31 December 2013

Pootling about in the studio

A bit of this'n'that at the end of the year...
reknitting half-dropped stitches
(with double strands of very fine yarn, it's easy to miss one)
experimenting with couching, and (re)inventing a knotted stitch
messing about with polymer clay ... clumsily ...
following on from another "gift of the sleep fairies"
playing with graphite, ink and wax resist
keeping an eye on the changing light in the tree
And soon it will be time to pootle about ... in 2014 ...

Happy pootling, everyone!

(Linked to Off the Wall Friday)

Christmas books

The Richard Long book is more for looking at and thinking about, an overview of his art, and the Prunella Clough book is more for detailed reading, an investigation of her life and work.

Coincidentally Richard Long was talking about walking on "Something Understood" (Radio 4). I didn't write down what he said, and on going back to the programme on the BBC iPlayer ... it had disappeared ... but thank heaven for the internet, someone had written down his words; all it needed was a bit of repunctuation so they might read the way I heard them -

A straight term[?] I walk: Walking as an idea.
A thousand miles in a thousand days: Walking as symmetry.
A stone placed at every mile across Ireland: Walking as sculpture.
A dry walk between one shower and the next: Walking as measurement.
White light walk: Walking as colour.
Thirty seven camp fires: Walking as happiness.

As for the other book, I opened it at random and flipped to the start of the next chapter, catching a few words in passing -
...no question that she enjoyed the stimulus of an active social life ... 

And choosing more, during the reading -
... an eye for the overlooked and unconsidered ... fascination with the meeting of sky and land ...a sense of atmosphere ... 'wind and weather' imbued her art in the even grey light of an overcast day ....

I'm trying to "see more" by, before reading, looking hard at the pictures, then checking to see what the author adds to my looking.

2013 JQs - finished!

They turned out differently than imagined - but isn't that always the way?

At the start of the year I got a bagful of suitable fabrics together, and used those for Olive Interchange (Jan), Olives of all Nations (Feb), Urban Olives (Mar), and Olives in Their Happy Homes (Apr) - but when it came to Olives in the Sky with Diamonds (May), I was looking elsewhere for the "starry sky" background fabric.

For June, a fortuitous find of some monoprinted fabric with rain and puddles became "Olives in the Rain"; for July - the brownish background, in case you've lost track - another fortuitous find, of a bit of upholstery velvet, was used for Olives on Sticks, taking a little liberty with the colours. Ghost Olives (Aug) was the first of several I painted, after an intensive painting course. But first Olives Behind Bars (Sept) was fused and then stitched with variegated black/white thread - it looks more like a sheet of rain, and in fact the olives look more like easter eggs...

The final row, all painted with acrylic paints, then emphasised with machine stitching, consists of X-Ray Olives (Oct), Olives in Winter (Nov), and Olives on the Shelf (Dec). There was too much of bending the idea to the fabrics, rather than using the fabrics to express an idea -- mainly because olives wasn't a great idea for this. But it did stretch my imagination!

My favourites are the first one (using that hand-dyed fabric) and the "easter eggs".

Glad am I to be done with o.l.i.v.e.s....

30 December 2013

Back to the colour dictionary

The painted dictionary has been lying on the corner of the table for weeks, awaiting photography of certain pages. Awaiting, also, a cohesive idea….

Meanwhile here are some snaps of page ranges, showing one of the headwords and bits of the colours they ended up as. (The captions list the colours added to the previous page to make the new colour.) The combination of headword + added colour will make colour names … but the colour they "define" won't actually be the colour you expect (if that makes sense?) 
(399 naples yellow; 401 yellow; 403 yellow; 405 yellow;
407 yellow + emerald; 409 emerald; 411 emerald)
 This results in names like Egregious Yellow and Emplacement Emerald ...
(473 payne's grey; 475 yellow light hanse; 477 yellow; 479 titanium white;
481 payne's grey; 483 mixing white+ payne's grey)
… First Grey and Fizgig Yellow ...
(651 ultramarine+red oxide; 653 red oxide; 655 red oxide;
657 titanium white; 659  mixing white; 661 naples yellow)
… Insult Red and Intersidereal White.

Are these strange names - which have arisen by chance - all that far away from those chosen by the paint companies from the efforts of focus groups - names like Coastal Glow ... Lunar Falls (both off-white); Sunflower Symphony ... Sulphur Springs ... Sunburst symphony (brown shading to yellow); Atmosphere ... Favourite China (greyish paleish blues) - those are from Dulux. Farrow & Ball has some wonderful - and so historic! - names: Pointing ... Clunch ... Ringwold Ground ... Cornforth White ... Lamp Room Grey ... Picture Gallery Red ... Eating Room red ... Hound Lemon ... Churlish Green ...
Each with it own name!

28 December 2013

Danger of mispronunciation

London with its head in the clouds

A bracing Boxing Day walk along the river … and then a bus ride that took us along Oxford Street, the surging centre of The Sales -
Pavements thick with bargain-seekers (aren't they having fun) -
So glad to be on the bus, just passing through!

24 December 2013

'Tis the season...

Endless Santas...having fun
This year we have a Christmas Branch instead of a tree

23 December 2013

Monday miscellany

The title caught my eye ... read all about it here - and make your own?

Seen in the wild* - one of my Travel Lines bags!
(*at the Making Our Mark exhibition by ViewSeven at the Menier Gallery)

A pouch in the form of a library card (by Out Of Print, New York)

Looking for online workshops? Helen Cowans (aka textilegoddess) is offering "mini-jewelled towers" - check out the special offer at www.textilegoddess.org -

Are you planning a "daily project" for 2014? Here's what Cecile Trentini did -
See it close up here, with some of her other work.

"Most unconventional xmas greeting" award goes to ... Choi&Lager gallery, Cologne, whose email included this pic by Rose Wylie -

...and now I'm going to try to slow down on blogging a bit - there is festive food to be bought and prepared, and once the family gathering is over, the annual jigsaw puzzle to do, and wine and other good things to be consumed. Books to be read, perhaps? I might even get out some knitting ...

"Peace on earth and goodwill to all." (If only...)

22 December 2013

Gift of the Sleep Fairies

Waking with a vivid image of yellow, red, violet, orange crocheted forms shaped rather like pinecones, rather like chilli peppers, I stumbled to the studio to capture the vision -
It gets transformed in the translation, of course. Looking for paint, I found a neglected pack of delicious waxy crayons
unused for perhaps 15 years - they surfaced from the back of a drawer when I cleared my desk at work, and promptly were buried in the studio.

A search for suitable crochet yarn found … not much …
and hooks too large. So that won't happen today. In the "other studio" I have lots of fine crochet cotton, not in the chosen colours but a useful neutral which can then be painted - rather than having to fiddle with lots of threads of different colours that get in each others' way.

Inspiration? The colours of the new xmas lights -

Aleatoric ... knitting ...

A fascinating knitting project, presented recently as part of Shetland Wool Week by Tom of Holland.

Aleatoric = dependent on chance, luck, or an uncertain outcome. "We’ve created a number of rules which tell us how to roll dice and select pattern and colour combinations depending on the outcome, based on John Cage’s composition Apartment House 1776," says Tom.

Fair Isle, which gave its name to the colourful knitting technique, is part of the Shetland Islands -
The most remote inhabited island in the UK 
The technique is a type of stranded colour-work: "Traditional Fair Isle patterns have a limited palette of five or so colours, use only two colours per row, are worked in the round, and limit the length of a run of any particular colour."
Traditional fisherman's jumper (via)

21 December 2013

Developing practice course - session 4

The tutor for this session was Kate Stoddart, who has been involved in developing contemporary art projects for the National Trust. The focus was on audiences, and after a slide show about some of Kate's projects (see below) the first small-group exercise was to consider the role of the museum in the eyes of possible audiences -
That was followed by discussion to "what is an audience" (the museum's, and yours as an artist), enlightened also by seeing the outcome of a sophisticated audience research exercise: a graph with axes "followers ... explorers" and "social ... personal" (motivation). The groups fit into the spectrum "social - intellectual - emotional - spiritual" and were: site-seers, families, urban cool, self-improvers, social spacers, researchers, sensualists, actualisers, and afficionados. Site-seers and afficionados, at opposite corners of the graph, fit in with other research I've read (somewhere on this blog...) which finds audiences composed of "tourists" who visit once, locals who visit infrequently, and a small group who visit regularly - which sounds obvious, but needs confirming as it won't apply in all museums. (Elsewhere I found these top tips on "defining your work and defining your audience".)

A local project Kate was involved in (local to her in Nottingham) was a neglected wall, part of a Victorian bakery that had good memories for lots of the residents. Artist John Newling (also local, as it happened) was successful with his proposal, and collected texts on what people valued, to put up these words -
"It is the pleasures of life that are the only important value and such pleasure
can be found through communities and friends"
In time the K went missing, and then the D went askew (as though it were purposely being removed to reveal a slightly different message), so the installation was moved higher up, onto the wall of the building itself; opposite a park, it has become a focus for the community, to the extent that wedding photos are taken there. 

Other projects Kate mentioned are Nottingham Castle Museum's Wedgwood collection, opened to a different audience by the installation made by paper artist Peter Callesen, who cut the door and the shards out of one huge sheet of paper. "Asked to respond to the property’s extensive Wedgwood collection, the artist took an unusual approach. Not convinced that Wedgwood was for him, he began with an old door left in the grounds of the castle and used it as a starting point for the work. This particular example demonstrates the way in which artists are able to respond to any project, regardless of how interesting they find the stimulus." -
Callesen's response (via)
 Hear Heres at Keddleston Hall focused visitors on aspects of the grounds and the hall within them -
House of Beasts at Attingham Hall included work by 20 artists, inside and outside -
"The Interlopers" by Tessa Farmer
This brochure, passed around as part of a case study, intrigued me with the simple fold of the front of the leaflet, and its zipper edging -
This "high point event" brought hundreds of bikers to a historic castle that thought it was a forgotten property in Lincolnshire, and was predicated on (a) having staff interested in motorcyles; (b) knowing that the site was on a biking route; (c) research into biking culture and contact with bikers. The event was billed as an Alternative Village Fete - incorporating a procession of motorbikes, for instance - events that would pull different groups in and not alienate the traditional audience. Inside the castle were artworks, such as this installation by Tod Hanson, combining the architectural and the mechanical, schema of engine parts and floorplans of the six-storey building -
In the afternoon, an exercise to sharpen our thinking on getting project proposals off the ground -
The results -

Idea leads to visit leads to research into the site, a project brief, phone call followed by another visit perhaps, or face-to-face conversation, along with research into the project, then a sharpened brief and a written proposal; is funding in place? if so, it's time for a letter of agreement or contract - and making the work - after which it needs promotion.  (Kate reports elsewhere: " the first stage of application, the ‘expression of interest’, is crucial to applicants and judges - the more you can give the better. Many  properties need a little extra convincing; it may not be the curators you’re trying to win over but the gardener, or builder, or property manager. In a non-conventional art space other factors count. It’s important, therefore, to be completely sure you want the project and visit the place and talk to the staff – can you work with them, is this somewhere you can contribute to?")

We went "round the table" to find out about what people were thinking in terms of spaces, projects, ways forward. Thanks to everyone for giving me such good feedback on what seems to be an obvious project - taking my some of my Travel Lines to the Transport Museum.

The day went too quickly and the next session is some weeks away - hopefully there will be online discussion between times...  There was hardly time to look at the reading materials Kate had brought along, but I did flip through a book on the work of Dierdre Nelson, which planted some new thoughts -
Homework for next time-
And a handout -
Not sure if everyone is ready to identify a project space, or write the draft brief - some people may be using the course more as a way of regularly getting to museums to use them as springboards; getting into the habit of going to draw or research. As for my obvious project - if I'd be doing that anyway, should (or could) I do something "different" as a project for the course?