open

Bradford Open For Art or Open Studios is well under way now with just one more day of events.  Yesterday saw pretty dismal weather but today the sun shone and that seemed to make all the difference to the numbers knocking on the door.  I will be open again tomorrow between 11 and 5 at 28 Highfield Terrace, Shipley.  There is a cluster of other venues nearby so plenty to look at.  

There is finished work to see, work in progress (on the kitchen table – see below) and my studio in the basement is available for a poke around. There is cake made and a kettle on the boil…

open studios

In a couple of weeks I’m going to be involved in Bradford’s first city-wide open studios event.  This takes place over the extended jubilee bank holiday weekend and sees all sorts of different exhibitions and open studios during the 4 days.  

My house and studio will be open to visitors on Sunday 3rd to Tuesday 5th June from 11am – 5pm.  There are various other venues nearby, including Hannah, Hugh and Claire showing  just in the next street.

I’ve written a blog post about what a rewarding experience open studios can be here.

tide marks

I’m really pleased with how my tide marks series of work has turned out now it’s framed.  I’ve been lovingly working at, adding to, sorting and revisiting these small pieces of dyed, printed, stitched paper over the last few weeks.  But I always worried that they wouldn’t stand on their own as individual pieces.  Somehow by placing these things into frames they are transformed into the precious items that I already feel they are: it says ‘this is what they are’ to any other viewer that hasn’t had the relationship with them that I have.

These are quiet pieces, subtle.  I hope that whoever looks at them will be intrigued, drawn in by the play of different marks and textures.  They invite you to look closely, study the lines, see where the stitches go.  At least that’s how I feel about them.  I want them to intrigue people, please them and perhaps puzzle them.

These, as well as other work, will be shown next weekend at 6 Harold Place as part of the Saltaire Arts Trail.

deliveries

I’ve made deliveries of work today to the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe for their Craft Open Exhibition, which runs from Saturday 5th

and to 6 Harold Place, the Open House I’m showing in as part of the Saltaire Arts Trail from 5-7th May.

I also have some work going up at the Saltaire Visitor Information Centre as part of the build up the the Arts Trail, which was an unexpected but lovely invitation to show work in another venue.

blackwell

Some time away is a mixed blessing: much needed and precious time with people I love and a chance to step back from the busy home/work life, have some breathing space; always entered into with the knowledge that there is so much to do back in the studio/office.

However, once I can relax into it of course there is so much rich experience to be had.  Time in Somerset and Cumbria this Easter have given me all of these things.  A visit to ‘Damson Country‘ and the Arts and Crafts House at Blackwell are particular highlights.



I’ve known about Blackwell House for years but hadn’t visited.  It was the exhibition ‘Woven from Nature‘ that prompted this visit and, although I knew this was a special example of an Arts and Crafts House, I wasn’t quite prepared for how breathtaking it would be.  You can’t photograph inside the house but you are encouraged to sit on the many cosy window seats and take your time.  This was an absolutely necessary part of drinking the place and it’s stunning location in. 

The exhibition is beautifully curated (on until 29th April so still over a week to see it).  I’ve seen Jilly’s work before a number of times and seeing her colourful pieces in a new location felt like re-visiting old friends.  

I was fascinated by the detail of Mary Butcher’s willow pieces; how a strip of willow can be so ribbon-like in the way it is wound and binds and catches the light as it does so:

What was really clear was the deep understanding of material in all four artists work.  As Maggie Smith says: 

“the themes of my work arise from the ebb and flow of natural cycles, the relationship between maker and materials and by a deep exploration of the materials themselves.” 

Maggie‘s use of found objects, particularly beach-derived ones, had a special resonance for me and her use of seaweed as a basis for cording, twining, knitting, vessel-making was fascinating.

Once outside the house you discover Laura Ellen Bacon’s wierd installation, which emerges out of and oozes down the building and out into the landscape.  If you stand in a particular place on the lawn the two pieces come together, appearing to flow from the roof, right over the wall to the lower terrace.  
Whilst I was enjoying these forms in the spring sunshine (a gap between heavy April showers) I was quite shocked by some of the comments of other visitors; people who were so closed off to the possibilities, the craftsmanship and relevance of such art.  It seems so right for work such as this to be installed at a building whose history is all about craftsmanship and design.  You wonder why some people visit these places if they are going to dismiss something so quickly.  It really made me think about how people might view my work, not that it is in any way approaching the league of what I saw here.  How can you engage people in work that is not immediately ‘pretty’?  Some people will ‘get’ it and some won’t, so is it worth trying?  Even with sensitive and informative interpretation so many people seem to dismiss things without any thought.  I’m afraid it gave me the blues!  


shifting stuff

I feel like I’m stuck inside a rubix cube or one of those little games where you can only move one square at a time and you have to make 20 other moves before you can make the one you really want to.

I have managed to unpack a lot since moving house and slowly things are getting straight.  The studio was, until Monday, completely jammed with boxes with just a little passage to get to the washing machine and freezer (this is my cellar and so also utility room).  Then the removal people came to take away my empty boxes, which suddenly gave me the space to empty some more and so the studio looked like this:


Believe me, this was an improvement!  Suddenly I could start to get a feel for the room.  I then spent time over the next couple of days sorting and shifting things about.  I put together the plan chest where I store my paper and previous mounted work (this involved a great deal of swearing – it isn’t really a one person job).  I got to the end of the day I’m afraid to say that the room didn’t look much different, things had just changed places.  Basically I have too much stuff.

I know that it will all come together eventually and that the sorting I’m doing isn’t wasted time at all.  There isn’t much creativity going on though, which gets me down.  So this afternoon I’ve been doing some research towards a project I’ll be doing this year and I’m quite excited.  More about that another time…

>open house

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I spent a lovely weekend sitting at 6 Harrowby Road (hosted by the lovely Joanna) with my work and the work of various other artists adorning the walls. I met some lovely people, had some really interesting conversations and feedback about my work… and drank lots of coffee and ate lots of cake!

I do think that showing art in domestic settings can work really well.  There is a relaxed-ness that you will never get in a gallery, and people get to see how something might look in their own home.  Of course there is a certain amount of nosiness in being able to wonder round other people’s houses, and that is part of the attraction of an arts trail like this for many people.  I took some stitching to do on the second day and have to admit that it felt very luxurious to sit on a comfy sofa all day, stitching and having pleasant conversations… back to the rest of life now!

>peeling back the layers

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It is always interesting peeling off old wallpaper and seeing what other layers of paper and paint are underneath. I’ve been stripping off the old brittle paper from a room in my attic and underneath is the most beautiful turquoise colour. It actually looks quite toxic – arsenic green springs to mind! I’m having to be careful with all the dust from this and from the black coal dust in the plaster of this old house.


Once some old shelves were removed there was a strip of a different paper with delicate flowers. It all has to come off but I’m enjoying the discovery in the process.