Thursday, 17 December 2015

Well Shod..telling stories

Over the last year I have spent a great deal of time on travelling and walking.My Grandmother, a Romany, talked about her travelling days as a child' 'We all wore high-laced boots that were hand-made in Luton "Well Shod" my father always said'  (Memories of a Romany Childhood as told to her daughter Mary Chapman 1994.) 

For people on the road, good shoes are a must. With those shoes comes their own stories.
My old boots, worn for over 20 years reflect my times walking in the Kentish Countryside and much further afield just had to be sketched and now act as reference for drawing in my Adult Education class.

My sister had her own dreams of ballet dancing as child, we all love the elegance (and maybe the tutus) These paper shoes are inscribed with the poem with 'Rings on her finger and bells on her toes' from Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross, Horses were equally important modes of travel for my grandmother. 

Ballet Shoes (photo Michael Wicks for The Found Object in Textile Art, Batsford 2010)
Still, ballet shoes have to be well made as this short video of Freed the Ballet Shoe maker in London testifies

On a recent but brief visit to the British Museum  I discovered a lovely little exhibition of shoes in the Life and sole:footwear from the the Islamic world. Beautifully worked, with fine embroidery and leather tooling, my gran would have approved.

The little Riversoft shoes I found brand new in a charity shop at the end of my Australian trip (to replace a pair I had worn out) could do with some of the embellishments in the ones above.
I was very privileged to include images of work by Rosalind Wyatt from her project the Stitch Lives of London in 'Stitch Stories'. This includes an Edwardian Satin dancing shoes embroidered with the story of Mary Pearse, the pauper daughter of a London shoemaker.
If Shoes Could Talk, Rosalind Wyatt (kind permission of Rosalind Wyatt)

Exhibitions, the launch of Stitch Stories and work have kept me on my feet, from an old military building in France,  to my current local exhibition 'Common Place, Common Land' in Maidstone. In the Summer I worked with Fibre Arts Australia and extensively travelled around the 'Edges of Australia' (which you can read about in earlier posts on this blog), and felt an Australian Winter 'cold' for the first time complete with frost! 
My grandmother unusually for Romany children of the time, still learned to read, her family settled and she went into service:
My carefree Romany childhood and our life on the open road had come to end end. However, we did not know know then that in the aftermath of the 'war to end all ward' life in Britain would  be irrevocably changed. Throughout my long life (my grandmother died in 1995) I came to view my Romany years as an age of innocence, not just for us children, but for a nation'.
It seems I not only inherited the love of the 'Open road' from my gran but also her ability to tell stories:

Thankyou to all have hosted me and continued the textile friendships in 2105. I am planning new adventures in 2016 which will be updated on my other blog.  
I wish you a Peaceful Christmas and Happy New Year. As you 'walk' through life,  I leave you with an old Irish blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Monday, 5 October 2015

LV21 Marks on Cloth:Charting your Course

Last weekend was full of nautical surprises. I found my way back to my old stomping ground in the Medway towns where I trained as a community artist and was welcomed aboard LV21 to celebrate the publication of Stitch Stories as part of the Fun Palaces weekend. A misty day soon gave way to wonderful Autumn sunshine.

LV21 and The Medway Queen (photo Sheilagh Dyson)
With support of the LV21 Making More group of artists visitors of all ages took part in stitch and textile activities marking the Medway's nautical heritage to create a communicative, collaborative textile installation as a visual record of the experiences aboard the ship. We started by exploring the ship’s surroundings and the different textures and features  on board, then transferred our findings onto cloth samplers, learning about different stitching techniques and blending these with traditional nautical communication methods, such as Morse code, semaphore and signal flags.

Keeping the colours to those featured on the ship, red, cream and black and using sailcloth as a base gave a continuity to the new signs and signals being  marked on the cloth with drawing and stitch.
On board were also some of the artists featured in the book including Sheilagh Dyson (who also provided some of the images on this blog), Nicola Flower and the ship's captain, Paivi Seppala who all have a strong connection with the Medway.
Sheilagh Dyson, Sandling Ghosts
Nicola Flower, Purses form the River Medway
Paiva Seppala, Semaphore, works in progress
Echoing the heritage of this fascinating region and anchored alongside LV21 were the Medway Queen, one of the valiant little ships which ferried people across from Dunkirk, and an old Sailing Barge 'Cambria' with its lovely red cloth canvas. Medway indeed has a proud heritage. 
Finally, as if the last blast of summer was not enough, a wonderful review of Stitch Stories on Textileartist by Sue Stone came to my attention on the same day! Enter your own feedback on a fave book and you could be in with a chance of winning a copy too.
LV21 Cas Holmes (photo courtesy of Gary Weston)

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Edges of Australia:Wildflowers, Wild Gardens and Wild Places

I am back in the UK adjusting to the time and place The last leg of the journey in Western Australia staying with a friend in Perth gave me some free time before returning to the UK. Her amazing garden is hung with all kinds of collected objects from bird cages to skulls collected from the bush.
Only a week ago I was walking around small, intimate reserves in the suburbs allowed time to explore wildflowers growing in the warming Spring weather.  (would be good summer temperatures in the UK). Reserves can be a track of land beside a road or much larger pieces of land where development is not allowed.
Dunsborough Donkey Orchid
Granite Petrophile

 And then the big days out to see the wonderful  Pinnacles country at Nambung National Park to see the Pinnacles in the desert and the Stramatolites at Lake Thetis in Cervantes. These are the billions of years old bacteria famously talked about by Dr Brian Cox in his programme for the BBC in the Human Universe.

New Norcia, the only Catholic monastry in Australia. A sneak into the monastery grounds
Blue Leschenaulta on the way back home
 and a final day before catching my flight at Rottnest Island with the salt lakes above and a walk around the coast below. I walked for England and covered most of the Island!

Thankyou to all my friends in Australia who helped to make the work both teaching and pleasure and for sharing a cuppa and your favourite wild (and not so wild spaces with me)

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Edges of Australia :Power in Victoria, Loy Yang

I have spent the last couple of weeks in Victoria working with Opendrawer in Melbourne  and Fibre Arts Australia   The population of the area is powered by power stations in the Gippsland near Tralorgan where I stayed.  These have a strange beauty of their own.

 I had a brief visit and found this compelling image appeared in a small sample for demonstration. I am keeping a selection of these small pieces as a recording of my visit around the 'Edges of Australia '  In Melbourne I was able to visit one of my favourite Australian artist John Wolesely in his exhibition Heartlands and Headwaters at the National Gallery.   His Heron at Loy Yang reflects his love of the land and its complexity. National Gallery of Victoria

 I loved my quiet journey on the train in typical winter weather.  I had time to reflect and prepare for the next stage my trip. The colours were reflected in the print colours at the Tralorgan workshop.

The sketches below from Opendrawer  below made a good start to a project investigating cloth.Tcloth.Thankyou to Glenys Mann at Tralorgan and the workshop team at Opendrawer or all their help on this stage. 

 Finally some of Tea Flora Tales is on show in the window of Opendrawer.  Feel free to pop in and look or contribute a piece.(Information about this project appears in the drop down menu on this blog).