Friday, April 30, 2010

Linked but not!

This week I spent two days in Dublin participating in a workshop that was a mixture of research, inquiry,  review and it was thought provoking. I'll blog more about that over on my when it filters a bit more. Here I wanted to talk about the two exhibitions that I saw.
I recently came across a quote via twitter that stated "making unusual connections is the basis of creativity" Ellen Galinsky. I think that is true.
The first exhibition I saw on Tuesday evening was at the Science Gallery a rocking 'museum', funky space where science, art and technology converge to inform, present, educate, raise interest and more. The HYPERBOLIC CROCHET CORAL REEF exhibition is fascinating. Along with the fact it is a traditional craft form, it's application to a science and sustainability setting plus the community aspect of the project is exactly the kind of work I get. If you live in Dublin you have got to go see this exhibition. I love the 'second life for rubbish' aspect to the project also where the toxic reef has non organic and less then traditional materials of plastic used. 
"A major element of the Crochet Coral Reef Project is its ‘plastic component’ which responds to this crisis. Where the yarn-based Reefs serve as a handicraftplastic sand. In the northern invocation of the living beauty of actual reefs, so the “Toxic Reef” is a wildly proliferating agglomeration of yarn and plastic trash. It is the ‘evil’ 21st century twin to the classical finesse of the yarn Reefs. To put this into temporal terms, we might say that where the yarn Reefs represent the past, and the exquisite creations of nature, the plastic looks to the future and to the destructive tendencies of humanity."
Good exhibition to take children to also.
The second exhibition I went to see was Gary Coyle RHA, At Sea. I remember the first time I saw Gary Coyles work and instantly like it. The exhibition close on Saturday but if you can make the effort to see it do. I would live happily with any of the 'lovely water' series. Even the ones where the sea was obviously not lovely. i purchased the book from the exhibition and as I took the train home found my self reading his words about the project and the train moved by the location that they were taken. I know the area well as I lived there at some point. His drawings were interesting and the use of the drawn frame around the charcoal ones added something significant. But they do not reach that place of the photography. The swimming diaries have a documentary and anthropological aspect to them.
The link between the two projects is the sea but the mediums and ambitions of both exhibitions and projects are very far apart. The exhibition also linked to the training I attended metaphors or the sea and blue ocean spaces, underwater, some talked about 'tapestries' and strands.
It is more to do with the link I made to this work in my head and the dialogue between the training and the visual and social reference points. I'm rushing to get out the door. Perhaps more on this later.

Monday, April 26, 2010

...why am I not making work like this?

Last week I wrote two proposals for projects. Hence the reason I did n't get to blog the Greystones Art Group demo and the School live willow structure. Information to follow on both of those.
I've had a few ideas floating around my head for over a year and have not either had the time or felt really clear to verbalise aspects of a proposal or make the work. I refer to both personal and project work. Writing proposals is an interesting process (I just don't recommend two in one week). I always learn something more about the way I work or become clearer on some aspect of my arts practice.
Last week amid budgets and schedules I managed to get real clarity on two pieces of work. Of course the sketchbook I initially drew them in is lined but I think this evokes a certain edginess to them.
I had these ideas in my head and finally I could start getting them onto paper. Does that happen to you ideas that lurk in the ether? As if waiting for the right time to be downloaded. I have been keeping these ideas to present for project work they occupy a different space I don't know why. But up until now I have been waiting to make this work. On Friday after I submitted the second proposal. I asked myself "why are not making work like this? why are you only proposing to make this work? why are you waiting to make this work?"
The leaf motif is a shape that has appeared in a few paintings when I painted on the theme of change. It is a good representation of change.
It even appears in my Legacy series and features strongly in the subset ‘memories are made of these’.

I think that the doodle for image with the leaf is suited to be done on the mac in photoshop and printed on to some fine art paper showing the delicate shading and toning in computer graphics. It also makes me hark back to the days of etching and screen printing. So I suspect a series suitable for colour plate etchings will be developed also and a plan to spend some time in a print studio with a tutor. But it is asking to be painted first (…here we go again my creative genius is back and demanding how work should be done, do I argue? I have learnt to get out of the way otherwise disaster ensues). So I have started to make that work. The background has been painted for the leaf motif image,
a gird is lightly drawn and some spiral text handwritten. it is sitting on the studio floor drying. The image might not be great as my digital camera is giving me guff and this is taken with my camera phone.
So the problem now is that it is a lovely evening and I want to go hangout with my family but my genius demands that I stay here and paint... sometimes my genius wins and sometimes not.

Friday, April 9, 2010

...the progression of work

I had great stitching plans for being in the studio this morning, my plan had included some sample stitching, development of collage based images for a mixed media series along with a quilting and painting sampler. I really wanted to move things along so I decided to start the studio day with something completely different and cleared a bit of table space for the sewing machine... perplexing to say the least. I could not get my sewing machine to work. I had leant it to a neighbour sometime ago and have not used it since! Could I figure it out - yes if I spent some time on it but with time moving on I decided to refocus, twitted the three items on the left and then got on with something else. I went back to some of the collages I had started on the mac in photoshop. I love the progression of an image.
I worked on a montage last week it is part of the 'Legacy series' and is linked to underneath my grandmothers table and memories are made of theseI printed it on to cotton with the idea to stitch it. It was quiet flat. I left it alone for a few days to mull over.
Now I can see that the leaf motif needs to be printed, stitched and embellished separately and then layer on top of the print. It would look well printed on heavy watercolour paper with the leaf stitched on. I’m also considering making the background out of ultramarine silk nuno felted with orange – yellow felt with surface detail of silk tops. But I think… background printed on to cotton a metallic thread stitch of the quote in the lower left corner and the embellished leaf motif stitched on. What do you think?
The leaf and its autumn colouring I wanted to explore more...

I'm happy with this one and it prints out well. I plan to stitch and bead sparsely.
So although I did not get what I had planned to do done I did have a good creative day at the studio; printed out images for stitching, laid out a rough draft for a collage, posted a new image Correspondance on Redbubble, listened to some podcasts and had some creative headspace to mull over doing, being and progressing some visual work. Fantastic... now its time for a walk and the weekend. Love Fridays.
Oh and the quote that is featured you might enjoy it
"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and your discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Patanjali

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Up-skilling week 4: Machine embroidery

Well this was my up-skill for this week. I have a piece planned and it is a matter of assembling all the bits and testing the idea out. But the added part is some research. Gathering my thoughts, revisiting books I have and trying to discover new angles of inspiration.
So let me be clear Machine Embroidery is a term I use to describe contemporary embroidery that uses a sewing machines to stitch. Sometimes refered to as painting with thread.
Contemporary Embroidery textile artists whose work I like, have seen up close and personal, enjoyed and made a lasting impression on me:
Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn but that is until I really explore and discover others.  You can view their work here, I think my favourite book is 'Stitch Magic' they also wrote a series of A4 booklets published via double trouble enterprises that I own and  recommend. I've seen their work up close and personal and it is even more impressive.
Louise Baldwin; contemporary stitch, interesting grounds include antique material, paper packaging and handmade paper. Here is a good example of Lousie's work that I like titled 'for indoor use only'. When I saw here work last year in Dublin I commented to her it had an 'almost irreverent feel to it'.

I'm interested in how much further fibre and stitch can take an image, design, emotion and extend it visually. Up until now I have not considered myself a real stitcher, I do use hand stitching to embellish fabric surface including beading. I think that is why I like felt making. But I do like the idea of a sewing machine with software that you digitally programme and let it away to stitch... that opens up new possibilities, new layers, new work. Textile art is sometimes refered to as fibre art.
Resources online:

So tell me
Who are your favourite contemporary textile artists? Do you follow any blogs that you would reccomend? Have you suggestions for textile artists  I should look at? Who are your favourites? I am interested in new discoveries who do you follow on twitter you'd recommend? What magazines to you enjoy reading on the topic of textile or fibre artists?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Writting a blog is kinda like...

having an online artist sketchbook to some extent... it is a great way to keep a record of what is going on and share that with others whom are interested. I've been writing this blog for a year now and while I like to write it and keep it updated with what is going on... I wonder should I continue. The fact that I am posting here I guess makes that question defunct. I have enjoyed adding a facebook page and interaction that happens there and on twitter,

So just as the Easter holidays were kicking into gear some strands of personal work were zooming together: photographs, abstractions, text & maps, printing on to fabric, progressing work. I'm excited to share those with you and record them here.
But before that happened I frustrated the hell out of myself and it triggered decision making, clarity and action. Last week I was trying to finish off writing a bursary application. As with any application or proposal for funding you learn something about your work. Getting the application together focuses the mind on what you want to achieve and what you have achieved. But in the last two weeks what it did was made me feel like my work was n't up to scratch that it had not progressed anywhere. I'm taking about my personal art work not the facilitation, teaching, training work I do with community groups or businesses (that stuff I blog about on in CreativeDynamix space).
I'm taking about the stuff that is a personal expression of me making sense of my world. The paint that flows, the fibre that felts or sews that artistic self expression. I had a project in mind that the proposal was already written and designed for the bursary what stopped me writing the application was the feeling my work just was not up to scratch. I battled for two days at the computer not getting anywhere not getting a word written.
So I got up and just started painting, a week earlier I had done some charcoal & chalk drawings, layered drawings very gestalt based work. This work is more process orientated. That is to say that this work is rough work the type that comes before real work. Sometimes I refer to it as dross. Let me see if I have some photos taken of it. Yes I have some quality is not great as they were taken at night with my mobile.
This drawing is one that I will continue to work with and it may have a finished outcome. I continued to paint on it with a palette knife and heavy liquidex acrylic paints. It's my favourite brand. The palette knife is not typical of my painting style but it allowed me to keep the quality of the charcoal below. The is a rough first paint that I am seeing where it will go. What I particularly like about this painting so far is the strong curve from top left to mid point and the flashpoint in the centre.

Monday last week I sat in front of the computer and questioned myself "are you going to do this and go after funding? share this idea get some leverage into making beta happen or are you going to decide not to do this application and stop." The pee or get off the pot analogy.
So I finished writing the application along and put the final touches to it last Wednesday evening and the application went in Thursday. During the process I made a commitment to myself to up skill my personal work. I have been thinking about different techniques and how they might influence my work without scheduling time or making a commitment to test these ideas out. So what was happening was stagnancy. Although my teaching, consultancy and other work was developing great was it at the expense of my personal work? So enough with that!
The frustration was that I had promised myself a computer break from last Friday till today and I so wanted to blog - but needed the break. That’s why this is such a long post!
I think I actually kicked off the up-skilling when I went over to Nicola Brown at Clasheen on the 18th of March to see how she makes 3D felted Vessels.
I had gone to see her the week before to share some rare breed fleece with her - I have a passion for anything that is unusual and while merino is great as an introduction to felt I like to felt with coarser and short hair fleece, actually I like to experiment! Nicola and I are both members of Felt Makers Ireland, I meet her there a few years ago and we both attended the Podcasting course run by Artlinks recently. It was great to go and discover her work we are both interested in sculptural felt also.
Nicola writes an great blog on felt making do check it out, you can purchase her creations and she sells icelandic wool via her Esty site.I really enjoyed making felt along side with someone the creative company was great. Lots of ideas, exchange of information, etc. I left Clasheen with the vessel just about 3D it took me a few days to go back to it and while it is definitely felted I'm not happy with it's hairy appearance. But it is my first vessel. So yehay for that and I look forward to making more.
So last Thursday I had two hours and I decided I'd like to have something to stitch over the weekend. You may have heard me mention that I design my own grounds for embroidery and beading and print them out on to fabric. This is a previous example called 'a sense of place'. This style of work is well received and it sells well usually before I have them finished.
I had worked on a few designs for stitch in the last year and dismissed them so had never printed them out. I had a few on the Mac that I thought might work so I started printing on to cotton and linen. They turned out really well. I decided to not work at all over the weekend giving myself important downtime.
Now I have exciting plans on how to develop the abstracted line, stitch the inspirational text and nuno felt them onto 3D vessels. I'm thinking experimental textiles x nuno felt x text plus visual wow!

I've organised to go visit Teresa Keogh of SmartSewing in Tullow tomorrow to talk to her about an embellisher machine and the practical 'how to' of turning my ideas into actual visual treats.
A book on 'Altered books and collaborative journals' has also resurfaced to beside my desk...

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