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Under the bed book …

April 22, 2018

In a few weeks I am going to Norway for 4 days, taking hand luggage.

With only a pad and pencil (s)  not yet decided on a pen(s) as they don’t travel well.

However, I am excited because I am going to write a book. Now, we all know I have ‘written’ books before and they don’t grace the shelves of any bookshop but they are books and very lovely (in my opinion)

I am not sure that I want to share more at this point; suffice to say inspired by the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and since the subject matter may not be so exciting, mine will be called Under the Bed Book and contain drawings and poems (haiku) gathered over the next few weeks.

To begin with; a drawing for a recent tapestry and a poem (Haiku)

Flat beside a fence

Espalier apple tree

At odds with nature.


The need to reconcile …

April 8, 2018

During bouts of depression, I do carry on working; although being creative doesn’t mean the pain will go away.  The voices however, can make me go one of two ways, sometimes they nag others dangle the carrot; but one thing is for sure I do finish the work. Manic or depressed I cannot leave a conversation mid-stream.

For instance, when I began a recent embroidery; a mammoth piece that took weeks work and endless chit-chat; was not made easier, because I had only a memory and a one photograph.  I spent hours visualising the river with photo in hand; crouched and on tippy-toe to get the right view. So, the bickering began, ‘should I have done it this way or that?’ Then a friend came in to play (in my mind) an architect and very fine water-colourist; who prided himself on his utmost accuracy. Pointing out all the wrongness.

I stressed over my piece; lovely as it was even without the notorious cable car it still didn’t resemble the Isle of Dogs.

I did finish the work, but needed to reconcile my conversation that continued to bubble up; not the most wretched of conversations;  but needed to be put bed.

Then it came to me … the view is not that of the north of the river but the reflection of those on the south bank in the glass buildings on the north bank.

There is no answer to that for a while anyway.

My star in Brazil …

April 1, 2018

My daughter’s home is in Brazil; it is a million miles away and sometimes the space hurts.  Of course, there are ways and means that we can communicate to ease the pain.  I also believe that part of me is there; it is my home of hope and dream.  Rio de Janeiro isn’t the best place in the world, it is harsh, dangerous and fragile … I cannot fear or be anxious or give up hope, so I remain clutching a fragment of my home close to my heart.

My work, and the rest of my long-suffering family as you know help to sooth the soreness for 99% of the time.  This new work is representative of Hydra a constellation that can be seen here in UK this time of year but much more clearly in the Southern Hemisphere; the brightest star called Alphard and appears on the Brazilian flag.

You don’t know until you try …

March 31, 2018

During the winter my printing work has continued but with limit time.  I hope to get back up to speed now that spring is on its way and day light longer.  However, textile work has become a fulfilling enterprise.  I have been a dressmaker in a previous life.  While the sewing rules like printing making must be instilled when being experimental they can go out the window.  That’s is if there were ever in one’s grasp in the first place.

Nonetheless is frustrating, painful and expensive and seeing the result; so called unique that has been dragged back from the abyss of ugliness.  This winter I have learned ‘you don’t know until you try.’

For instance, collecting weaving materials as funds are getting low and not knowing much; like peeing in the wind I was taking some chances.  This week, I ordered a medium jamboree bag; like it said on the tin; already I was expecting too much.  Yes, it was pretty disappointing not my usual colour palette and it was finer than I hoped.

I was going to send it back; but decided to cut my losses and give it a try.

On reflection, I should have done some more preliminary work, tapestry like printmaking one is never quite sure what the image will be like until it is printed.  With weaving one works from bottom to top and I also work from left to right so the work is turned 45 degrees when taken of the loom.  All this adds to the delight or gloom at the end of the session.

Called ‘a bit of blue sky’ it may not be hung but serves as a reminder of my adage.

River Flowing By … while I walk.

March 10, 2018

Towards the end of last year, I began walking the Thames , in sections starting at the Barrier and going up stream towards and past my home in Reading to Gloucester and her source. We have reached Kingston and still have a while to go but I hope to complete this year. I don’t plan to document it,  for a number of reasons but mainly because it is just a river and to be frank, pretty spoiled. However, I have some dear walking buddies, who like me like the walking, the banter and even the search for a cheap and cheerful snack is an adventure.  Also the looking for evidence that the river does flow by and seeing the natural habitat that clutches at the muddy water’s edge against the metropolis that grows more quickly than the river flows it seems.

As a river girl, I enjoyed sailing so, while I neither have the time or the inclination now; I do delight in little wooden boats like the ones my dad built and maintained on my beloved Hamble River.

Early in our walk we did pass some piles where some boats were moored and those against the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf with the cormorants, and seagulls and the herons in the mud did urge me to hold it and use it in an embroidery.

So, when the theme for the RGA Annual Show was announced it seems appropriate to celebrate the beginning of my walk even if the rest goes unnoticed.

It took many weeks to complete and I hope that it selected next week to hang the Fire Station Gallery in Henley where I will be passing though I hope later in the year.  Fingers crossed

Solar dyeing and Fika what’s not to like?

March 9, 2018

On the 2nd January 2018 I attended a free workshop with Oxford Spinners, Weavers and Dyers at Oxford Modern Art Gallery.  We learned the art and science (as much as you can in 2 hours including lovely fika) of solar dyeing.  We mixed mordanted fleece and spun wool with various concoctions, such as bark, leaves, nuts; items foraged in the garden during the previous week, in a screw top jar.  At home we added hot water and placed them on a sunny window ledge.  In the summer exposed to long stretches solar rays the procedure may only take a few days; in the winter it might take weeks even months.

While I do have a southwest facing bay window I didn’t hold much hope; but as the ingredients were beginning to look like unhealthy witch’s brew after two months I decided to take a look. After washing, drying and spinning I have a beautiful selection of colours to begin a weaving this afternoon.

I used madder and citrus with alum and iron, acorns with alum and iron, and mulberry bark with alum and iron

Me and my ugly child …

February 20, 2018

Earlier this year while enjoying embroidery, I thought I might try weaving; especially after seeing the work of Hannah Rygen at the Modern Art Museum in Oxford.  I have been teaching myself and the results are mixed.

There is a right and a wrong way to weave and once that lesson is learned, and it seems most weavers have been doing it a life time like printers I have found, then one can become creative.

After a couple of near disasters, I decided to make a last-ditch attempt. After all this embroidery lark was only going to be for the winter, wasn’t it?

Still with China Mieville in mind, and the ships coming and going to the island and while its inhabitants were watchng for God.  Having already embroidered a galleon as it sailed away I decided to weave a picture of those that that have been wrecked on the rocks in the bay.

Two hulks lay broken and wanton on the rocky shore as the tide ebbed.  The idea was good and in my mind, it worked as I said only three weeks into a lifetimes practice there is room for improvement.

However, I didn’t wish to abandon my ugly child she had bought me joy over the last week or so; albeit at times through gritted teeth and frustrated tears.

I it turned over and began carefully stitching in the warps and wefts that dangled miserably on the back.  Using some fine linen thread, the result is beautiful.  The hulks now covered by the tide, the sea weed lifted in great luscious fronds from the ocean making perfect resting place for the mighty ships.

My ugly child blossomed; in my dreams …