The Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt, finished.

In 2016, I was asked to work on a lovely, large community project to help the Shipley Art Gallery celebrate their 100th Anniversary in 2017. The Shipley Art Gallery has a fabulous collection of the decorative arts and a very long, established link with the traditional technique of patchwork and quilting. Within their collection they have hundreds of hand quilted pieces, which have either been wholecloth designs or made using English Paper Piecing.

The project took over 9 months and was ready for the anniversary celebrations in November, 2017. We had over 100 patchworked squares made by members of the community, some local and few were posted from different part of the UK. The pieces which didn’t form part of the finished quilt (not because of quality as the standard of the finished, hand paper pieced squares was fantastic), have been made into pieces which can be used with schools, community groups and general visitors to help explain the process of hand paper piecing.

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Planning the final position of the patchwork squares for the centenary quilt.

Once all the squares were collected in and registered. A small group of people who had worked closely with the quilt over the last nine months, came together to help with the very tricky job of deciding where to place all the finished pieces. At this point, the paper templates were still in the back of the squares. Members of the group took a couple of rows away to join the individual squares together, then two rows together.

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Reverse of the centre panel for embroidering, with it’s paper templates still intact.

During this time, I worked on the centre panel, which was made up of cream and white self patterned ‘Grandmother’s garden’ hexagons, which would become the area to embroider the text upon. This section was then sewn into the middle of three rows of squares.

Quilt 3

Detail of the embroidery onto the central panel. The silk was hand dyed and hand spin by one of the members of the group.

Once all the rows and the central panel of the patchwork were sewn together, it was then placed, pinned and quilted to an organic cotton wadding centre and cotton backing. It took a long time to just pin the three layers together, accurately, as the quilt by this point was 200 cm by 220 cm.

Quilt 2

The finished patchwork ‘top’ being pinned to the organic cotton wadding and cotton backing, in preparation for hand quilting.

I decided to use a new tool, called a basting gun, which I bought from Cottonpatch to ‘pin/tack’ the three layers of the quilt together. A bit like the tools used in clothes shops to attach price labels to clothes, which can delicately keep the layers together but also quick and easy to remove. It made things much quicker and cut out the damage pins could do. It also allowed me to use a large hoop to quilt with, as it was too large for my frames.

Quilt 4

Binding the edge of the quilt.

The quilt needed to be finished a couple of weeks before the centenary celebrations, as it had to go in the large freezer at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. This is something which the museum and gallery service will regularly do with new items to their collection to ensure that no new contaminates are brought into their collection.

Throughout November 2017, there were lots of different events at the Shipley Art Gallery to celebrate it’s centenary and the quilt was at the centre of this. People from the local community including the women of the Jewish community, women from the local Syrian community, plus local craft groups, the Shipley Quilters and all those who had individually made a square, were invited to a lovely afternoon of celebrations at the Shipley.

Local Syrian ladies community group

Some of the women from the local Syrian community who worked on the quilt.

Quilt in situ 22.11.17

Finished Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt on display.

The Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt, 2017.

The Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt, 2017.

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New interactive pieces for The Sill, Northumberland.

The Sill, is a new landscape discovery centre in beautiful Northumberland, very close to many of the famous Roman sites along Hadrian’s Wall. The Sill helps visitors to look deeper into the landscape, culture, history and heritage of Northumberland.

View from The Sill roof

View from The Sill roof

Last year, whilst The Sill was still being built, I was asked by the Education Team to work with them on creating some interactive bags for schools and community groups to use whilst visiting their building and galleries.

Inside The Sill

Inside The Sill’s gallery, which explains many of the uses of the landscape, materials and habitats found in the area.

A large part of last year I spent working on the Shipley Art Galleries Centenary Quilt but as soon as that was finished, we started planning in more detail what interactive materials The Sill would benefit from first and how they would like them to look. So the first two interactive bags I worked on was the Moorland Curlew Bag and the Geology bag.

Curlew 1

Curlew Children’s mask

The Moorland Curlew bag was great fun to make. The bag itself is large enough to carry all the interactive pieces in plus room for teachers notes. I always find children love as much opportunity to dress up – so any chance to make wings and masks is great!

Curlew 2

Curlew wings, child size.

The Curlew bag also had a crochet nest, with eggs plus worms for the Curlew to eat!

Curlew eggs

Curlew nest and eggs.

Habitat bags always need a predator and what better than a fox – great fun for interactive role play!

Fox mask

Fox mask.

The Moorland Curlew bag itself had two sides, as the curlews nest in the moorland building their nests on the floor and they also spend their time at the seaside amongst the mudflats – which you may have seen, with their long, curled, distinctive beaks.

Using bags in the Sill

Moorland Curlew (mudflat side) and Geology bag being used at The Sill.

The geology bag looked at how the stone and the Whin Sill had been created over thousands of years. The bag itself illustrates very simply how the stratigraphic layers in the area have built up to create the landscape and stone in the area.

Geology bag strat layers

Geology bag cover, textile illustration of the stratigraphic layers in Northumberland.

To help illustrate to children visiting with schools and community groups, small textile panels were made to show how the local stone is used in Hadrian’s Wall, making roads, sandstone walls and limestone kilns.

This bag was also quilted so that rocks and stones, plus other materials could safely be placed inside.

Interactive 'stone' pieces

Four textile panels illustrating the use of stone in the area: top left – road building, top right – sandstone walls, bottom left – limestone kilns and how limestone enriches the ground and bottom right – Hadrian’s Wall.

These bags have now been delivered and I am now working on a ‘Dark Skies and Mythology’ bag plus a large, layered map which will be used up on the grassed roof, to assist discussions about how the landscape has changed over the last two thousand years.

Get involved! The Shipley Centenary Quilt Project

The Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear will this year be celebrating its 100th Anniversary, after being founded following a bequest by local solicitor Joseph Shipley (1822-1909). The gallery holds a beautiful collection of European Old Masters, to Victorian and more modern paintings. It now is also extremely well know and highly considered for its collection of decorative art including ceramics, textiles, wood, metal and glass by local and national makers. The Shipley Art Gallery has an amazing collection of whole cloth and patchwork quilts, which the North East has a long and strong tradition in making, either for private use or as a way of making money.

As part of the celebrations, I have been asked to work with and encourage creative people to work together to make a new patchwork quilt. As traditionally, patchwork would have been made using English Paper Piecing, this quilt will also follow in the tradition. To make this quilt, we need 100, 20 cm square (plus seam allowance) hand pieced panels.

 

Patchwork 7

One finished 20 cm square patchwork panel for the Shipley Centenary Quilt.

 

If you would like to get involved, the individual patchwork panels need to be returned by the end of August, either to myself or the Shipley Art Gallery. The finished patchwork quilt will be on display for the centenary celebrations towards the end of November. So, this allows a couple of months to piece all of the panels together and to quilt it.

Residency Day 6 – visit to Uppsala.

As part of my residency, I was keen to visit Uppsala where Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) lived, studied and worked. Linnaeus is famous throughout the world as the person who started using the classifying system in Latin for plants and later animals. Within my work for my residency at Bergby Konstcenter, I have incorporated the Latin names into my textiles, linking it to this part of Sweden.

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Beautiful flowers found in Linnaeus’s garden.

The flower seen above, I have used since as part of my inspiration for the last sea creature I was to sew on my ‘Sea Juggernaut’ textile – which I shall blog about over the next day or so.

Uppsala is a very beautiful city, with a large cathedral and famous university. Like Stockholm and Norrtalje, we found it was also a city full of art, from public outdoor work to great galleries. In the Domkyrkan, Scandinavia’s largest cathedral, besides being the most beautiful stained glass windows, frescos and tapestries, there is also some beautifully simple pieces of modern art.

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From the cathedral, we walked on (lots of walking today) to the fantastic Museum of Evolution, which is within the university area. It is very much a traditional museum, which holds a wonderful collection of dinosaur and early human fossils.

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Bror Hjorths studio.

Our last visit was to Bror Hjorth’s house and studio. Bror Hjorth (1894-1968) was a mondernist painter and sculptor. He is considered to be one of Sweden’s greatest artists.  The museum we all found very exciting and inspiring.

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Bror Hjorth’s studio.

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Sculpture by Bror Hjorth in his garden.

Residency Day 4 at Bergby Konstcenter

Today I decided to visit Stockholm for the day, I had heard about a number of different places which would be really inspiring to visit. It is very straight forward to get to Stockholm from Bergby, the public transport in Sweden is very efficient (buses to Stockholm from Norrtälje every 10 minutes), clean and the roads are quick and quiet.

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Public art on the underground platforms.

I had been told about the public art on some of the underground train lines, which we were keen to check out. From beautiful, tasteful tiles to war like caverns painted into the ‘stone’.

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Snippets from Moderna Museet .

The main place I wanted to visit was the Moderna Museet, a gallery of 20th century art by some of the most prominent artists of that time, including a good collection of Picasso’s, work by Duchamp, Dali, Warhol, Bridget Riley, Man Ray etc. I was also delighted to see work by Judy Chicago and loved the work by Moki Cherry.

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Rosie looking at the Moki Cherry collection.

Moki Cherry (1943-2009) is an artist who uses story telling in her work, which is often textile. She studied in Stockholm and became notorious in the 1970s art scene, with her husband Don who was a jazz musician. Her work has clear political overtones and she lived with a distinct blur between her life and art.

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Crane decorated as a giraffe!

As I spend more time is this part of Sweden, I find that ‘art’can be found in so many places. Stockholm is a very beautiful city and to enjoy it’s architecture more, we took a river ferry. It was an absolute delight to see this large metal crane decorated to look like a giraffe! Maybe not an official piece of public art, but art all the same.

Residency Day 3 at Bergby Konstcenter

An early start down the studio this morning – in by 8 am. The ‘Sea Juggernaut’ piece I am working on is very labour intensive, very much  ‘slow art’. But I do enjoy spending hours beading and embroidering.

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Beaded sea creature.

Later in the morning we went visiting some of the local coastline, islands and artists.

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Albert Engström’s Art Studio

Possibly my favourite place so far is Albert Engström’s artists studio on the edge of the sea at Grisslehamn, which is only about a 5 minute drive from Bergby Konstcenter. It is now  a museum but you can see how the artist  (who I believe died in 1940) felt so inspired to work there. With a beautiful forest walk with glimpses of the sea through the trees, past the unusual optical telegraph communication hub – used in Sweden in the 18th and 19th centuries – then onto the sea. There is a beautiful little cove, with islands, sand and rocks to perch on.

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Geoff and Violet sketching by the sea.

We moved on and drove around the islands up to Singö, travelling over pretty bridges, stopping at Singö church.

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Singö church.

On our return to Bergby, we popped in to see a local artist whose gallery was open this week. Her gallery is called ‘Fru Strids’ ( I need to check the translation!) and her name is Kicki Jonsson. There was work by a sculptor called Annika Alm in bronze and carved stone. Violet was very taken with her work. Hopefully, Kicki is going to pop by when my exhibition will be on next week at Bergby, as she is a fellow textile artist working on intricate embroidery.

 

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Entrance to Fru Struts gallery. 

About ‘obsesivcreativ’

Rupert Brooke poet

Hand and machine embroidered portrait of war poet Rupert Brooke

Louise is a Newcastle based textile and three dimensional artist making unique pieces, working with traditional north east techniques such as hooky and proggy matting, as well as spinning, quilting, patchwork, embroidery, felting, batik as well as upholstery and lino print.

William Morris

Hand and machine embroidered portrait of war poet Rupert Brooke

Louise is particularly influenced by nature and environmental issues. Inspiration and influences include the Arts and Crafts movement, costume of all eras (but particularly military, late C20 and theatrical), contemporary quilting and fibre arts in the US, subversive crafting and textiles.

AWAS chair 1

Hand and machine embroidered portrait of war poet Rupert Brooke

A constant maker, Louise sources materials from across the country. She is keen to react against mass production and uniformity.

Recently, Louise was very pleased to be involved in the exhibition of Grayson Perry’s ‘A Vanity of Small Differences’ at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens. Louise worked with local community groups to create three large textile wall hangings in response to his work, these hung alongside the exhibition.

'The First Aspirational Tea Party' made with young mums for Grayson Perry's  'The Vanity of Small Differences' exhibition in Sunderland.

‘The First Aspirational Tea Party’ made with young mums for Grayson Perry’s ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ exhibition in Sunderland.

Louise believes that passing on skills is very important and welcomes commissions involving school and community work, teaching textile crafts in formal and informal settings.

'All We Are Saying' blanket for Peace.

‘All We Are Saying’ blanket for Peace.

This year, with her family, Louise is heading to Sweden for a two week artists residency at the Bergby Konstcenter. The underlying theme for her residency is about the environment and she have come up with the working title of ‘Häxors Trosor’ for the residency. This is Swedish for ‘Witches Knickers’! This is a humorous term for the shreds of plastic bags stuck in trees and bushes which are such a common sight in our landscapes.  These are symbol of the sad condition of our planet, much of which is a result of a throw-away culture, with rubbish found dumped in beautiful landscapes, plastic floating in the seas and chemicals seeping into the planet’s ecosystems. Watch how the project develops here and on instagram.

Egyptian Book of the Dead

Egyptian Book of the Dead panel

Egyptian Book of the Dead panel

In the past I have made some very exciting pieces for the Great North Museum, Hancock, many of those linked to their Egyptian collection. To add to the interactive ‘Mummy’, the dressing up clothes and other pieces, I was recently asked to make a large textile panel which showed the ‘Weighing of the Heart’ ceremony – as the heart should be lighter than a feather to reach the afterlife – to be used in school workshops.

Decorative border and gods in place.

Decorative border and gods in place.

The panel shows the Egyptian gods Anubis, Ammut, Thoth and Horus. The panel was painted on fabric, to ensure it could be easily folded and was practical to use for school workshops.

Thoth and Horus.

Thoth and Horus.

When starting to research the different gods, how they were illustrated, the colours they wore, it was quite frustrating to see there was quite a lot of variation – they both have very distinctive faces but the design changes from tomb wall panel.

Thoth and Horus completed, detail.

Thoth and Horus completed, detail.

Anubis completed, detail.

Anubis completed, detail.

One the panel, was to be written in hieroglyphics a secret message from the museum’s Learning Team, for the school children to decode. Again from researching hieroglyphics, I have discovered there is also quite a lot of variation in the standard imagery used – but my 10 year old was able to decipher it last night without a crib sheet from what she remembered learning at school a couple of years ago, so I think the children will be fine!

Anubis and Ammut weighing the heart.

Anubis and Ammut weighing the heart.

Whenever I work on projects like this, I realise just how lucky I am to be able to get involved with such interesting and fascinating projects – for this to be my job!

Hell Creek and Carboniferous Swamps!

I am very lucky in the work I get asked to do and often the Great North Museum, Hancock ask me to do some really cool things. In the past, I have made for them replica Egyptian mummies, with internal organs for school children to pull out of the mummies body; large applique maps of the Rainforest; beautiful seat covers for an exhibition about story telling and Triceratops full head wear! To mention just a few!

In a blog post in April, I posted images of some of the interactive school bags I had made for them, which I had back over Easter to mend their handles through very excessive use! Also, as part of that re-commission, I had been asked to make some more pieces which aided school children’s understanding of fossils, which linked to the Carboniferous period, this illustration shows ‘Hell Creek’ where T-Rex ruled, and the Upper Cretaceous period. I was to make textile, inactive pieces which illustrated an image from the time, the creatures which lived and with ‘flaps’ to show how they fossilized.

Hell Creek at the time of T-Rex

Hell Creek at the time of T-Rex

The pieces are each 60 cm square, with five interactive flaps.

T-Rex full skeleton.

T-Rex full skeleton.

As the Hancock Museum has such an incredible collection of fossils, it was decided to highlight those that could be seen by the school children in their galleries. They even have a full size mould of a T-Rex skeleton!

Ornithomimus in 'found' position.

Ornithomimus in ‘found’ position.

The image above, is the ‘lift a flap’ for one of the first creatures to be found to have feathers, it’s called an Ornithomimus. This represents how often fossils could be found lying in strange positions.

Carboniferous swamps and rivers.

Carboniferous swamps and rivers.

The second piece I made illustrates the land/water creatures that could be found during the carboniferous period in and around the swamps and rivers. Some of these creatures eventually evolved into mammals, like the Pholiderpeton at the top, seen about to go into the river and swimming as well below.

The one creature I did enjoy painting was the Rhizodus, a very strange looking ferocious fish, which had very sharp teeth!

Detail of the Rhizodus.

Detail of the Rhizodus.

Now I have finished these pieces, which took quite a lot of time and certainly research, at the start of June I am looking forward to starting a large painted panel which illustrates a section from the Egyptian Book of the dead – the weighing of the heart, also for the Hancock Museum. That will be great fun!

Learning resources for local museum.

Over the past ten years, whilst working as a freelance textile artist, I have been fortunate enough to work considerably with the Hancock, now known as the Great North Museum. It is a fabulous Natural History Museum, with even a full size T-Rex skeleton. Over that time, I have made Habitat Bags and Dinosaur Bags to be used by schools. The textile bags illustrate the theme of the self-led workshops and contain lots of fun interactive pieces inside.

This week, during the school Easter half-term, I’ve temporarily had the bags back as all their handles needed repairing. The Learning Officer at the Hancock, told me that the 13 bags I have made are used, on average, by 10,000 school children a year on self led school workshops! This is a remarkable number and the photos I have taken and used on this post show how the bags look today – almost like new!

Under the Sea, Octopus Bag

Under the Sea, Octopus Bag

One of the most fun bags I’ve created was the Octopus Bag, which not only meant I could work with beautiful colours and fabrics to evoke the colours of the sea, but that I could also have a great time with freeform crochet to make an octopus hat for the school children to wear whilst taking about and exploring the octopus habitat.

My youngest daughter modelling the Octopus hat!

My youngest daughter modelling the Octopus hat!

Camouflage is an important aspect of the way ac octopus lives, so I also create a mat to aid teachers when introducing the idea of camouflage.

Octopus camouflage mat.

Octopus camouflage mat.

Another very popular bag, deals with the Arctic and that’s the Polar Bear bag and as you can see from the photos it is great fun! I ensured that when I made the polar bear paws, they were accurate in size to help the school children understand the enormity of the creature!

Polar Bear Bag.

Polar Bear Bag.

My youngest daughter modelling the polar bear nose and paws.

My youngest daughter modelling the polar bear nose and paws.

Squirrel for the Woodland Bag.

Squirrel for the Woodland Bag.

Squirrel's 'Drey'.

Squirrel’s ‘Drey’.

Above is a picture of a squirrel’s ‘Drey’ or nest, with other elements like crinkly sound making leaves and acorns.

Meadowland Bag, the Durham Argus butterfly.

Meadowland Bag, the Durham Argus butterfly.

Dinosaur pre-history bag.

Dinosaur pre-history bag.

This coming week, I’m making some additional elements to the dinosaur bags, to help school children with the visual understanding of fossils. These photos show some of the bags that these additional pieces will be put in. The bags deal with the swamps, the nests they built, creatures that evolved in the seas, reptiles and amphibians.

Evolving creatures.

Evolving creatures.

Evolving creatures under the sea.

Evolving creatures under the sea.

Besides the Hancock Museum, I have also made the Animal and Habitat Bags for Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and the Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Marsh Harrier habitats bag contents.

Marsh Harrier habitats bag contents.

Marsh harrier mask and wings.

Marsh harrier mask and wings.

Owl bag and contents, including dressing up wings and mask.

Owl bag and contents, including dressing up wings and mask.

Once I have completed the new pieces to go into the dino bags this week, I shall then begin fabric painting a banner to be used for schools to be used as a resource in the Egyptian workshops. The image will show a section from the weighing of the heart in the Book of the Dead.