Monday, 23 December 2013

Grand Productions

December this year for me has been a series of different productions.
The kind you go to:-
From Here to Eternity, the new Tim Rice production which we went to see for my daughter's birthday, was absolutely fabulous!

Steeleye Span performing their  newish album 'Wintersmith' at our local theatre which me took me back to a happy place in my youth. Still great ,still rocking, Maddy Prior still rushing around the foyer like a young thing!

Leeds Castle at Christmas. More magical than it has felt for many years

Hogwarts! (oh alright then the Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros. Studios near Elstree) a second visit but this time in the snow. Just how magical is that.

The kind of production you do for work:-
And there has been an awful lot of that just recently.
Finalising, as part of the organising team, the details for the SDC exhibition after Christmas.

Finishing off my own work to go into the shop there.

Whilst still working hard on my pieces for the Material Girls exhibition at Cottenham in February.

And then there is the kind of production you do for your family and those you love this time of year:-

Putting on a 'do' and making a cake for your father-in- laws 90th birthday. ( a big deal for me as I don't actually like making cakes much but at least I made the Christmas cake at the same time)

and like women everywhere the grandest  production of all - getting ready for the Christmas celebration. Normally I am a bit 'bah humbug!' as I feel sad that we are such a tiny family but at least I have a family and friends and as they say in the Polar Express 'its not about the train, its deciding to get on board' or words to that effect. This year I am 'on board'  So Happy Christmas and 'God Bless us one and all'.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Tagging,poking and sharing - Oh My!

I am in a state of deep confusion. My darling daughter has been very unwell over the past few weeks but at the end of last week the treatment finally started to work and she is starting to feel better. Of course that also meant she started to feel bored and asked me if she could put me on Facebook. Now folk that know me also know I have always been quite resistant to the concept having been a mother observing the damage that can be done on the darned thing by teenagers.  But I caved in and let her put me on it (amazing what you will do to keep your offspring happy) and now I have this weird beast that keeps e-mailing me, I have also found that my daughter and OH have 'tagged' me in pictures that have turned up on my 'timeline' which is extremely traumatic as I really hate pictures of me. I have no idea what I am supposed to do with this Facebook thing or how to do it but I shall persevere , even if its only to keep junior happy.

Meanwhile back in the world I am more familiar with my colleagues on the other side of the pond have sent some pictures of our latest Bridging Waters exhibition in St.John, New Brunswick,Canada and very impressive it looks too! So thank you Rebecca of Articulation for sending these to me. Now I will share them with you....if that's the right jargon for a blog.... at least I'm not poking ,whatever that is.

Saturday, 9 November 2013


I know I have been missing from blogworld for quite some time now. Its not because there has been a lack of things to blog about but simply that there has been so much that I have had no time to do so!
I undertook a new 'part -time voluntary' position so you probably know what that means basically I have been swallowed whole by the computer for over a month now. I became the membership secretary of the Society of Designer Craftsmen at the beginning of October, mainly to help out our overwhelmed, lovely Chairperson, but although I have done this job before it has for branches of things such as the EG I haven't done it for an international organisation of professional craftspeople. Slightly more work than I naively anticipated. But I am slowly coming to grips with it all .
On top of that we have been sorting out the organisation of the SDC shop at the main exhibition which is held annually at the Mall Galleries in London , so more paperwork.
On a creative front I am trying to finish my own work for the shop at the Mall,  the Cottenham exhibition and I had to restock my section at our local arts centre. This part I love but its so time consuming and I am really excited about 2 upcoming exhibitions that will see my work going off in a completely new direction that I want to finish all this so I can start researching and sampling for that.
Meanwhile our Canadian exhibition embarks on its next( but not now final) exhibition this month . Details in the side panel and I will fill you in on its next lap soon. That work is more well traveled than I am!
So this is just a quick update to let you know that I am still here, no pics this time I'm afraid, I must rush- its Lord Mayors Show day and also the 10th anniversary of my mum's death so I have a lot of travelling around to do today. Will be back with a proper post soon.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Not Waving But....

Finally back from that wonderful alternate universe they call Lyme Regis. I mean where else can you watch 2000 guitarists playing 'Rave on' on a beach in the pouring rain or the main news item is a debate about a beer drinking duck? Its also a place where an incredible variety of arty things just mesh into life and as usual I found a couple of really interesting exhibitions to visit in the shape of Brunel Broderers'  'Strand' and  a collaboration at Barrington Court (a National Trust property) with 5 diverse artists responding to various aspects of the house, My favourite was a willow sculpture that filled the whole kitchen. Sorry no pics allowed but it might have images on the website. Plus an exhibition of samplers dating back to the 1600s  (yes I have some pics for you Bev.)
I also went for my annual pilgrimage to the donkey sanctuary near Sidmouth. We have been supporters since the days 20 years ago when you used to chat with the founder , the late Dr.Elisabeth Svendsen, while she groomed some of the donkeys. Now the place is really big and there are other branches throughout the country . not only rescuing donkeys but providing centers for donkeys to work with disabled children, etc...
I love this place and I swear it is one of the most peaceful places on the planet, something just exudes from them calm and all enveloping. 10 minutes stroking a donkey is probably worth years of stress therapy.

But now its back to real life with a vengeance. This last week has seen me starting the work for creating the SDC shop in the Mall, taking on the position of SDC membership secretary (not quite sure how that one happened), another exhibition proposal in the offing, stock to start making for outlets and I really have to get on with work for Cottenham. What is it they say.... 'not waving but drowning'.... gosh I hope not.
Oh and before I forget Material Girl's collaboration with our Canadian colleagues 'Articulation' has just finished its second exhibition ,this time in Vancouver, by all accounts it has been a great success with a very high footfall so well done them! its wending its way to the east coast now for its final hurrah before coming home in 2014.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

sneak peak

Touching Base - sort of

I'm back but just for a little while, alright to be honest just today then.I have been away from the land of the blog too long but I have completely lost this summer, which has been a real drag. Too many problems and things that are just too boring to mention have meant that I have been trapped in a world of domesticity all this summer and not in a good way. One thing, among many, that most folks who have suffered the dreaded kitchen refit will symapathise with is the 'it will only take a couple of weeks' promise. Well we are now in week 7 and hopefully this will be the last week and I have finally managed to access the computer which means I can blog , today at least.(my Ipad doesn't seem to want me to for some reason)
I would fill you in on all the exciting things that have happened except there weren't any. (Well there was one extremely exciting textile thing but as they say at the moment I am not at liberty to divulge). However in the down time from me cleaning, decorating,DIYing, sorting things out,various textile glitches,  more decorating , more and more and more cleaning I have had the odd couple of hours to work on my pieces for the next Material Girls project. I am posting a couple of teaser pics.lets see if anyone can guess what I am working on? Clues- Its connected with China ( actually  I have had something kindly translated into Chinese by my husbands's cousin's wife as part of the project).
I will divulge much more when I blog next as I am off for a little break soon , the first proper one since this time last year and boy do I need it! Hopefully I when I return my batteries will be recharged and I can actually start to get back to my own life again.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Scrummy Yummy

On Friday, like most of the textile enthusiasts within striking distance of London, I went with a group of  like minded friends (six in the city) to see the Kaffe Fassett  exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum . Now I do not knit (can but don't really like doing it) find patchwork a bit boring (no doubt I will now be shunned by all the quilters out there) and tend to work in muted colours so lets face it this was not the obvious choice of an exhibition for me to visit but I wanted to have a birthday treat that challenged me a bit and I am so glad I did.

 I know he produces the very commercial , designs but rarely makes his own pieces and is the master of self promotion but boy does that man have an eye for colour ! His layering of pattern and colour is so rich and joyful (I even loved the patchwork) It definitely showed me that although I work with the natural world as my inspiration source I do not have to be so restrained as nature is the most colourful source available- since when did nature ever 'clash'. I know I am at a point when my work needs its regular 'kick up the backside' and my new project is the perfect trial ground for this so thank you Kaffe Fassett for administering it. However, I must also remember during my flirtation with colour that an area of stillness is needed as Margaret remarked as we walked home along the Thames that the blues and greys that surrounded us there gave a much needed respite to the visually busy morning.

Of course the company of friends to see an exhibition like this is invaluable  so thank you Helen, Liz,Margaret, Kirsten and Elizabeth for joining me and that great chat about it we had over lunch. I always find it wonderful how much knowledge spills out from such friends greatly enhancing the whole experience.

Now where are the threads, paints, papers and fibres to  start to play ....oh and the sunglasses!

Kaffe Fassetts 'touching wall'

One of my favourite displays at the FTM

Sunday, 16 June 2013

A Diversion

So now the Seeking Artemis exhibition is over I have to start work on two other projects in earnest. The Material Girls project is called Tales and Textiles which involves each of us looking at another culture, their textile heritage, their stories and folktales and interpreting all of this in a way unique to each artist. I will reveal what culture I am looking at when I have something to show but I am at present I am desperately making the base fabrics for the five pieces of work I am creating for this. The reason for the haste? well I have a lot going on elsewhere at the moment.
Over the last few months we have had family health worries which could have involved surgery  fortunately it looks like 'conservative' treatment has worked for my daughter and my OH's consultant has decided on a similar course of action for him , so lots of physio,etc... but hopefully no knife, This has given us a window to get on with things domestic which have been put on hold.
Last week I got a chance to sort out the garden (with help- as the pic shows) which was lovely as I always feel so peaceful in the garden - or indeed anywhere outside where there are no people.
Then yesterday I finalised the order for my new kitchen which will mean gutting the whole room back to the 'bricks' and making the house a virtual no go zone for August. I'm not looking forward to it being in process but I am looking forward to it being finished. It also means I can have a great clear out of all the clutter (brilliant!).
Hence the haste to get the fabrics made, the design work done and then I can shut myself in a room (or garden if we ever see the sun again) and hand stitch while they tear the place apart.
Just to make you smile textile wise I have popped in a little fishy, part of one of my ongoing more commercial projects , to keep up the textile link for this blog. Meanwhile  sunday lunch cooking calls as we have to keep OH happy on Father's day.

Friday, 24 May 2013

and then the video

For those of you that might be interested to see the whole exhibition a relation of one of the participating artists, Rebecca Herbert, has made a video and posted it on you can access it on  or look for a direct link on the Seeking Artemis blogspot.
I think he has done a good job .Oh and the remark at the end of the credits , that's another story.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The last day

Tomorrow will be the last day of our 'Seeking Artemis' exhibition in the Crypt Gallery,St.Pancras. London. It has been busy,eventful, exhausting,amusing and freezing! We had  a  crowded Private View,amazing footfall, excellent comments on the exhibition and some great press (even being mentioned in the Wall Street International magazine!?). We have met people from all corners of the globe and a few people that were ,shall  we say, an eclectic bunch that will provide me with some very amusing and interesting stories for my 'exhibition tales'.
Below are a few photos (of my work and the PV) just to give you a feel.

. As you can see it really is a very interesting space in which to exhibit but it hasn't done my claustrophobia any favours.
 So tomorrow evening everything will be taken down and packed away and I can't say I'm sorry as I am ready and excited  to move on to my my next batch of work. This time its going to reflect nature, wild hills, far off places and the big wide open sky - wonderful!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

4000 miles

Do you remember last year,our (Material Girls and Articulation) project and  the series of exhibitions and talks we hosted in the UK ? Well the exhibition tour is just about to kick off  in Canada (see the flyer above). There is a whole lot more details on the gallery's website and I am rather tickled to see that they have used a snippet of my work on that website. We wish our Canadian colleagues a successful and enjoyable series of exhibitions over the next year , hoping they have as much fun as we had.
The funny thing is I have only just realised that next week I and my friend Miriam will have our work on display in London and Canada simultaneously. That's approx 4000 miles apart ! It also amused me that somebody once asked me how far I thought I could take my textile work- I don't think 4000 miles is a bad start.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Fame at Last?

Well not really but our local rag which circulates in Essex and East London has picked up on the 'Seeking Artemis' exhibition. They have pulled together a nice little article even if the facts are slightly muddled but they have the important details correct especially the location and opening times. Its a little bit worrying that we share the pages with adverts for mobility scooters - perhaps they are trying to tell us something!
I have fostered a pretty good relationship with the local press over the years as they now seem to support us whenever we have an exhibition and have even asked me to write a  short general article about my exhibiting group 'Material Girls' on the back of this article. 
I have also had articles in several magazines (even in Canada) over the years which is a great help  promotion wise (always good for the CV)  but it is hard work to stay on top of this aspect esp. when you really want to be stitching or designing. Magazines have seriously in advance deadlines so you need to have things in to them at least 3-4 months in advance when often the work isn't quite ready for photography . For local and not so local press you need to get in touch at the right moment so it doesn't go out of people's minds (I try to keep a sort of count down calender so I can remember when things need to be done. I also find it helps to have an angle which will catch people's interest.Then you are in the lap of the Gods to see if they have room in that particular issue. 
 I was told both when I was studying professional practice for my degree and at seminars that you should reserve one day a week for all your 'office' and promotion stuff -very true but difficult to achieve until they invent the 10 day week! But it is important to keep plugging away in this media obsessed age - for every 10 you contact one might pick it up and its not just for publicity for the exhibition but for opportunities to exhibit, etc... that might come from it.
At least the work is all finished ready for the exhibition now ( well almost) now its just drawing together all the peripheral exhibition stuff with just over a week till the hang. Who knows we might even feature in the London press one day , I've been in touch and I'm still plugging away ....

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Taking the Mickey

So I am back from my little break. Couldn't really call it a rest as we have been over to Disneyland in Paris for a belated 21st birthday trip for my not so little girl. It looks like we were right to wait to April in the hope that the weather improved as boy did it! Having gone from serious worries if we would freeze there we were wandering around at 11pm in t -shirts

Anyway now that is over (all too quickly) its down to finalising everything for the Seeking Artemis exhibition. I reckon I will finish the stitching by the end of this week, I have sorted out my postcard printing, sent out all my private view invites and am just completing the stewarding pack. Its all the little last minute things that take up the time. I have a 'photoshoot' for a paper on Friday and two articles that I have been requested to write for publications to get finished so if I can polish them off next week I might even get to start on the next body of work (I should have already started -oops) before the exhibition begins. Needless to say I will be stitching whilst stewarding... As white rabbit says 'there's no time to say hello goodbye, I'm late,I'm late, I'm late'

Sunday, 14 April 2013

What a difference a day makes

Can it be? Can spring really have sprung? For the first time since 2012 we have actually had a warm day. The animals have actually ventured into the garden, the daffodils (usually over by now here ) are in full bloom and I even got the washing dried.

Of course I should still be stitching as the Crypt exhibition edges ever closer  (esp. as next week takes me off on a short adventure) but I couldn't resist just a few minutes in the sun. The good news I have finished my 'felt quilt'. This is an experiment and I am ready to take this further for the next project as I am moderately pleased with the result and have worked out how to refine it now. Above is a picture of part of it and it measures approx 3ft x 6 ft.
 I am still stitching spirals onto my last piece which is approx. 8ft long (they are a recurring symbol in this set of work  signifying the spinning and weaving of the web of life) and have now lost count of all the spirals I have hand stitched in silk thread in the collection of work for the Crypt but if I ever have insomnia I could count them instead of sheep and find out.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

stitch,stitch, tick,tock,stitch,stitch

Time has been slipping away so fast this year and my stitching muscle has gone into overdrive. I think this body of work for 'Seeking Artemis' will really be taken up to the wire .
My work for this exhibition has been exploring the topic of sea symbolism and its connection to the feminine . As regular readers probably know I love the sea and to me it is a very feminine entity. The more I have researched into connected symbolism the more I have found that the various sea symbols help depict definite aspects or periods of a woman's life. I have also found how interesting it is that a lot of symbolism is also known instinctively by people,almost a sort of race memory, and that we 'modern day westerners' tend to either ignore this or almost put it into storage at the back of our minds. It is this latter aspect that will be informing my display of the work. Well that's the theory behind my work, now for the practical side of exhibiting...

As you can see preparations for the actual exhibition staging are well underway. One of our number , the photographer in our midst, has produced a flyer and the details of the exhibition can be found on the Crypt Gallery website and also on our Seeking Artemis blog
( I would put in a link so you could click directly onto them but every time I try it goes to something weird!)
We also have a facebook page but again I don't know how to use facebook ,however. if you are a reader of the 77 Belle blog. you will find the link on there. I am always in troubleform my fellow exhibitors  for not getting things onto the computer more but to be truthful I really do find it confusing and it seems to crash half the time, which is really frustrating. What I really need is a little man living inside the thing I can just shout at!

We have been for a look at the space with no exhibition in it (which is rare) to measure and finalise our staging and its even more inspiring. It also makes me realise how close it is getting and how much I still have to complete, that being said.... back to the stitching!

ps. I did escape up to see the exhibition 'Woolhouse' at Somerset house yesterday and it is astounding, one of the best exhibitions I have been to in ages. It is only on until this weekend but if you get the chance ......

Friday, 1 February 2013

Seeking Artemis

Marian, Helen and Janette discussing Helen's work in progress

Now the SDC exhibition is over for the next few months I am working full steam ahead for my next exhibition which is in May. It is entitled 'Seeking Artemis' and will take place in The Crypt Gallery, St.Pancras Church,Euston Road, London. So I thought over the next few weeks it might be interesting to devote this blog to how the exhibition came about and the process of preparing for it.

It all began when Marian Murphy, Helen Wilson and myself decided we would like to work together after our degree course. Marian had already scouted a gallery near St.Pancras station. It was a wonderful space  which is used for a fabulous eclectic selection of contemporary art exhibitions and we really coveted working with the space. We knew we didn't want to limit the exhibition to pure textiles as we were already beginning to diverge in our practice but we did want to bring together a small group that might connect with this space. Eventually we drew together 6 very different female artists - the three of us plus Miriam Weaver, Janette Bright and Rebecca Herbert, and we had already decided on a theme for our exhibition, inspired by the carytids that stand 'guard' above the gallery  - we were going to address aspects of the feminine , whether pertinent to one individual to more general or abstract. We sent a proposal to the gallery and it was accepted and so the journey began....

Monday, 21 January 2013

New Year, New Projects

I have decided to return for another year of blogging but go back to how I originally started which was to use this blog to track my various textile projects.
The first one of the year has already finished! I have been commuting backwards and forwards since just after Christmas helping to set up (and then break down) the 'shop within the show' at the Designer Craftsmen's show in the Mall galleries, which by all accounts was a great success despite the current economic climate and the bad weather. Yesterday ( our last day) saw London covered in glittery snow. I walked through St.James Park up to Buckingham Palace at Lunchtime and it was magical esp. as the old Victorian style lamposts were on in Green Park making the place look like Narnia.

It was great to break everything down yesterday and get time to start working on my next project now. However it was a great learning experience although walking in on the first Monday to a pile of plinths and shelving and a hugh pile of boxes containing over 1000 items ( in disciplines from textiles to precious jewelry  glass to metalwork, Ceramics to Wood.....) and a big empty gallery space which 3 of us had 4 days to turn into a fully functioning shop was rather daunting ! (pics show portions of the shop half way prepared).
I also had the luck whilst there to grab a coffee with one of our Canadian colleagues who was over for a short trip delivering work to the Mall. It was lovely to see her and she was able to fill me in about our 'Bridging Waters' tour of Canada.
So now I am working seriously towards the 'Crypt' exhibition. Just a taster picture for now and more about that in my next post.
Many thanks to people who commented on my last post and made me decide to continue.

Happy New Year to you all