Final Day of Artist Residency at Bergby Konstcenter

The past two weeks, working as Artist in Residence at Bergby Konstcenter, has been very inspiring, productive, thought provoking and down right good fun! As you will have seen through the last 13 posts, the arts centre itself is a beautiful and inspirational place, based in an idyllic part of rural Sweden but also in easy access of Stockholm, Uppsala and other fantastic places to visit.

Visitors to the exhibition were welcomed with cake!

Visitors to the exhibition were welcomed with cake, as part of an afternoon tea party!

The last day of the exhibition was busy with visitors, many taking part and making ‘Green Pledges’ for me to sew into mini pennants when I return to England – written in Swedish and English.

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Afternoon tea party to celebrate the final day of the residency, organised by Helen and John.

As part of the residency, it had always been planned to parade the larger pennants up into the Bergby woods and hang them with the ‘Green Pennants’ as the closing part of the exhibition. This seemed only fitting, as it is an environmentally charged work about the planet and our job as ‘caretaker’s’ of it.

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Getting ready to parade the pennants to the woods…

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On parade.

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Deeper into the woods…

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‘Sea Juggernaut’ pennant.

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Hanging up the ‘Life giving bee’ pennant in the trees.

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‘Life giving bee’, ‘Haxors Trosor’ and ‘Sea Juggernaut’ pennant hanging in the trees at Bergby woods.

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Me, about to start hanging up the ‘Green Pledges’.

Once the larger pennants had been hung, we then hung the ‘Green Pledges’ which had been made so far as part of this environmental art project. Most of these pieces had been pledges by people from Newcastle, but there were also a few new ones from Sweden.

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‘Green Pledges’ hanging in the Bergby woods.

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More detailed view of some of the ‘Green Pledges’.

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‘Green Pledges’ blowing in the wind.

Besides fueling and developing new ideas, working as Artist in Residence at Bergby Konstcenter, talking to Helen and John,  and to the visitors to the exhibition, it has made me realise that I don’t want to finish this project but to continue with the ideas and ethos which has evolved from my time in Sweden. I have always fully intended to finish the now 50 plus ‘Green Pledges’ and to exhibit them in other places but I also wish to encourage more people to be part of this project and to either in writing make a pledge and/or make it into a textile piece which can be hung side by side with the others. Within each of these pledges, people – young and old – have raised important environmental issues and thought about how they can help address them in a small way.

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‘Green Pledges’ flying from a Suffolk bridge following my return to England.

I would like to thank Helen, John and their lovely family, who made us all for so welcome and comfortable in their arts centre and home, and for giving me this fantastic opportunity to be part of their work.

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Artist Residency Day 13 at Bergby Konstcenter, Sweden.

In the last few days whilst my ‘Häxors Trosor’ exhibition has been open, many of my Swedish visitors have also been keen to make their ‘Green Pledge’. During this time I have also been busy making more from the list of pledges I brought from Newcastle.

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Visitors to Bergby Konstcenter making green pledges.

I have been using local resources to make some of the pledges, including milk cartons, plastic bread and chocolate wrappers. Helen and John the artists who run Bergby Konstercenter have also made a pledge to be hung with the others.

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‘I am making a compost in my garden’.

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‘Here I write my solemn pledge to grow and eat organic veg.’

Visitors to the exhibition seemed to really enjoy looking at the craftsmanship in the environmental textile pennants, from the heavy embroidery to intensively worked beading and the sentiment in the poetry. It was extremely heartening to hear the very sincere feedback.

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A local bee keeper and her daughter looking at the ‘ Life giving bee’ embroidery.

Talking to the visitors, asking them to also make a ‘green pledge’ has made me really think about taking this project so much further. The exhibition of the work produced during the residency is going to Gateshead Old Town Hall in September and October but I feel I would like to continue encouraging people to make pledges, so that the number of pledges made grows past the 50 we have so far.

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‘I will eat less dairy and milk.’

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‘I will recycle more’.

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‘I will try to raise awareness with my friends about the issues of sea creatures’, by Rosie age 13.

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Visitors to the exhibition.

If you would like to be a part of this project, please get in touch. You can just write a green pledge which I will make for you or you can make your own to form part of the growing numbers of green pledges made so far.

Residency days 7 & 8, at Bergby Konstcenter.

Sunday and Monday have been very intensive sewing days, like all my pieces for my residency, the ‘Sea Juggernaut’ has been very heavily worked.

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Reverse side of ‘Sea Juggernaut’ – a sperm whale.

This piece represents the issues facing creatures living in our seas: pollution (chemical and waste), sound pollution, over fishing, climate change etc. Over the years many whales have died on beaches across the world due to these environmental issues and this year, 18 sperm whales washed up on beaches in Germany. When they were autopsied, they were found to have in their stomachs: 43 foot of shrimp nets, plastic parts from car engines, even buckets inside them, as well as many other unusual objects. They were young whales who had died from heart failure.

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‘ Sea Juggernaut’, beaded, machine and hand embroidered textile hanging at Bergby Konstcenter, Sweden.

The textile piece I have been making whilst at Bergby Konstcenter is heavily beaded and embroidered. It also has lots of ‘found’ objects seen into it, to highlight the disposal of waste from our over consumption. In the textile piece I have sewn in items such as plastic nets used for packaging fruit, items found on the floor such as a tiny ships wheels and anchor buttons!

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Mini ship’s wheel found on the floor outside a local ‘Loppis’.

Within the piece I have embroidered and beaded creatures of the deep, plus also loosely beaded the sea, these are both to represent real and synthetic things found in the sea (like microbeads used in cosmetics).

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Detail showing beaded and embroidered sea creatures as well as stiched poetry.

Each sea creature is unique and took many hours of sewing. One, I have also linked to flowers found in Carl Linnaeus’s garden, as I was keen to make links to this great Swedish scientist who was the first to use the Latin classification system for plants and animals. Within each of these pieces, the animals latin name is also stiched into the picture.

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Detail of beaded sea creature.

Each of the pieces made as part of the ‘Häxors Trosor’ (witches knickers) residency, work on many levels and as part of this piece ( and the others) a poem is stitched through:

Sea Juggernaut 

 

Dive down deep, deep down

Where the nocturnal day or night light

Eclipses the sea juggernaut.

Though, the salty sea stars

Still shine spiral bright.

 

Dive down deep, deep down

In search of balloon bursting, rich tasting

Stringy limbed squid

Sea Juggernaut penetrates past

To wrestling octopus hid .

 

Dive down deep, deep down

To find a pea souper, stomach filler

Of man’s eternal waste,

An all you can eat sea buffet,

Of gut corroding, life stealing bait.

 

July 2016

 

Residency Day 2 at Bergby Konstcenter

The lovely, fresh Swedish country air encouraged a restorative lie in for all! Once we’d breakfasted, the girls and I spent a couple of hours in the studio, the girls painting and I was stitching.

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I am currently working on a larger embroidered and beaded piece of what I call the ‘Sea Juggernaut’ – a sperm whale.

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This piece is heavily worked and I’ve been working on it for a while. Yesterday at the local ‘Loppis’ (a type of second hand shop that you find unexpectedly by the side of the road) I found a very small boat wheel which I have also sewn into my picture!

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Openning up the upstairs of the gallery/studio!

In the afternoon, we popped down to a very pretty town called Norrtalje.

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Norrtalje Old Town.

Besides being a very beautiful town, we also discovered that every year the local council ask artists to create artworks to go in the river, these stay for six months and are taken away, then replaced the following Spring! Such fun! Some very beautiful and some which bring a smile to your face!

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Art sculpture – blame the GPS!

There are also sculptures on or by buildings.

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Whilst also pottering around Norrtalje, I also found some beautiful second hand Swedish fabric, which I might use in my next artwork. Plus on the journey back to the studio, I was delighted to see Marsh Barriers, storks and buzzards!

Late afternoon and early evening was spent in my studio. Such a wonderful place to be creating artworks.

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Moral Compass (Loving you, I need to make a difference)

Happy New Year!

Many apologies for the radio silence over the last couple of months but I have continued being busy, busy, busy…

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Machine stitched World map and compass, painted with tea.

Today, I was working with a number of AWAS (All We Are Saying, Artists for Peace) colleagues hanging a new exhibition at Gateshead Civic Centre. The star attraction is the Peace Blanket but there are some fantastic pieces in the exhibition and photos will follow over the next week or so of the new hang. the exhibition is running from 15th January until 26th February 2016.

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Hand beaded compass.

As I was unable to use my original AWAS pieces in this new exhibition (as my three war poets have been at the Customs House Drawing? inspired exhibition), I have created a new piece over Christmas called Moral Compass.

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Compass painted with fabric inks and seed stitched.

My new piece is inspired by my children and the need to care for them, as any other parent and carer across this mad World. As you will all be aware of the terrible positions many desperate parents have been put in trying to keep their family safe and the measures they will take. We would all do the same to protect those we loved dearly.

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Compass further seed stitched, including gold and silver threads.

Starting with a play on words, I was drawn to the idea of navigating the World geographically but also spiritually and emotionally.

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Detail of the hand embroidered poem.

Once I had decided on the composition of the piece, it was a fun and relaxing piece to work on.

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Moral Compass detail.

The text on the piece reads:

Loving you, I need to make a difference

Make a World for you to grow up

A place of joy and happiness

A World where people care.

 

Loving you, I need to make a difference

For a World as beautiful as ours

Where life is sacred and respected

A World for us to share.

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Finished compass internal beading.

I look forward to showing you soon, the full exhibition shortly, once the last pieces are hung and the labels placed – it was looking fantastic when I left today and the many people walking through the exhibition seemed to really enjoy interacting with each of the pieces.

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Moral Compass finished and on display at Gateshead Civic Centre as part of the new exhibition.

 

 

 

 

Current projects

Currently, I am trying to juggle a number of projects, which in an ideal world I’d be able to finish them all asap!

Final 'layout' decision on the Peace Blanket - ready to be sewn together.

Final ‘layout’ decision on the Peace Blanket – ready to be sewn together.

The ‘All We Are Saying’ Peace Blanket is coming on well. Today, I finished hand sewing all the knitted and crocheted pieces together – which we decided will be placed on the first row. All the other fabric rows have now been sewn together, so tomorrow I can piece all the verticals, ready for it’s backing and tabs for hanging.

W. G. Grace portrait- work in progress.

W. G. Grace portrait- work in progress.

I am also hoping to crack on with my portrait of W. G. Grace this week, too, as he was put on hold for the World Mental Health Day hanging (below). As you can see, I have been having a great time with his beard – very different (hadn’t noticed the different ‘textures’ beards had until now!!) to William Morris’s which I completed earlier this year.

W. G. Grace's beard!

W. G. Grace’s beard!

On Friday, I ran a workshop as part of World Mental Health Day in Cullercoats, North Tyneside. The day was for all members of the community and I was working with people to create a large hanging which will be used for similar events in the future. Everyone was invited to sew or design a square to go in the hanging, expressing their thoughts and feelings. It was a really great event and over the next month or so, I shall be taking the finished squares and envisaging their designs, to make the hanging.

World Mental Health Day 2015

World Mental Health Day 2015

The creative process, as many of you will know, is very good for relaxing the mind, reducing blood pressure, for meeting and making like-minded friends and stimulates the brain’s synapses.

World Mental Health day 2015

World Mental Health day 2015

Loom Band workshop at Gateshead Library.

Last week, as part of the school holiday Family Fun workshops at Gateshead Library, I ran a ‘Creative Loom Band’ workshop for local families. Although it was a lovely hot day outside – quite rare at the moment – it was extremely well attended and we had such fun!

Families creating loom band creatures!

Families creating loom band creatures!

As many children have been madly loom banding for over a year now, we looked at making things a little bit different to the norm and using other elements such as beads into the process.

Well prepared for the workshop!

Well prepared for the workshop!

Children as young as five joined in and they had great fun making things such as sea monsters, lights sabres, all sorts of fruit, groovy bracelets and even an ‘Elsa’ from Frozen!

Beaded loom band bracelet.

Beaded loom band bracelet.

'Elsa' from Frozen.

‘Elsa’ from Frozen.

'Teddy' loom band pencil holder.

‘Teddy’ loom band pencil holder.

Before and after last weeks workshop, my three girls have all seemed to have had a loom band resurgence and everyday, something new has been created during the summer holidays!

Octopus, made by mini obsesivcreativ.

Octopus, made by mini obsesivcreativ.

Peace Squares update.

It has been fantastic to see the response to the call out for Peace Squares to be made as part of the Artists for Peace  ‘All We Are Saying’ exhibition at the Holy Biscuit in September. I would like to share a few of the squares which have recently arrived.

All We Are Saying Peace Squares, a selection.

All We Are Saying Peace Squares, a selection.

The squares above were made by members of the North Shields Embroidery Guild and the Tuesday Crafternoon group. They are a fabulous collection, even using found items like shells to decorate the square.

Peace Square made by Margaret Graham.

Peace Square made by Margaret Graham.

Embroidered and progged Peace Square made by Kath Price.

Embroidered and progged Peace Square made by Kath Price.

If you would like to make a Peace Square and send it to us – wherever you are in the World – then please send it to:

Peace Blanket

The Holy Biscuit
1 Clarence Street
Shieldfield
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE2 1YH

The squares can be made in any textile technique – knitting, sewing, proggy matting, fabric painting etc. If the finished design size can be 20 cm square and please allow a few more cm around the square for sewing. The only thing we ask is if the square is not to be overtly religious or political, as we would like this to be a very inclusive work.

Peace in many languages.

Peace in many languages.

The beautiful piece above was sent into us anonymously and it’s a lovely piece on pretty fabric.

Two part peace square.

Two part peace square.

Give Peace a Chance embroidered square.

Give Peace a Chance embroidered square.

I hope to share more of the squares we’ve had delivered again soon.

Jewellery making inspired by the Shipley Art Gallery’s collection

I am currently working with a women’s group in Gateshead and over the last couple of months they have been learning how to make jewellery. Using these new skills, the women are making some pieces to go on display which are inspired by the jewellery designer Nora Fok, whose jewellery is on display at the Shipley Art Gallery. Her pieces are very delicate, often gentle shades of white and quite beautiful. Saying that – they are also very bold!

In our latest pieces, we are working with wire (even garden wire), beads and Beadalon’s monofilament illusion cord. These are some of the pieces I have made so far, in preparation for our last stages of the workshops.

Starburst ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

Starburst ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

The ‘Starburst’ bracelet below, was made using a French knitting bobbin, knocked up from an old wooden cotton reel and nails – as they would have been made traditionally. I do find most French knitting ‘dollies’ don’t work particularly well.

French Knitting bobbin.

French Knitting bobbin.

Starburst bracelet, inspired by Nora Fok.

Starburst bracelet, inspired by Nora Fok.

Using wire, I created this bracelet by wrapping the top section around a marble and the bottom section round a lid of a bead tin, then fastened them together.

'Up-do' ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

‘Up-do’ ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

The last piece I have made so far inspired by Nora Fok’s works, is this ‘illusion cord’, twisted ring decorated with beads.

'Illusion' beaded ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

‘Illusion’ beaded ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

My daughter’s have also been having fun creating some pieces, as they never like to be left out and I shall take their rings along to this weeks workshop as further ideas.

Middle Mini Obsesivcreativ's  ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Middle Mini Obsesivcreativ’s ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Little Mini Obsesivcreativ's ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Little Mini Obsesivcreativ’s ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Once the jewellery making equipment was out and my juices flowing, I have also made a few Steampunk inspired pieces to!

Butterfly sitting on vintage Czechoslovakian coin, with 'diamonds'. Ring.

Butterfly sitting on vintage Czechoslovakian coin, with ‘diamonds’. Ring.

Roses on vintage Maltese coin. Ring.

Roses on vintage Maltese coin. Ring.

Still work in progress. Layered necklace with found, recycled and broken jewellery.

Still work in progress. Layered necklace with found, recycled and broken jewellery.

Over the next week or so and particularly on Instagram, I’ll update you with the jewellery pieces we have made in our workshops for the Shipley Art Gallery.

How to: Broomstick Crochet

Broomstick Crochet is a traditional technique dating back to the Victorian period. It is a very decorative technique which can make the finest mohair’s, to the cheapest polyester and the chunkiest wools, look beautiful – whether by giving them a spider web feel or an architectural structure.

Finished Broomstick Crochet Scarf

Finished Broomstick Crochet Scarf

To make this scarf, I used some beautiful wool my husband bought me for Christmas. It is called Jitterbug, made by Colinette, 100% wool, 4 ply and 400yds in length. It’s not cheap, but the colours available are fabulous! He bought it in a lovely wool shop called Woolaballo in the pretty market town of Hexham.

To make this scarf you will need:

1 x 4mm crochet hook (larger if using chunky wool)

1 Ball of wool, sock weight/4ply

1 x 15/20 or 25mm knitting needle (the larger the needle, the bigger to loops)

Wool needle to finish off the ends.

Stage 1:

Cast on in multiples of 5 (for each loop series). I usually cast on 40 chain stitches, plus 2 for turning.

Crochet cast on

Crochet cast on

Stage 2:

Crochet 3 rows of double crochet (40 stitches on row)

Foundation of Scarf

Foundation of Scarf

Stage 3:

Using your crochet hook, slip stitch one loop from the top of each stitch from the previous row and hook it onto the large knitting needle. (Not lady like – but I do find it helps to place the knitting needle between my knees to do this!) If you started with 40 stitches, you should aim to have 40 loops. (The odd one more or less is fine as you can correct it later*).

Loops onto the knitting needle.

Loops onto the knitting needle.

Stage 4:

Next row. Pick up 5 stitches (loops) together with the crochet hook and double crochet 6 times into them (first set of stitches only). Continue picking 5 stitches together across the row, but now just crochet 5 double crochets into each set. You should now have 40 stitches on your row again.

Picking 5 stitches together with crochet hook.

Picking 5 stitches together with crochet hook.

Stage 5:

At the end of the row, you should now have a pretty ‘fanned’ effect across the top stitches.

Fanned and twisted effect caused by Broomstick Crochet.

Fanned and twisted effect caused by Broomstick Crochet.

Stage 6:

Now, double crochet 2 more rows. Then, as before, make slip stitch loops into the tops of the 40 stitches and place them onto the knitting needle.

Making new Broomstick Crochet loops onto the knitting needle.

Making new Broomstick Crochet loops onto the knitting needle.

Stage 7:

Continue this way until you have reached a length you are happy with for your scarf then cast off last stitch and fasten in all your ends.

Keep working further rows.

Keep working further rows.

The beautiful fanned, texture of Broomstick Crochet.

The beautiful fanned, texture of Broomstick Crochet.

Besides making scarves, I have also used this method to make lovely warm neck collars for the tops of coats and small, more fitted snoods which work well as a roll neck on a jumper. Once you know how to achieve the technique, there’s lots of beautiful things you can make.

Below, is a ‘figure of 8’ snood which I made for my niece. This was made using organic, aran weight, Welsh wool. As you can see, this weight makes the Broomstick Crochet less ‘spidery’ but it gives it a lovely architectural look.

Broomstick Crochet Snood

Broomstick Crochet Snood

*Occasionally, you might find that you end up with 39/41 loops. Don’t worry about this as you can amend this by picking up a batch of 4 or 6 loops to correct the number and ensure you still crochet in a multiple of 5 double crochet stitches to rectify the mistake – no-one will know.

In the orginal photo of the scarf you can see at the top of this blog post. I wrapped the scarf round twice, then placed the two ends of the scarf over each other and pinned it with a brooch. This creates a cowl/snood, very warm effect.

The brooch was made using the last length of the wool. To make it, I French knitted a length, folded it into a flower shape, which I stitched together. Then I decorated it with a piece of broken jewellery in the centre and stitched beads around the edge. This can now be used to keep my scarf together (which doesn’t have to be just an outdoor scarf) or used to decorate a jacket or bag.

French Knitted brooch.

French Knitted brooch.