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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Summary

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.

 


References:-

Websites:-

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

Research & Reflection: The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate 2016

Two friends, Margaret and Sarah, and I went to the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate yesterday. It was the first time I had been to such an event, and was overwhelmed with the number of exhibitors and visitors in the 4 or 5 enormous halls. There were exhibition spaces featuring the work of single artists, or groups of textile artists.

These pieces were made by members of the unFOLD group of textile artists.

I liked the use of locational found objects in Christina Ellcock’s work inspired by the coast. The artworks displayed lots of three-dimensional textures and forms. Her sketchbook had strong patterns and graphical elements. Sally Skaife employs a subtle colour palette to explore her chosen subject through repetition of lines and marks. Both of these artists had produced a series of works on their chosen themes, which gave the viewer the chance to enjoy the similarities and variances between the individual pieces. We went back towards the end of our visit, to hand sew two small pieces of calico together. These were labelled with our names and the number of stitches used, and will make their way into a future unFOLD project.

I was pleased to revisit the work of Debbie Lyddon, whose art I had first seen at the 62 Group’s Making Space exhibition in Macclesfield earlier this year.

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Debbie Lyddon, Liminal Objects: Sea Purses 4, 2016 (linen, wire, saltwater).

I love the colour palette of blues and browns, natural rust and white salt that this artist uses in her work. The rust and salt give an element of unpredictability to the outcome, but are eminently suited to the subject matter. The simple repeated shapes suggest, but do not closely copy, the forms of sea creatures.

Gawthorpe Textiles Collection is exhibiting some beautiful historical textiles, alongside the work of modern artists who have responded to works in the collection.

The exquisite cushion cover (above, left) was embroidered with floral and grid decorations by Annie Eastwood in 1923. The stitch is in fine wool and silk thread. The stitches were so tiny and numerous that it was hard to imagine how long this must have taken to make.

The fragment of miniature hexagonal patchwork with beading (above, right) still had the basting stitches in place. It was precisely executed and must have been made by someone with very nimble fingers.

Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn have a huge exhibition space filled with their art works, books, DVDs and, fascinating for me to see: their sketchbooks and samples. This is particularly relevant for me to think about, as my tutor has recommended more sketchbook and sampling work. Their sketchbooks were filled with life drawings, colourful paintings of landscapes, observed details, project development drawings and written notes. I purchased four of their teaching books containing different techniques for textile artists, so will enjoy trying some of those out in the near future.

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Cos Ahmet, Memory Threads I (hand-felted cords bound in wool, cotton chenille, wax cast of the artist)

Cos Ahmet works in a variety of media with textiles (weaving, tapestry etc) and his art explores the ‘self’. I thought that the piece above was interesting in its use of mixed media and self portraits in the form of wax masks taken from the artist’s own face. The cord coming from the mouth suggests to me that he is exploring the stories that we tell about our past; how memories are formed; the ‘tangled’ web of memories. The wrapped cords perhaps also suggest viscera or the folds of the brain. A thought-provoking piece.

I also enjoyed the work of Alysn Midgelow-Marsden, who includes metallic elements in her work; and Dionne Swift who makes densely, machine-stitched landscapes, and paintings, which I very much liked, for their observation of local colour and simplified forms. Some artists prefer not to have their work photographed, so I have linked to their websites.

The Graduate Showcase exhibition had many interesting student pieces: including those below. Josey Florence Mendez displayed innovative plastic textiles embellished with threads and other materials. Hannah Christina Sims made flat textiles into cut, folded, sewn and coloured, three-dimensional surfaces. Some pieces were framed, others were formed into objects like the lampshade below.

Sam Hussain Designs exhibited exuberant pieces, such as this vest, which is decorated with painting, embroidery and embellishment.

The Embroiderers’ Guild had an exhibition of work inspired by Capability Brown.

There were so many inspiring pieces, but these three caught my eye: Diana Springall’s beautiful, textured piece showed two very different scales of texture and had a pleasing composition. Janet Edmonds’ charming work had an unusual texture, that looked like couched rows of textile or thread. It reminded me of a small version of a North American hooked rug. Annette Collinge’s colourful art work featured abstract depictions of land, sea and sky with a variety of shapes, raw edges and large hand stitches.

Another major feature of The Show is the huge variety of stands selling everything textile-related: yarns, threads, tools, antique textiles, books. I really could have spent a fortune on beautiful supplies ‘just-in-case’, but managed to limit myself to some sashiko thread and needles and a piece of Japanese fabric in dark indigo, from Japan Crafts plus a bag of colourful thread ends from Oliver Twists. For the rest that I longed for, I kept a note of the company names for future reference.

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Summary

This was an inspiring day and gave me an insight into the world of a textile artist, allowed me to survey the vast array of materials available, and to experience a variety of styles of work, from historical to contemporary. I felt very drawn to the art works that interpret land and seascapes in an abstract or simplified form. In terms of the supplies I saw, I returned several times to the two stands selling Japanese textiles and threads, and to Sallie Ead’s Antique Textiles, where there were all sorts of linen, cotton, old and worn textiles of all types. The brightly coloured silk and cotton threads, hand dyed felts, yarns and textiles were also very beguiling. Working with found items, recycled textiles, and bright colour palettes feels comfortable to me, and although I enjoy experimenting with new techniques and media, I think I will always return to those themes and materials.

References:-

Websites:-

https://en-gb.facebook.com/AlysnMidgelowMarsdenArtTextiles/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://www.capabilitybrown.org/ Accessed 25/11/16

https://debbielyddon.wordpress.com/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://dionneswift.co.uk/ Accessed 25/11/16

Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn’s website http://doubletrouble-ent.com/ Accessed 25/11/16

https://embroiderersguild.com/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://www.gawthorpetextiles.org.uk/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://hannahcsims.wix.com/mysite Accessed 25/11/16

http://www.japancrafts.co.uk/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://josey-mendez.wix.com/joseymendez Accessed 25/11/16

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/OliverTwistsFibres Accessed 25/11/16

https://www.facebook.com/sallie.ead Accessed 25/11/16

https://www.instagram.com/samhussaindesigns/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://www.theknittingandstitchingshow.com/harrogate/ Accessed 25/11/16

http://unfoldtextiles.christinechester.com/ Accessed 25/11/16

 

Exhibition Visit: Not to Scale: Costumes for Performance By Alex Rigg

The Not To Scale exhibition is on at the Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries from 16 July to 10 September 2016.

Alex Rigg is an artist and performer, making designs for theatre and dance, and also site specific pieces. Rigg says “Costume and make-up help both the performer and the audience to suspend disbelief and enter the story fully”.

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This costume caught my eye, having recently researched Sanquhar knitting. It looks like a Samurai warrior’s outfit. Behind and to the left are a pair of crab pincers made from agricultural waste and aluminium. I admire the artist’s imaginative use of unusual materials and recycling.

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This Mushroom Skirt & Jacket are made from Geotex, plywood, castors, and upholstery fabric, for a performance called Pollen, in 2012. The Geotextile is normally used in gardening and agriculture, so it was interesting to see how effectively it could be worked with in this costume: pleated, swirled, shaped, cut and paint-splattered.

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Alex Rigg explains that the way the costume behaves when worn by the performer is an important part of the rehearsal process. The design of the pieces is an integral part of the choreography. The performers develop a language of gestures derived from the landscape and from specific performance sites, including the architecture. His work has been inspired by the landscape paintings and architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

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For example, for a recent performance called “Un-looking“, the costumes were derived from abstracting forms from Mackintosh’s 1920s landscape watercolours of Southern France – featuring rocks, buildings, land and sea scapes.

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Lizard Coat, Half Chaps, Waistcoat and Trousers, upholstery fabric, silk, leather. Performance: Polleniser, 2014

I thought that this suggested the colour and texture of a lizard in an interesting way, without being ‘realistic’. Fine pleats are oversewn to give directional waves.

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This costume featured leather and other fabrics, cut to resemble muscles or ribs across the chest. The interesting yellow and metal objects are electrical connectors. The artist seems not to be limited in his choice of materials, using many non-traditional textiles and embellishments. I would imagine that the geotexile is a fairly low cost material, but transformed by the use of various techniques in making and decorating the costumes. It also appears to be non-fraying, which allows a cleanly-cut and shaped edge.

gracefield August 2016

A bird like costume had white plastic ribbing sewn into the fabric, showing at the tips of the ‘wings’ like feathers (detail top, middle). The sporran is in the shape of a fish, made from leather (bottom, left). The lizard mask at bottom right is moulded over a trilby hat, made from aluminium.

Summary

An inspiring and illuminating exhibition, showing how textiles and found materials can be transformed, with imagination and skill, into unique costumes.

Thinking of what I can learn from this artist: his use of a wide variety of materials, including recycled and ‘found’, and non-traditional ones was fascinating, and something to bear in mind for my future experimentation. Manipulating a two-dimensional textile into a three-dimensional structure may be something that I will need to try in forthcoming assignments. I was very interested to see how the artist took inspiration from a particular source and transformed the shapes from buildings and paintings into forms that would fit the human body – there were pages from his sketchbook on display. The importance of drawing and working out the designs was apparent. Although I am not planning to make costumes, I am interested in sculptural forms.

Exhibition Visit: Spring Fling 28 – 30 May 2016

Spring Fling is an art and craft open studios event, held annually in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland

94 artists and makers selected by arts industry professionals showcase their work.

I visited the WASPS Studios at 117 High Street, Kirkcudbright, DG6 4JG

Of particular interest to me were the works of:-

Morag Macpherson Textiles, this artist and designer creates limited editions of digitally printed fabrics, made into scarves and cushions; and one-of-a-kind patchworked kimonos, skirts, throws and wall hangings. Fabrics used are silks, wool, linens and cottons.

Process:- “Morag Macpherson Textiles creates surface pattern inspired by art movements in history, urban and natural forms and different cultures. The research process and ideas behind the designs are an important part of the process and it is fundamental to the final result that these visual creations stand on their own before being applied to a surface. These usually bold and colourful designs are digitally applied to natural linens, crisp cottons, pure silks, fine wools and most recently, wallpapers.”

Quote from Morag Macpheron’s Personal Statement on Craft Scotland’s website.

Morag’s colourful pieces have strikingly unique and clashing patterns, linked in each garment by the chosen colour palette.  I see from her personal statement, that she has a background in graphic design and has studied ‘Design for Printing’ and I felt that this was evident in her work. She had used a professional photographer, Kim Ayres, to make high quality images of her finished designs, which project a young, arty, decadent image. Some of the photos can be seen here.

Her work interests me because I can see the potential for designs to be printed on fabrics and used to make other items: clothing, soft furnishings, accessories etc. A great way to make maximum use (and financial return) from each original design. The combination and patchworking of different original patterns is a modern take on a traditional craft. Research:- companies printing designs onto fabric; software required for digital designs. Consider using professionally-taken photos of finished pieces.

Rosie Reid/Colour Rosie

Rosie was exhibiting a wide range of items for sale, including:- prints, cards, bags made from her fabric designs, mugs printed with her designs etc. She also uses this as her workspace. Rosie states on her website that she loves “…designing colourful compositions based on the beauty in natures imperfections. After graduating as a textile designer from DJCAD [Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee] I was fortunate to have many textile opportunities that allowed me to develop my degree work further. As an intern at Harlequin I created floral works with my quirky abstract style and got a great insight into how a successful textiles company operates.”

Quote from Colour Rosie: About Page

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The artist has a variety of styles inspired by colour in nature: abstract pieces, collages, illustrative artworks, florals etc. I admired her simple, colourful designs and patterns with pretty colour palettes. The artist has tried out different products to find out which ones sell best, and also includes reproductions of her work on fabrics and in prints. As with Morag’s work, this diversification of products using reproductions of her original designs is appealing. Combinations of sketchbook images can be combined to make an overall pattern for fabric production. Great examples of her mood boards are shown on her website.

The third artist that we visited was Heather M Nisbet, whose studio can be found at:- The Fox Hole, Kirkcudbright, DG6 4XD

Heather works in a variety of media (oils, acrylics, watercolours) and paints villages, boats and landscapes inspired by local scenery, and that of the Scottish Islands.

Heather’s process, which she had on display, and describes on her website:-

“Using on location sketches supplemented by photographs, I work up paintings in my studio, employing a variety of techniques and media, including oil, acrylic, watercolour and charcoal.”

“Other work, including figures and portraits, are sometimes based on life, sometimes on snippets from photographs and otherwise from my imagination.”

Quotes from Heather M Nisbet Art

I was very interested in Heather’s process, which involved making preparatory sketches and taking reference photographs. The sketches were on smaller pieces of paper, rather than in a bound sketchbook. Heather had framed selections of the preparatory drawings (examples shown in my photos of her studio below). These images were ‘collaged’ into a pleasing composition, before being enlarged to the size of the canvas using a grid system, and then painted. We are now the proud owners of BA 465 – a painting of boats in a harbour.

Thinking of my own work, I have used a similar enlarging technique to get small drawings to a suitable size to become paintings. I often use the enlarging capabilities of my printer if I am making template pieces for a textile work. The method for composing an imaginary scene based on a variety of original source materials is one I will try out.

In summary, it was very interesting to see these thriving artists and get an insight into their process. I learned that it is important to maximise the reach of a design by producing diverse products at a variety of price points using manufactured processes, such as fabric printing. Combining a variety of images, from sketches and photos, into a new, decorative, imagined composition was inspiring.

Notes and Reflective Writing About Visit to Clarencefield Quilt Show & Fabric Sale: Featuring The Work of Pam Ducker

I made a short visit to the McFarlan Hall, Clarencefield, Dumfriesshire today, where the quilts of the late Pam Ducker were on display. Fabrics, second-hand books and magazines were also on sale. The event is run by Ann Hill, a quilter, teacher and quilting supplies shop owner. The exhibition runs from 20 – 28 May 2016.

[My notes appear in plain text, my thoughts are shown in blue italic font.]

“Quilts of the late Pam Ducker

Pam was an active member of Romsey Quilters for many years including two years as Chair and was fortunate to be inspired by many talented quilters and to attend many wonderful workshops. In a move to Singapore she discovered “Red Work” … Pam created many fine quilts and wall hangings in just over 25 years…

Quote from The Quilters’ Guild of The British Isles website.

 The first thing that struck me as I walked into the exhibition was the range of quilting styles that Pam Ducker had explored. There were traditional block pieced quilts, appliqué, Bargello quilts, pieces which reminded me of Hawaiian layered appliqué, and charmingly embroidered red work quilts. A mixture of hand and machine quilting was evident in the pieces.

I am a slow worker, so this often dictates the size and complexity of the piece that I am working on. I prefer the look of hand stitches and the process of hand stitching, but must consider that if I want to make larger pieces, machine quilting has the advantage of speed and producing effects that may be more appropriate for a particular piece. Tying quilt layers together is something that I would like to try, and it has the advantage of adding a different texture to the piece.

The yellowish light in The Hall and the height of the displayed quilts did not make for easy or accurate photography, but I took some reference photos. This beautiful yellow and white quilt (below left, with detail shown at right) was made and hand quilted by Pam. It features eight pointed stars set into a grid with squares divided into triangles, between. It was made to celebrate her Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1994. Another small quilt top in the traditional style with pin wheel blocks in red and white, with a blue border is shown as the featured image above the title of this article.

When I consider why this appeals to me, I think it is the combination of colour, pattern and shape that work so well. The star block is one that I have explored in my own work. (Please note that the piece shown was made before I started this course and is not part of my coursework). I  made a small wall hanging (‘Harvest Stars’, shown below) featuring autumnal shades of scrap fabrics, combining my love of making something out of tiny ‘waste’ scraps of fabric, with the use of multiple colours and patterns. The aim in making this piece was to emulate the ‘doll quilts’ made by girls in the USA in the 19th/20th centuries as a first practice piece. I tried to evoke the past traditions and hand work of antique quilts, but giving it a contemporary twist with a ‘random’ border.

An interesting duo of wall hangings called “Design in a Circle – Black Hole” (April – May 2008) and “Design in a Circle – Nebula” (May – June 2008) showed a brightly coloured appliqué, with a narrow satin stitch attachment to the black background fabric, and surrounded and covered with dense machine quilting.

The use of a positive and a negative shape mean that the two art works have an instant ‘yin yang’ relationship between them. The repetition, with variations, is a good theme for a series of work which will be viewed together, and could be adapted to show change over time, for instance.

I purchased this small sample, or unfinished wall hanging, made by Pam.

The three-dimensional appearance of the stitching is very effective. A closer view of the stitches shows that a variety of green threads were used for the ‘recessed’ area of the shape, these have been over-stitched in places, and highlighted with pale coloured thread on the edge that appears to ‘advance’.

I was grateful to have had the chance to see this talented quilter’s work and it has encouraged me to practise machine quilting techniques in order to speed up my process and allow me to make more, and larger art works, or to experiment with tied pieces. The use of repetition with variation is another theme I would like to explore.

To put Pam Ducker’s work into context, it seems to span an exploration of the traditional, artistically pleasing and functional quilts of the 18th and 19th centuries (appliqué, ‘presentation’ quilts and pieced quilts) to more modern art quilts, primarily for artistic expression and decoration. This has prompted me to do some research into the history of quilts in the US and Britain which I will discuss in a separate blog post.