Monday, 16 December 2013

Fen, Land, Trees and Parks

I have been out and about recently and looking forward to seeing my family in Norfolk,East Anglia over the New Year. 

Marsh Grass Cas Holmes (commission for a retirement present)

3 December saw the 175th birthday Octavia Hill! another East Anglian - National Trust co-founder, visionary, tireless champion of green, open spaces for everyone.Born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire (1838). When she was 26, she established her first low-income housing project in the slums off of London's Marylebone Road. She also came to see the importance of open spaces after seeing the cramped and overcrowded conditions in which the city's poor were living. She campaigned for the preservation of, as she put it, "a few acres here and there-the hill top enables the Londoner to rise above the smoke, to feel a refreshing air for a little time and to see the sun setting in coloured glory which abounds so in the Earth God made." With that goal in mind, she co-founded Britain's National Trust for Places of Historic Interest and Natural Beauty in 1895. This year marks the 100th anniversary of her death; when she died in 1912, the National Trust had 713 members; it now has 4 million.
Octavia Hill, who said, "The need of quiet, the need of air, the need of exercise [...] the sight of sky and of things growing seem human needs common to all."

Wicken Fen, the first nature reserve acquired by the National Trust- in 1899. Photo by John Hughes, Wicken Fen ranger.

I recently had a visit to the Savill and Heather Gardens part of the Windsor Great Parks. There is still a lot of colour in winter. Loved the 'River of Grass'. It is often difficult to get the time just to 'look' and enjoy the time to investigate something new.

Loved how the spade looks like a miniature landscape

And a reminder that Spring is on its way.

Finally a sketch of Norfolk  reeds and a sketch of grasses by the Stour bring Norfolk and Kent together. You can see more at my exhibition at The Beaney which is on until 12th January.

Monday, 18 November 2013


As we enter the winter months the warmth of the colour red enters our lives. Most famously its significance with the symbol of rememberance  in the poppy and later as the colour of the winter festivities.

 'North Norfolk has long been known as Poppyland after an association made by the Victorian poet Clement Scott in his poem 'The Garden of Sleep'. Despite this, Alexanders were initially elected as the County Flower for Norfolk. However, local supporters demanded a re-vote and out of five possible choices, the poppy won.'

In Norfolk we have a saying to Do Different and we did so in retaining the poppy as our symbol.

Poppy in the middle of the road, Preniac, France. 

 And of course remembering the nurses who also served. Detail of 'Roses of No Mans Land'. This piece has red crosses on a background of Belgium and French maps.

Red Rose Hips near the River at Medway. 

Detail of 'Red Barge Sails' shortly to be shown in Urban Nature at the Beaney

Love this use of red in an exploratory piece by a student participating in the Nautical Threads workshops with Dover Arts Development

Thin Red Line, folding book, using Origami folding method for dyeing. In  Japan the colour red is a celebratory colour.


Sunday, 20 October 2013

Empty Vessels

As we enter winter it is amazing how I begin to miss the richness of the outdoors. The trees begin to lose leaves and I feel as if at times the world becomes a little smaller and emptier as we withdraw to the warmth of the indoor spaces..I begin to notice the small things around me. The hot water bottle is back in my bed and my drawing becomes more localised. But the small details can provide a wealth of interest.

Autumn Foliage and a view from a window.

The image below is a work in progress by Barbara Baines in a recent workshop in Preniac

And of course, we can go beyond pots. Listening to Radio 4 becomes a necessary part of the creative process.  Well worth a listen is Grayson Perry and the Reith lectures. He is no 'empty vessel'.

I also find myself returning to some of the bowls I looked at earlier in the year at West Dean and whilst in Hong Kong.

Green Bowl (private collector)

Finally, when the days set in, having a cuppa with your friends can be a lovely respite. This was started as part of a demonstration during a workshop in Ripon. I had obviously been thinking about vessels. But must also thank Ann Holden for the serviette. Borrowing again.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Text and Image, Cloth and Paper

A different place and time when on holiday or as part of work travel can provide new approaches for your work. A recent visit to the south of  France to Studio Preniac during early harvest time gave plenty of inspiration. Text and images can both stimulate and be collected as a resource.

Montcuq market text and images in the produce stalls and Graffiti on a door in Cahors.


This piece, a detail from Indian Journal  uses woodblocks and roofing felt. We were extending the house at the time. People generously sending in pieces for Tea Flora Tales  
have used a variety of text and images.This work will be shown at The Beaney Gallery, (Canterbury Museum) from the 30th November.Details of this and current exhibitions can be found on my blog.

Picasso and the cubists   used text and images in collages referring to everyday objects and scenes.The definition of collage, as found in the Oxford English Dictionary, is “an abstract form of art in which photographs, pieces of paper, newspaper cuttings, string, etc. are placed in juxtaposition and glued to the pictorial surface.

Picasso  "Still-Life with Chair-Caning

Kurt Schwitters 

Taking their inspiration from both photographs and drawings made on location and the text and images found on route with their own collections students on the course at Preniac developed their own textiles collage pieces reflecting everyday references. Thankyou to the students who kindly allowed me to use images of their work.

Jug print and map (Barbara)                          Folding book form with a sea theme (Daphne)

 French Landscape (Roz)

 Marie Antoinette and Cahors (Ellen/right)

 Detail of blue collage (Jeannie)

Connected Details (Flo/right)
                  Pots and paper (Jenni)
  Riot (Jo)

Book form sketch (Gail)
This piece 'Text' contains my father's handwriting His birthday was the 11th September.

Detail of my quick stitch sketch of sunflowers.
 And finally some sunflowers, my name on a car plate!

Thanks to Bill and Liz for wonderful food, company and more.

I am returning to studio Preniac in May-June all I have to do is plan what to do.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Wabi Sabi and The Joy of 'Accidental' at West Dean

I have just had a most wonderful Summer School week at West Dean with a group of students who really took the idea of Wabi Sabi and the joy that can be found in the overlooked and accidental to a new level.
We found some small details to draw and photograph in the gardens and were later entertained by the Chilli Festival

Had a glimpse of enough sun on one of the days to experiment with sun print and when we were not able to do that, we dyed 
Lovely transfers and dyed fabric by Lesley Thomas
Lis Gabb working board full of colour

Julie Ford linking words to several pieces loved the box form presentation

Katie Boucher detail of layered and stitched transfer and teabags and Judith Ward red thread miniature.
Detail of Amy Fords layered collage,,even net curtains can be beautiful.

Resources boards ideas and some of the raw materials we sometimes need 'to remove all that is unnecessary. It is really hard to communicate how the workshop went through several changes over the week as we refined our ideas. When working I forget to take images as I am concentrating on the jn in hand.

Finally, during the afternoon off I captured a few images from West Dean, shadows and ladybirds as well a visit to Chichester where I revisited the wonderful John Piper tapestry and found a needlepoint cushion and wall ceramic with birds

Thank you to the students who gave me permission to use the images and to West Dean for providing such an inspirational environment to teach in.

Finally, on the last day, I found out 'Connected Cloth' co written with Anne Kelly, is already out there.