthea Hamilton’s Kimono shows how you can be inspired by one small aspect of another artist’s work (eg, colour palette and pattern). It was interesting to see how The Kettle’s Yard collection in general has sparked ideas for Anthea’s new works, and has led to new connections and evolutions to the collection. For me, it underlines the importance of studying the work of artists and designers for inspiration. One feature or quality in an artwork could trigger a new line of thought that could provide inspiration for my own work.




http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/gallery/23638/8/wakefield-kids-by-jamie-hawkesworth Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/shop/print/021509/henry-moore-mini-print-reclining-figure Accessed 13/04/17

https://j-w-anderson.com/ Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk/collection-item/self-portrait/ Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.mapltd.com/artist/jamiehawkesworth/ Accessed 13/04/17

http://rodencrater.com/about/ Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/ai-weiwei-on-his-favorite-artists-living-in-new-york-and-why-the-government-is-afraid-of-him-30139964/#mFPRBcC4PhsLQlpY.99 Accessed 03/04/17

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/turner-prize-2016/about-artists/anthea-hamilton Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/mark-rothko-1875 Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/henri-gaudier-brzeska-1143 Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.ysp.co.uk/exhibitions/ai-weiwei Accessed 13/04/17

http://www.ysp.co.uk/exhibitions/james-turrell-deer-shelter-skyspace Accessed 13/04/17

Denise Zygadlo Lecture

The Dumfries & Galloway Embroiderers’ Guild invited textile artist, Denise Zygadlo to give a talk today. It was very entertaining and was illustrated with images of her work, and examples of actual artworks, exhibition catalogues and sketchbooks for us to examine.

This was the first time that I had seen her artwork and I was struck by the cohesion of the work she produces: all with an interest in cloth and the body. Her work includes drawing, print, performance, artist books, and installation. She has collaborated with various creative people to explore dance, music, movement, and poetry paired with her art works.

Denise said that she had an early interest in textiles – clothing in particular – and remembers dressing up (from a ‘dressing up box’) as a child, and can still recall the feel of some of the clothing. She completed a foundation course followed by an applied arts degree and worked with printed textiles and fashion. After raising her children, she returned to art and began with a collaborative project. She then joined the Society of Scottish Artists and has exhibited many artworks with that group, as well as holding two solo exhibitions.

When searching for ways to express her artistic ideas, she found Image Maker, a product that can be applied to a photocopy, allowing it to be transferred to a textile. (The image is coated with the liquid, applied face down on the textile, allowed to dry, before the paper is moistened and removed leaving the image intact). Before that, she had worked with images printed directly from her body using paint.

The artist chose to make autobiographical portraits of her body, wrapped in muslin, on a photocopier, then reassemble these partial images as a collage onto silk organza. She liked the intimacy achieved by pressing against the glass, giving details of skin and cloth (better than a photograph could achieve). The finished artworks have the feeling of an ancient fresco in their incomplete rendering of the figure.

Denise now uses digital printing, (carried out by the Glasgow School of Art), as a simpler way of transferring the images to silk chiffon textile. The finished art works can be large banner-sized pieces that are suspended from a gallery ceiling to hang down and move in the breeze. The finished artworks have a translucency, and are reproducible and washable, which are further advantages over the original method.

The artist has collaborated with many other artists: one example including projecting images over her hanging art works, and onto the wall behind them. On other occasions performance and music have been included. These collaborations add another layer to the two-dimensional, printed aspect of the artworks. The scale of the work varies from images just a few inches across presented in the artist’s books, to the larger, banner-sized pieces.

This video illustrates the artist’s Wrap exhibition from 2014.

Drawing is a large part of the artist’s practice. Her highly-detailed pencil drawings of lace fabric on a contorted body were very beautiful. The pattern on the textile wrinkling and twisting with the movement of the body beneath. Denise said that the drawing was built up from layers of pencil marks, worked over many hours, and observed from a photograph of the subject.

Denise Zygadlo, Tara VII, Drawing

Source:- http://www.denisezygadlo.co.uk/gallery.php?cat=drawings

Other artworks include the remaking of her Mother’s jacket, which had been worn and passed down through three generations. The translucent, remade version had images of the three women on it.

Another piece showed bundles of linen, or blankets, or finery mounted on plinths, relating to textiles owned by most people, but also having a resonance with the refugee crises and the belongings the displaced people choose to take with them.

More recent artworks combine classical art (such as images of one of Michaelangelo’s statues) collaged with photocopies of the artist’s body, and again, digitally printed onto textile.

Many of the images felt rather poignant, referencing cloth as a ‘second skin’, that ages and wrinkles in the same way as our own skin. I particularly liked the images transferred to old canvases that had been removed from stretchers, and still bear the marks of staples and age discolouration. These appear like abstract images, maybe landscapes, before one can discern a body part and crumpled textile. Denise cited a connection with ‘bog people‘: those whose bodies have ended up being preserved in peat, in extremely good condition, allowing a glimpse into their lives and deaths. Other people have felt a religious resonance when viewing the artworks.

The artworks feel open to interpretation: are they autobiographical? or making some wider point about the importance of cloth in our lives? The wrapping gives a timeless feel to the pieces, since they make no reference to fashion; and the use of a black and white colour palette gives them an ‘antique’ look. There feels to me to be a link to birth, life and death – the swaddling of a child, through a lifetime of wearing clothes and using textiles, to the final shrouding of the dead. The artist herself discusses the feelings of comfort, security and the holding of memories encapsulated in cloth. I feel there is a connection to the work of Louise Bourgeois in the exploration of textiles imbued with autobiographical memories and stories.

What can I learn from this artist?

Thinking of how this might inspire my own studies: re-purposing my clothing in artwork could be linked to an autobiographical narrative, or one related to associations with textiles, clothing, fashion or the body. Using the body to present images that create resonances with many viewers and are open to various interpretations is a powerful idea.

I was struck by the focus and constraints that the artist had used: photocopying; black and white images; cloth and the body. As yet, I don’t feel that I know which art form or topics of interest I wish to pursue, but hopefully, that will emerge as I progress through the course.

Digital printing seems to offer an exciting way of reproducing art work on textiles that could be used in a variety of ways: from art works, to household textiles, to fashion.

Pairing the written word with art is a combination that I may explore in the future.

Denise re-entered the art world by joining an artists’ society that allowed her to network with other artists and exhibit her work. Well, maybe one day I will take on such a challenge!



http://www.denisezygadlo.co.uk/ Accessed 06/04/17

http://www.dylon.co.uk/other-products/craft/image-maker/image-maker/#.WOZ7S9Lyubg Accessed 06/04/17

http://www.s-s-a.org/ Accessed 06/04/17

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bog_body Accessed 06/04/17

Part 5: Project 1: Reflection: Stronger and Weaker Points of My Visual Research

Having reviewed my drawing and mark making work so far on the course, these are my thoughts on what worked and what I need to practise and improve upon.

Stronger Points

I felt that I had been experimental with regards to the range of media used (traditional paints, charcoal, pencil, ink, felt pens, etc, and less traditional: mud, mown grass, slug trails and flour, flower seeds, glue, etc); tools (such as feathers, a boot, fingers, paintbrushes, a bunch of sticks, etc); and the types and sizes of grounds that I had worked on (3-D surfaces, digital screens, and everything from tissue paper to corrugated cardboard, 1″ square drawings to A1 size – larger for the lawn drawing).

I had explored various lighting options (daylight, to a dark room lit with a faint red light) and compositions (extreme close-ups to full views of the arrangement, drawings focusing on form, outline, texture, pattern, colour); and techniques (spoken word, digital drawing, blind contour drawing, blind touch drawing, both fast, and more detailed drawings, simple, printed images, abstract and more representational drawings, hand sewn and machine sewn, collage, etc).

Weaker Points

I did not always link the observed source to an appropriate ground and/or media.

Looking back at the drawings from Part 1, some of them were rather similar. This was partly due to the museum only allowing pencil next to the exhibits, but some of them were made later, at home – lots of pencil, charcoal, and ink on white paper – rather safe and boring, however, I may still find this a good starting point!

As well as using white or black grounds, Cari recommends using more subtle combinations, such as white media on grey grounds, which I have taken on board in more recent coursework.

Including more variety in the compositions is certainly something I need to aim for (close-ups, small thumbnails to test compositions, perhaps including some background or other objects to give context).

There was a lack of variety in marks made within one drawing. Standing back to get an overview of work in progress and looking at the scale and type of marks I have used needs more attention. Using different densities of mark and a mix of bold/strong/large marks with small/quiet/delicate marks combined in one drawing is something I need to work on.

The quantity of sketchbook work, developmental (eg, testing different compositions), analytical and evaluative drawing needs to increase, as does drawing for proposing potential developments of the work.

I have made a summary of reminder notes, covering drawing, in this article, which I will refer to in the forthcoming projects.

Part 5: Research

For this research, I will focus on the developmental work of these artists.

Jenny Ellery is a textile artist whose work explores the human silhouette as a format for presenting her art, which comprises machine embroidery, printed textiles and handmade textiles. It focuses on the work of the textile designer in fashion, and reminds me somewhat of Marie O’Connor‘s work in that it references the body as a canvas that can have the outline distorted and decorated in infinite ways. Coincidentally, I found these images in the newspaper today, which also show ways of ornamenting and changing the human body, which are perhaps part of the wider context for this idea, and for fashion, jewellery and make-up in general.

african photos

Mario Gerth, photographs of members of the Suri tribe, Ethiopia

Source:- scanned image from The Times newspaper, pp 38-39, 01/04/17

Jenny Ellery’s practice involves “Hands-on and intuitive experimentation…”, from which the artist can make new and interesting discoveries. On her website, she mentions working from 2D to 3D and back again, which echoes the advice in our course guide, and via tutor feedback, for drawing, sample making and more drawing in the developmental process.

Jenny’s tumblr account feed shows some inspiring images illustrating her developmental work.

Jenny Ellery RCA MA Textiles

Jenny Ellery RCA MA Textiles // dye tests

Jenny Ellery Source:- http://jennyellery.tumblr.com/

The artist’s practice seems to involve gathering source images on an inspiration board (prints of other artists’ work, for example), taking photographs, drawing, making samples including mixed media and stitch on textile, and making painted colour palettes. (This is sounding familiar as I work through the Textiles 1 course!)

Chris Ofili is a British artist, now living and working in Trinidad. He won the Turner Prize in 1998 and was one of the ‘Young British Artists’ to exhibit in the Sensation exhibition of 1999.

He has explored many themes, such as religion, black history, nature, high and low culture, through the medium of mixed media, painting, prints, drawings and, more recently, woven textiles.

He sees his studio as a laboratory, where he has experimented in the past with a variety of media (elephant dung, paint, resin, collage, map pins and glitter), and assorted techniques.

His practice seems to me to involve phases of interest, which culminate in an exhibition, before he launches into new fields of exploration. At one time, he made a watercolour painting each day (exhibited at the Studio Museum, Harlem in 2005), after that he moved to making more use of sketchbooks, and photography to record his environment in Trinidad, and drawing to test ideas that will become finished artworks. He describes this approach as giving his pictures “… a more automatic, stream-of-consciousness approach.”

Chris Ofili Studio

Source:- https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/16/chris-ofili-gary-younge-interview

I have reflected on Chris’s quote about the studio being a laboratory, here.

Alicia Galer is a London-based textile artist and designer. Her development method is to make expressionist-style drawings, from which she selects marks and textures to produce further drawings and patterns.

In an interview with Grafik the artist describes deriving inspiration from travel, interiors, fashion, photography and graphic design. She draws one or more of her source inspirations, then simplifies elements of that drawing to develop further. Alicia favours oil pastels, marker pens, colouring pencils and acrylic paint as her chosen media.

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Alicia Galer, illustration for House of Plants, 2016

Source:- https://www.grafik.net/category/talent/alicia-galer

Josh Blackwell is an American artist and teacher based in Brooklyn, New York. The artist’s interest in the throwaway consumer culture led him to gather plastic bags from various sources, which were incorporated into his studio practice, working with mixed media, painting, sculpture, performance art and installation. The tension between convenience and excess being one focus for his work. Trained as a painter, his use of thread and textile to embellish the plastic bags shows similar mark-making. The finished pieces are transformed from a vilified and discarded piece of rubbish into a playful, colourful and highly textured art work.

Josh Blackwell, Neveruses (Siemensstrasse), 2015, plastic bags, wool, silk, twine, acrylic yarn

Source:- http://www.joshblackwell.com/index.php?/ongoing/recent-works/

Josh Blackwell Neveruses

Josh Blackwell, Neveruses exhibition (detail), 2016/2017 at The Museum of Arts and Design, New York

Source:- http://madmuseum.org/exhibition/josh-blackwell-neveruses-report-progress

On The Museum of Arts and Design‘s website, it describes the artist’s diverse influences as including Italian futurism, and the outsider art of the American South. In the image above, I can see drawings, collections of objects, patterns and the ubiquitous plastic bag, altered by having holes cut in it, hinting at the types of development work the artist undertakes. Other artworks have included lively and colourful drawings of children’s jumpers, cut out and attached to the gallery wall, Juniors (shown at Kate MacGarry, London, 2010).

Barbara Hepworth made numerous maquettes, drawings, screen prints and full size working models and prototypes of her bronze sculptures. I visited The Hepworth Wakefield on 22 March 2017 and was able to view this fantastic collection in person.

Over 40 plaster or wood, working models and prototypes at different stages of work can be seen. Barbara herself carved back many of these pieces to achieve the surface finish that would represent her ideas. Her tools and drawings illustrate her developmental process. The drawings could be simple, functional, small, line drawings, working out composition and construction. These 2-D diagrams are then made into 3-D models, allowing the artist to refine textures and test patinas before the final bronze sculpture is cast. One exhibit showed an assortment of patina samples that she had commissioned: the equivalent of our ‘sampling’ work on the course. She also made gouache and oil drawings, with pencil marks over the top. She made abstract drawings and drawings from life, such as a series made in a hospital. In quotations on the official Hepworth website, the artist makes it clear that carving was the most important part of the process for her. Once the idea had formed, she could choose the material, but it was the carving rather than the modelling that was important to her, as she could achieve so many variations depending on the material in use, and felt that it allowed her to put her accumulated experience and knowledge into the work. Her selection from the numerous types of stone and wood available, would influence what it was possible to achieve, and only by working with these materials over many years, could she master and exploit their unique properties, “… a complete sensibility to material – an understanding of its inherent quality and character – is required.”


It has been rather tricky to find details of some of the artists’ processes, as I suspect that they would understandably prefer to keep them private, having honed and refined them for their own use.

What can I learn from these artists?

Jenny Ellery’s ‘hands-on’ work with materials chimes with explorations that I carried out on Part 4 of the course – physically combining materials to find which worked well together (in colour palette, texture and scale). In Part 5 of the course, I will aim to emulate this through sample-making and drawing.

Her use of inspiration boards, colour palettes and drawings will also influence my process for the forthcoming coursework.

From Chris Ofili, I will take an attitude of experimentation and exploration of media.

Alicia Galer’s practice felt like a good fit for what I would like to achieve – making both realistic and more abstract drawings in a variety of media, then selecting and refining aspects of those pieces to take forward. I can imagine using a viewfinder to pick out almost abstract lines and marks from a drawing.

Josh Blackwell’s main focus on one material – plastic bags – links his artwork to the theme of consumerism. I will try to select appropriate grounds and media for my drawings and art work. His use of mixed and unusual media is another point of interest.

Barbara Hepworth gathered inspiration for her work through careful observation and drawing. Her total dedication to her artwork is an inspiration in itself, and I love many of her abstract sculptures with their variations of form, surface and colour. I will continue to derive inspiration from many sources and carry out more drawing and sample-making.

Barbara Hepworth’s intimate knowledge of her media and the effects that could be achieved with that material is something to aspire to. Spending time getting to know and understand my chosen media fully will be an ongoing process.





https://barbarahepworth.org.uk/texts/ Accessed 01/04/17

http://www.chrisofiliprints.info/biography.php?cur=EUR Accessed 31/03/17

https://www.grafik.net/category/talent/alicia-galer Accessed 31/03/17

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/16/chris-ofili-gary-younge-interview Accessed 31/03/17

http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/collection/the-hepworth-family-gift/ Accessed 01/04/17

http://www.jennyellery.com/ Accessed 31/03/17

http://jennyellery.tumblr.com/ Accessed 31/03/17

http://madmuseum.org/exhibition/josh-blackwell-neveruses-report-progress Accessed 31/03/17

http://www.marieoconnor.co.uk/ Accessed 31/03/17

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/chris-ofili-weaving-magic?gclid=CP-F4MXdgNMCFQ8TGwodwmwGMw Accessed 31/03/17 (Chris Ofili exhibition)

http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/f/futurism Accessed 31/03/17 (Italian Futurism)

Part 5: Review of Coursework and Feedback

Cari suggested that it would be useful to refer back to my summaries made in previous parts of the course to refresh my memory on points to incorporate into my practice in Part 5. I have a printed version of my Learning Log, so I scanned back through that, looking at my summaries, Cari’s feedback, the work created, and research into artists’ and designers’ work that I had carried out. I made the following notes summarising and incorporating useful pointers and ideas, to refer to while working on Part 5. They are very abbreviated, so will probably not make much sense to anyone but me, but here they are:-


  • discuss work in terms of colour balance, scale, tone, placements, composition, texture and surface
  • also feelings evoked, technique, colour palette, why it appeals (or doesn’t)
    how it relates to my own work
  • From Rebecca Fairley’s article How to Look at Textiles:-
    study textiles, explore work, synthesise findings, make effective analysis
    Take time to look at work. What do you see?
    Materials? Techniques? Processes?
    Qualities (observed from different distances): Colour (balance, use of, contrasts); Forms (surface, structure, composition, scale – eg motifs compare to whole piece); Touch/Feel (tactility, drape, texture)
    Approach (“from and to”, ie historical connections to current and future uses)
    Context (historical, cultural, development from past work, contemporary fit)
    Meaning (personal interpretation)

Development Work

  • thoughtful research
  • drawing
  • mind maps
  • in-depth investigations into subject matter (eg, sketches, photos, visual document of first hand sources)
  • experimentation with media, techniques and digital processes
  • concepts, compositions, details
  • ideas behind the work (written notes)
  • context – historical/contemporary/social (ie connections to artists and issues)
  • annotated screen captures
  • more visual analysis
  • make painted chips to illustrate colour palettes
  • more sample-making
  • experiment with developments for patterns, textures, processes, materials
  • impose constraints – simplicity often leads to best outcome
  • keep technical notebook(s) (materials, techniques, processes, variations, ideas)
  • consider and show further developments (textiles, fashion, household decor etc)


  • draw to think, analyse, plan and propose (developments into (repeating) patterns, textures, processes and materials, different placements etc)
  • observational drawing, ideas, process and development work
  • preparatory, exploratory and documentation work (learn through drawing)
  • range of media, styles, art forms, techniques, grounds, scale, colour palettes and focus
  • variation in marks made, exaggerated scale of marks (large/bold with quiet/delicate in same drawing)
  • vary speed, pressure, movement, control, feeling of marks (eg expressive, loose, timid, violent)
  • link media to elements of the drawing (eg knife blade rendered in varnish)
  • give a sense of narrative, make emotional associations
  • more varied, well-balanced compositions (eg close-ups)
  • show an eye for aesthetics (eg through composition, backgrounds used, additional objects, use of seasonal materials, imperfections, mix of real and imaginary elements)
  • test compositions with thumb-nail sketches (use a viewfinder)
  • stand back to judge overall composition (scale of marks etc)
  • demonstrate creative and technical skills
  • show personality
  • demonstrate the ability to evaluate and make links
  • audio drawing, miniature drawings in boxes, outlines, forms, silhouettes, stitch as drawing, cutting into a tufted surface (eg my lawn drawing), 3-D printing, 3-D object, dense rubbed areas combined with detailed, delicate marks, collage, stitch/drawing over photograph or other image, varied lighting, lino print, symmetrical Rorschach test, block of colour = outline, blind touch, blind contour, layers or lines of textile, pastel picture cut into fragments, bold flat colour, machine stitched with or without thread, varied grounds, dark coloured papers (appropriate to subject matter, eg white chalk on grey ground), varied compositions, material embedded in another material (wax, paper?), printing, air drying clay, repeated patterns, motifs, varied directional marks, making forms, holes in paper, different colour palettes, repeated shape in different colours, different densities of stitch/couched threads, masking fluid, batik
  • importance of tone
  • notes on reverse of drawing


  • exploratory sampling
  • combinations of media
  • altering materials
  • colour palettes
  • construction methods
  • possible developments
  • consider: how are you transforming materials beyond their original nature? Do two or more combined materials become something new?

Paper Manipulations

  • folded, cut, laminated, woven, dipped, tufted, crinkled, embossed, prodded, hooked, twisted, wax-coated, burnt, textile techniques with paper (eg cut, knotted etc), torn, holed
    + stitch
  • all white or cream version
  • wrapped/couched
  • wire with beads
  • paper cord
  • see p57 of course guide


  • look and feel depend on:- colour palette, proportions of colour, mix of high/low contrast areas, tone, scale, line and mark (thickness, direction, type, movement), proportion of elements, patterns (eg overlaid patterns), layers of interest
  • bear in mind order of construction, and flexibility (to use discoveries/accidents)
  • joining techniques
  • ephemeral work possible (but document well)
  • variations (colour palette, proportions of colour, contrasts, media, texture, scale, pattern – mix different scales of pattern)


  • unify different sizes and shapes of image with a similar background element (eg Zoffany)
  • use a simple image with a geometric shape to make a repeated block pattern
  • explore different ideas in a series of work
  • bold, flat colour (eg Marimekko)
  • overlapping translucent colour
  • digital print
  • combined shapes, grid, chain-mail
  • layering – clear and opaque/different patterns
  • different colour palettes and proportions of colour and contrasts and tone
  • cut outs
  • mixed media
  • paint or bleach
  • deconstruction techniques
  • mix of scale on one piece
  • loose edges to give shapes dimension/stuffed shapes
  • stylised versions of source inspiration
  • blank areas mixed with decorated
  • muted background + bright foreground = depth
  • surprising additions (eg Timorous Beasties)
  • convey information, movement, narrative
  • consider further developments


  • discuss my approach to the work
  • development process
  • colour palette/proportions of colour
  • thinking around projects (aesthetics, visual read, potential for further development)
  • how samples read spatially and how viewers may interpret them
  • summarise learning
  • discuss ideas
  • purposeful discernment
  • considered judgements
  • save detailed technical notes for technical notebook


  • simplify
  • photos and samples presented on white backgrounds, or pale grey if appropriate
  • covers plain and appropriate to contents
  • A3 size (A2 max) sample file and /or presentation boards (fold larger pieces)