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.

 

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Journeys in a Suitcase

I’ve had a busy week in and out of the studio, the first week of term for my regular teaching is always hectic. I’ve also been prepping for some upcoming workshops and talks alongside my own practice. The suitcase commission from Love Arts Leeds has been my main focus in the studio so I’m sharing some more work in progress with you.

After finalising the objects that I want to exhibit inside the suitcase, I have been working on the case to make sure I can display everything and keep it secure during the exhibition.

I had originally planned to keep the lining of the suitcase to display my objects, sadly this didn’t look the way I had imagined so I had to rethink my plans and remove the pockets.

Removing the Lining
Removing the Lining

To elevate the objects in the case, I created a false base for them to stand on. This was a challenge but using a recycled cardboard box I’ve created a stable platform for display.

New Base
New Base

As part of the lining, I have created a fabric tape using calico. The tape will feature hand embroidered road names which map the journey from Whitby to Saltburn. To measure out the placing I used printed text from a Word document, something which I find really useful.

Road Names in Progress
Road Names in Progress

The small stitching required for the text means that my progress is a little slow but I’m pleased with the end result.

Marine Parade Text
Marine Parade Text

The next couple of weeks will focus on this text piece and lining the case with calico fabric. You can see my suitcase at a pop-up event on Saturday 14 October outside Leeds Art Gallery which re-opens that day.

Journeys in a Suitcase

My latest commission is underway in the studio so I thought I would share some of my progress with you. Journeys in a Suitcase is part of the 7th annual Love Arts Leeds festival which takes place next month.

The brief for the commission is very open:

To produce artwork within a vintage suitcase that depicts your response to our festival theme of Journeys. Love Arts Festival celebrates the links between creativity and mental well-being, so the work also needs to relate to this theme.

My suitcase will contain a series of embroidered pieces which reflect on a journey around the coastline from Whitby to Saltburn. The suitcase has also travelled this route with me as I visit the beaches and headland.

Suitcase at Runswick Bay
Suitcase at Runswick Bay

From my charity shop visits for previous projects like Time & Tide, I have collected old Ordnance Survey Maps of the coastline. From these maps I have traced my route along the headland.

Traced Coastline
Traced Coastline

This line will be stitched on fabric in red thread and then attached to the inside of the suitcase. I’m using a method that I was taught by a member of the Embroiderers Guild, tacking a paper template to the fabric and then using that line as a guide. When the line is completed the tacking stitches and template are removed. This method works well for wool fabrics that don’t work with quilting pens and pencils.

Stitching in Progress
Stitching in Progress

My Twitter and Instagram feed has lots of Converse Selfies, where I take pictures of my feet in various locations so it seems only right to include Converse in my piece. I have been working on a footprint in the studio this week.

Converse Print
Converse Print in Progress

As my journey is about the coast I am including some natural elements, this stitched rock pool will sit in the bottom section of the suitcase.

Rock Pool Embroidery
Rock Pool Embroidery

There are still lots of things to work on over the next few weeks but you won’t have to wait long until the exhibition. The work will be exhibited at a pop-up event on Saturday 14 October outside Leeds Art Gallery which re-opens that day.

Pop-Up Postcard
Pop-Up Postcard

 

 

Part 6 – A Journey

I began working with The Grief Series several years ago, making pieces to be included in several parts of the project. The first commission I made using my Pfaff Creative 3.0 was a collection of satin hearts for an audio installation at The Unfair in 2015.

The Unfair Commission

The Grief Series is a sequence of seven projects by Leeds-based artist and performance maker, Ellie Harrison. Using a seven stage Grief Model from psychology as a starting point, each installment is a collaboration with another artist working in a different field including performance, photography, installation and sculpture.

The Grief Series
The Grief Series Website

As part six approaches I have been working with Ellie and Team Grief on the development stages of the project which will create a series of installations inside caravan. The caravan will travel around the UK and Europe which gives me my first international exhibition.

This is such an exciting opportunity for me, working on a large scale project and being involved with the project from the development through to completion.

Perle, Our 1989 Avondale Caravan
Perle, Our 1989 Avondale Caravan

The caravan will include personal stories from Team Grief and I will be creating a piece of work inspired by my grandmother to be installed in the caravan. We will also include stories of loss from other interviewees.

Maps will also play a part in the caravan, marking the journeys we takes and helping to create a record of personal stories from those who visit us along the way. I have been fascinated with maps since I worked on 365 Leeds Stories in 2013. For the project we used Ordinance Survey maps from 1932 to create s series of stitched stories.

Marsh Lane Station Embroidery
Marsh Lane Station Embroidery
Grief Series Moodboard
Grief Series Moodboard

Both Ellie and I respond to place when we are researching a project so we wanted to visit Perle in storage and get an idea of the spaces we could use and what colour palette would work for the interior and exterior of the caravan.

Inside the Caravan
Inside the Caravan

The caravan interior is a little bit rundown but we will be keeping the space the same as we want to ensure it still feels like a caravan. We spent several hours choosing her and the two seating areas at the front and rear give us plenty of space for people to sit and reflect on their own stories.

Converse Selfie with Paint Samples
Converse Selfie with Paint Samples

I have found that my own practice has many elements in with the collaborative projects I am working on. The colour scheme for the caravan mirrors that of my first work about my grandmother, Deconstruct/Reconstruct.

I have also been working with maps and storytelling for Heydays, one of my regular teaching jobs which was inspired by some fragments of WW2 escape maps printed on silk.

Map Fragments on my Notice Board
Map Fragments on my Notice Board

I will be continuing to work on samples and ideas for Part Six alongside my other commissions and projects. You can find out more by following my on social media (links in the sidebar).

What Inspires You?

I’ve subscribed to Embroidery since 2000 when I was studying for my degree. The magazine was on the recommended reading list and I found the articles a change of pace from the more traditional magazines about textile art.

The September/October edition arrived this week and the intro from editor Jo Hall was the inspiration for this piece.

It’s a question that artists are asked regularly. What inspires you? It can prove tricky to answer. The range of elements that make up an artist’s work often make it difficult to identify a true inspiration. But ask an artist who or what has influenced them, the answers flow more easily.

The biggest influence in my life was my grandparents who adopted me at the age of two, they were very creative, practical people who taught me so many skills.

Me & my Grandparents, 1980
Me & my Grandparents, 1980

Our house was filled with exciting objects and books, I think some of my friends thought I lived in a museum! The day trips and holidays we took gave me the biggest influences in my practice.

The Yorkshire Coast

Runswick Bay
Runswick Bay

I have been visiting the Yorkshire Coast for as long as I can remember, it has been the inspiration for projects such as Time & Tide and a place where I can centre my thoughts when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

I love to beach comb and collect objects to incorporate into my work, using rusted metal fragments to dye fabrics.

Rust Pin Cushion
Rust Pin Cushion

My latest commission is inspired by these journeys around Runswick Bay, Whitby and Scarborough. Love Arts Leeds, an annual celebration of creativity and well-being takes place in October. I have been asked to create a piece of work inside a vintage suitcase which will be exhibited in Leeds on 14th October as part of the Love Arts Pop Up.

Suitcase at Runswick Bay
Suitcase at Runswick Bay

The National Trust

Fountains Abbey Image courtesy of www.nationaltrust.org
Fountains Abbey, Image courtesy of http://www.nationaltrust.org

We visited so many beautiful National Trust properties when I was growing up, they inspired my love of textiles and interest in history. We spent many weekends walking around Fountains Abbey and exploring Brimham Rocks and I still love to visit places like Nunnington Hall and the Carlisle Collection, a beautiful collection of miniature rooms.

The Queen Anne Drawing Room image courtesy of www.nationaltrust.org
The Queen Anne Drawing Room, Image courtesy of http://www.nationaltrust.org
Housed at Nunnington since 1981, the Carlisle Collection is now an intrinsic part of the house and collection. Gifted to the National Trust in 1970 and is regarded by many as one of the finest collections of miniatures. The collection is noted for the high quality craftsmanship and attention to detail, as well as its unusual scale.The collection was the creation of Mrs Carlisle, fondly known as Kitty, began as a few pieces of miniature Indian silver displayed in an alcove of her London home. She began collecting antique miniatures in 1921 and over the next forty years, the collection grew to form a magnificent collection of period rooms.
Whitby Museum
Whitby Museum, Image courtesy of www.whitbymuseum.org.uk
Whitby Museum, Image courtesy of http://www.whitbymuseum.org.uk
On our visits to Whitby each year we visited Whitby Museum regularly, my love of archives started here, exploring their collections. I have been meeting with the museum this year to discuss an exhibition responding to pieces from their archive as I did with Thackray Uncovered.
Narwal Skeleton at Whitby Museum
Narwal Skeleton at Whitby Museum

The Festival of Quilts

I haven’t visited The Festival of Quilts for a few years so when I saw a Twitter competition from Madeira Threads I thought I would enter. It was great to win two tickets so I could take my friend Leigh along with me for her first Festival of Quilts experience.

The NEC is such a great venue with so much more space than the International Halls in Harrogate where The Knitting & Stitching Show is held each November. This gives Twisted Thread the chance to have much larger galleries to display some amazing quilts alongside retailers specialising in textile equipment and fabrics galore.

This year there were 14 different competition categories on display:

Fine Art Quilt Masters

The Quilters’ Guild Challenge

My First Quilt

Art Quilts

Traditional Quilts

Modern Quilts

Group Quilts

Two Person Quilts

Pictorial Quilts

Miniature Quilts

Quilt Creations

Young Quilter/Embroiderer

Schools & Groups of Young Quilters​

There is so much to see and the detail in the quilts is magnificent, I loved the mix of traditional and modern techniques on display this year. Here are a few of my favourite images from the competition quilts.

Two Man Cell - HMP Bullingdon Boys - Group Quilts
Two Man Cell – HMP Bullingdon Boys – Group Quilts

I first saw this piece in the much missed Quilt Museum in York as part of an exhibition by Fine Cell Work. They do some amazing work with prisoners across the UK.

Fine Cell Work is a social enterprise that trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework undertaken in the long hours spent in their cells to foster hope, discipline and self-esteem.

This group quilt is the size of a two person cell at HMP Bullingdon which is shocking to see as it only took up a display area the size of two single bed quilts.

The Abingdon Workhouse Quilt started with the hexagonal plan of the building and grew organically as it was created by Abingdon Quilting Group. I was drawn to the workshop plans which reference projects like 365 Leeds Stories.

The Abingdon Workhouse Quilt - Abingdon Qulting Group - Group Quilts
The Abingdon Workhouse Quilt – Abingdon Qulting Group – Group Quilts

I loved the use of traditional techniques in this piece by Eleanor Birchall Hughes, it reminds me of my vintage fabric drawer in the studio.

Remembering Edies Eiderdown - Eleanor Birchall Hughes - Traditional Quilts
Remembering Edies Eiderdown – Eleanor Birchall Hughes – Traditional Quilts

My photograph does not do justice to the amazing colours and textures in this embroidered quilt by Catherine Jack Coupland. The vibrant colours and patterns are inspired by Sonia Delaunay.

Referencing Sonia - Catherine Jack Coupland - Contemporary Quilts
Referencing Sonia – Catherine Jack Coupland – Contemporary Quilts

As we came to the end of the Competition Quilts we spotted this fun piece by Sarah Ashford which caught our eye.

Hello Kitty - Sarah Ashford - Modern Quilts
Hello Kitty – Sarah Ashford – Modern Quilts

Alongside the Competition Quilts galleries there are some amazing exhibitions by well known artists. It was wonderful to see new works and some familiar pieces in these galleries.

I became aware of the work of Diana Harrison during Cloth & Memory {2} at Salts Mill in 2013, her beautiful installation of handkerchiefs has been re-imagined for this years festival.

Traces in Cloth - Diana Harrison
Traces in Cloth – Diana Harrison

The gallery ‘Traces in Cloth’, is showing fabric, patchwork and quilt produced by the marks left behind after layers of process have been applied. The stitching, dyeing, shrinking, bleaching, and printing combine to create pieces that reflect my individual ideas and aesthetic.

In these textiles I have recently used and manipulated found items, by unstitching previously sealed pillowcases or overdyeing and bleaching into handkerchiefs, I am working with the original measurements and cloth qualities, boundaries are given and this defines the outcome. The format and history is still evident but transformed.

It was great to see some of the reference material and samples from Diana’s collection, I know that people love to see my work in progress through Instagram and when I give talks.

Material References & Sampling - Diana Harrison
Material References & Sampling – Diana Harrison

The last piece I wanted to share with you is something I found really powerful, The Women’s Quilt 2017.

Detail of The Womens Quilt 2017
Detail of The Women’s Quilt 2017
Detail of The Women's Quilt 2017
Detail of The Women’s Quilt 2017

598 women were killed by a result of domestic violence between 2009 and 2015, approximately two women a week.

The Women’s Quilt is made up of 598 patches, one patch for each woman who tragically died. The Women’s quilt is an emotive and evocative quilt that commemorates the lives of these women and acts as a poignant reminder that domestic abuse is unfortunately still the norm for too many women.

The idea of the quilt came about because it is a traditionally feminine skill and one that is accessible to everyone, we have had women draw on their patch with pens, paint, stick, appliqué and embroider their patches. It is also one where people can work on their patches wherever they want and then they can be brought together. There was also inspiration taken from the AIDS quilt and the visual impact of that amazing piece of work.

If you are thinking of visiting The Festival of Quilts in 2018 it’s definitely worth the trip down to the NEC but make sure you wear comfortable shoes!

Sunny Bank Mills Archive

During my research for Weave // Fragments I spent a lot of time visiting the Archive at Sunny Bank Mills. There is so much to see at the Archive and each visit unearths a new piece of inspiration.

After my last visit, I had some pieces that I really wanted to revisit. The use of text in my pieces for Weave // Fragments was well received and I wanted to get more images of the handwritten labels to create some more text samples.

No Letter Label
No Letter Label
Ranges Label
Ranges Label

The carbon books I used to create the larger scale pieces in the exhibition were my latest discovery at the Archive, and I wanted to get a range of images to work with in the studio.

Carbon Book Text
Carbon Book Text
Carbon Book Text
Carbon Book Text

As always there was a new discovery, this time it was a drawer of product labels. These beautiful labels and tags would have been secured to the cloth and sent out to the purchaser. It’s sad to think that these details were more than likely discarded.

Product Labels
Product Labels

If you would like to visit the Archive they are open on the first Wednesday of the month from 10am to 12pm. They are also open as part of Heritage Open Days in September where you can tour the Mill.

Notes from the Studio

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last blog and I’ve made some changes to my life in the last few weeks. I’ve been focusing on Kirkstall Art Trail for the last few months, an event I’ve been running for the last two years. June and July are a busy time for the committee and this year was fantastic.

Exhibition at Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Park
Exhibition at Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Park

Like many artists I have a portfolio of jobs including working at The Tetley gallery in Leeds. Recently I decided to leave my job as receptionist at the gallery to focus on my own practice and enjoy some free time. I’ve been working seven days a week for the last year or so against the advice of my family and friends!

Summer is a less hectic time for me as my teaching is usually term time, this has given me time to get involved in projects like the UDHR Quilt:

The UDHR Quilt Project is a collaborative craftivism project that looks to both celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and raise awareness about the numerous ways that the UDHR is being violated. The project involves embroidering all 30 articles of the UDHR onto 30 blocks, each block created by a different artist, which will then be used to create a large quilted wall hanging.

UDHR Quilt Project Cover
UDHR Quilt Project Cover

My quilt block is still in the early stages but I am working on Article 11:

  1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which they have had all the guarantees necessary for their defence.

  1. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Work in Progress, UDHR Quilt
Work in Progress, UDHR Quilt

I’ve also been able to start researching for my next exhibition in 2018, working alongside Whitby Museum. I met with the registrar and two of the museum trustees last week to discuss researching their collections and creating a body of work in response the museum. I’m looking forward to starting this research and seeing how the pieces will develop.

The last few months have taught me that it’s important to focus on what I want to do moving forward and I encourage you to sit down with a brew and do the same.