March onwards!

Time is moving on. Looming large on the horizon is York Open Studios, when local artists open their doors and invite people in. York’s event is over the first two weekends in April. Definitely looming.

Trying to get all the jobs done is daunting but it must start. Work is being made, new ideas and exploring media and technique still continue. Mixing painting with the stitching still has a vitality but I do need to get out and push it further. I have been trying to play more with layers and the painting side, but still it is the stitching that engages me, the physical handling and manipulating makes it more personal.

There will be new pieces shown for the first time, some older pieces have been cannibalised in the experiments and present themselves in new guises with new characters, as well as some of the other media work to look at.

EEEK!!! Tattycat with no clothes on alert!

The Tattymouse tribe grows slowly as new beasties are joining the crew, Tattycats! Began as a gift for a friend in hospital, they seem to be gaining momentum… at least this is Tc2. I am not yet sure about them/him/it. It will look different with the scraps and embroidery on it.

And of course there are other things happening- visiting the Ferens Gallery in Hull to view the Open Exhibition, I need to take more to the Art in the Mill Gallery in Knaresborough. The York Textile Artists group have local shows in the offing (City Screen in May) and are applying for more !! Hopefully we will be exhibiting in the Summer too.

I am teaching at the Viking Loom but am putting together a series of workshops of my own too – keep an eye out, numbers will be small.

Great Yorkshire Show Adventure

Well, it is done, now a memory. It was an adventure, which is what I wanted, and very entertaining in so many ways! Thank you to all who supported us, all who dropped in just to look-see, and especially to Lucy Morrison who curated the show and invited me to do it.

Surprising things – that I enjoyed having to get up that early!

That pigs can snore tunefully.

That cows have a naughty sense of humour- It took 20 minutes to persuade one cow to stand properly for her photo, and then she stood perfectly as soon as the photographer left. They also seem to have complete control of the digestive processes and go for comic effect at the most dramatic moments.

The show was great fun, full of life and energy. We were there 4 days and there were still places to explore and new things to see. Going for one day and trying to see it all must be exhausting!

The Art Show was excellent, a real mix of things to see and to discuss. The artist demos were interesting, from manipulating a brand new smart media to portrait painting. I had my demo all planned out but managed to lose the prepped piece between car and venue (typical), so did my demo on a scratty bit of calico with an off cut of bump as stabiliser! But it was well received and the potential of using a sewing machine to create art seemed new and to intrigue them .

It was wonderful being in a gallery with others for that extended time. We had good discussions about everything, shared ideas and experiences, met thousands of people who wanted to look and buy. I have recovered now, the urge to meet and greet random strangers is passing and the over bright receptionist chipmunk voice is relaxing back to normal. Meeting so many enthusiasts and even some textilers was a bonus. All I have to do now is to place the remaining work for the rest of the summer and autumn, sort out a new season of classes – a draft is on the Try it page, finish work for September show in Richmond, finish work for the YTA show in October, and…. and… and… and… at some point mow the lawn, cut the hedge and wash up. I think my priorities ( preferences) are clear!

The finished Rufforth Path

If anyone is interested in any of the new work, please contact before they are committed to new exhibitions. I am also blocking in days when you can come to work in my workroom and pick my brain for your own projects if you wish , but there are only a few spaces each time so grab the opportunity.

July

This was when my world was meant to calm down.

Great Yorkshire Show – July 2022, Harrogate, North Yorkshire.- the work is just about ready. It needs the last one mounted and all the admin done. ( and blurbs written, and promotions, and …. and… Don’t let anyone tell you it is all just sitting and stitching!)

The theme of remembering familiar landscapes has been fascinating to play with. Visiting and revisiting, relying on visual memory, impressions and other senses to build an image has taken some nerve at times. They don’t look “like” one place, with one viewpoint, one idea of the place, but they have to “feel” right. I like the warmth of the colours and the energy from layering images and mixing materials while working organically, letting the images emerge as it progresses. Some have ended up more abstract than others, some are using old pieces of work (painted sketches or stitched pieces) to contrast with the new impressions. Developing this approach has been exciting, but it is time for a rest, to let the idea lay for a while and mature further. It won’t be lost or forgotten, just catching its breath before the next burst of energy and fresh enthusiasm.

In the meantime the magpies are growing – these are for the York Textile Artists’ show in October- on the theme of “In Spiral”. These satisfy the more designer side of my brain – taking inspiration from the Arts and Crafts style but still keeping it sketchy and tufty! I am trying different ways of combining fabric and stitch, varying textures and techniques in search of the perfect bird and leaf combination. More on these next time. (Including moaning about why they tend to look like pigeons and why I can never quite get the beak quite right.) (and about thread painting, velvet, silk, paint, the weather (am British) and anything else that might occur to me) And there are 2 shows in September to think on too.

The new season of classes are brewing at the moment. These are small, informal and relaxed, focussed on freehand machine work and related techniques. Has to be all of these things as they are held in my workroom!- do promise to tidy up a bit. If interested contact me for details, there will be introduction mornings for those just beginning, project days for those wishing to develop skills in a step by step way, plus sessions playing with water soluble fabric, fabric manipulation or combining paint and stitch. I also take private bookings and tutorials on request.

And just wait until you meet the new Tatty Cats! Rounded snoozy ones in production The first one is called Arthur!

The Magpies Are Coming!

This is the counter weight project for all the landscape work I have been doing over the last few months….. don’t worry, I haven’t stopped those, I just need a different thing to think about, a different question to ask and play with.

We have two themes upcoming in the York Textile Artists exhibitions- In Spiral and Myths and Legends. Somehow they came together as I watched magpies in the garden perching in the honey locust tree. A loose idea of the Arts and Crafts style of spiralling, twining fronds, framing and hiding the birds who were regarded as witches’ familiars ( even witches themselves), or at least birds of ill omen. We all know the rhymes….. For the first time I have sat in the garden or at the window, wanting the magpies to come down….

Easy to say I will try to stitch it, but to do?…. lots of ongoing visual research, experiments and pondering.

It seemed quite reasonable to stitch on water soluble -I usually don’t so not sure why!- but no, even with pinning out it distorted and sulked.( trying on short napped black velvet next so there is less colouring in black, and more shading and modelling) And the stitching! Just how many subtle shades – but they don’t really show up that well. Less delicate, more thumper in approach required, make the areas more defined and limit the blending to a smaller margin. Of course there would be more contrast at the eye, and definition on the flight feathers , but as a sample, this is being quite a learning curve.

And did I say that the foliage comes next. Light, fine and lime green? How to make it strong enough that the bird is lurking, applique in chiffon and velvets will be the start point. Then design – how designed or to stay informal? he next few days will be fun!

Flying….

Do you ever feel that you are spinning? So much is going on that being organised is a hope/ desperate plea/ distant ambition, and all that doing seems to lead to more doing and then more…..

The Open Studios is a receding memory now, the next crunch is going to be the Great Yorkshire Show in July where I have been invited to exhibit! That promises to be fun! (= anxious, scary, demanding).

This is one of the new pieces finished last week – still playing with combining paint, collage, applique and stitch chasing the ideas of memories and place. There are a couple more to do, but the end may be in sight…..ready for this new adventure.

Even on a smaller scale it is very busy: we hung a mini show for the York Textile Artists at the City Screen cinema in York on Sunday. My solo display is coming down on Tuesday but I am hanging a group effort for the Westside Artists to replace it.! Pop along and enjoy the hospitality at the Angel on the Green in York and be surrounded by art. Karen Winship’s portraiture will be there in the next room too.

Of course I am part through the Spring series of workshops, there are still places available – This are outlined on the pages on this site but email for details and bookings.

Stitchy days for the adventurous.

Are you a thwarted rebel with a sewing machine, an adventurous but anxious stitcher, or do you just want to try? These are details of the classes I will be hosting this season. Email me for details or to book.

They are held in my workroom in York, UK, with an option of 2 dates for each. Open to all who want to explore freehand machining, you will need your own machine and freemotion/darning foot and threads.

Intro

May 4th, May 21st

10 -1pm £35

(The very beginning!)

Come and stitch, discover or develop freemotion/ freehand machining.

Play and explore a whole new way of enjoying sewing. Not a ruler or straight edge in sight!

Having troubles? Come along and see if we can pinpoint the problems.

The Twisting Tree Stitchy Day

May 25th, May 28th

10- 4pm £45

Get adventurous in a very ‘safe’ way.

Develop and refine your skills by following step by step instructions to create your own individual study of this dramatic tree. Combine techniques and approach the work in a relaxed, creatively open way.

Fabricy Stitchy Day

June 11th, June 15th

10 -4pm £45

A Play Day full of Applique, Layers, Building up and Cutting back, Textures and surfaces.

Explore a combination of techniques to create surfaces, shapes and textures to stitch on .

Find ways and methods of creating extra layers of texture and colour to bring your surfaces to life. A valuable addition to the creative sewing basket.

Paint and Stitch and…. Stitchy Day

June 25th, June 28th

10-4pm £45

A play day combining wet media, such as acrylic paint or inks, with stitch.

Layering media, experimenting with techniques, creating with colour, and working ith non-fabric surfaces. Play with collage, combine paper with fabric, stitching and painting over both.

Stitchy Classes And the World after York Open Studios…

I was asked to host an introduction to freehand machining work and ended up with 4 different classes to offer! Have a look, take your pick, and come along! All are in my workspace in York and for only 4 people at a time.

Start with the Intro and get to grips with the basics. It is much more straightforward and fun than you may believe and opens up a whole world of potential. (there may be giggling)

Try the step by step tuition of the Twisted Tree +. Use those fledgling skills and make a sophisticated study. There are two less structured, experimental classes planned, one playing with the idea of applique and working with fabrics, and then the dread “Paint and Stitch and….”- a day of adventure , and probably messy! Do email me for more details, etc- dates, times and cost are also on the “Want to Try” page.

I dread setting up classes – never quite sure how to shoe horn it all in to manageable bitesize pieces but it had to be done and in place for the Open Studios event.

Over the last 2 weekends York artists have invited all who came into our workspaces to see what we have made, what we are making and how.

It was fun, entertaining, intriguing and stimulating to meet other enthusiasts. Most of the questions stay the same but the enquiries and interest are genuine. It has always been enjoyable but hard work. This year I even managed a gain – one of last year’s visitors returned with a delightful giant TattyMouse!!

So now it is back to making for exhibitions… I had intended to create during the event but it is only part way done – I hold my visitors responsible for being interesting to chat to, and shall blame the sunshine, spending spare minutes sat hand stitching on the step instead of slaving away at the machine.

Oh Dear, I really should have been more disciplined shouldn’t I? The beginnings might be there but it is meant to end up as Yorkshire Gothic…. Lots to do and only a couple of days before the initial deadline…… and in a month or so it is meant to be on display….. Ummmm, heck?

Exhibition Countdown

Everything is looming.

The informal exhibition at The Angel on the Green goes up next week – all the work for that is done and ready, thank goodness. That is mostly landscapes, some pictorial, others more about colour, pattern and textures. Only the labels and paperwork to do.

The big Spring event is York Open Studios– only a few days away now- April 2 & 3, 9 & 10. I think most of the work is sorted , it is just everything else. I show at home, which is where I produce my work, so everything has to be ready. The tidying up has not worked – it is like a tide, it ebbs and flows. One simple task can result in chaos!! The garden is of course not being co operative, the early spring bulbs are proving to be not so early, they are showing leaf but not flowers yet. There is a wealth of sunbathing ladybirds but they won’t hide the weeds!

This is part of the first hang, mixing up the Fragments of Landscape series with painted collages and small mixed collage and stitch pieces. These seem to fit together well, sharing the ideas of layering. But what to do with the other pieces? These are of the Yorkshire Gothic group – perhaps at its most abstracted. They have similar elements but the style and language is different. I think they will have to have their own little corner.

And of course there is all the rest of the things – the greetings cards, little studies, the odd stray one off piece and , drum roll…… more TattyMouses. They even have a spin off characters – TattyMouse cats!

Stitching 2022

New year, new stitches? Sort of…. maybe. There is certainly a lot of energy in the new work, but then there are the mice…

The new work is about landscape, not just what it looks like but how I remember, think about and visualise it. I am not a camera, nor am I tidy or accurate, I remember moments, glimpses, textures, warmth, colour, all layered over the memory of the physical space. But even then the physical memory is about moving through, not one static space. In other words it is a jumble, taking from many visits and then builds into an impression of a place.

Trying to wrestle these impressions into images has been occupying me all autumn and winter .The stitching is difficult, I am using acrylic paint and collage as well, so the thickness is inconsistent. The poor machine is struggling at times, needles don’t last long enough to become friends, even tension can be a distant ambition, but I like the combinations, the dialogue between the stitch and paint and the changing disciplines. And seeing how subdued my usual winter colour palette is – how bright they are! I seem to edit out the grumpy weather and just remember the best and the worst!

The current piece is of a tiny woodland caught in the sprawl of housing, called Fishponds wood. The path to the local shops cuts one corner of it so I have walked or cycled through this little area for years, in all weathers and seasons. (I even did some planting of wild garlic with the volunteer group!) It is still in the second and third layers – layer one being paint and collage, 2 being first stitch, 3 is second stitch images. There are fragments of about 5 impressions going into this, and it is at the argumentative stage, each wanting to dominate but they will have to work together – I want the idea of a green, enclosed space, of pathways and edges, fences, hedges and rough undergrowth. Definitely a long way to go!

As for the Tatty Mice – these are made from the scraps- they are currently indulging in Winter Olympic style activities…. catch them on instagram….

All I can say is that they seem to be enjoying themselves- possibly a little too much. Can you imagine the sound effects?

Other news – 3 of my pieces are exhibited in the Ferens Gallery Open Exhibition in the middle of Hull, a couple more are at the Pyramid gallery in York and Art in the Mill in Knaresborough. My next big venture is the York Open Studios event in April – would love to see you there!

York Textile Artists’ Winter Show

Keep saying it and it will become real. We set up on Friday so I should have made all decisions by then – I hope! There is always one piece that doesn’t travel well or wants to argue with the new environment.

Cards are done and bagged, all sewing is done – so this means that I can the sewing machines away? Of course not, that would mean that I find more stitching that has to happen -immediately!

Everything is presented and waiting for labels and codes. I even know where masking tape and scissors are- even the hanging line and picture hooks!! This is becoming quite intimidating.

Why is it that the little things take for ever?

But the next big question is…..

Will I see you there?