Häxors Trosor (Witches Knickers!)

Over the next few months I am preparing for a very exiting project I am working on in anticipation of a two week Artist’s Residency in Sweden, this August. The residency is at the Bergby Konstcenter, an art run institution in rural Sweden, which welcomes artists from all over the world.

In preparation for the residency, I am continuing with the values and themes that run through a lot of my personal work which reflects upon the environment, destruction and our responsibilities as ‘Caretakers of the World’. I am also aware that travelling to Sweden from the UK, will mean that I need to restrict the type of materials and equipment I will be able to physically take to work with. So, using traditional mat-making which I have often used on this type of work, is out! Two such pieces are illustrated below:

WP_20150501_010

‘Caretakers of the World, UNITE!’

The artwork above, was made for an exhibition to celebrate the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the North East. It represents an illustrated carpet page, created by the monks. Using this imagery, I ‘hooked’ a world map within the cross with flora and fauna, representing the natural world we need to take care of.

R.I.P Mother Earth & Lindisfarne mat

‘R.I.P Mother Earth’, seen also with ‘Caretakers of the World, UNITE!’, in an exhibition at The Holy Biscuit, Newcastle.

‘R.I.P Mother Earth’ is a textile work coffin, the ends and lid of which are ‘hooked’ using a traditional mat-making technique using recycled fabrics. This piece reflects the way we are treating the world and what will become of our planet if we don’t start to radically change our ways.

MP10

‘Moral Compass’ which was exhibited at Gateshead Civic Centre as part of the ‘All We Are Saying’ exhibition and at The Holy Biscuit, as part of their ‘Your Deeds Don’t Define You’ exhibition.

A more recent piece, which is a link between ‘R.I.P’, ‘Caretakers’ and ‘Häxors Trosor’, is ‘Moral Compass’, a piece I wrote about in January. It reflects upon my desire as a parent to ensure that this is a world my children will want to live in and be happy – a world of peace, respect and love.

I 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.

Inspiration struck me whilst walking my dog; I saw a crow acting in an extremely defensive manner over what turned out to be a piece of plastic bag which it wanted to use to ‘feather’ it’s nest.  I found this very upsetting.  It not only represents  overconsumption and irresponsible littering (which according to Defra costs £10 million a year to clear up in Britain).  As well as the aesthetic degradation of natural landscapes, these plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade and they are dangerous to fauna in many ways.

This has informed the work I will undertake during my residency: a series of pieces which reflect upon the different ways nature is fighting and loosing the war against overconsumption, greed and waste. As I am travelling to Sweden and working in a lovely rural studio and gallery space, I hope to use recycled fabrics and try to be restrained with the resources I take and use to create artworks which show the devastating issues at hand but in a beautiful, reflective manner of textile arts.

Crow 1

Machine stitched crow

So, a couple of weeks ago, I started working on the ‘Crow’, the inspiration for the start of this project. By playing with and developing the piece, it has given me time to think about  how the project will develop and the work I wish to create in Sweden. I started by simply machine stitching him, in a pose ready for the time I put the häxors trosor in his beak.

Crow 2

Crazy patchwork framing for the crow, using scraps of fabric and clothes my children have grown out of.

As I continue to work on the crow, I can see new elements I want to add to him and his surroundings, layering up and using found pieces of fabric, like embroidery anglaise from a pretty dress my daughter once wore and using crazy patchwork – which is always good fun!

Crow 3

Further layering using tweed, old shirts and stitched embellishments.

Crows are traditionally seen as harbingers of bad news, which these environmental issues certainly are. Eventually, I aim to turn this piece into an heraldic pennant (which got me thinking about a penance). It also could be tied in with the double meaning of the word ‘standard’: heraldic standards and our possibly unobtainable ‘standards’ needed to improve environmental issues.

This is just the start, I am hoping that over the next few months and during the time I spend in Bergby, Sweden I can create a series of thought provoking and visually exciting pieces.

My young family are also very excited about our time in Sweden and are treating it as a family artists’ residency with a chance to leave tablets, phones and TV for a fortnight and focus on more creative pursuits.  My three girls and husband thrive in a creative atmosphere and they will be keen to create work for visitors to see in the residency space and talk about their work, too. For them it is to be a digital detox and full of creative intoxication!

 

 

 

Advertisements

‘All We Are Saying’ at the Holy Biscuit exhibition.

All We Are Saying at the Holy Biscuit

12th September to 3rd October, 2015.

 

All We Are Saying’ at The Holy Biscuit is an exhibition of local artists, who have teamed up with artists from Sunderland, Gateshead, Newcastle as well as in Liverpool, Germany and the Netherlands to create a multi-sited ‘Call-Out’ for Peace, throughout the months of September and October. The philosophy for the exhibitions is apolitical, non-religious, non partisan or nationalistic, and (as far as possible) zero budgeted and non profit making. It is only through the imagination, passion, enthusiasm and commitment of Sunderland artist, Barrie West, who started the ‘Call Out’ that so many artists, makers, creatives and other peace aware individuals have come together to make this such a momentous creative event.

 

As part of this exhibition at the Holy Biscuit, there is work from textile artists, print makers, painters, photographers and silversmiths. Leading up to and during the exhibition people are also being asked to be involved in making a ‘Peace Square’; a small textile piece which will be sewn into a larger ‘Peace Blanket’. So far there has been contributions from as far afield as Sri Lanka, America and Germany and well as from nearer to home across the North East of England.

 

As well as being open to the public between 12th September and the 3rd October, two special events are being held:

Saturday 19th September, to coincide with World Peace Day, visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to make peace doves using fabric, papers and ribbons.

Saturday 3rd October, there will be a special celebration day for the Peace Blanket and visitors will be able to see all the squares sewn together.

 

All We Are Saying would like to say a very special thank you to The Holy Biscuit for sponsoring the room hire for this event and for being extremely supportive throughout the exhibition’s development.

All We Are Saying at the Holy Biscuit has been curated by Louise Underwood

The Brownies visit for the opening of 'All we Are Saying'

The Brownies visit for the opening of ‘All we Are Saying’

The opening night for ‘All We Are Saying’ was a great success. Many people, young and old, found the different ways the artists had responded to the ‘Call Out’ fascinating and thought provoking. There was music by two local young folk musicians, Zak and Ethan Younger Banks who helped set a lovely relaxed tone whilst playing their acoustic guitars, accordions and sometimes assisted by their sister Erin on the flute. The artists had backed cakes and biscuits, to make a truly relaxed affair.

Preview night.

Preview night.

Also as part of the evening, visitors also made origami cranes which were placed within the gallery.

Origami crane making.

Origami crane making.

In total eleven artists exhibited at the Holy Biscuit but across Sunderland, Gateshead, Germany and the Netherlands many, many more artists have been involved in the whole.

Within this blog post, I shall try and give you a flavour of the exhibition and artists involved at the Holy Biscuit:

Gaynor Devaney

Exhib 18a

Gaynor Devaney's work: Dreaming of Home.

Gaynor Devaney’s work: Dreaming of Home.

Michelle Follet

Exhib 16

Michelle Follet's piece: 'Silent'.

Michelle Follet’s piece: ‘Silent’.

Jayamini de Silva

Exhib 5a

Jayamini de Silva's: Tranquility, Medley and Affection.

Jayamini de Silva’s: Tranquility, Medley and Affection.

Exhib8a

Esen Kaya

Esen Kaya: 'The Conversation'

Esen Kaya: ‘The Conversation’

Kath Price

Kath Price: 'The White Bird Soars and Swoops'

Kath Price: ‘The White Bird Soars and Swoops’

Louise Underwood

Louise Underwood: 'Peace Talks'

Louise Underwood: ‘Peace Talks’

Margery Robinson

Margery Robinson: The Lovers

Margery Robinson: The Lovers

Patricia Bowles

Patricia Bowles: 'Symbol'.

Patricia Bowles: ‘Symbol’.

Michelle Johnson

Michelle Johnson: 'Remember'

Michelle Johnson: ‘Remember’

Exhib 1

Rob Patrick

Rob Patrick: 'Paveway'

Rob Patrick: ‘Paveway’

Angela Sandwith

Exhib 14a

Angela Sandwith: 'Ritual'

Angela Sandwith: ‘Ritual’

Each of these pieces have very deep, thoughtful and emotive responses, which hopefully I shall have the opportunity to document fully along with the Peace Blanket.

The Peace Blanket has now over 60 squares to be sewn together and if you are interested in being a part of it, then we would like the pieces to be in by Thursday 1st October.

This exhibition would not have been the amazing success it has become without the help, support and guidance of Barrie West, Margaret Graham, Colleen Fernandez, all the fabulous artists involved, The Holy Biscuit team esp. Gemma, Sue Thompson, Zac, Ethan and Erin Younger Banks and all the wonderful people who have made a peace square.

‘Peace Talks’ chairs made for All We Are Saying.

Over the past month, I have been working on part of my piece for the Artists for Peace ‘All We Are Saying’ exhibition at the Holy Biscuit. Until, I have finished the whole process and made all the pieces, it’s still a fluid concept. But, the two chairs I have reupholstered in patchwork signify difference, getting together, comfort and talking. I have used many fabrics from different cultures and countries, patchworked side by side.

Wing-back arm chair.

Wing-back arm chair.

A while ago, I bought two wing-back arm chairs from Tynemouth Market, lovely old stable chairs covered in what looks like an old Welsh textile weave. I chose these chairs for the exhibition as I wanted them to be homely, the type of chairs families would sit on if they were having a family dispute and trying to ‘sort things out’ over a cup of tea. As far away from the large, grand, gilt covered chairs that heads of state would sit in to have their ‘Peace Talks’.

Making patchwork

Making patchwork

The two chars were stripped and using fabrics I had (I’m a terrible hoarder), including clothes my children had grown out of, they were patchworked together. Both chairs has a African seed bead square on the front, which can sometimes be found in other pieces of my work.

Hand stitching the cross sections of fabric.

Hand stitching the cross sections of fabric.

These patchworked panels were tacked onto the chairs and cross sections sewn.

Seat back and wings finished.

Seat back and wings finished.

The last stage I really don’t like doing – pipping the cushion! But as it is a free standing cushion pad, it had to be done.

First finished AWAS chair.

First finished AWAS chair.

The two chairs are the same but different. Like we all are, really.

Second AWAS chair with Wilf.

Second AWAS chair with Wilf.

There are a few little fiddly things I need to do to finish the chairs off, but as long as they are ready for Friday 11th September – preview night- then I’m not too worried!

Next, to continue this piece, I plan to redecorate  small ‘pedestal’ side table. During the preview night and during the exhibition, I plan to encourage people to sit in the chairs, have a cup of tea, talk about their thoughts the whole exhibition has evoked in them and maybe document these discussions in a small table book… The ideas keep evolving…

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.

‘All We Are Saying’, Call out for Blanket for Peace textile squares.

As part of a very exciting series of exhibitions to be held in September, ‘All We Are Saying’ is an international “shout out” for peace with a series of exhibitions in Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Gateshead, Newcastle and Sunderland. It is the idea of Sunderland based artist Barrie West, who has co-ordinated and inspired many creative people across the World to become involved in this amazing project.

The ideology for these exhibitions is apolitical, non-religious, non partisan or nationalistic, and (as far as possible) zero budgeted and non profit making. This is not a commercial exercise but a cry from the heart.

Alongside the All We Are Saying exhibition to be held at The Holy Biscuit in Newcastle upon Tyne and leading up to it, we are also encouraging members of the worldwide community to collaborate with us in creating a ‘Blanket of Peace’: evoking the comfort, safety and security of the community by bringing together handmade textile squares to produce a blanket. The squares will visually evoke the meaning and feeling of peace; producing a blanket that becomes a collective symbol of peace. The Blanket for Peace will be on display at The Holy Biscuit when finished.

Blanket for Peace square 'Happy People'

Blanket for Peace square ‘Happy People’

Call out for squares:
We would love people to submit squares to be stitched into our blanket. These can be made in any textile media, including crocheted, knitted, embroidery, beaded, fabric painted, patchwork and quilting. They can be as detailed as you have time for and we are very happy to encourage as many young people and children to be involved in this, too. When designing your piece, please remember that this is an optimistic and positive project and we do not wish to offend anyone with the wording or imagery. The squares should be 20 x 20 cm, with an extra 1cm for seam allowance.

These squares can either be made in the gallery during the exhibition in September or can be posted to:
Blanket for Peace,
The Holy Biscuit,
1 Clarence St,
Shieldfield,
Newcastle upon Tyne.
NE2 1YH

Please send your squares before the end of September to ensure their inclusion in the ‘Blanket for Peace’.

All the squares will be posted on our All We Are Saying at The Holy Biscuit Facebook page, so please let us know, who you are and a little bit about your peace square.