Notes from the Studio

The weeks have flown by since my new year post back in January, I’ve been busy teaching, working on my pieces for Whitby Museum and started a Body Image and Mind project with Leeds Libraries.

I’ve not had as much time in the studio as I would have liked but it’s been inspiring to get back to my teaching, working with The Tetley on their After School Club and Tetley Teens programme and the start of a new term with Heydays at The West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Back in the studio I’ve been sampling for new workshops in 2018/19 and creating new pieces for my exhibition at Whitby Museum in the autumn.

The narwhal skeleton has been my focus for a few weeks now and I’ve started to experiment with 3D elements, making bones from a variety of wool and cotton fabrics. These hand stitched elements will sit alongside the 2D drawings I have been creating with embroidery.

Narwhal Bones
Narwhal Bones

Archive & Other Stories will share stories about my life through objects from the museum collection and an image that keeps coming back to me is a Frank Meadow Sutcliffe portrait of Henry Freeman.

On 9th February 1861 during a great storm the lifeboat men carried out five launches rescuing the crews from five vessels. Although he had not been one of the lifeboat crew before, Henry took part in all of the rescues that day. On that fifth launch the lifeboat overturned and Henry was the sole survivor…

My grandma kept a portrait of Henry on her dressing table, nestled between the bottles of perfume, old stockings and ornaments. This portrait is still such a vivid memory so I wanted to include it in the exhibition. I was very kindly given permission to recreate the image in stitch by the Sutcliffe Gallery.

Embroidered Portrait in Progress
Embroidered Portrait in Progress

Whitby and the Yorkshire Coastline have also played a huge part of my adult life. My husband and I holiday in Whitby every year and spend hours walking along the beach taking photographs and collecting objects. Our fossil hunting trips echo the wonderful fossil collection at the museum so I have started working on some ammonite inspired pieces.

Ammonite Samples
Ammonite Samples

Alongside my work for Archive & Other Stories I have been working with Leeds Libraries on their Body Image & Mind project.

Body Image and Mind is a project that explores the issue of body image and the impact that has on people’s self-confidence, mental health and well-being. The main elements of our project are about Public engagement and collaboration, as these are defining characteristics of the Engaging Libraries scheme. Through research and creative art activities and workshops we will inspire discussion and debate. The “Engaging Libraries” programme gives libraries the opportunity to engage with the public on a range of complex health and well-being issues, providing a safe space for debate, discussion, interaction and learning.

I have explored mental health and body image through my own work and working alongside other artists and library staff has been a great opportunity to engage with other people through making.

Instagram Picture from the Project Launch
Instagram Picture from the Project Launch

As the project continues I will be sharing images on social media and through my blog.

 

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New Year, New Challenges

Converse Selfie with Peg Board
Converse Selfie with Peg Board

It’s been a while since my last blog post, I’ve had a break from the studio and my teaching over Christmas which has been great.  It’s been a bit of a shock getting back to work!

January is a time for reflection for many of us, looking at the past twelve months and setting new challenges for the year ahead. The Christmas break gave me a chance to update my diary and think about what 2018 has in store for me.

In September, my solo exhibition Archive & Other Stories opens at Whitby Museum. I’ll be working with Ellie Harrison and the rest of the wonderful team on The Grief Series, an exciting collaborative project. I will also be teaching workshops in new venues including The Arts Council Collection and Leeds Libraries.

My first week in the studio has been a busy one, making workshop samples for my series of Creative Upcycling workshops. I’ve also been creating new pieces for Archive & Other Stories based on the narwhal skeleton at Whitby Museum. It’s been great to work with the super talented Mat Dale who photographs my work, there will be some new galleries added to my website in the coming weeks so watch this space.

My Creative Upcycling workshops will be held in the Drawing Room at Leeds Central Library, a beautiful space next to the specialist Art Library. I’m now taking bookings for January and March through my Eventbrite page. These sessions give you the skills to  embellish, repair and recycle existing clothing.

Creative Upcycling - Embroidery & Applique
Creative Upcycling – Embroidery & Applique

I’ve never been one to set New Year’s Resolutions but I do like to think about things I’d like to work on or do over the coming months. This list includes:

  • Drawing more
  • Learning some new embroidery stitches
  • Collaborating with other artists
  • Doing some creative writing
  • Spending more time in the studio
  • Visiting more museums and galleries

I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you and seeing what new work develops in 2018. You can find out more by following me on social media (links in the sidebar).

Whitby Museum

Since October I’ve been visiting Whitby Museum every couple of weeks to research their collections and gather source material for my exhibition next year. My last visit at the start of December gave me the opportunity to finalise some of my thoughts and get specific photographs for pieces I want to create.

Text is a recurring theme in my work and the hand painted signs in the museum are beautifully made.

Narwhal Text Panel
Narwhal Text Panel
Plesiosaurus Text panel
Plesiosaurus Text Panel

I’ve been working on some text samples in  the studio using gold thread, a new challenge for me as I usually work with metallics by hand. I’ll be looking to my favourite thread supplier Barnyarns for some advice on getting the best thread and how to stitch out without breakage.

Narwhal Text Sample
Narwhal Text Sample

The collection contains a wide range of fossil material – vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and trace fossils. The ammonites, nautiloids, belemnites, marine reptiles, fish and plants are of particular interest and international scientific importance with over 200 ‘primary’ type specimens which includes many holotypes [a single specimen recognised worldwide as showing the main character of a particular species].

The fossil collection at the museum has some beautiful examples and the handwritten and typed labels have inspired me to include catalogue numbers and text in the embroideries and drawings for the exhibition.

Fossil Display Cabinet
Fossil Display Cabinet

The natural history cabinets contain so many species of birds and butterflies and I’ve been drawn to the bird’s nests and how the branches are woven together to create intricate 3D structures.

Bird Nest
Bird’s Nest

During my Christmas break from teaching I will be in the studio creating samples and developing new pieces for the exhibition. I’m looking forward to the luxury of whole days in the studio and no admin.

Whitby Museum closes for the festive season and re-opens on Tuesday 9th January. If you’ve never visited before it should be your new year’s resolution!

 

Knitting & Stitching Show 2017

The textile galleries are a chance to view the work of established and emerging artists, I love to explore the work and meet the artists to find out about their inspiration and processes. This year there were a few standout pieces that I wanted to share.
Jo Beattie: Precious Memories
Jo Beattie’s work, like my own looks at memory and objects and how we can capture these using stitch.
I loved the shadows produced by her work and the characters she creates, the work was beautifully presented in white frames or as 3D pieces in custom stands or as an installation. My favourite piece was Tumbling Memories, a suitcase suspended from the ceiling with an array of characters tumbling from it.
Jo Beattie Tumbling Memories

Jo Beattie Tumbling Memories

Jo Beattie Tumbling Memories Detail
Jo Beattie Tumbling Memories Detail

Fi Oberon: The Natural World

I have always loved wool felt as a raw material, so I was fascinated by Fi Oberon’s work and the wonderful creatures that she creates.

Inspired by our natural heritage Fi creates fabulous animals from felt and places them in a textile landscape.

The beautiful creatures are featured in Fi’s first book, The Natural World of Needle Felting. The book is divided into four chapters: Uplands, Frozen Plains, Farmyard and Fields and Coast. The creatures Fi exhibited were in their own wonderful landscapes and the book also includes details like how to make your own plants and trees.

My favourite piece from the exhibition was, like some of my own work inspired by the coastline.

Fi Oberon: Coastal Birds
Fi Oberon: Coastal Birds

Studio 21: The Sewing Machine Project

The group shows at The Knitting & Stitching Show are a chance to see how different artists respond to the same theme. Something which I have done on projects like Thackray Uncovered and Weave // Fragments.

The Sewing Machine Project by Studio 21 was a well curated show with a fascinating mix of 2D and 3D pieces on display. I loved the use of colour and how each artist had responded differently to the theme.

Sam makes stitched sculptures, drawings and collages, predominantly by stitching and manipulating mixed media. Inspired by the unexpected diversity, beauty and quirkiness of the World; particularly the colour, movement and incredible shapes found in the sea and the mythical creatures they evoke. Central to her work is the haptic experience of combining materials for their contrast and contradiction. By juxtaposing ordinary materials with traditional processes it is hoped that the viewer is drawn in for a double-take. Research through drawing and reading informs her imagination, enabling her to work organically: constructing as a response to the materials she picks up.

Samantha Harvey LEnigme
Samantha Harvey LEnigme

Amarjeet Nandhra is a practising artist, currently working with print, mixed media and stitch. Trained in Graphic Communication, she has also worked as an Art Director on various independent short films. As a freelance tutor and lecturer, she has taught a range of courses; printmaking, mixed media and textiles, at Diploma level, City & Guilds, in Adult Education, schools and in the community.

Amarjeet Nandhra The Shirt on Your Back
Amarjeet Nandhra The Shirt on Your Back

If you’ve never visited the show before I highly recommend a visit in 2018, the show also takes place in London and Dublin. You can visit the exhibitions and pick up supplies from beads and buttons to vintage fabrics and interfacings.

Notes from the Studio

Autumn is a busy time for me, my regular teaching jobs at The Tetley and The West Yorkshire Playhouse begin in September which means less time in the studio. I’ve also had some one-off workshops with the Love Arts Festival and Whitby Museum.

Dinosaur in Progress, Whitby Museum
Dinosaur in Progress, Whitby Museum

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in Whitby recently, researching the collection for my exhibition next year. It’s been a great opportunity to spend time in the museum focusing on different parts of the collection, sketching and taking photographs.

Sketchbook Page
Sketchbook Page
Lost Property Charm Bracelet
Lost Property Charm Bracelet

The collection has parallels with objects from my childhood so I will be using this as my starting point for the exhibition. I will be visiting the museum again before Christmas to finish my research. I have also begun to make some samples in the studio, inspired by the narwhal skeleton photographs from my earlier visit.

Narwhal Backbone Sample
Narwhal Backbone Sample
Narwhal Backbone Sample
Narwhal Backbone Sample
Narwhal Skeleton Sample
Narwhal Skeleton Sample

Alongside sampling and research trips I have been getting a head start of lesson planning for 2018 and working on some new workshops and talks. If you would like to book me for a textile workshop or talk you can find out more details here.

Whitby Museum

I have been in contact with Whitby Museum since 2016 when I approached them with a proposal responding to their collection. In September the project was agreed by their trustees and I began my research visits in October. I will be visiting the museum every other week until they close for Christmas.

My exhibition will be shown in the new wing of the museum, which gives me lots of wall space and the option of a television screen for work in progress images and a table and chairs so I can have an object handling box for people to interact with.

Exhibition Space
Exhibition Space

The museum houses such a vast collection that so I decided to plan out my visits and focus on different areas of the museum each time. This visit focused on natural history and gave me the opportunity to explore the large collection of birds and mammals.

The Natural History section comprises specimens of animals and birds mostly representative of those species that occur in the local district including such rarities as Ivory Gull and Great Gipsy Shrike. Birds-of-prey, both diurnal raptors and owls are well represented, probably obtained as a result of gamekeeper activity over the 19th century.

Natural History Cabinet
Natural History Cabinet

The Narwhal skeleton has always fascinated me, even as a child. This vast piece is displayed above the natural history cabinets and this was the first time I have looked closely at the markings on the bones and the display methods used to hang the pieces together.

Narwhal Skeleton Detail
Narwhal Skeleton Detail

The beautiful hand painted sign is just one of the text samples from around the museum that I would love to include in my work.

Hand Painted Signage
Hand Painted Signage
Cabinet Number
Cabinet Number

Back in the studio I have started to create some embroidery designs using the Pfaff 6D software, the Portrait Stitch programme also helps me to select a colour palette from photographs I have taken. I’m hoping to work in mixed media for this project, something I haven’t explored for many years.

Whitby Museum is a great place to visit for everyone, they are open Tuesday to Sunday 9.30am to 4.30pm. I would allow at least two hours for your visit so you can spend time looking at the collection.

Whitby Museum

In July I had a meeting at Whitby Museum, my favourite museum and a source of inspiration since childhood. Last week I met with the Museum Keeper, a wonderful lady called Wynne about exhibiting at the museum in 2018.

I’m excited to reveal that the trustees have agreed to an exhibition in Spring 2018. My work will respond to the museum collections and be exhibited in the new wing. My aim is to open up the museum collection to a fresh audience in a similar way to Thackray Uncovered.

My meeting also gave me a chance to explore the museum and make some notes about ideas that I would like to research. There is a wonderful range of collections at Whitby Museum including fossils, birds and mammals, textiles and fine art and local history. Over the next few months I will be spending time in the museum researching and working in the studio creating samples.

I thought I would share some images from my recent visit…

Natural History Cabinet
Natural History Cabinet
Natural History Cabinet Detail
Natural History Cabinet Detail
Handicrafts Cabinet
Handicrafts Cabinet

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30am to 4.30pm with a last admission of 4pm. Entry to the museum is a bargain at £5.00 for an adult ticket.