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.


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!



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


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


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

Formative Feedback: Part 4, and Reflection

Thank you to Cari for my latest feedback. Lots to take on board and reflect upon!


  • translation of aesthetic, material and structural qualities of samples into yarn concepts
  • range of shape, form, structure and material investigation in 2D and 3D
  • constraints in colour palette worked well for red, black and white drawings
  • strong crafting skills without over-precision
  • exploration of scale, however, delicate/intricate samples most successful
  • exploration of translucency with hints of colour (eg, ice and hair yarns)
  • interesting use of objects to form yarns (eg, jelly beans and coat hanger yarns)
  • some yarns combine materials into something new and interesting
  • construction and interior of yarn book, crisp and well-organised (minimal use of text)
  • thorough discussion of the journey of the project/decisions made and good evaluative summaries
  • strong drawing work (good use of sympathetic media/techniques to capture material, tactile and visual qualities; quality and nature of drawing varied according to role, eg, functional planning drawings, more fully rendered drawings of samples)

Needs Work

  • close up snake yarn sample felt inelegant and heavy (however, it works at a distance when overall pattern becomes clear)
  • some materials feel as if they are fighting each other, not working together
  • photographs: do they successfully capture and communicate samples? (eg, ice yarn – background of trees too busy)
  • cover of the yarn book not successful (too strong and not my own design)
  • too much technical information in learning log
  • ‘Research & Reflection’ sections confusing to navigate

To Do

  • consider how my samples read spatially and how the viewer may interpret them (eg, snake yarn) [ongoing]
  • reflect on how the materials have been transformed by my interventions when evaluating future work, eg, two intertwined materials – are they integrated and transformed into something new? [ongoing]
  • photograph samples sympathetically against a neutral background (show different lighting options and how they may change a piece) [all work now photographed against white backgrounds, eg, images of workbook from Assignment 5]
  • present work in a visually quiet way, or use aesthetic details from the contents to hint at what’s within (redo covers of both yarn book and colour book) [latest book cover can be seen in this photo collage]
  • use neutral grey for presenting light coloured work, rather than black [ongoing]
  • emphasise evaluative commentary over descriptive commentary (ie, more about the aesthetic/visual read of samples) [ongoing]
  • refer to evaluative summaries in learning log when working on Part 5 [Review of coursework and feedback here]
  • integrate research and reflection with the relevant coursework and assignment work in the learning log [all relevant research is now linked both to the coursework and assignment parts and can be reached by clicking on those links on the side bar, as well as through the Research link. The latter link also has other personal research included.]
  • move ‘yarn research file’ to the beginning of the Part 4 Coursework section [it was not possible to insert a blog article at an earlier date, so I have added the yarn research file to the research article for Part 4]
  • use more appropriate drawing media for proposed samples (helps to assess aesthetic qualities of resulting samples) [ongoing, eg, tulip on tracing paper; blossom on tissue paper; chard leaf in melted plastic]
  • more sketchbook work for Part 5 (extensive drawing to capture samples, as well as planning for them; visual/theoretical/contextual research to underpin and inform the sampling) [ongoing – some pages from my latest sketchbook]
  • keep working both inside a sketchbook and on other appropriate grounds outside the sketchbook (small sections of coloured paper can be stuck into the sketchbook)
  • view Cari’s Pinterest boards on sketchbooks, drawing for textiles and design research [my own Pinterest boards for sketchbooks and textiles inspiration have been updated with some of Cari’s suggestions, and some other examples that I find inspiring. I found this website through a link on Pinterest, which has a useful guide to making an art portfolio with some ideas of what to include in sketchbooks. Interestingly, I had just seem some excellent examples at Gracefield Arts Centre‘s exhibition of Advanced Higher Art Selection, such as the work shown below by one of the students.]


Megan Nodwell, development work for, and images of finished wearable art jewellery

Development Notes

A big area for future development for me is use of the sketchbook. I need to show in images (photographs, pictures from magazines, books and the internet, etc) and in sketches, where my inspiration for work originates, and how I have selected and refined my ideas, along with technical notes and experiments, samples, colour palettes etc. Then drawings for planning the projects, using appropriate media, grounds and techniques, and evaluative drawings of samples and finished pieces.

Another area for improvement is to present my work even more simply, with regards to the backgrounds in photographs (neutral and plain), and in the covers for my books (simple and plain, or more appropriate to the contents).

One of my first tasks will be to go back to the beginning of my Learning Log, and add links for the research to the relevant parts of each section of coursework and assignments, and to move the yarn research file.

In future written work, I need reflect evaluatively on the processes I have used and on the work produced, together with weighing its aesthetic appeal, (Rebecca Fairley’s article “How to look at textiles” will come in useful here). I need to write less about the technical aspects of the work: I will keep the majority of these notes in my technical notebook. I have re-read my summaries for Part 4 and made notes to refer to in Part 5.




Accessed 25/03/17

http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/gracefield Accessed 25/03/17

http://www.studentartguide.com/articles/how-to-make-an-art-portfolio-for-college-or-university Accessed 25/03/17

https://weareoca.com/textiles/how-to-look-at-textiles/ Accessed 26/03/17


Reflection on a book: Making & Drawing by Kyra Cane

Following Rebecca Fairley’s recommendation of Making & Drawing, I thought I had better get a copy, as I am coming to realise how important drawing is in the planning and preparation stage of a project, and also as a tool for analysing the finished work.

The author discusses the many reasons that artists draw, such as:- to stimulate ideas, to evaluate outcomes, to help in the creation of painting, or pattern making and as a starting point for making artworks. Drawing can be carried out in any media, including three-dimensional materials or collations of images. It helps to focus your mind on a subject, cuts out distractions and allows for close analysis, ‘looking’ and understanding.

Drawings can be a great resource to look back on for stimulating future work. They can be a record of an idea for future reference, recording the “experience of looking”, something which photographs cannot match, as they only record an instant in time of a particular viewpoint, as seen by the camera lens. The prolonged observation of a drawing enables the artist to fully explore a subject and select the information from it that is important for their work.

Kyra Cane recommends working from an original source (eg, an object, a scene, a sound, an idea, or a feeling), and making drawings, sketches, diagrams, photos or screen stills that can be brought together in a sketchbook or pinned to the wall as inspiration for a project.

The book is split into various sections exploring the way in which particular artists use drawing in their practice.

Drawing As Reference

Jeweller, Anna Gordon, draws in pencil, focusing on line, which is translated into linear forms in metal. Her drawings are made around a theme, with the lines describing form and the units that make up that shape. She is influenced by what she sees around her, including nature, the built environment and everyday objects. The jewellery is “a sketch to be worn on the body”.

Anna Gordon Jewellery

Anna Gordon, Twig on Enamel Brooch, 2013, Oxidised Silver, Gold Leaf and Enamel, 50mm x 35mm

Source:- http://annagordon.demo.escrivo.com/gallery

Ceramicist, Kate Malone keeps scrapbook-sketchbooks, which lead to unexpected relationships, sparking new ideas. She keeps travel diaries and makes numerous drawings. These are used to create a visual proposal for commission work, including plans, working diagrams, technical details (fixings, installation etc) and full size drawings.

Kate Malone Page From Sketchbook 1

Kate Malone, page from Sketchbook 1

Source:- http://www.katemaloneceramics.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/SB1_normal_s.pdf#zoom=Fit

Jeweller, Laura Baxter makes botanical drawings to enhance her understanding of forms and recurring motifs. She works in pencil and watercolour, making the drawings increasingly simple and in line with her requirements for development in metal.

Laura Baxter, Brooch with Allium and Flyaway Dandelion Seed, 2009, oxidised silver & 18ct gold

Source:- http://www.laurabaxter.co.uk/gallery/meadow-collection/

Drawing As Planning and Design

This practice allows a maker to explore possible options without having to make a finished article. Concepts, forms, outcomes and thoughts can all be investigated. The design stage involves coming up with the solution to a problem: creating and inventing; while the planning stage is when the maker will work out how to do something.

Chien-Wei Chang is a Taiwanese silversmith, working in London.

Chien wei chang

Chien-Wei Chang, Drawing of Bamboo Containers, 2008 (left) and Bamboo Containers, 2008, silver (right)

Source:- Cane (2012), P 48.

Chien-Wei’s way of working starts with an idea, he carries out research, makes drawings, then paper constructions, then metal, sometimes combined with other media. At other times he will play with materials and forms in an exploratory fashion, allowing his work to be flexible during the making process. His drawings may be made to understand the nature of the subject, how the final piece will look, as visual evaluation or to explore a form in three dimensions.

Rory Longdon is a British knitwear designer. He uses pencil or pen to draw his designs over photocopies of figures or manikins. His drawings are working documents that may include textile samples, notes, alterations, etc, for his own use. They reflect his attention to detail throughout the design and making process.

rory longdon

Rory Longdon, Garment development and toiling, and sketchbook development, 2011

Source:-  Cane (2012), P 70.

Drawing and Surface

Decorating a surface began with the earliest cave paintings and can be carried out to:- beautify; to record events; to convey information; to celebrate the natural world; to provoke thought; to tell stories; document history or commemorate people.

Decoration is found on the early ceramics, metalware and textiles of all cultures. Local traditions have grown up, making use of local materials, dependent on the maker’s environment, circumstances and religion. Historical examples may be copied or adapted. Particular patterns may travel to new places, over time, but can persist for centuries. In more modern times, the maker’s own choices will be as important as the above-mentioned factors.

The book discusses two ceramic decorators with very different approaches: Helen Beard draws and paints figures from life in her sketchbooks, which she then draws onto the surface of her ceramics (domestic pieces, such as beakers).

Helen Beard, sketchbook/studio

Source:- http://www.helenbeard.com/sketchbook

Felicity Aylieff bases her abstract, blue and white decorated ceramics (vast in size) on careful study of the historical patterns and processes of Chinese ceramicists. She also combines stylised floral motifs with geometric patterns, which remind me of sashiko stitching.

Felicity Aylieff, Blue and White monumental Vase, 2011

Source:- http://www.aylieff.com/index.asp?classid=3

Matthew Harris is a textile artist who explores repetition, pattern, line and image in his abstract cloth artworks. Sketches, notes and photographs inform his series of drawings. He pares down the visual information to focus on the essence of his subject matter. The drawings utilise paper in the same way that one uses cloth: layering, joining, staining and marking. He will look out for ‘happy accidents’ to include in his work. Waxed thread is used to sew the individual components into his chosen layout. Colour placement, types of mark and balance in the composition are resolved through drawing in this way. A cartoon is made to inform the work for the finished piece. This plan allows Matthew to work out how he will dye, stitch, paint, cut, piece and patch his textiles.

Matthew Harris cartoon for textile work

Matthew Harris, Factory. Cartoons for cloth. No. II

Source:- http://www.matthewharriscloth.co.uk/paper/factory/

Drawing As Making

A similar process may be involved in drawing and making for some artists, such as using wire as a line to draw. The work of Jeanette Orrell illustrates this point.

Jeanette Orrell, Two Baskets, 2008, photopolymer intaglio print

Source:- https://www.axisweb.org/p/jeanetteorrell/#artwork

Jeanette Orrell, Cages, 2005, mixed media (wire, wax etc)

Source:- https://www.axisweb.org/p/jeanetteorrell/#artwork

The drawn lines made by this artist feed directly into her wire work sculptures.

Drawing As Thinking

Drawing can help:-

  • focus
  • clearer thought
  • articulate subconscious thinking
  • reveal the nature of a subject
  • solve problems
  • explore possibilities
  • sift ideas
  • refine concepts
  • with reflection before the making starts

Junko Mori is a Japanese-born metalworker, now working in Wales. She makes beautiful ‘doodles’ that are similar to, but are not plans for, her metalwork sculptures. She feels that drawing first would sap energy from the making process. The drawing is a warming up exercise that runs in parallel with her work. Her inspiration derives from trees and plants. In her artist’s statement she says “…No piece is individually planned but becomes fully formed within the making and thinking process. Repeating little accidents, like a mutation of cells, the final accumulation of units emerges within this process of evolution…”

junko mori

Junko Mori, Doodle Happa, 2001, ink on paper (left); Doodle Chaos 1, 1995, ink on paper (centre); Doodle Mitokon 1, 1999, watercolour on paper (right).

Source:- Cane (2012), P 162.

Junko Mori, 2012, Propagation Project; Sea Anenome, Forged mild steel, wax-coated

Source:- http://www.adriansassoon.com/contemporary/metalwork.html?view=artwork&id=3389

Drawing With Technology

Some artists use computers and software instead of hand techniques. This can save time in performing labour-intensive processes and can expand possibilities, enable faster research and the faster translation of ideas. Artists must still have the mastery of their chosen media and a way of manufacturing their pieces.


This lovely book clearly demonstrates the way in which different makers use drawing in their practice: some using it as a way to record and explore source material, or to work out ways of constructing their pieces, or they may construct a precise plan of what they intend to make. For other artists, their drawings are a separate stream of creativity. Alternatively, artists may prefer to work directly with their materials, once they have built up an understanding of the source inspiration and process they intend to use.

Drawing can:-

  • provide a connection between hand and eye
  • explore possibilities
  • extract information about a subject
  • lead work in new directions
  • be used for testing different compositions or scales
  • help with decision-making (colour palettes, suitable techniques, suitable media, etc)
  • be a means of recording travel, people, places, objects, colours
  • be a visual evaluation of completed work that feeds back into future work

A sketchbook can be a collection of notes, drawings, references, images and ideas.

Thinking of my own work, I have been working mainly on loose sheets, but I also have a number of sketchbooks ‘on the go’: one is a sort of scrapbook; I have a box file of cuttings from magazines and other images; not to mention different sizes of sketchbooks with drawings in them. I like the idea of a single sketchbook that contains everything in the order in which it was collected or drawn, but have not felt able to pursue that line because the coursework recommends trying out different media and different sizes and types of ground to work on. Keeping a sketchbook per project is something that I may try in the future, but will continue with the variety of loose papers in the meantime.

I find that drawing, for me, starts with trying to capture a likeness of the subject, which I then try to simplify and refine (sometimes through exaggeration of a particular feature, or through abstraction). In Part 4 of the coursework, I found that making drawings of the source material led to lots of ideas for making yarn concepts, and that it was quite easy to decide on the media and techniques to use, once I had drawn the idea, so I will continue to try to increase my drawing activity. As Kyra Cane says in her conclusion: “Making objects … is drawing in three dimensions.”

 Links to my previous research on drawing:-

Drawing Research

Assignment 1: Research on Drawing

What Is Drawing?



Cane, Kyra. Making & Drawing. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury, 2012.


http://annagordon.demo.escrivo.com/gallery Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.chienweichang.com/timeline.htm Accessed 13/03/17

http://www.designbyaika.com/what-is-sashiko/ Accessed 13/03/17

http://www.aylieff.com Accessed 13/03/17

http://www.helenbeard.com/sketchbook Accessed 13/03/17

http://www.junkomori.com/ Accessed 14/03/17

http://www.katemaloneceramics.com/ Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.laurabaxter.co.uk/ Accessed 13/03/17

http://www.matthewharriscloth.co.uk Accessed 13/03/17

http://www.rorylongdon.co.uk/ Accessed 13/03/17

Outside In Radical Craft Exhibition at Tullie House, Carlisle

This exhibition is made up of selected works by ‘outsider’ artists. Some of the participating artists have no verbal means of communication, their artwork has become a way of expressing themselves. Many of the artworks in this exhibition have been selected and funded by arts organisations. Other included artists have no formal artistic training or see themselves as “facing barriers to the art world” (for reasons of health, disability, isolation, etc).

Textile specialist, Helen Walsh, gave a small group of us a guided tour of the exhibition. We had an overview of the work and themes, with more in-depth discussion of certain pieces.

Various themes emerged from the artwork on display: exuberant use of the chosen media; use of whatever materials were to hand; articulating feelings, interests and obsessions non-verbally; not ‘over-thinking’ the work, just purely making what the individual felt compelled to make. It was interesting to note that many of the artists had absolutely no interest in selling their work: it was the making process that was important to them. Numerous techniques had been employed, but I noticed a number of artists using ‘wrapping’ techniques, or assembling/transforming found objects. Other techniques included metalwork, wire work, soft sculpture, carving, model making and weaving.

This was the one artist whose work was, I knew, included in the exhibition, having heard an excerpt from an interview with her on Woman’s Hour. Pinkie Maclure is an artist and singer who was put off from pursuing her early drawn artwork, because of negative comments made by an art teacher. She only returned to art in her forties, and is self-taught. She is influenced by medieval ecclesiastical stained glass, in particular the story-telling elements, rather than the purely decorative aspect of modern architectural stained glass.

Pinkie Maclure, Landfill Tantrum, stained glass

Source: http://craftspace.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Pinkie-Maclure_Landfill-Tantrum_Pinkie-Maclure-1024×768.jpg

This piece  ‘points the finger’ at humans and the waste they create and send to landfill, and highlights the damage it causes to wildlife. I found this to have a powerful narrative as well as being beautifully made and full of arresting images. I like the fact that she has taken an issue that she feels strongly about and has integrated it with her chosen medium and has updated the imagery while retaining something of the work that inspired her.

Lasmin Salmon works with yarn, textiles and other materials. Her work is highly textured and often consists of smaller elements combined into a larger artwork.

Lasmin Salmon, Rug, textile collage, and detail of Rug

This large, wall-hung piece included many types of textile, some hand knitted by the artist, each decorated with rings cut from pipe insulation and attached with yarn. Each ‘patch’ was carefully arranged and stitched to a blanket. The same elements were repeated with many variations. It reminded me of a hardware store or plants in flower beds. A very lively and texture-filled composition. It was hard to adhere to the ‘no touching’ rule with this piece.

Pascal Tassini is a Belgian artist who initially worked with clay, drawing and painting, before choosing to make his own ‘studio within a studio’ from acquired furniture and clothing. He greets visitors in his alter ego of ‘Doctor Tassini’ and allows them to visit within, after they undergo a ‘check-up’! Pascal now works exclusively with textiles and makes numerous iterations of wrapped objects, and bridal wear.

Pascal Tassini, Untitled Chair, mixed media (left) Bridal Headress II, mixed media (right)

This artist’s work reminded me a little of Anton Alvarezs machine-wrapped works, yet Tassini’s pieces seem more knotted in construction. They seem to arise from the need to create something that the artist is fascinated by, using whatever materials are to hand and in whatever way produces the desired outcome.

Michael Smith is a British artist. He is a non-verbalising individual, and therefore little is known about his reasons for making his artwork.


Michael Smith, Jeans I and Jeans II, denim jeans, masking tape, PVA

These pieces seem to hint at constraint, feelings of suffocation and enclosure. I found them rather disturbing and eerie hanging in the gallery, throwing strange and distorted human-like shadows.

Ian Sherman is a UK artist who makes paintings and assemblages. Better images of his artwork can be found on this website. He does not sell many of the assemblages (now numbering over 80), as he likes to work on them for many years at a time. (The piece below has been evolving for twenty years, as new and appropriate additions are found and incorporated).


Ian Sherman, A Comedian, assemblage, mixed media

This piece has the feeling of a grotto or a shrine. It made me think of the sea creatures’ unworldly jewellery in The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H P Lovecraft. The title of the artwork draws your attention to the shell, used here as a mouth, with red line accentuating the feature and a small bow tie beneath. Other items suggest the ‘bling’ of showbiz. I found it interesting that the artist keeps adding to the works, begging the question, ‘When is a piece of art finished?’ I guess that only the artist themselves can decide that one!

Marie-Rose Lortet is a French artist. She was inspired by the knitting and textile crafts of her female relatives. She initially made textile pictures but eventually moved to making three-dimensional pieces with loosely-worked lace, stiffened with sugar water (later, resin). These small sculptures take the form of houses, rooms, windows etc, or can be more abstract in nature.


Marie-Rose Lortet (no title given)

Source: http://www.outsiderartnow.com/marie-rose-lortet/

The pieces that I saw at the exhibition by Marie-Rose (we were not allowed to photograph them) included unexpected elements such as the figure of a lady, and were in the forms of houses. They were a complex, irregular network of threads with small motifs or fragments of more traditional lace worked in. The voids took on the shapes of fields and houses as seen from the air, or on a map (to me, anyway!), and cast intricate shadows. Her work also includes mask-like faces and very colourful works, as well as the white pieces shown here. She seems to have an interest in many topics: people, the domestic scene, clothing and traditional techniques. The pieces I saw suggested that the viewer was getting a secret view into a (semi-transparent) house and the events taking place in it.


I was not quite sure what to expect at this exhibition, and was surprised by the variety of media and techniques on display. It opens up debate about what art is and who is ‘qualified’ to make it. Our speaker mentioned that many of the artists make work only for their own fulfillment, indicating that it has a therapeutic context. However, I feel that if a viewer can also gain something from seeing and contemplating the work, it should certainly be classed as art. There were some works that I might class more as ‘craft’, as the title of the show suggests. For example:


Erkki Pekkarinen, Tiny Shoes, birch bark, thread.

These skillfully woven pieces use a traditional Finnish technique. They varied in size from smaller than a match head, to life-size figures.

There were many more pieces of interest to see and digest, and I thought that the exhibition was well curated.

What can I learn from these artists and craft makers?

  • use whatever materials you can find, and that appeal to you
  • use whatever technique or method of construction feels right
  • don’t feel constrained by tradition or what is expected and accepted in the art world
  • express feelings and tell stories through your art
  • build on tradition, but give the work contemporary relevance
  • feel free to indulge your ‘obsessions’, and make multiple versions of the same subject




http://actionspace.org/artists/lasmin-salmon/ Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.antonalvarez.com/ Accessed 12/03/17

http://craftspace.co.uk/radicalcraft/ Accessed 12/03/17

https://www.delicatestitches.co.uk/gallery Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.et-alors.org/dossier-les-Artistes/M-R-Lortet-2008.html (text in French) Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.outsidein.org.uk/ian-sherman+%5Bcopy%5D Accessed 12/03/17

http://outsidein.org.uk/outsider-craft Accessed 12/03/17

https://outsideinpallant.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/artists-interiors-ian-sherman/ Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.outsiderartnow.com/pascal-tassini/ Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.outsiderartnow.com/marie-rose-lortet/ Accessed 12/03/17

http://www.pinkiemaclure.net/ Accessed 12/03/17

Dumfries & Galloway Embroiderers’ Guild: Needlelace, Feltwork and Performance Costume

On 5 January the Dumfries & Galloway Embroiderers’ Guild had a session called ‘Corners’, for which we were split into three groups and spent 15 minutes with each of three speakers.

Liz Griggs, our Branch Chairman, spoke about her Needlelace work. (Follow the link to see a description of how this intricate textile is made.) Liz spoke about the method for making needlelace (a button hole stitch is worked over a pattern mounted on a sturdy background fabric. The main lines of the pattern are couched down and the stitches are built up around them. The finished piece is eventually snipped free from the background). Liz discussed some of the variations of needlelace-making, such as using layers of organza, which can be left in some areas and removed in others. We were able to handle some antique samples, such as a baby’s bonnet covered with tiny embroidery stitches. Liz’s own work for a City and Guilds qualification, was inspired by a 1920s fan pattern that she had extended to make this beautiful collar. My photos sadly do not do the piece justice, thanks to the light and other reflections in the hall.

Elizabeth Griggs, Needlelace Collar

Frieda Lyburn spoke about her wonderful feltwork pictures. Her first piece was based on a picture found in a calendar, of a Fife harbour with houses. She photocopied the image, cut that apart to form template pieces, cut those out in felt, sewed them to the background fabric, (which was painted with acrylic paint) and embellished the image with hand stitch and appliquéd details. I was interested to see how her work had progressed over time: a later piece had been glued together, and more recent work included some unusual materials such as shells and sand; tinsel that had been ironed flat between sheets of bakeoglide to represent seaweed; the silver material used behind radiators to reflect heat had been cut into slivers to represent highlights in the water. Her colour palettes included some almost fluorescent highlights, along with more ‘realistic’ colours. Very ingenious use and combinations of media!

Denise Shaw presented some performance costumes from the wardrobe of the Guild of Players, a theatre group formed in 1913, who perform at the Theatre Royal, Dumfries.

Myrrie Norman, 1970’s dress (left)

Edwardian dress (reported to be either a wedding or bridesmaid’s dress) (middle and right (detail of lace)).

Two pieces that particularly caught my eye were the 1970s ‘Abigail’s Party’-style of dress, with its lavish sleeves and floaty, synthetic fabric; and the blue and white striped Edwardian dress. Its silk lining had disintegrated, but the cotton lace and outer garment were still strong (although showing signs of water-staining). (Denise described problems of conservation, following the recent flooding in the town, and clothes moth infestation that had to be eradicated – garments and accessories made from animal fibres being the target, such as fur stoles). Other pieces on display included modern pantomime costumes – now made from more durable, synthetic textiles in exaggerated styles and bright colours. 1920s dresses, coats and jackets are often used in Agatha Christie adaptations. Shoes, hats and undergarments all have their place on stage (the latter often pinned to washing lines as part of the background!).

This was an interesting and informative event, broadening my knowledge of textiles and textile art.




http://theatreroyaldumfries.co.uk/guild-of-players/ Accessed 06/01/17

https://www.laceguild.org/craft/needle.html Accessed 06/01/17