Saltaire Arts Trail

It’s been a busy few weeks in the studio, creating samples and finished pieces for The Grief Series and preparing to exhibit at Saltaire Arts Trail this weekend. After spending two years planning and coordinating Kirkstall Art Trail, it’s been an interesting change of pace to take part in an art trail.

I’m exhibiting my work inspired by the archive at Sunny Bank Mills at location two on the Arts Trail map. The Art Rooms is a great venue near to Salt’s Mill and Tourist Information on Victoria Road. I’ll be exhibiting with resident Artist Jackie Al- Sammaraie, Dan Booth, Sarah Hardy-Box,  Marianthi Lainas, Amelia Phythian and Cait Walker.

Exhibiting Artists
Exhibiting Artists

You can pick up a copy of the guide for the bargain price of £1.00 from lots of venues around Saltaire. over the Arts Trail weekend.

I’ve been creating some new pieces to sell and cataloguing my samples for visitors to look through over the weekend. I will also be selling tote bags inspired by the archive.

Embroidered Labels
Embroidered Labels
Organising Samples
Organising Samples
Organising Samples
Organising Samples

I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow artists and chatting all things textile with visitors to the event. If you’re planning a visit to Saltaire come and say hello.

Advertisements

Journey with Absent Friends

I’ve been updating my CV recently after some projects ended and its been four years since I started working with Ellie Harrison on The Grief Series. With part six underway I wanted to share my progress.

Where do our memories of the dead live? In sacred spaces like gravestones, or aisle 22 of Tescos? On someone’s Facebook page or Twitter feed? Ellie Harrison is on a month-long journey to find out.

Travelling between sites of personal remembrance, Ellie will be stopping at arts centres, museums, beer gardens and maybe even the occasional service station. You are invited to embark on your own journey to spend some time reflecting. Add your memories to our audio archive or embroidered map, have a cuppa and spend some time exploring a caravan full of hidden treasures. The caravan is free and open to people of all ages.

The caravan is being repaired and refurbished at Open Source Arts, a fantastic creative project space in Kirkstall. It seems like such a long time ago since we bought the caravan and she’s looking very different now.

Caravan Refurbishment
Caravan Refurbishment
Caravan Refurbishment
Caravan Refurbishment

It was wonderful to visit the caravan last Friday and see how the refurbishment is going. The team have worked so hard on the design and build for the caravan and it was great to start discussing the maps and other textile elements for the project.

I’ve also been working on a piece about my grandma for the space which will fit inside one of the drawers. It’s based on the project Archive which I began a few years ago.

Caravan Interior
Caravan Interior

My largest commission for the caravan is a series of embroidered maps which show the different places along the journey. Myself, Bethany and Ellie are all fascinated by old Ordnance Survey maps. It was great to discuss our ideas for each individual map and finalise some creative decisions.

Oxford Map Detail
Oxford Map Detail

To follow the progress of the project you can follow The Grief Series on Twitter and Instagram. You can also follow me on social media, links in the sidebar.

Whitby Museum

My life has become a little less hectic over the past few weeks so it’s given me the opportunity to focus on my pieces for Whitby Museum. This has coincided with the latest issue of Be Creative with Workbox magazine which features my article about the museum and my research. You can pick up a copy through their website or view my article here.

In March I visited the museum to take measurements and look at my work in the space, this great tip was given to me by Serena Partridge and it’s proved to be invaluable as some of my colours don’t work in the room.

Working in the Gallery
Working in the Gallery

Back in the studio I’ve been taking the time to reflect on the notes I took on my museum visits last year. We often forget to look back at our notes and sketches but I’ve found this a great way to re-energise myself and start making new pieces.

Notebook Page One
Notebook Page One
Notebook Page Two
Notebook Page Two

I’ve also been looking at the samples I made at the start of this year and seeing how I can move forward with new work. It’s important to be critical when looking at your work so that you can make changes and create better pieces.

Sketchbook Page One
Sketchbook Page One
Sketchbook Page Two
Sketchbook Page Two

I’ve been exploring different mixed media techniques which is a bit of a throwback to my uni days. I’d forgotten how much fun stitching with paper can be and I’m enjoying working through these ideas.

Patchwork Ideas
Patchwork Ideas

You can follow my progress through social media, links in the sidebar.

 

Sunny Bank Mills Archive

I’ve been continuing my research in the Archive at Sunny Bank Mills this week, it never feels like work visiting this amazing space. After my sampling sessions in the studio I’ve been focusing on the carbon books which contain copies of letters and orders from the mill.

I first saw these books when Rachel the archivist was sorting through one of the shelves. I was immediately drawn to the transparent pages, red lines and typography. They have also translated really beautifully into designs using the 6D software. The colour layers are easy to breakdown and reveal ghostly images of the text.

Screenshot from 6D
Screenshot from 6D

I spent my session looking back through the books to find standout pieces of text and images that will translate well into stitched pieces.

Blank Text
Blank Text
Twill Numbers Note
Twill Numbers Note
Yours Faithfully Text
Yours Faithfully Text
Stripe Note
Stripe Note

I’m looking forward to getting these converted and working into them with hand stitch. You can see the finished pieces at Saltaire Arts Trail on the 5th, 6th and 7th of May. I’ll be posting my venue as soon as it’s confirmed.

Notes from the Studio

I’ve been busy in the studio for the last couple weeks, fitting in sampling sessions around my teaching. The bad weather gave me the chance to spend even more time researching and making new designs using the 6D software.

I’ve been looking back at samples from Fragments: An Archive, a group exhibition at Sunny Bank Mills in 2017 as well as my drawings and images from my last visit to the archive.

Sample Board
Sample Board

Inspired by my Heydays class at The West Yorkshire Playhouse, I’ve been experimenting with different fabrics and backgrounds for my stitched designs. I found some great hand felted fabrics that I would like to replicate and stitch into.

Felt Samples
Felt Samples

I’ve used Tyvek fabric in previous work for Time & Tide where I painted, stitched and collaged this non woven textile to add texture to a stitched design. Tyvek is used by museums and galleries to wrap and label their collections. with this in mind I wanted to make some labels which I could stitch into and distort.

Stitching in Progress - Tyvek Labels
Stitching in Progress – Tyvek Labels
Distorted Tyvek Label
Distorted Tyvek Label

Alongside my pieces for Saltaire Art Trail in May, I’ve been continuing my work for Archive & Other Stories which opens in September this year at Whitby Museum.

Inspired by a commission from Love Arts in 2017, I’ve been stitching the journey from my childhood home in Sherburn in Elmet to Whitby. This route has been spreading across the studio which is usually the case when I’m working on multiple projects!

Stitched Journey
Stitched Journey

I’ve also been working on a piece that tells the story of my last family holiday in 1995. Looking at the dolls from the Whitby Museum collection I have started to sample some ideas.

Sample Board
Sample Board

I’ve discovered that it’s hard to get feedback from my husband and friends as they are all scared of dolls! I’m really happy with the pieces I’ve made so far which incorporate doll pieces from a Scarborough antique shop.

You can see more of my work in progress on social media, links in the sidebar.

 

 

Sunny Bank Mills Archive

It’s been a long time since my last visit to the Archive at Sunny Bank Mills. Last year I had some work based on my research exhibited in the Mill as part of Weave / / Fragments, a group exhibition exploring the buildings, history and processes of the Mill.

I’ll be revisiting this collection of work and creating a series of new pieces to exhibit at Saltaire Arts Trail in May. I’m looking forward to exhibiting in their open houses and giving people a chance to see my work up close.

Yesterday I visited the Archive to take some more photographs and make notes about my ideas. I was great to catch up with archivist Rachel and immerse myself in the space, exploring new sections and doing some sketching.

One of my New Year Challenges was to do more drawing so I’ve been taking little notebooks with me on research visits. It was great to do some sketching in the Archive and get some ideas and words noted down that I can look back to in the studio.

Sketchbook Page
Sketchbook Page

I also took my camera to record some details that I can then export into the 6D software and create some new designs. This visit I decided to focus on the different types of book housed in the Archive. They are so fascinating and tell the history of book binding techniques as well as the cloth production at the Mill.

Cash Books
Cash Books
Wage Books
Wage Books
Range Books
Range Books
Range Books
Range Books

The folds of paper and fabric in the Range books open up ideas for sculptural pieces and creating my own artists books. I’ve done some basic book binding techniques that I would like to push further. It would also be great to make some books to sell at the Arts Trail.

I’ll be updating my social media (links in sidebar) with work in progress images as I continue my research and sampling. I’ve also booked another session at the Archive so I can do some more sketching.

You can visit the Archive at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, Leeds at their open days on the first Wednesday of the Month 10am to 12pm or by appointment by emailing archive@sunnybankmills.co.uk or calling 0113 2563239.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Hello Again

It’s been such a long time since my last blog post in May, where does the time go?

I’ve had such a busy time teaching workshops at Leeds Central Library, Heydays at The West Yorkshire Playhouse and a new project with Artlink. It’s exciting to see what people create each week, working with fabric, thread, paint and paper. My students are always an inspiration for my own practice.

My huge commission for The Grief Series has also come to an end, it’s been a big part of my life for a few months and it’s great to see how the project has come together. You can see more on the project’s Instagram feed.

Here are a few images from my work with the project.

Map Pin Cushion
Map Pin Cushion
Farewell Dinner Decorations
Farewell Dinner Decorations
Flotsam and Jetsam Drawer
Flotsam and Jetsam Drawer

After a few days in Hamburg with my husband it’s full steam ahead with my work and I’m now spending more time in the studio, there’s lots to get ready for my Whitby Museum exhibition which opens in September.

Miniatur Wunderland H
Miniatur Wunderland H

You can find out more by following me on social media. Just click the links in the sidebar.

Away from the Studio

It’s been a busy schedule this month, I’ve been teaching and having meetings about my various projects which has taken up most of my time.

Saturday gave me the chance to visit Whitby for the first time this year. The trip was mostly for pleasure but I was keen to visit Whitby Museum to review my exhibition space.

Converse selfie with Embroidery

Converse Selfie with Embroidery

I took gallery measurements and reviewed my pieces of embroidery to see how the colours will work in the space. It was a valuable trip as a few of the colours didn’t look great.

I’d forgotten how much I needed a break so wandering around the town and meeting friends for tea and cake was wonderful.

Yesterday I visited London for the first time in years with Linda Boyles from Arts and Minds Network. We attended a discussion in the House of Lords. Creative health: The arts for health and wellbeing.

Converse Selfie with Linda on the Southbank
Converse Selfie with Linda on the Southbank

It was a great opportunity to talk about my experience of creativity and it’s benefits. I also shared my recent projects and how we can raise awareness of the way creativity can provide support for people living with a mental health problem.

My teaching finishes this week so I’m hoping to spend more time in the studio creating work for my exhibitions.

To find out more you can follow me on social media, links in the side bar.