Coursework and Assignment 5: Formative Feedback

Many thanks to Cari for her insightful feedback, which again has provided many pointers for improving my future work.

Cari’s feedback follows and my reflections are below that.


Overall Comments
A beautifully presented resolution to the course, with a clearly documented body of playful development work.

Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Project 1: Developing Visual Research
You reflected on your previous visual research critically, extracting salient points to build upon. Your early contextual research is good – it is all relevant, focussing on textiles or materials-led work, but sourced from a range of art and design contexts. It’s great that you’ve chosen to focus on the practitioners’ processes rather than outcomes too, to help inform how you work, not just what you create.
You developed a good body of visual research based on your photographic compositions. These photographs are full of colour and form. It would have been good to see the camera lens used to zoom in to capture sections of your still-life or different angles/views, but the overall composition is considered and tested. You’ve employed
a range of media to develop your drawn imagery, some of which is more traditional and representational in nature, others more graphic and stark drawings. The point at which they started straying towards surfaces, rather than still-life drawings, filling the whole page and selecting elements to focus, on was particularly interesting. It was good to see some monochrome and visually quieter imagery amongst the riot of colour that you capture so well. I had hoped for more left-field drawing experiments within this, like the lawnmower drawing developed earlier in the course. In future courses, continue to explore the boundaries of what drawing can be.

Project 2: Building a Response
You’ve selected interesting practitioners whose work relates to natural forms, from both 3D craft and textiles disciplines, which you’ve discussed objectively and in relation to your work.

Some beautifully sensitive surfaces have emerged through your paper manipulation exploration. Through cutting and piercing you’ve invested the materials with more interest and value, which you’ve then photographed beautifully, using light and shadow to alter the surface. Your evaluative drawings during this phase are strong, sensitively translating structure and form.
The sensitivity to texture and pattern continues as you incorporate stitch to create surface patterns and textures.
It was great to see development design drawing playing a part in your exploration of linear forms, particularly for yarn concepts 1 – 3 where multiple ideas were explored on paper. Some really playful linear concept samples have emerged from this investigation, particularly those that incorporate negative space within their form.

Project 3: Experimenting and Taking Risks
This phase sees you logically summarise and review each mini-collection of visual imagery (e.g. tulip, catkin….).
The new samples clearly extend the visual information within your mini-collections, experimenting with the structure, form, pattern and colour. There’s an increasing investment of time and crafting into the samples as you progress through the projects, with high quality delicate textural stitching and detail within these samples.
You’ve explored material qualities well, selecting appropriate found materials or manipulating them to fit your chosen idea.
The strongest mini-collections developed through this project are those in which you’ve developed multiple iterations, visualising the qualities in multiple manifestations. I enjoyed the deceptive subtlety of catkins #10, which required light to energise the details within its surface. Despite the bold colouration of your subject matter, it was great to see such restraint and subtlety in your translation of the subject. The tulip and plum tree
samples are particularly experimental with surface and form, both extending the surface with structural elements and incorporating negative space in the way your linear samples did.
Assignment 5: Capsule Collection
You’ve translated earlier surface qualities well, such as the tufting and cut surfaces, though some of the more playful structural elements haven’t been incorporated. The collection has a more traditional sensibility than the earlier sampling but it forms a coherent and lively body of textiles, showing strong potential for an interior
context.
On one hand I lamented the loss of some of the delicacy and subtly of earlier samples, such as the subtle cut and stitch work of the plum blossom or the delicate extrusions of the early three-dimensional catkin samples, but you have explained on the learning log in project 3 how you have narrowed down to a bolder, abstract, uncluttered,
pattern-led aesthetic, which demonstrates clear active decision making and personal selection.
The final collection is varied in surface and pattern and yet coherent due to the consistency of material and colour palette, the constraints you successfully applied at the beginning of the assignment. Overall the collection demonstrates a sensitivity in the translation of visual research, a sympathetic approach to materials and
techniques, and forms a solid conclusion to the course. That work is presented beautifully in the collections book, referencing methods used and knowledge gleaned earlier in the course.

Sketchbooks
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
The workbook crisply presents the work but is lacking the organic development of a sketchbook. Because the work has been presented rather explored on the pages, I was conscious of the gaps in between the samples, where ideas had been explored and decisions made but not explored in the book. These gaps are generally filled
in by the learning log commentary but there’s a gap where more immediate, intuitive responses could be. Whilst I felt there were a few gaps in the decision making, there is a clear visual logic through the work, as a simple idea and clear visual identity is manifested in mark, line, fibre and structure.
This is something to continue to explore in future courses. Refined work can be presented more formally and crisply, as you have done in the collections book, so consider the sketchbook a place to test and make errors, as well as documenting as you have done.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
Overall, your log presents an analytical, structured approach to synthesising inspiration and practice.


My reflection on the feedback, above.

Good

  • Work is well presented, clearly documented and developed playfully.
  • Summary of previous visual research useful.
  • Contextual research relevant and sourced from a range of artists and designers, especially study of their processes as well as outcomes.
  • Photographic compositions provided good visual research (colour and form).
  • Good range of media explored in drawings, and good mixture of representational/more graphic work.
  • Paper manipulations produced surfaces with interest, relevance to the subject and value. These were well photographed in different lights. Evaluative drawings were useful.
  • Paper manipulations with stitch showed sensitivity to texture and pattern. Design drawing ideas well explored.
  • Playful linear concept samples: those exhibiting negative space as part of their form were the most successful.
  • Logical summary and review of work gathered and created as visual research.
  • Clear development of ideas and themes, with increasing time spent on later samples.
  • Material qualities well explored. (Use of found materials, manipulation of materials.)
  • Development of multiple iterations of an idea led to best outcomes.
  • Good use of restraint and subtlety in Catkin sample #10; experimentation with surface and form in tulip and plum tree samples.
  • Logical decision-making when selecting processes for final collection. Surface qualities well translated in final collection. Clear visual logic through the work. Coherent collection with potential for interior context. Clear visual identity.
  • Beautifully presented work (Collections Book).
  • Learning Log presents analytical, structured approach to synthesising inspiration and practice.

Needs Work

  • Not enough experimental drawing (eg my lawnmower drawing).
  • Playful, structural elements not incorporated into final collection. Too traditional? Loss of delicacy and subtlety compared to earlier samples.
  • Lack of organic development shown in sketchbook.

To Do

  • Carry out more experimental drawing.
  • When using the camera, zoom in to focus on details and different angles, as well as the overall composition.
  • More drawings focused on surfaces that fill the page, and of selected elements of the subject.
  • Use my sketchbook to test and make errors, as well as for documenting the work carried out.

Development Notes

  • Drawing: explore the boundaries of drawing. Draw more often and focus on details and textures, as well as line and form.
  • Research: continue to study a wide range of artists and designers.
  • Development: use more drawing and notes in a single sketchbook to show the development process. Make more variations on a theme at the sample-making stage. Keep introducing constraints, where appropriate.
  • Sketchbook: explore work during the development stage rather than simply presenting drawings (ie include ideas, notes, decisions, intuitive responses, etc).
  • Evaluation and Reflection: use drawing to evaluate work created. Continue to regularly pause and reflect on what works and what doesn’t.

Summary

I was pleased with my feedback, which I felt was positive overall. I had made a concerted effort to carry out more drawing and sample-making throughout the process, and will now strive to add notes, ideas and decision-making into that book, rather than purely reflecting in my learning log. Drawing seems to be the key to this creative endeavour, and I will aim to include more variety and experimentation in this area.

Exhibition Visit: Glasgow School of Art Degree Show 2017

I spent yesterday with my friend, Margaret, at the Glasgow School of Art Degree Show. The first port of call was the Fine Art Show in Trongate.

Gemma Eun Bin Kim, Blue No 7, acrylic paint and mixed media on canvas

This student’s abstract paintings were very striking, with their limited colour palette of shades of blue and white. The marks seem to have been made by using a combination of letting the paint run by holding the canvas at an angle, and using bubbling in the blue paint (would washing up liquid added to the paint produce this effect?). I felt that the controlled runs in the paint gave a dynamic feel to these pieces, as well as evoking associations with Jackson Pollock‘s Abstract Expressionist work. I found the ‘bubbled’ areas interesting and may try to incorporate something similar into a painting that I’m working on at the moment.

Hannah Mooney

I loved this artist’s subdued colour palettes and her style of painting that reminded me of Paul Cezanne‘s work, and that of the Scottish Colourists, such as Peploe. The artist was born in Ireland and has painted numerous landscapes from that region. Her work was proving popular with the public and every piece had sold.

Reflecting on what I might learn from this artist:- use of traditional media, with a nod to previous artists’ work; simplified forms; carefully chosen palettes; beautifully observed subjects.

Dougie Blane, Elements of Easterhouse (above left), installation made from cubicle walls (above right)

This artist had made the small sculptural objects (balls) from materials taken from the Easterhouse area in Glasgow. The balls show the marks of the tools used to make them while retaining the properties of the source materials (earth, sandstone, vinyl, foil, wood etc). There were some missing as they had been stolen from an exhibition held in Easterhouse. The artist was philosophical about the public ‘interaction’ with his work. I found the mixture of textures and the marks of making on the pieces and the differences in the materials used, together with their link to a particular place an interesting record of the area. The huge ‘urn’-like sculpture made from part of the cubicle itself evoked associations with Andy Goldsworthy‘s work, using materials found in specific locations. I’m not sure how this could relate to my own work, unless it is in re-purposing textiles found at home and in the local area, or incorporating found objects into my work.

Over at the main site, opposite the Glasgow School of Art building, (which is still shrouded in scaffolding and undergoing extensive refurbishment following the fire), we visited the work of the students studying jewellery, textiles, fashion and design.

Adrienn Pesti‘s jewellery, silk clay, enamel, metal

This colourful collection was larger than life: like a small sculpture to be worn on the body. The black presentation ground set off the colourful palette of enamels well. The technique appeared to be using a very fine clay extruded through a mesh to form the ‘tufted’ texture, which was then mounted into silver settings. It appeared to be a fabric at first glance. I liked the mixture of metal and ceramic; the colourful enamelling and playful shapes of the arranged forms.

Miki Asai, various brooches

This Japanese-born jeweller conveys the “fleeting moment” in her jewellery, and espouses the wabi sabi aesthetic (a concept I had researched earlier). She uses a wide variety of materials for her work (paper, eggshell, seashell, pearls, Japanese lacquer, metals, gold leaf etc). The pieces had associations for me with micro mosaics and Gaudi’s architecture (such as Casa Batllo in Barcelona). I liked the sculptural shapes paired with interesting surfaces; the irregularities and variety.

Laura Herdman, final year project

This student had produced a highly textured collection based on her photographs of flowers (hydrangeas, in particular). She had conveyed the delicacy of petals and faded flowers in her choice of translucent fabrics and use of a subtle colour palette of faded watercolour tones. She also had developed a black and white version of some of the fabrics.

This reminded me of a sophisticated version of a prodded rag rug texture. The use of ?silk or organza-type fabrics gave a blurry, frayed, fragile look to the resulting textiles, however, unlike the more traditional heavy wool and cotton fabrics used.

Chantal Mcleish, A Repetition of Lines Creates a Pattern (samples and inspiration)

This student had taken inspiration from lines found in shipping containers and bins, which she collaged into images such as those above, and made drawings from them, before translating them into knitted samples. She used various weights of cotton paired with lycra to give stretch and raised linear elements to the textiles. Her textiles were created as a menswear/unisex knitwear collection for commercial Fashion.

These textiles appealed to me because of their linear pattern and the raised textures created. Although I don’t work in knitted fabrics, I can imagine creating raised lines (or the impression thereof) through print or sewn textile manipulation. The simplicity of the source material and its presentation looked very professional. I liked the bold contrasts in the colour palette, but would choose different combinations of colours for my own work.

Natascia Forte

Italian student, Natascia’s, collection used her home town, Pescara’s, architecture to inspire her. The resulting textiles show a mixture from highly textured: fluffy, bobbly, woven-look, to smoother, patterned knits, with a vibrant colour palette of pinks, creams, greys, and yellows. These would make an exciting collection of accessories or fashion clothing.

The creation and juxtaposition of different textures is something to bear in mind for my own work.

Becky Moore, printed textiles collection

This student’s bold, graphic prints seem ideal for this year’s trend of ‘tropical’. The collages used for exploring shape and colour are shown above right. The flat colour and forms of the patterns combining recognisable images (leaves) with abstract marks make a pleasing combination, and remind me of Lucienne Day‘s fabric designs (such as Dandelion Clocks, 1953). I like the combination of black and red in parts of the fabric, and can see this working well on wall hangings, curtain fabric and furnishings, such as sofas and rugs.

Joanne Mearns, a Scottish-born student is a Fashion designer whose final year project is a Womenswear collection inspired by Mediterranean and Caribbean locations. The garments created had a feeling of layering, collageing of materials, colours and textures. I enjoyed the updating of a tweed fabric as a ‘cut and shut’ coat. The highly textured fabric and high contrast palette worked well close up and at a distance.

Summary

This was an inspiring visit to see the students’ work. I especially enjoyed seeing the development work and varied interpretation of third year projects. I have given a tiny taste of the work on display, but will take away ideas on gathering inspiration; keeping sketchbooks; using considered colour palettes, and presenting work professionally. Other aspects to consider include the sound, (some students had sound installations) and explanations available. Some students provided outlines of their thinking for the projects: these were helpful when viewing and interpreting the work; also some provided business cards and contact details. While writing this article, I noticed that not all of the students had set up an up-to-date website showcasing their work. In this age of online connections I feel that this is a serious omission: most people who are interested in their work will search online for further information.

The student who had sold all of their work, seemed to be the one using the most traditional of materials: oil paint on board. Something to think about if one wishes to make a living from art!

References:-

Websites:-

https://www.facebook.com/adriennpesti Accessed 16/06/17

http://www.goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk/ Accessed 16/06/17

http://gsapress.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/final-year-fashion-design-students-to.html (Joanne Mearns statement included in link) Accessed 16/06/17

https://www.hannahmooney.co.uk/ Accessed 16/06/17

https://www.jackson-pollock.org/ Accessed 16/06/17

https://www.mikiasai.com/ Accessed 16/06/17

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/paul-cezanne Accessed 16/06/17

http://picbear.com/beckymooretextiles Accessed 16/06/17

http://www.robinandluciennedayfoundation.org/lives-and-designs/1950s Accessed 16/06/17

http://www.scottishcolourists.co.uk/peploe/gallery/ Accessed 16/06/17

https://the-dots.com/projects/final-year-project-158666 (Laura Herdman link) Accessed 16/06/17

https://the-dots.com/users/chantal-mcleish-206350 Accessed 16/06/17

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_Batll%C3%B3 Accessed 16/06/17

http://yooying.com/fortenatnat (Natascia Forte link) Accessed 16/06/17

 

Sketchbook Scans: Mesembryanthemum Studies

Carrying on from Part 5 of the Course, I thought I would draw some more flowers…

Some representative drawings in felt pen, and a couple of stylised versions, and a small sample cut from felt and dip-dyed in ink.

Many years ago I simplified a painting I’d made of mesembryanthemums, to become three overlapping circles of colour, which I went on to use in a lot of small textile pictures and a couple of rag rugs, so they are definitely a favourite subject of mine.

I can imagine these appearing on printed fabrics, mugs, wrapping paper, etc, or stylised versions being made into brooches or joined together as scarves or shawls.

Assignment 5: Self Evaluation: Performance Against Assessment Criteria

Demonstration of technical and visual skills
Materials – use of both traditional and atypical materials, eg, nail varnish, wax and plastic.
Techniques – exploring a diverse range of media and techniques (eg, drawing with paint, nail varnish, wax, paper cuts etc; melting, stretching and cutting plastic; cutting, printing, bleaching, painting, embroidery, batik, layering, appliqué, couching, needle punching, etc used in textile creation. Book-making to present work.
Observational Skills – drawing from primary sources and for evaluative and planning purposes. Evaluating and selecting work throughout the development process.
Visual Awareness – selection of appropriate media and colour palettes when drawing and creating yarn and textile samples. Selection of elements from drawings to develop further.
Design and Compositional Skills – picking the motifs, marks, patterns, materials and colours to use. Developing a coherent capsule collection appropriate to its proposed end use; and following a logical development path. Creation of a presentation book.
Quality of outcome
Content – choosing which samples to develop further and include in the presentation book. The book also illustrates my design process.
Application of Knowledge – the lessons learnt so far on the course came together in Part 5 – eg, how to:- carry out relevant research; select primary sources to arrange and draw from; selection of appropriate media; abstracting elements of drawings to develop into paper and stitch manipulations, yarns and then textiles; regular evaluation and reflection throughout the process.
Presentation of Work – work has been simply presented in a workbook and textile collection book, demonstrating the flow of the design process. Larger samples and drawings are presented separately.
Demonstration of creativity
Imagination – using the drawings to suggest appropriate techniques and designs for use in the created textiles.
Experimentation – some unusual materials have been used where appropriate (eg, melted plastic to represent the chard leaf drawing); small samples have been created to test ideas, materials or colour combinations (eg, paint-on dye sampling; tulip motif samples).
Invention – the patterns and motifs used are all developed from my drawings and samples. Making textiles (coursework) that could be layered allowed unusual mixtures of colour, texture and materials (eg, cut plastic layered over batik fabric).
Personal Voice – use of simple, abstract motifs, textures and patterns, inspired by nature; paired with strong colour contrasts, flat colour and uncluttered designs represents my ideas and voice exactly.
Context
Reflection – continued reflection on my research, progress, ideas, experiments and outcomes in my learning log; and through the use of evaluative drawings.
Research – focused research has been very useful for Part 5: looking at drawing techniques; artists’ working practices; textile design processes; current design trends; as well as exhibition visits and lectures that proved to be timely and appropriate.
Learning Log – research, course and assignment work, and reflections are recorded in my learning log blog.

Assignment 5: Building A Collection: Written Reflection

What have I learned from observing and developing yarns and textiles?

  • drawing from primary sources is a necessary starting point to gather original material for making future developmental work unique
  • researching other artists’ and designers’ work provides ideas for new directions to take your work in
  • similarly to yarns, textiles can be infinitely varied by playing with colour palette, pattern, motif, scale, fabric weight and opacity and the treatments applied (eg printing, batik, embroidery etc)
  • revisiting earlier coursework refreshed my memory about ideas, techniques and processes that I could use and also aided evaluation of what had gone before, and how it could inform current work
  • one design could be adapted to suit many end uses, from textiles for the craft market, to fashion, to interiors. Techniques applied and materials used can be varied to suit a luxury, mid or mass market
  • considering the context of the textiles is helpful in determining the scale of the design and type of pattern that is suitable to the end use
  • experimenting with a single type of fabric provides knowledge of what is possible with that material

Strong points of my work

Experimental approach; varied research; a variety of techniques used to create a related set of ‘mix and match’ textiles inspired by plants. Simple presentation of my developmental process in a book format. A workbook keeps research, inspirations and unused ideas ready for future reference.

Weaker aspects of my work

I felt that I was rushing through the textile creation phase due to time constraints, and would have liked to spend longer exploring possible variations and developments for the textiles. I think that I should have concentrated on just the final six textiles in the presentation book, but I had already mounted the earlier samples before beginning Assignment 5, so I just had photographic references to show that part of the development process.

New skills

I re-acquainted myself with batik and paint-on dye techniques. I aimed to work in a productive and logical way in creating these textiles, using sampling and drawing to achieve this. Thinking about the context of the capsule collection was helpful in determining suitable materials to work with, and the scale of the patterns required.

Potential work in future based on this project

The potential for printed and batik fabrics is exciting, and I can imagine combining these with stitch and rug making techniques to produce interesting wall art. I enjoyed the bold, flat colour and non-fraying aspect of felt and will use that fabric again. The whole development process has illustrated the importance of gathering original source material; carrying out related research; making samples, exploring materials and combinations thereof; drawing, evaluating and reflecting on the work at every stage; revisiting earlier work; pushing the sample-making and ideas further than my first thoughts, and these are all techniques that I will incorporate into my practice.

Jilli Blackwood Lecture at The Embroiderers’ Guild, Dumfries

I attended a lively and entertaining talk by Glasgow-based textile artist, Jilli Blackwood yesterday. Her famous ‘Slash and Show’ textiles are a riot of colour and texture and embellishment. They include hand-dyed fabrics, layering, weaving, pleating, with freely worked hand and machine embroidery. She has a loom in her home studio, and this informs her work, and she returns to weaving between her embroidery projects.

I had researched this artist in respect to contemporary embroidery in an earlier article, so will not repeat that material here.

As a third year graduate, Jilli had been invited to meet fashion designer, Jean Muir, who encouraged her to make a 1 metre square version of a layered and cut sample. She also offered Jilli a job, which she turned down, despite being a huge fan of Muir’s designs. Jilli strikes me as a very independent person, who was keen to develop her own ideas.

Her breakthrough moment for the future direction for her work came with the Millenium Kilt, an altered, second-hand kilt with a three-dimensional surface created with the techniques mentioned above. She told us that she had had a last minute moment of doubt about exhibiting the kilt in The McManus Galleries in Dundee (2000) as part of an exhibition called ‘Textiles for the 21st Century’. Was an ‘altered’ garment an original work of art? However, she need not have worried, as it went on to win the award for first prize and was then exhibited at the V&A as part of an exhibition called ‘Men In Skirts‘. Despite several offers to buy this piece, Jilli retained ownership of it, but went on to create a series of similar pieces for sale. A collection of ‘Art to Wear’ pieces, forms another series, including kimonos.

Jilli Blackwood, Millenium Kilt, 1999-2000

Source:- https://www.jilliblackwood.com/projects-millenium-kilt.html

It was interesting to hear about Jilli’s working practice: the piece above started as a sketch on an envelope, before hands-on work on the kilt itself. At other times she will dye the fabrics first. She uses Kemtex dyes because of their light-fast qualities. The dyed fabrics will be hung together so that she can see how the colours interact, as she selects a colour palette for the project in hand. Next, an A4 – A3 sized sample may be made, before the full sized piece is worked on. The work moves from floor to wall to sewing machine as Jilli works on it by hand and with her sewing machine, adding and subtracting elements until she is happy with the outcome. This process can take several years to complete on a single piece. Although, The Glasgow School of Art can make digitally rendered prints if large scale production is required.

One piece that she brought along to show us had not, she felt, worked, but instead of discarding it, she ended up cutting it in half, re-joining it with two upward arcing lines now meeting in the centre. This gave it a new dynamism that resembled various buildings she had seen, and Jilli wondered if the influence of this architecture had subliminally affected her development of the piece. The colour was altered by folding and over-dyeing the wall hanging several times, and it now has a background of dark lines with the bright pink elements glowing against it.

She advised us to try to develop our own ‘handwriting’ through playing with materials (much as we have been doing on the course!), because everything has been done before, it is just a case of putting one’s own mark on the different techniques available.

Another piece that I found interesting, consisted of a black ground fabric with machine sewn, irregular rectangles of silver leather attached. This had started as a landscape-format wall hanging, had been cut in half and joined to make a long portrait-format wall hanging, and had ended up being made into a skirt as a wearable piece of art. Jilli was sporting some of her wearable art in the form of a hat and tunic dress as she was speaking to us.

For the Flag Handover Ceremony at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Jilli designed an eye-catching red tartan for the entire Scottish team. One aspect that she had to give thought to was that it had to be ‘larger than life’ as the human figures would be tiny in the huge stadium to the audience there, but would also be seen around the world on television. The design had to work in these two, very different situations.

After she had designed the Team Scotland parade outfit for 2014 Commonwealth Games, she was dismayed to find that the outfits had been photographed for publicity purposes, against a green countryside background, instead of the grey or dark background that she had envisaged. The interaction between colours is very important to this artist.

However the green in the photographs went on to inspire a bright green tartan which was used in the World Anti Doping Agency space at the games.

Jilli Blackwood, WADA design, Commonwealth Games 2014

Source:- https://www.jilliblackwood.com/news.html

More recent work has been embroidery over worn, antique, South African rugs, echoing the existing pattern. Jilli mentioned that as well as being extremely hard to work on, she was amazed to find all the ‘errors’ in the seemingly perfect patterns on the rugs.

Her future plans include re-branding her website and producing a luxury catalogue and generally ‘raising her game’.

We were allowed to handle some of her artwork and samples, which brought home the highly textured nature of the work.

 

What can I learn from this artist?

This was a timely example of how wonderful textiles can be created or altered, and will feed into my experimental approach to creating textiles on Part 5 of the course. Jilli’s playful, colourful, ‘anything goes’ approach was very refreshing, as was her persistence with pieces that aren’t quite working, but can be altered and re-formed by changing the format or colour palette, for example.


References:-

Websites:-

http://www.jeanmuir.info/pages/secret_life.shtml Accessed 12/05/17

https://www.jilliblackwood.com/ Accessed 12/05/17

http://www.kemtex.co.uk/ Accessed 12/05/17

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/m/men-in-skirts/ Accessed 12/05/17

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.

P1290666

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.

Summary

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.


 

 

References:-

Books:-

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

Websites:-

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