Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Ghost of Christmas Present

It's been another hectic week or so. I did find my Christmas spirit watching people whizz around the Ice Rink at Somerset House and then I promptly lost it again at the Moderation Day. Suffice it to say the meeting with AG was not an experience I would like to repeat and left all of us requiring stiff drinks in the bar afterwards. There are some issues I need to clear up with the college but they will have to wait until the new year now as everything hibernates for the next few weeks.
However, I met up with a couple of good friends from the course last Friday and we had a lovely day. First we visited the Aware:Art,Fashion and Identity exhibition at the Royal Academy GSK Contemporary, which was excellent and well worth a visit (or two). Then we had a lovely lunch at a great cafe in Piccadilly and a good gossip. Followed by a trip into Fortnum and Mason's just to drawl at the goodies on show. As I walked down to the station as evening drew in there were carol singers and snow began to fall covering the Mall and St.James Park turning it into fairyland.How could anyone not feel uplifted after a day like that- intellectually,spiritually and literally full up on good things and good company.
And yesterday despite the snow and a multitude of coughs and colds most of the Material Girls managed to gather together for our pre- Christmas lunch which has set us up to start the new year with a vengeance.
So no more 'Bah Humbug' just a great deal of thanks for the blessings I have received. I wish all of you out there in Blogland a peaceful Christmas and a joyful new year.

Friday, 10 December 2010


I am feeling particularly grumpy at the moment -which is par for the course at Christmastime for me I'm afraid. Most of the year having virtually no family and little social life isn't so bad but at this time of year it seems highlighted and quite painful at times. So I would like to say to those people out there in the same boat its only a couple of weeks and then everyone that keeps telling you how much they have got on,trips out, meals arranged with people, etc.. will go back to moaning about relations again and life will return to normal. You are not alone!
Moan over.
I must admit I have also been feeling quite rubbish as I have had the worse cold/chest infection I have had for years. Along with struggling along the snowy pavements to keep essential supplies coming in it has not improved my mood. But I still think the snow is beautiful- there is nothing quite like a hoar frosted tree to make you think you're in Narnia.
I am hoping though that it will hold off for next week and my trip up to Suffolk. The work is at that halfway stage now- ready to looked at and hopefully approved and then I can go full steam ahead, I'm really looking forward to that part.Discussions with my fellow prospective graduates are going great guns now. We don't always agree but at least we are having productive discussions and things seem to be moving quite fast now- one thing that can be said for my group, we are certainly not passive and I think this will lead to an extremely vibrant and interesting degree show.
Being stuck in with nowhere to go has mean that the cards have been made and posted, the presents wrapped, the house cleaned and tomorrow in an attempt to try and capture some Christmas spirit I am going to take myself up to London to drink hot chocolate and watch the folks skating at Somerset house, I shall then come home and put up the Christmas tree and be thankful for what I do have.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Lifein a bubble

I feel like I'm locked in a bubble at the moment. I am at present drawing together all the work for my final moderation before the BIG ONE. This work has to prove to the powers that be that my concept 'has legs' my tutor tells me so I can proceed onto the pieces for my exhibition. So I draw and stitch and prepare presentations and sketchbooks to show to Anthea Godfrey (the external examiner) in a couple of weeks time. Everyday I begin around mid morning and lay down my needle at about 10 at night when my eyes are going blurry. Its getting through the work but it is extraordinarily isolating.
Of course life has to be fitted in but at the moment its in a very sparing way- I spend more time with the pets than with people, I look out of the window and the world seems to be passing me by-its weird. If I'm not stitching/drawing/writing I'm just ironing or washing or cooking - its a very strange period but hopefully it will soon be over and then I can just crack on with the final pieces. That's going to be a marathon I know- 15ft of needlefelt for the path-all hand stitched with text and four 6ft felt panels again with handstitching but it should be worth it.
until then I'm just a lonely soul lost in the wood.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Dogs,Dentists and Diaghilev

Another exhausting week plus has flown past. It started badly with me finding my 12 and half year old cavalier collapsed in his bed, shaking and with eyes continually flicking from side to side. He seemed aware but I couldn't get him to stand without him collapsing over to one side. originally I thought he was fitting but with the side weakness I thought it must be a stroke. We rushed him to the vet who examined him and said she thought it was something called Vestibular disease (basically something to do with the inner ear that makes you feel really seasick) it can be idiopathic, age related or a symptom of something nasty going on. he spent the next 24 hours in their hospital under going tests and I was convinced he wouldn't be coming home again. Fortunately next day the vet rang to say we could collect him and I very happy to say its like he's never been ill. He's still being observed but they can't find anything like a tumour so fingers crossed he continues to stay well- he really was very poorly dog for a couple of days and it reminded me just how old he is . Teddy hated him being away and howled all night so if/when the dreaded moment does eventually arrive I'll have to think of a way of keeping teddy company over night.
The dental treatment drags on and on and on- Can't remember when I last had a really solid meal, you can get really fed up of soup and pasta and mush. I think I have only had one month this year without at least 2 trips to the dentist- I really hope that it will all be finished in time for Christmas.
On a happier note I did manage to meet up with a few of the 'girls' to see the Ballets Russes exhibition at the V&A last Friday. An incredible exhibition well worth a visit although there really is too much to take in in one viewing- the fire bird backcloth just takes your breath away for scale and the way you suddenly come across it around a darkened corner.
Tomorrow, all being well, I'm off to see the Gauguin exhibition at the Tate. I am meeting up with a fellow student who is going to help me with my degree show (we are all allowed one assistant for staging). We've lots to discuss as the allocation of spaces has suddenly been brought forward 3 months! it will be nice to know what space we have but it has meant suddenly having to finalise dimensions out of nowhere. The work goes on a pace and I have been taking work back to the woods as I produce samples. It is all a bit intense at the moment but for the first time in the whole degree I feel I am producing work that I am really passionate about.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

A white rabbit moment

I feel like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland at the moment- you know that bit in the film where he says/sings
"I'm late, I'm late for a very important date,
no time to say hello, goodbye
I'm late,I'm late, I'm late"
The last couple of weeks have been beyond hectic and I felt like I've been rushing around in ever decreasing circles slowly disappearing (like the Cheshire Cat but without the grin). Anyhow enough to say that I am now totally going to be focusing on the degree module as I have to start getting work ready for a meeting with the external examiner, Anthea Godfrey, on the 14th December. Sounds like a long time but not when you consider that I have to complete 3-4 extremely refined samples to demonstrate what the final pieces might look like by then and I have only one completed.
I have decided on 4 panels each approx.2ftx6ft to depict the woods during various seasons plus 15ft of pathway to depict the journey. All the fabric has to be made from scratch using the embellisher and then embroidered subtly just to highlight each of the magical snapshots.
I haven't even started to experiment with how to produce the desired effect with the woodland panels yet- that's next week- but I have devised a way to create the pathway and embroider the text from my journal of thoughts that I have made on my various walks in the wood. The tricky bit was getting the balance right so you can just glimpse the text if you look closely but, like thoughts, it also drifts away and disappears into the path, becoming part of it.
The photos I am posting are of the early samples placed back in the woodland but I have moved on from these. The paper mock ups are to give an idea and from a pattern for the completed panels but these of course will be much darker in colour.
Besides that I had to organise (and produce work for ) a craft market yesterday. We (Material Girls) only undertook this as a way to support the Visual Arts Centre where we exhibit as they have been running a craft promotion month alongside the Crafts Council and ETSY. Although we spent most of the time promoting the EG,ERTF ,JCS and Textiles in general we also made a few pennies.
Oh well I hear a hungry family calling -back down the rabbit hole!

Monday, 11 October 2010

sticks and stitches

I can't believe where the time is going but it has been a busy couple of weeks. I've been progressing the work forward and think I pretty much know how I want to portray my concept. I've been doing a lot of stitching and trying to decide exactly how to portray the broken thoughts that will form part of 'the path'. Now I am in the process of creating a full size paper mock up to see if it will actually work so the house is full of 6ft lengths of paper covered in paint and the cats are endanger of having their fur dyed green as they keep trying to sit on them. I think once I've completed these and actually put them up somewhere I will have a much better idea if the piece will work.
Other than that I have the Material Girls completing their work for the Jersey Showcase and we have 'kick started' our joint exhibition with Canada's Articulation group. This should be an exciting project with our joint work being shown both in the UK and then in Canada. The gallery we use is particularly excited about this idea and hopefully when the exhibitions run in 2012 and 2013 it will put a whole new slant on international textile co-operation (more on that as things progress). I have even been teaching again- not children but their teachers- it was a bit daunting as I have been out of the loop for quite a while now but its a bit like riding a bike it soon comes back to you.
Sunday was time for retail therapy as I visited Ally Pally . I did a short stint stewarding on the ERTF stand which probably saved me a few pounds but I still spent far too much- you now you're in trouble when the traders know who you are you even open your mouth!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


I spent the week trying to focus an exactly what I was trying to portray and decided the best way to do it was to keep a journal/sketchbook of my thoughts during my visits to the wood.This has proved extremely valuable as it has allowed me to really engage with the thought process not just with the technical aspects. I have also started to make tiny, quick stitch sketches of sounds, feelings and images from the woods. This is easier said than done as the weather has changed and I keep getting rained on whilst trying to do it so some of them are started in the woods,rapidly packed away and completed at home. Also the Dogs tend to think they might be edible and are quite disgusted when they find they don't taste that good.
They do have a fresh quality though and are leading to think of how I can incorporate this into the work. I also want to include some of my thoughts so some deconstructed text might be added. We shall see.
Induction day came and went. I'm not sorry its my last as the relatively short journey ( should be about an hour and a half) took nearly three hours owing to the usual weekend transport problems in London.
The day itself was extremely useful as we picked up some much needed information about various aspects of the final year which we hadn't been told (we seem to be just expected to know but I'm not psychic). I did feel that the tutor that led the day left me feeling a bit flattened. I am sure she knows her stuff but she didn't seem to like felt and thought I was trying to be a bit preachy in my subject matter. Why is there this down on felt as a material? So many people I come across on this course don't seem to like it. Well produced felt can be a thing of beauty and what I produce isn't what you would call traditional felt anyway. I hate all these trendy plastics and lack of well executed stitch but I believe in a person's right to make what they want.
Oh well-onward!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

First Steps

It may have been a while since my last post - Kirsty has passed her driving test and started her nursing course, Martin has gone back to work and I have have been taking the first baby steps towards the work which will be the body of work for my degree show.
Throughout the last module I was experimenting with techniques and ideas to create the proposal that forms the basis for this work. It was rather confusing in a way as I felt that I didn't really know how far to take the work at that point and combined with the fact that because of various family disasters I missed out on my last tutorials I ended the module in a confused mess. However hopefully I have more of a definite idea of how to proceed.
The theme for my work will be 'The Way through the Woods'. I have a passion for the natural world especially that of the British Isles and I feel that many people have lost that connection with it that is so important. I know everyone is on about 'saving the environment' and I've done my bit of protesting with Greenpeace in days past but now I am more inclined to use my art to open peoples eyes and try to make them think again. I have found a Kipling poem called 'The Way Through The Woods' that seems to sum up that feeling that you can only reconnect with what is past if you really take time to look as 'only the keeper sees' and I intend to explore the little things that lie hidden or are captured out of the corner of your eye when you walk through a wood. To try and evoke this feeling of magical, spiritual connection that you can get if you take the time to walk a forgotten path through a wood. So we begin.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Hi Folks I'm back!
Batteries are re-charged (sort of) although it hasn't exactly been an uneventful summer.

Bad things- being woken up at 3am by daughter with the immortal words "I'm covered in blood and I've had my phone stolen" (fortunately not her blood), endless dealings with police, etc... Falling out of the door and spraining my ankle, Breaking another tooth the day before JCS 'Moderation' which meant having to get it temporarily fixed during moderation, the fridge blew up (well, not literally) an last but not least he gas boiler was condemned and then we were told it was perfectly alright.

Good things - daughter did really well in her 'A' levels and is all set to start her nursing degree in 2 weeks time and I got a first for my dissertation.

So now its back to work Monday week on the last lap towards the final degree show which will be in May next year. As promised I will log my progress (or lack of it) in this blog. I know where I want to go with this body of work but I am just hoping I won't find this lap quite so confusing as I found the last module where I really was unsure exactly how far I was supposed to take the work at that stage.It also didn't help that because I had the daughter emergency I never rec'd a final tutorial before the work was marked so was even more confused.
However before I get going I've one more thing- I'm off to France, to Disneyland, for a couple of days as a sort of final fling for my daughter before she knuckles down to being an adult. Mickey Mouse here we come!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Panic Stations

Its been a bit of a nightmare this last week or so. Firstly I found out that my tutor for Personal Specialism (one of the modules I'm doing this semester) wanted all the work into her by 26th at the very latest. I'd been working to a timescale which concluded a couple of weeks later than this so needless to say I've been running around like a headless chicken trying to pull everything together so it can get posted by the middle of this week- with luck I'll get there. The dissertation seems (and I say seems) to be running more smoothly and is on target to be bound and assessed.
Then in the middle of this we had a family crisis- My 18 year daughter who flew out for her first holiday on her own (first time she's even flown) contacted us in tears needing to come home. Kirsty doesn't panic or even get really upset but she was really distraught. I spoke to one of the girls she was with and she concurred so we had to set the wheels in motion. The worse thing was her phone hadn't switched over to international and after I spoke to her and she left the hotel (I use the word very loosely) in Magaluf we were out of contact with her for 18 hours not even knowing if she'd made it all on her own to the airport. Delayed flights and a lot of worries later she arrived at Stanstead looking like death warmed up but fortunately all in one piece. I won't go into what happened but it was all an extremely unpleasant experience. The group of girls she went with all decided to stay so I just hope they are OK. I am just amazed she managed to get herself back - it may seem like a little thing, it wasn't 'up the amazon' after all, but to do it all alone when you've only made your way around London or to the odd Uni. interview on your own before and had an unpleasant experience thrown in as well takes some guts.
In fact things have been a bit of a strain generally lately so I have decided to take a blogging break for the whole of August. Hopefully I'll be back in September but I have decided that the blog from themnwill be totally devoted to the run up to my degree show.
A good summer to everyone in blogland and I'll be back when I have recharged my batteries.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Well I'm back! Lyme and the weather this year was just spectacular, so hot some days you couldn't even walk on the sand. As the daughter wasn't with us we indulged ourselves in all the things we usually get moaned at for doing. Walks around gardens, hikes through the countryside, rambles around ancient castles and I even got to stitch on the beach!!!! I took lots of pictures suitable to be made into textiles once this degree is over and just chilled out.
But now we're back.... need I say more. The house is still standing ( although I am fishing vodka bottles out of strange places "of course there were no parties mum") and the cats aren't talking to the daughter although have decided to talk to us.
So its back to work - get the dissertation bound ready for marking and the practical work ready for assessment. I met up with a group of friends who are also colleagues to visit the JC graduate show before I went away so at least I could get some idea for how to approach it next year. It was a good day- apparently John Torode showed us to our table at lunch but I was talking so much I didn't notice - oops.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

quick update

I cannot believe that its a month since my last posting. All I can say in my own defence is that the last few weeks have been manic with work and the only reason that I've got around to this today is because I've been on the computer to send work to one of my tutors.
In the interim I have been working on developing my samples and academic work for my personal specialism module, refining my dissertation, sorting out stuff as level 3 rep. for the course and beginning to try and draw all my graduating class together to begin the organisation of our exhibition (less than a year now) as well as booking rooms to be used for sessions by ERTF and IFA. Factor in hospital appts. with my father-in-law, hospital appts and uni stuff for my daughter,Gas leaks, visits to V&A and PRISM, Material Girls stuff as well as a little thing called everyday life and I suppose that's why there has been so little time for blogging.
Quick update on the course- dissertation is going on OK I think ( tutorial tonight to see if I'm about there), Personal Specialism has been a bit bumpy. Some modules are written very loosely to allow for 'personal interpretation' but that often seems to lead to misunderstanding between tutor and student leading to confusion and frustration , still I think I'm heading in the right direction now. There isn't much to show picture wise as its books full of sampling but I'll try and find something to tempt you.
PRISM was good as usual but I did feel this year that there was a lot of 'seen that before!' and not quite the spark it usually has still it was probably just one of those down years that happen every so often.
I'm off on holiday for a week in Dorset soon- I sooo need the break after the awful last 12 months so I expect it will a while before I blog again. Daughter not coming this year so it will be our holiday as a couple for 18 years- I'm just hoping I'll have a house left to come back to.

Monday, 17 May 2010

So much to do so little time

Help- where's all the time going! Having had a lovely couple of weeks just sewing for my own pleasure I am now back to full out degree work and this semester it's 2 modules simultaneously which is a bit full on. However this will be the last time that occurs and next year will just (just who am I kidding!) the big push to the end.
The dissertation is going (cautiously) OK. I've had feedback on the first draft from Sarah and she's pleased. There's a lot of smoothing out to do and I think I'm going to re-write the conclusion slightly but on the whole it looks like all the extra work during the first semester has paid off and I can spend time on refining this semester.
I have also had my first couple of tutorials for the personal specialism. I wish I knew why they call it this as it never seems to be something 'you' want to do. I know they need to push you but by this stage I think you should know what direction you want to go and the pushing should be about reaching that direction to the very best of your potential. I have a lovely tutor for this module- I've worked with her before and she always brings the best out in me but she does sometimes seem to go a bit off track. perhaps it's just me -perhaps I'm not explaining myself properly,that's the trouble with distance learning. Also she's so nice I don't want to upset her by saying "I don't want to do that".
It would also help if the modules were written in plain English not arty eduspeak- or maybe I'm just a bit thick.
Anyhow this module has given me the perfect excuse to spend time in the lovely bluebell woods nearby as I am working on a theme of nature and layers of protection (yep folks its felt again). I did try to take some recordings on Saturday of birdsong as I want to try and interpret this in stitch but all I could get was the sound of the airfield next door where someone was standing on top of a biplane and doing tricks. And people think I'm crazy!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Ups and Downs

Its been a funny old week. It started well with the ERTF AGM/Conference in Chelmsford. Really nice to meet up with people and some interesting talks by a designer from Courtaulds
Middlesex Uni and a great team from the Fashion and Textile Museum. I esp. enjoyed the talk by one of our own ERTF members, Juliet Bryson.
There was a good response also to the selling project idea we are working on so I am now moving on to the next step and hope we an get something more substantial off the ground. It also spurred me on to help Janette Bright, our area rep., to set something up for a local meet in the Autumn and as I was organising something for the IFA I decided to book a studio in our local arts centre for this as well.
Monday was not so good as I have changed dentists and he suggested that I have quite a few crowns sorted out (something that has needed doing). It will probably take about a year altogether and I hate the dentist so needless to say I am not looking forward to all this.
Tuesday I managed to injure my foot but that did not stop another trip up to the V&A to see the Grace Kelly exhibition -which was rather disappointing so Marie and I decided to visit the Quilt exhibition again as well to make up for it (God bless V&A membership).
On returning home I found out my father-in-law had had a bad fall and I couldn't locate my other half so several hours in A&E and 18 stitches later he didn't seem too bad but I had to spend all Friday morning with him at the eye casualty checking that he hadn't damaged his eye - which fortunately he hadn't.
More traumas with the dd over the weekend were slightly alleviated by some good news that my dissertation was looking good so far (although she could just be being nice) and shes off to a conference in Seoul for a week so I haven't got to worry about it for another week.
Goodness knows what this week will bring as the Easter break is over and JCS work begins again in earnest. Think its best just to take little steps and take each thing as it comes.

Friday, 23 April 2010


This period of downtime has been really useful for getting my head ready for the big push over the next year towards my grad. show. Several tutors had said to me that the dissertation might prove the most important part of the degree and as I'm not a great academic I just thought 'yeah,right!' However now I think they might be on to something.
Although I am still only in the middle as I have the final draft to produce next semester alongside the 1st personal specialism leading up to my final work(gulp!) for me it has crystallised not only what medium I want to pursue but also how I want to be defined in my practice. My dissertation title is 'Felt, Art or Craft?- an analytical study of felt in the creative sphere since 1945' so I have been using this medium to research present day attitudes to being an artist or being a craftsman and it has been a really enlightening and surprising journey. We are all so desperate to be seen as 'artists' mainly for the validation this title gives our work, however, in my study I've discovered that some of the most beautiful and thought provoking pieces that I have come across are by those describing themselves as either craftsmen or artist/craftsmen.

Generally though there still seems to be this feeling that those working in a region designated as craft as slightly inferior to the area of so called fine art. To me this seems utter rubbish and the research for this dissertation has made me decide that I will be really flattered to be designated a craftsman. I not very happy with the pretension and elitism of the fine art world (the Goldsmiths programme also re-enforced this feeling for me).

The really sad thing is that there has to be this labelling at all and its a modern western thing. So now I feel focused on what lies ahead- Here comes Chris an artist/craftsman working with felt.

Thursday, 15 April 2010


I had forgotten how good it was to have some time off. It seems so long since I have had a break from anything,esp. study, I had forgotten how important it is to re-charge the old batteries particularly creatively. Having a little leeway has meant that I am finding a little time to catch up with my own work. Material Girls have launched into their new project a bit quicker than normally as we have received an invite to exhibit in Jersey next year. It came as a complete surprise but apparently Pat Robson, the organiser of the event, spotted some of the photos that one of our members, Grace, had taken with her to show a friend when she attended the Textile Showcase a month or so ago and the next thing we know we had this invite. We will be exhibiting were Diane Bates did this year so we have some big shoes to fill but I know the girls will be able to do it.
I also had time to go to the wedding of one of Martin's cousins on Monday. They are a lovely couple and we had a great day. Do you like my Fascinator? its amazing what you can do with a gluegun and a few bits from Hobbycraft.
This was the first wedding we had attended in about 25 years and the first one ever for Kirsty. Martin's Cousin (Father of the Bride) is a priest so he took a step back for the day and the Bishop performed the ceremony in their church in Colchester. We were all a bit zonked though as Martin's dad had been carted off from St.Brides in Fleet Street (London) the night before having collapsed during his sidesman duties and we had spent a couple of hours trying to find what hospital he had been taken to. Fortunately he wasn't in any of them as having recovered (result of no tea, rushing all over Kensington during the afternoon and a hot church, not good for an 86 year old!) he had just asked the ambulance to drop him at the nearest tube station, which they did.
I've also had time to watch the documentary about Goldsmiths Art College. I spotted my tutor and it certainly explains a lot about my tutorials last semester. Something must be sinking in from the BA however as the painting I picked out as my favourite also proved to be the professor's, which I suppose is good!? If you haven't seen it and can get BBC IPlayer I would recommend it-lets say its interesting.
Next thing I could do with is a real go away somewhere holiday- but you can't have everything.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Was That Easter?

That was Easter wasn't it? I'm sure it was as I remember that somewhere there was chocolate and a really long traffic jam other than that it passed in a dissertation fueled haze. But I don't care because I've done it (not the whole thing you understand -I'm not that lucky) but I've just posted the first draft off to my tutor and I can't do anything else until I get her feedback. That won't happen until teaching restarts at the beginning of May which means I get 3 whole weeks off! Of course it all might be rubbish and its bound to need considerable reworking but today, this minute -I don't care because I'm free! Free to stitch, to walk the dogs without dragging them back too soon, free from 7 hours a day at the computer and waking up with a head going round with facts and quotes and things I've forgotten, free to get the house clean (OK you can't have everything. )So what shall I do first?- maybe I'll just sail away and dream and sleep.....

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Argh!!! Ooh! Ahhh!!!

The start of my week wasn't good. The husband suddenly told me that they were coming to change virtually all the windows on Tuesday. Nooo!!! I am up to my ears in trying to get this dissertation draft done and really having to concentrate and the last thing I need is a house full of builders needing regular cups of tea and sticking their heads around the door saying "mind if I use the loo, love?". Actually it wasn't too bad as I shut myself in the back room with the computer and the dogs and the builders were quite well behaved. This was lucky for the husband who might well have ended up stuck in one of the blasted windows if they had held me up.
On Thursday I dashed up to London to interview Heater Belcher. She had had to delay our meeting for just over an hour so I took the chance to do a quick flit around the Quilt exhibition. I have never been a great lover of traditional quilts but there were some really interesting modern ones esp. one made from steel wool (amongst other things) which the artist had made as a response to her mother's dementia which certainly struck a chord with me after the last few years. Some of the abstract ones were quite beautiful and I enjoyed standing in front of Sara Impey's and thinking 'I know her!' Fortunately as a V&A member I can go in as many times as I like for free so I'm definitely going back again.
I then met up with Heather and we had our chat in the member's lounge which I thought would be quieter for recording (wrong- when I was transcribing the tape -which took me nearly 4 hours!- you could hear every tea tray clang and every siren and in London there's a lot of those.) Heather is a delightful lady and gave me some real gold for use in my thesis, soon she off to visit Jeanette Appleton in Spain - lucky thing.
So this morning having been completely tied to the computer for the last week I decided as it wasn't raining for once to get the garden a bit tidier. With help of various animals it is looking a bit better with some joyful Pansies planted and the Camellias coming out. Working there caused me a long slow sigh of pleasure, I could breath. So next week its back down to it again as I would really like to break the back of this draft before Easter so I can get it sent off and actually have a short break- before I start barking along with the animals!

Thursday, 18 March 2010


Hello, what day is it again? that's what my brain feels like at the moment. I have spent the entire week chained to the computer and have completed about a third of the first draft of my dissertation. It is not easy! but then I suppose its not supposed to be. I get into the writing flow and then have to backtrack to include a footnote or a reference, do a word count to make sure I am proportioning the work correctly or to slot in a suitable illustration. And never being able to include 'I' or 'we' anywhere is really, really hard as I am not the most objective person in the world. Still I have made a start and as I work I realise just how passionate I am about Felt. Its history, esp. the mythology connected to it is fascinating and its just a shame that I can only include a tiny amount in the dissertation.
As I have reached a natural break in the construction I am going to award myself the day off tomorrow. Husband has a new car coming and wants to go out for a run and boy do I need to get out of the house (be warned - expect rain!)and tonight I am going to do some sketching to get ready to do a practical piece as I also really need to stitch. Lastly I have just walked down my garden and seen 2 tiny daffodils starting to bloom so perhaps Spring really is just around the corner.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Saturday saw 4 of 'us Material Girls' going to Enfield to give a talk to the local EG. The journey was a nightmare but we eventually arrived just in the nick of time and I think a good time was had by all, we were certainly made very welcome and the response from the branch was excellent. It was really interesting when picking out the pictures to include in the powerpoint to see just how far the group has come over the last 9 years and how much the quality of the work has improved. We have now started work on our next exhibition which will, with luck, be in 2012 and will have our work cut out to raise the standard even further but I am no doubt we will manage it.
After such a busy Saturday I was rather looking forward to being pampered on Mothers Day but alas it was not to be. Having been at the bottom of the pecking order of mums , so to speak,previously I am now the only mother left in our family so I thought I might be in for a treat but mid-morning I was summoned to my daughter's room where a bleary eyed individual reached below her bed, mumbled something, thrust a card and some choc into my hand (it was nice chocolate I must admit) and then sort of went back to sleep. The husband said he would cook lunch-unfortunately he doesn't do cooking so we actually got a bit of chicken from Marks and Sparks and some peas (I won't mention what happened to the potatoes but I think they were still growing, needless to say they weren't edible). After lunch he succumbed to his cold (Men get flu, children get colds, women get on with it!) and crashed out listening to his MP3. At this point I gave up and watched The Duchess which was definitely the best part of the day.
So for the rest of this week I am going to be chained to the computer starting on the first draft of my dissertation- which, with the way everything else is going lately, is going to require considerable luck if it isn't all to sound like gobbledygook.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Fed Up

Sometimes I think that this blog is just one long list of moans and I really don't want it to be as otherwise who would want to read it but I'm really fed up at the moment.
Having just about got over the dreaded Norovirus I have succumbed to the worse cold I've had in years with a racking cough, blocked sinuses and a mouth full of cold sores. To add insult to injury I also managed to break another tooth Monday night and its taken over a week to get an appt. with my dentist to fix it as they only have a dentist there 2 days a week now (and hes a locum) which is ridiculous , so I have only been able to eat slop for the last week.
Then on Friday I spent the day trying to do some research at the British Museum who could only provide 2 felt hats and that's despite supposedly having loads on their website.
Kirsty has also taken to clubbing in a big way which means she lurches in at 1.30, even mid-week, and I always wake up as I still can't sleep properly when she's out- so I'm grumpy through lack of sleep which doesn't help when trying to get through to her that all things must be balanced and being an adult comes not only with more liberty but also with more responsibility and consideration for others!
The one highlight of the week was a day Nuno felting with Cathy Unwin and AQUA and friends.
The dissertation is interesting but I'm not really a writer so it isn't that enjoyable for me and everyone else on the course seems to managing to go off to exotic places, do interesting things and enjoy every minute whilst I just seem to work and work and work and I've only been away from Hornchurch for a week in the last 2 years.
Most of all I'm fed up with me being fed up.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Back to Normal(?)

At last we've all emerged from the dreaded norovirus and to celebrate I took the coach from Romford to Textiles in Focus on Saturday, For once we had a swift journey which allowed me time to grab a glass of water and a plain biscuit (not that far over the bug yet!) and some threads from my favourite supplier 21st Century Yarns (they knew who I was which is rather ominous -perhaps I do buy rather a lot,oops!) before I spent a delightful morning demoing needlefelting on The Bury St.Edmunds Art Gallery stand for the IFA (great organisation). I also met Liz Cooper , a terrific person and I hope I will be able to work with her again sometime. Did approah her about doing an ERTF exhibition there but mentioned it to the current ERTF Chair who didn't seem over enthusiastic so I think this may be a contact on a personal rather than organisational level.I did offer to do a bit of cover on the ERTF stand as well so people could have break but they didn't seem to want me so Ihad lunch instead.
In the afternoon I attended the Isobel Hall lecture which was interesting but not really me which left just a tiny bit of time to meet up with friend and fellow student Marian Murphy and view her MESCH exhibition before heading back to the coach. The day went all too quickly but I must admit it has taken me all Sunday to recover.
So today it was back to the dissertation with a vengeance and I'm currently reading up on Robert Morris and his Feltworks. It is very much of a chicken and egg situation between Beuys and Morris as to who came first in this sphere. The really annoying thing is that they are/were both male and not working in the textile field and yet it is they that are credited with 'bringing felt into the realm of fine art'.
The rest of today I am going to work on something enjoyable as now the Material Girls exhibition is over I can really get going on some Aqua work. I wonder how I can make a felt sea urchin and get my 'seaweed' to really pop.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


It has not been a good few days. After dismantling the 'Unseen' exhibition last Friday I followed my daughter and husband and succumbed to the dreaded Norovirus. It was not nice and I am still feeling slightly off. Worse- I was unable to give the talk to Enfield EG and I missed my mother-in-law's memorial service at St.Brides in Fleet Street , which has put me in the father-in-laws bad books as he doesn't accept illness as an excuse (he would have liked it even less if I had staggered there considering what I was doing during that time, as well as probably infecting half the congregation!). Kirsty is back on duty in the nursery at Queens Hospital on Friday so I hope she doesn't bring any other nice surprises home with her this week.
Fortunately I haven't got a tutorial for a couple of weeks which will give me a chance to catch up with work once my brain stops feeling like soggy porridge and I have a trip to Cottenham this Saturday which I really hope I will be better for as I have promised to do an hour on the Bury Museum stand for the IFA and I don't want to let anyone else down.
All I can say is - bring on Spring- Please!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

what a week

The last week has just flown by. The exhibition is proving a great success I'm glad to say and there looks like there are going to be quite a few things born from it. I can't believe it comes down on Friday -2 weeks goes so quickly.
Poor Kirsty went down with a nasty sickness bug so the weekend was spent nursing so not a lot of spare time there, however, I have managed to get going again on the dissertation. Sarah Braddock Clarke (my tutor) seems quite enthusiastic with what I want to do and what I have I have done so far -so I've been given the green light to go ahead. And now the questionnaires I've sent out have started coming in and its really fascinating reading every one's take on the subject.
I've also taken on being the level 3 rep. for JCS- we always used to have student reps. on the board of studies with OPUS and JCS are now trying to start up this system again. I remember when I started it was really useful to have a rep. to approach and to keep you in touch so I thought it was only fair to take my turn in giving something back and I'm the nearest geographically so it makes sense.It really isn't an onerous task and I might get to know some of the students a bit better - always a bonus.
This morning I meet with 3 of the Material Girls to run through the talk we're going to give to Enfield EG on Saturday- its amazing how much you forget about when you start looking back but perhaps that's 'just my age'! - but until then its back to the books- after I've fed the animals of course.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Beware! Material Girls at work

and also

I have spent the day digging out the house from the mess of the last couple of days of hanging the exhibition and tonight have a tutorial to see if I am on the right lines with my dissertation. So I rather suspect I will have to 'get my head down' to study again from tomorrow so I thought I would post a couple more pictures from the exhibition to tide my blog over until I can get back to it again.
I also wanted to say that I am a very proud Mum! Kirsty has received an unconditional offer to study Paediatric Nursing Southbank University in London , which she has accepted and all being well this coming September will her taking her first steps onto the wards as a student nurse. She's wanted this all her life and it is definitely genetic as all the female side of my family have been nurses (except me- I'm the black sheep!) so I am so pleased for her. She's a long way to go and the hard work begins now but at least she's on her way. So a big thank you to everyone in blog land who has wished her luck with her interviews - it worked.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Alls well that ends well

After a few sticky moments over the last few months my Material Girls' 'Unseen'exhibtion previewed last night. Death defying feats were required in hanging some of the work involving plinths, great tall ladders and a couple of the 'girls' long suffering husbands but the Private View arrived without mishap and I must admit I am very pleased with the results
We've received an awful lot of very complimentary remarks esp. from the Head of Art at the school who seems to have recruited us to teach some of the girls some new skills when my back was turned. This morning saw us talking to another group of primary school children who actually seemed really interested with our 'find the artist trail' and some of the boys esp. were much enamoured of some super skeletons by Jill Birleson.
We had well over a hundred at the private view with some people travelling considerable distances to attend and it was lovely to see them all- friends both old and new. I really hope they all had a good time - I know we did.
We've even made quite a few sales so will be able to stock up with some new materials to get us going on the next one.
The exhibtion runs for the next 2 weeks finishing at lunchtime on Friday12th February and then comes the tricky bit- a couple of weeks rest and I'll be setting them their next theme and next time we've got to do even better. Onwards and Upwards!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Not waving but drowning

I'm not really drowning just spluttering a bit. I'm trying to gather together materials, contacts etc... for the dissertation so everyday brings piles of books to my door and e-mails from people. I'm not really complaining as it is lovely to have all this material arriving I just need to edit it down to what I can actually cope with in the time frame. I've even had an e-mail from HEATHER BELCHER!!! offering to help -thanks completely to the wonderful Cathy Unwin.
I'm also trying to pull together the last few things for the Material girls exhibition plus there is a new ERTF venture to be explored, all very exciting but... I really need to concentrate on some serious reading now.Just to put a spanner in the works (literally) having set today aside for just that we had a 'plumbing incident', fortunately now fixed, which means I've spent today sorting cupboards and plumbers instead.
One other thing that is clogging my brain at the moment is that depending on what happens with Kirsty and Uni. there is a big decision to be made.
Now my brain is really feeling sploshy - think I'll just go and have a cup of tea and hope tomorrow brings dry land.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Help and Inspiration

The dissertation is underway but I do feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment. I've started gathering/finding books, contacted a few felt artists of my acquaintance and discovered some new ones (have a look at the work of Yuli Somme- really different). The IFA have already been a tremendous help - I think joining them is one of the best decisions I have made in recent years and I am on the look out for any museums/collections that hols felt (other than British Museum, V&A, Horniman and SOAS) and artsists based around London that I can visit.
I have to write a dissertation proposal and find 'the question' to be answered/discussed but my problem at the moment is finding one from the loads that have been thrown up by my initial research.

I managed to visit the Designer Craftsmen exhibit in the Mall and the GSK one at the RA last Saturday. London was lovely- cold with a dusting of snow and quieter than usual. Both exhibitions were wonderful in different ways. The quality and diversity of the work at the DC is always inspiring and I really wished my birthday was based this time of year when I go as there were several items I would have loved if finances permitted. The GSK exhibition was extremely thought provoking and I particularly loved Gormley's Amazonian Field, Acroyd and Harvey's pieces,Mariele Nuedecker's '400 thousand generations and Tracey Emin's 'I loved you like the sky (yes I know - I loved an Emin piece!!!). There were lots of other things there that moved me and the photography was outstanding. Its given me loads of inspiration for my own work. Even my Art phobic husband enjoyed it- saying it was surprisingly interesting- do you think I may even have converted him slightly?

Finally to relieve the stress of the dissertation, approaching Material Girls exhibition and the fact that Kirsty has started her nursing interviews I spent an hour yesterday making Felt stones- so relaxing. All I need to do now is decide what to do with them.