I’ve been finishing off various bits of work for Tide Marks. With less than two weeks to go until the opening it is finishing touches time. Amongst the work are five paper pieces with embossing and stitching on a scale that I’ve not attempted before. Stitching into paper this size (70 x 50 cm) provides certain challenges but I’ve worked away methodically at my kitchen table with the autumn light changing rapidly as the weather flits between sunshine and showers, the now cold wind carrying animated leaves past my window. This has been a more attractive place to work than my studio of late. I miss the eye onto the outside when I’m there.
These pieces are subtle, quiet. They change massively with the light: sometimes the embossed lines and stitches catching dark shadows so they look like drawn marks; sometimes the whole piece looking flat and empty. The space that appears empty from a distance is full of detail when you’re close. Space can be scary: it is tempting to fill it up, but just like silence that can be beautiful I hope the spaces can be too.
My book is a record of things picked up in the streets around my home on everyday short walks during autumn and winter: on the way to the post office or back from school. The things I’ve picked up are insignificant: a rusty washer, a few leaves, a beer bottle top… They have come together with the help of the chemistry of tea to make marks on the pages of the book. I’ve then used rollers and ink to build up more marks and texture and finally there are stitches added in response to the other marks.
This morning I finished my book and now I can post it off to the Brooklyn Art Library for it to join all the other books from around the world. Eventually my book will be available online to view digitally, but for now here are a few peeks at the detail:
A day of respite from the relentlessly wet summer we’re having means I can linger a little longer on my forays into the garden. One of the advantages of working at home is that I can potter a little outside in between other jobs or, at the least, sit outside or on the steps to have my lunch.
I am constantly delighted by my garden. It is a very important part of me. At the beginning of the year there was nothing here: a patch of grass and a tired fence. I’ve changed that and in the space of a few months it is overflowing with greenery of the ornamental and the edible kind.
As I potter it is the detail that draws me in, fascinates me: the tiny holes in leaves (made by who?); the textures of different foliage mixed together; the various insects that are going about their own business; and the mix of colours that can be so stunning.
And then there is the satisfaction of finding something edible forming, and the hope that you will manage to harvest it before the slugs do.
>As soon as I’d finished writing my review of Second Skin last week I was itching to do some dyeing. I had a couple of bags of eucalyptus leaves that I’d had sitting waiting for quite a while. One was from a tree in my parents’ garden, that I’d brought back from a visit ages ago and hadn’t got round to doing anything with. The other were a little bundle from South Africa.
When I visited there 18 months ago I’d painted these leaves and had a little stash waiting for something. When I painted them they were fairly freshly fallen and the colours were more varied and vivid. Now they’re older and brittle and much more dull but still with variation in their pinks and browns.
I took a piece of wool felt, some silk habotai, silk gauze chiffon and a piece of silk/viscose velvet I found left over from various college projects. I made up a series of bundles, bound with wool and made a last little wrapping of more of the wool round a few leaves.
These all got the steaming and sitting treatment and as they sat the colours really developed. I undid them yesterday as I noticed there were patches of mold forming on the surface of the damp parcels. I unwrapped them, rinsed and hung them to dry in the sunshine.
The African leaves have made beautiful impressions on the felt and the silk pieces have taken on a generally uniform orange with patches of more intense colour.
The bleating of sheep (why do they always sound so desperate?) and incessant rush of water in the river, low with lack of rain, was the sound track to my Saturday afternoon.
This was the Ribble near Settle, in the Yorkshire Dales. A dipper in the river darted back and forth, alighting on rocks, doing as its name suggests. A baby great tit, surely too young to fly, sat helplessly in the grass, its mother shouting at us to go away from the riverside trees. Warm air; sun comes and goes amidst broken cloud and is then further interrupted by the ever moving leaves of a large ash tree. The perfect place to spend a langourous afternoon. Then suddenly the mood changes, cool breeze, spots of rain, dark clouds looming.
Walking back to the station there is all sorts of detail to be distracted by: A dock leaf like lace…
a purple cow parsley leaf…
spiky buttercup seed heads…
various umbellifers in seed…
delicate buds, tightly closed now the sun has gone in