West Dean

Alice Fox 49 Beer Bottle Tops1

I will be teaching a workshop in March at West Dean College in West Sussex. As a new tutor to this renowned centre for the creative arts I have been invited to show some of my work in the College foyer in the run up to my course there. I have sent a variety of work to show in this exhibition, including: Spurn Cloth #1, the large art quilt piece I made during my 2012 residency at Spurn; 49 Beer Bottle Tops (shown above) and 76 Hair Grips (both incorporating found metal with hand stitch and natural staining); a selection of paper-based pieces incorporating rust prints, collagraph and stitch. The exhibition runs form 10th January to 10th March.

back to Spurn

Alice_Fox_Spurn_April2016 I’ve been back to Spurn for the first time since my residency ended 3 1/2 years ago. It felt so good walking the whole peninsula again, some parts very familiar and some bits significantly changed by the elements since my last visit. Some great wildlife encounters made the day really special too: a dolphin (sadly dead, but fascinating to see), a short-eared owl, a lizard, curlew, deer, butterflies…

The lighthouse is now spick and span in its newly re-furbished state, with a new coat of paint inside and out. It is now open to the public regularly and there is some sensitive interpretation inside to help the visitor understand the history of this wonderful heritage building and the unique location it overlooks.

Alice_Fox_Spurn_viewLuckily it was a beautiful day, although with a cold wind, so the views were long-ranging and at their very best. As ever there was all sorts of weird and wonderful (and not so wonderful) stuff washed up on the beach, including various balls of fishing line caught up into bundles with other debris attached, like un-natural tumble-weeds.

Alice_Fox_Spurn_bundleI took along some of the work I made during my residency and have donated a piece to The Wildlife Trust, who manage Spurn. This will go up either in the lighthouse or in one of the other visitor spaces. The other pieces I took with me are now on display in the Bluebell Cafe in Kilnsea. It’s lovely to have some of my work back there, where it came from and where it belongs.

Alice_Fox_Spurn_wood_sand_rope

Alice_Fox_Spurn_hole_view

erosion

Alice Fox Spurn Cloth #2 take down with assistant

I took down my installation at The Bowery last weekend (with the help of my small assistant).  It was potentially a rather sad day as the paper pieces that I’d collaged directly onto the wall were going to have to be scraped off.  I didn’t know whether they would come off in salvageable pieces or if the whole thing would break up.  I had resolved myself to this site specific piece (the paper extension to my linen Spurn Cloth #2) being an ephemeral work and likened it to the erosion and change that is happening constantly at Spurn, where the pieces were based on.

Someone suggested I should have filmed the process of putting the installation up, building up the collage on the wall – great idea, but I’d already put it up when they suggested it!  So I decided to record the taking down instead.  Here is the result, although the quality isn’t great it gives an idea of how the pieces surrounded you in the gallery (the first half is shots taken from the middle of the room looking round the walls and then it goes back the other way tracking the removal of the work and leaving an empty gallery again.

 

different space

Alice Fox Spurn Cloth #1 creases catching the light

Each time I take Textures of Spurn to a different venue there are new challenges in presenting the work in a new space.  This is quite an interesting exercise and I learn something new every time.

Alice Fox Spurn Cloth #1 at Gallery 49 exhibition

At Gallery 49 I am sharing the space with other artists. There were decisions to be made about how to allow the work to sit alongside that of others and letting it compliment each other.  Stef’s beautiful botanical monoprints and Margaret’s ceramics tied in beautifully, picking up particularly on the seaweed collagraph elements in my work.

Alice Fox Textures of Spurn with Stef Mitchell prints and Margaret Lawrenson ceramics

Alice Fox Tide Marks books at Gallery 49

The exhibition is on until 27th April.

Alice Fox Bridlington north beach

I took the opportunity to have some time by the sea, both at Bridlington and a little further up the coast at Filey.  Despite the persistent cold weather we’re having there was some beautiful sunshine and it was quite a wrench to tear myself away from the beach.  There were all sorts of intriguing marks in the bright white stones, some almost like stitches.

Alice Fox sketchbook Bridlington north beach Alice Fox stone markings Bridlington north beach Alice Fox stone marks Bridlington north beach

 

anticipation

Alice Fox long rust dye bundle endI’m busy making work for a couple of exhibitions that are coming up.  The Makers’ Guild in Wales invited me to show in their forthcoming exhibition A Personal Perspective, which I’m very excited about.  I’m making some new rust-dyed cloth pieces for it which use some of what I learnt during my time on the Spurn project but move things on a little.  I have various things waiting to be un-bound and their marks revealed…

Alice Fox rust dye bundle

Alice Fox rust dyeing edges

 

opening

Opening

Despite severe weather warnings (the likes of which I’m sure must amuse those readers in countries that regularly have properly severe weather!) my exhibition opened last weekend at The Ropewalk in Barton.  It is a very different prospect hanging this work in a gallery space after the spectacular but challenging building that it was originally conceived for.

Cloth #1

For the first time you can see the whole of Spurn Cloth #1 (all 4.7 metres of it) hung on a wall rather than in the curved format it had in the lamp room of Spurn Lighthouse. Conversely, Spurn Cloth #2, which hung (all 10 metres of it) in a very tall space half way up the lighthouse, hangs now as a two sided piece.

Spurn Cloth #2

The gallery put together a lovely little six-sided fold out brochure for the exhibition with a few images of my work and a bit of blurb.  I have some spare copies of this so if anyone would like one sending I’d be happy to post one to you.  Send me an email with your address or leave a comment.

Ropewalk brochure

 

 

ropewalk

invite

Textures of Spurn opens tomorrow at The Ropewalk gallery in Barton upon Humber.  I’m braving the snow we have forecast and hoping to be there tomorrow, even if no one else comes!  I delivered the work on Tuesday and had time with Richard, Exhibitions Officer, deciding how to hang the work.  It is such a different space from the lighthouse!  I found the space quite daunting at first and was concerned that the work wasn’t going to have the impact it had in the previous setting.  By the time I left (in the snow – North Lincolnshire was looking gorgeous) I was really pleased with how it was coming together and I’m excited about seeing it all complete tomorrow.

If you don’t have far to travel and the snow allows then do come along – it’ll be warm in the gallery!  The exhibition is on until 24th February.

Ropewalk setting up

light and line

I’ve admired the work of Polly Binns from a distance for quite some time.  I’ve read about her work and practice. In particular, when I was preparing for my Spurn residency, I read her 1997 PhD thesis: Vision and Process in Textile Art. A Personal Response to a Particular Landscape Expressed through Textile Art.  This was a very important text for me as Polly’s work is completely tied up with her experience of a coastal landscape where she used to live in north Norfolk.  The way Polly describes her interaction with the landscape (repeated walks, concentrating on specific elements within the landscape, observing certain qualities) rings true with my own experience.

I feel a bit silly sometimes concentrating on the coast when I live about as far from the sea as you can in the British Isles… but it is with me all the time.  I actually found during my residency that the periods of ‘immersion’ were so intense that removal from it was important too; a time to step back and reflect on what I’d seen and experienced.  We develop different ways of working depending on circumstance.  If I lived by the sea, and maybe I will again one day, I would work differently I’m sure.  I also feel a bit insecure about the subtlety I seek in my work, that it can come across as being simple, not enough to it.  I am often concentrating on a very detailed surface quality.

Last weekend I went to Barnsley to see the current exhibition Light and Line, work by Polly Binns and Anne Morrell.  I have never before been moved to tears in an exhibition but on Saturday I was.  I think it was actually such a relief to see this work of Polly’s, so different in real life from on the page of a book or a computer screen.  I felt so reassured that what I am pursuing in my practice is the right thing to do.  These cloths of Polly’s aren’t stretched; they don’t even have a batten – they are simply, almost brutally, pinned to the wall.  They appear very simple but there is layer upon layer of stitch and paint, built up slowly and purposefully.  The lines, textures, tones and three-dimensional elements are subtle, minimal in places and light plays an important part.

After the subtlety of Polly’s cloths I couldn’t quite deal with the intense colours in Anne Morrell’s work but her pieces that were without colour I liked very much.

I came away feeling inspired, reassured and humbled.  I dug out my notes on Polly’s thesis and was reminded of the passages that I found particularly relevant:

My artistic production during this period did not result in work which was a faithful record of a particular landscape on a particular day, but something created out of images stored in my memory – a response to the experience of landscape.

 Binns (1997), p43

Many speak of the process of making as central to the development of their work.  It becomes image as well as process, a starting point for ideas as well as chief pleasure.  This intimate relationship between eye, hand and material is what draws makers to the textile medium.

Duffey (1997) The Language of touch, 62 group catalogue, in Binns (1997), p12.