February Already?

Yes, no doubt you are fed up of me saying things like this but just where does the time go? It goes into weaving that’s where it goes.

I have been weaving desperately to try to get a triptych ready for the end of March to enter into Artapestry5. Also I have been administering all the proposals sent into the BTG exhibition ‘Sound and Weave’ and I was one of the jurors. Stupidly I arranged the weekend for telling artists if their work had been selected for that to be the same weekend I finalised all the entries into ‘Heallreaf 2’. So last weekend was a bit fraught. Especially as my Mum was very poorly too. So that is all behind me now, and I have spent a few blissful days weaving.

I taught a days workshop on weaving pods at the beginning of December which was fun, I was asked about weaving with fishing line. So you can guess what happened next, I got some fishing line and did a quick pod.

20161220_114013

I have cut the tails off since taking this photo and it hasn’t come undone. I am thinking of doing a larger one – this one is only about four centimetres across – I want to do one about 20-25 centimetres across with a small black one attached inside. Fishing line is okay to weave with but the weft doesn’t wiggle around the warp as beautifully as you might want it to. Hence keeping the sides straight is even more of a trial than usual.

I also have images of the triptych so far – not very good ones, the tapestries are quite large for me, about 70cm across so the first one I had to lay out on the bed and stand on the edge to get it in shot. It looks very baggy, in fact I can’t believe how wrinkled it is but then it hasn’t been blocked yet or the slits sewn up. I couldn’t sew them up before taking it off the frame (long story). Also it refused to roll right side out when first cut it off so I rolled it right side in for a while, strangely it will now roll right side out which I have always believed to be the right way, it’s the way tapestries usually want to roll. Who knows what state it will end up in when I block it.

You can just see the outline of a face emerging in the black on the second piece. (Bottom RHS). The third weaving of the triptych will be all black with the red line and the face and they will be hung next to each other hopefully with the red line all on the same level – if I get it right. I can always blame whoever hangs it if it’s wonky.

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And finally, I have just found an artist called Daniel Zeller. His images are fascinating and I am trying to think how I can weave something similar. As you can see below they are incredibly complicated and I couldn’t weave that but I am thinking of the idea of several layers of weaving all stretched across each other and disappearing like ligaments into muscle, or roads into tunnels. They would have to be woven on and left on the frame, I realised that from my previous excursions into this type of weaving, cut them off and they curl up and die.

And even more finally, I had over 150 pieces entered for the Heallreaf 2 exhibition so am waiting for the jurors to come back to me and also for the results of the latest Arts Council Funding application. Got everything crossed for that one, should hear next week I think.

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Some weaving.

So life is quite busy and not as much weaving has been achieved as I would have liked. There has been a bit of dyeing and the like so I haven’t been a complete sloth.

Yes Fiona’s course was excellent. There are times when I am on a course like that I wonder why I am still going on courses when I did three years at college (I am sure PJ asks the question regularly) but you cannot fail to learn from someone who has been weaving for decades when you have only been weaving a few years. This is the piece I started on the last day and finished when I got home:

mfj-textiles-161127-1-edit

I thought the ends might be an interesting way to finish off the warp threads on my pod weavings. It looks a bit jellyfishy and floaty on the black like that.

A closer look – although I think I prefer it from a distance!

water-pod

Between the last blog and now we have had a lovely trip to France. When we got there our nice friends Annie and John asked where we would like to go and I said  ‘How far is Angers?’ So they were absolute stars and drove us and hour and a half each way so I could look at tapestries. Firstly there are the medieval ones in the chateau which were amazing, there were so many of them but the place is VERY dark. It still strikes wonder into my heart when you think how fine those tapestries are and they were woven from the back and by candle light. There is a video showing them taking one down and they turn it over so you can see the back – yes – those greens are really bottle green and the reds are scarlet. Just amazing 0 sorry I said that already.

Secondly we went to see the Jean Lurcat tapestries at the other end of town. A nightmare to park as the inordinately loud funfair was in the car park. So you walked through these doors and the funfair died you found yourself in an oasis of calm and confronted by the series of tapestries known as ‘The Song of the World’ (only in French but I can’t spell it.) I have seen these tapestries on the internet – trust me these images do them NO JUSTICE WHAT SO EVER. Below is a link thingy to a youtube video. It isn’t very good but at about 4 minutes and a bit you get to my favourite tapestry of the lot which is the Man of Hiroshima. I cannot find a good image of it anywhere. I like it partly because it has elements of the Graham Sutherland crucifixion of Christ tapestry at Coventry cathedral. That may just be the greeny colour and the skeletal figure but something about it resonates with me. (be very impressed I managed to imbed a youtube video into my blog – I am!)

And finally after going there, next door was another tapestry exhibition of contemporary tapestries. Now I did have to take a deep breath with this one because like the Lurcat tapestries these were designed by artists and woven by weavers. But some of them were stunning.

.

This one is by the artist Mario Prassinos and is called ‘MacBeth’ It was one of my favourites along one by Andre Borderie but I cannot find an image of that, here is another of his, it gives an impression of the sort of images he had woven:

So too many pictures this time, but all I can say is – if you are ever any where in the vague region of Angers and even if you only have a passing interest in tapestry – just go to all three venues, it is a day worth spending.

So strangely whilst on my travels through the internet to bring you some of these images I found this:

https://i0.wp.com/www.price4design.com/uploads/argus_articles/1032/wogensky-m.jpg

It is call a cartoon for a tapestry and comes from this website: http://www.price4design.com/uploads/argus_articles/1032/wogensky-m.jpg

It appears to be some sort of site which is an ‘online sales platform of selected design & vintage furniture’. I wonder how effective it is at selling work?  It’s a nice cartoon, I wouldn’t mind trying to weave it myself.

Back to the weaving frame, I will post an image of the latest as soon as there is very much to see.

I am teaching again in Angmering next month – just a day on the 12th to teach the very basics of my three dimensional pod weaving. If anyone is interested let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the organiser.

 

 

 

So, no weaving then.

No weaving. The Arts Council funding has just gone off at 2.02pm. Fingers crossed this time and many thanks to my lovely friend Pernille who sat with me all last Thursday trawling through it. She just comes up with some lovely turns of phrase which hopefully they will like. It was a bit like my Qest funding application, David Stent at college went through the declined one and all he did was just make the language much more positive and I got the funding so hopefully this time will be the same. I hope so or I am going to look a complete idiot having to cancel the London show because I can’t get the cash.

So no weaving and no photo’s. Next weekend I am attending a weaving masterclass with Fiona Hutchison who is a very well known Scottish weaver for those of you who are not in the weaving world. I have to sort out a ‘sketch book of visual inspiration based on the sea’. Oh dear I don’t do sketch books. I am sure I can find something, there is that lovely photo I took of a dead gannet on the beach at Walberswick and Pernille has promised a photo of a dead fish head. Yum.

Last weekend PJ did a portrait photography course at West Dean. They asked if there was any chance of more models so I stupidly volunteered. Lots of people said I was very brave but actually I have got so fed up of PJ pointing a camera at me I just don’t care anymore.

rembrandt-lightingpjSo here is the portrait PJ thought was best out of all those he took. The tutor immediately said to me ‘do you always wear your hair up?’ and ‘do you always wear your glasses?’ Consequently the hair came down and the glasses came off (that was all that was coming off!) It did irritate slightly as I don’t see this as a photo of me, but then I was there to be their model. I also wondered whether a female photographer would have put my hair down?

Anyway apparently this is classic Rembrandt lighting, half the face in light with the light just tipping over the bridge of the nose casting a small amount of light into the other eye socket. It is a rather lovely effect – shame about the subject!

Still Here.

So I just heard my piece hasn’t been chosen for the Cordis shortlist. As you can imagine I am quite disappointed. There is a quick flip through all the tapestries submitted on this website:

http://giphy.com/gifs/tapestry-vas-cordis-prize-x3OtpMDn2Ox8s

It is really odd as you get a fleeting glimpse of all the work submitted and I mean fleeting. If anyone knows how to slow it down please let me know.

It will be interesting to see what is actually chosen, the website hasn’t been updated yet. However it did occur to me thinking about the pieces that flip through on the link and the work that has won the last two prizes that maybe traditional weft-faced two dimensional tapestry is no longer in fashion and are weavers distorting the medium in order to seem relevant to the contemporary art scene. And yes perhaps I am just as bad with the three dimensional forms I have been trying to weave. The bad news about those is that I have given up, the last blog showed the one that my brother thought looked like a desiccated rose and here is an image of the latest failures:
img_0820The end black ones are particularly difficult to photo, this one might be better:

img_0822Or maybe not, it was supposed to look like a pitcher plant with spikes but I can’t get the shape and finish quite perfect so I have given up on it. When I told PJ that he said ‘good’, so I am not quite sure what he meant. I haven’t even stitched up the red one or the blue one because I could see they were not working.

So what next I hear you cry. Well, the Arts Council declined my application for funding but I can apply again. The reason was that it was weak on ‘artistic and public engagement outcomes’ and they also said that they didn’t think anyone other than the artists would want to come to see the exhibitions. One is tempted to wonder what one can do against such ignorance but I will keep trying. I rang the Arts Council help line and asked if they could help me with ‘public engagement outcomes’ because I found them somewhat ephemeral and then had to explain the word ephemeral to the nice lad on the other end of the line (oh my I feel old – he did sound very young).

I taught the course at West Dean and it must have gone okay because I am now teaching a 3D weaving course. It is 14th to 17th May 2017.

I am now preparing for the next tapestries which are a triptych – I am never whether that it spelt triptych or tryptich, I usually go for the former because of the ‘tri’ and there being three pieces in it and spell check seems to prefer that but I never quite trust spellchecker. Anyway they are all circular, each one about 75 cm in diameter and once again they are blue and surprisingly I already have a name. The piece is going to be called ‘Into the Void’ and I have just started warping up for the first one but still haven’t sent of the image for printing and will probably need to redye some of the blues and turquoises I used in ‘Blue’ the Cordis piece. (At least I can now enter ‘Blue’ for Heallreaf 2, see if that jury likes it.) I expect to finish the three pieces around end of January or mid February, depending upon how much time I have to spend re doing the Arts Council applications. I am also starting a series of small tapestries, around 7cm square, I hope to do lots and then hang them somewhere in a very long line.

And on top of that I have to do my proposal for the BTG exhibition ‘Sound and Weave’ which is going to be about sound and weaving! Well, it is actually going to be about mother and child relationships and the sound part is going to be related to body sounds and songs of life and death. It is also going to reference the similarity between the bodies neural and vascular systems and the woven tapestry. That almost sounds like an artists statement doesn’t it?

Talking of which maybe it was the artists statement that caused me not to get into the Cordis. This is the current version:

addicted
obsessed
the smell of acid dye
the twang of a warp under tension
softness of weft through the fingers and sound of a bobbin beating yarn
centuries of tradition, sharing the soliloquy
challenging the loom and the weaver
playing with textures and light

the exquisite woven bead
constructing
dark visions
of the infinite
creating
the
luminous
the
nebulous
and
ephemeral

As you might have guessed I like the word ‘ephemeral’.

 

 

Arts Council Funding – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

So, having decided to do Heallreaf 2 next year and getting the dates sorted with West Dean (not a short process) and having a London Gallery interested in taking it at the end of June I decided to apply for Arts Council England for some funding.

I had already got my applicant profile validated and then submitted my eligibility requirements over the weekend but got stuck there. When I rang them at 9.02 this morning the nice man was very good and did admit the website wasn’t very intuitive. So at 9.03 I started filling in the actual application. I had made some notes over the weekend so I wasn’t completely at a loss as what to say. Well, with a short break for a bit of fresh air and some gardening I have just finished it. EIGHT HOURS. You can understand why some people just don’t bother can’t you?

It will take 6 weeks for them to process it and so I will find out on something like the 18th September if they will give me the money or if I have to re apply. At least if I have to re apply I might then understand the difference between audience, artists and participants it can be a bit of a grey area it seems. It is rather wonderful to be able to cross ‘ACE Application’ off my list of jobs to do.

So what have you been weaving you ask. Well, not much I have to admit. There is nothing to show but a three dimensional piece that didn’t quite work:

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Oh dear, that’s not such a good photo is it? Well, a bit like the weaving I guess. It was supposed to be a ball but I used a different pattern or net to the one I usually use so it didn’t work, the ends of the warps didn’t match up properly. You live and learn and I suppose I have learnt an important 3D weaving lesson there.

I have been weaving small colour samples, just for a bit of comfort weaving and to see what colours do when they are put next to each other. No photo’s but I was going to put them in a folder so you might get the odd photo of a page from the folder if I discover anything amazing – which is unlikely.

I have decided I am going to apply for the West Dean open call. I know they really want a ‘big name’ artist but it will be good experience to put the proposal together. It is going to be BIG and maybe round but if not round then shaped, Philip’s good at that sort of thing.

 

Blue Too

So my attempt to blog weekly has failed but my excuse is that I have been trying desperately to finish my latest tapestry and here she is:

blue too

I have to admit she isn’t quite finished as I still need to knot off the top semi circle but I am trying to clear up the studio (for studio read spare bedroom but studio sounds so much better). All the wool is slowly going back into it’s boxes in the loft and then I will get out the blue warp to finish her. She has no title as yet, just ‘blue too’ at the moment. She is 70(ish) centimetres in diameter so just the right size to put in for the Cordis in October, fingers crossed. Although someone said to me recently that they are looking for more sculptural pieces with lots of knotting but I haven’t found any evidence of that requirement.

It is interesting how she has turned out, not like the original image partly because there would have been lots of curves going up the tapestry. Curves over 45 degrees tend to loose their elegance so I adjusted the image and I didn’t want too much black in there as it would have looked odd and heavy. Also there are areas of darkness which travel across the blue areas into the green, not quite anticipated but they work well. It is nice that even a fairly comprehensively planned tapestry can still produce surprises.

I haven’t quite decided how to mount her yet. I think I am going to try strips of aluminium flat across the back so she can still be rolled but will maintain a certain ‘flatness’ when hung. I am also not sure whether to block her out. It will depend on exactly how round and lumpy she is when I cut her off. She is looking very ‘unlumpy’ at the moment so maybe I won’t have to do too much to her.

What next?

I am not sure. There are some 3D pods I want to explore and another round one in similar colours to ‘blue too’ I wondered about doing it the same size so they could be a diptych, I will have to dye some more 3% turquoise yarn if that is the case, the 3% turquoise goes right through the piece with the exception of a few small pale areas. And of course there is the diptych I was originally going to do for the Cordis and thought there might be a chance of getting it done for the Artapestry5 deadline in January. Hmm! I also have to prepare the stuff for the course I am teaching at West Dean in September and a talk in October. So what are you doing sitting writing a blog Jones – go and get on with it.

And people keep asking me if I am going to submit something for the West Dean National Tapestry Commission Open call

https://www.westdean.org.uk/study/blog/tapestry-studio/calling-uk-artists-national-tapestry-commission-open-call

I had assumed it is not really for tapestry weavers but then thought why not? Maybe the second circular one REALLY big. I will see Philip Sanderson next week so will ask him for more details about it. It has to be something big that I can’t weave myself.

 

 

Postcards.

Here is an image of the postcard I have just sent off to Mexico. The exhibition is called ‘Travelling Tapestry: Textile Mail Art’ and will be held at The Museo Textil de Oaxaca (MTO – Textile Museum of Oaxaca) and the Museo de la Filatelia de Oaxaca (MUFI – Philately Museum of Oaxaca). I was in a bit of a quandry what to weave, it had to be postcard sized and that isn’t very big for tapestry, I thought of various things like a very British red postbox but everything was too detailed so I just went for the edge of the stamp and the franking mark. I love franked stamps, there is something wonderful about the way the circle is nearly there but tends to be interrupted by the thickness of the stamp itself and it goes a bit blobby.  It is best if it is still on the envelope but regretably these days the chance of seeing a franked stamp in your post is very slim. Technology eh? I always think the unfranked envelopes look sad, sort of unfinished or unused. Why the red background, lots of little reasons I guess, one is that although you can buy birthday cards with red envelopes many years ago when I worked in a sub postoffice technically you could not send anything in a red envelope, bright colours like that were against the rules. I found out recently that you can no longer send a parcel tied up with string, presumably because the string can get caught in the machinery. PJ thought it might be touch and go whether I could send the tapestry, it has to go just as it is sewn onto a piece of very thick card, not in an envelope or anything. I tied all the ends in to make sure there was no ‘string’ hanging out so fingers crossed it gets there okay.

I called this piece ‘Postcards Home’ which was also the name of the very first folk music album I bought by a singer called Bob Davenport. Brilliant LP, I think I’ve still got it somewhere.

IMG_0751-1

I also spent today taking some photographs. I really must get to grips with the camera and I was going to do a photography/photoshop day at the beginning of July but it has been cancelled but I thought well, you bought some Calla lilies yesterday to photograph so get on with it. My favourites are these two, especially the first long thin one:

Back again

So, having promised to blog more often here I am.

The larger round blue piece is coming along nicely:IMG_0748

The blends are proving a little tricky, it is quite difficult to decide what blend I am using when I get to the end of a length of yarn so I have colour coded them with beads – I suppose a bit like lace bobbins. Not that I have ever done bobbin lace but I believe the beads on the end of the bobbins mean something to the lacemaker. I think most weavers put the number of the colour blend on the cartoon but my cartoons are always a loose in that respect.

The background turns very green in the top left hand corner and the yarn I thought was going to be the perfect green turns out not to be so there was a small amount of urgent dyeing some over the weekend, you can see the green just emerging around the top black spot on the left hand side. The highest part is about 2 inches from the middle so it is growing well.

It would be nice to know what it is ‘about’ as art seems to have to be about something. I am not quite sure what my work is about at the moment so any suggestions would be gratefully received.

I have recently heard that the second Heallreaf exhibition is almost definitely certainly (!) going to happen. It looks like the PV will be on the 5th May next year with the exhibition on from the 6th to the 13th. When I have absolutely definitely got agreement I will contact the jurers I am going to ask and then put out the call for entries. I am also hoping to get some Arts Council funding and take it to another gallery but I cannot do anything on that score until I get the West Dean end of it confirmed.

So no rant after all

In the last blog I promised another rant but it was so long ago I seem to have got over it. The rant was following the exhibition we saw at the Natural History Museum called ‘Otherworlds. Visions of our Solar system’ which was a photographic exhibition by Michael Benson, featuring original music by Brian Eno. The music was excellent but I cannot get it as a CD. The whole exhibition was really good but the rant was that it seems to be the thing to do to go to an exhibition with your ipad and simply take photo’s of each exhibit and the writing on the wall telling you about it. Consequently you do not stop to look at the work at all, you take it home and maybe look at it again on your ipod. Sigh!

Since then I have been to two other exhibitions, one of Rebecca Salter’s work www.rebeccasalter.com and the second at the Barbican by Imran Qureshi. The one at the Barbican is on til 10th July and I recommend it, well, they were both well worth visiting but Rebecca’s has finished now but please do look at her website to see her lovely work. They were very different exhibitions and certainly the one at the Barbican you could not have taken your ipad in to photograph, it was very dark except for the spotlights on the individual works. The work made me want to rush off and use gold again, so beautiful yet so dark. If I am up in town before 10th July I will go again, one look wasn’t enough. The Georgia O’Keefe at the Tate Modern starts on the 6th July so maybe I can see them both on the same day. If it is as good I hope I may have to go to the Georgia O’Keefe more than once which would probably make it worth joining the Tate.

So, what are you up to now I hear you ask. Well, I’ve gone circular, which isn’t surprising really. Firstly I wove bubbles, then I wove 3d spheres and now I am weaving circular tapestries. The first two are only about 25 centimetres in diameter, the third is about 70 centimetres.

This was the first:

Blue 2

 

And this was the second:

BLue - Forties

Ooh – that’s a bit blurred but you get the idea.

And this is the current one.

Blue three

 

The black bits are chenille – as well as gold I have started a love affair with chenille. This is because when you put it into a tapestry the light doesn’t reflect off it so it looks like a hole. Well, it does to me anyway. I am about a third of the way up this one at the moment and would like to finish it by the end of the month but we will see, I started it on the 20th May so when people ask me how long it took I can tell them. Don’t they always ask? And is it really important? I am not so sure but you will have heard me witter about that already.

I have definitely gone back to bubbles and spheres and started looking at the work of the scientist Helen Czerski who researches bubbles especially in foam as the connection between the sea and the air. I have also gone back to reading a book by Peter Sloterdijk which I got whilst at college. It is interesting that it has taken me nearly a year since finishing college to pick up a book and I seem to understand what I am reading, unlike when I was at college. There was just no headspace at all and I don’t know why. I have only just started doing the sort of work I should have done at college.

Sorry this blog has turned out a long one. I must try to blog more often but smaller. Apparently as an artist you should spend 50% of your time producing work and 50% of your time marketing, blogging and trying to sell your work generally. That just isn’t enough studio time as far as I am concerned.

 

 

 

So there I was…

all ready to start a big tapestry to enter for the Cordis prize next year. It was all planned, a diptych each piece being 1.5 metres high and 80cm wide. Not huge in tapestry standards but it was going to be the biggest thing I had undertaken.

Then, by chance I mentioned this to a friend she said ‘oh they’ve changed the criteria this year, it’s going to be a maximum of 75cm and a minimum of 25cm. I think’.

Yes, she was right so what do I do now? I have spent ages dyeing the yarns and have woven about 12 centimetres, this was mainly selvedge so that’s not so bad and as you can see below the image so far is not complicated. It was the warping up that nearly killed me. Because I wanted to weave right from the bottom of the frame to the top I did it without a shed so I had to wrap the warps round 500 times. The old leggies complained a lot the next day.IMG_0705

So now what do I do? The good news is that I have to weave something much smaller, the area of a tapestry 75cm square is almost a quarter of what I was going to try to weave and I knew I was looking at a summer of slaving over a weaving frame and not sitting in the garden drinking Pimms, so that’s good, Pimms here I come. The bad news is that I now have to weave something else as I refuse to weave the same thing but smaller, if anything it needs to be bigger, like 2 metres high so I shall save that for next year, hopefully when there is less pressure.

I have just emailed the Cordis Prize people to ask if a circle 75cm in diameter would fit. Hopefully it will, I have just gone a bit circular lately.

Last weekend we went to London and saw some photographic exhibitions. The Pink Lady Food Photographer of the year, which has some stunning images in it and the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year which didn’t. Now don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t have taken any of the photo’s but my main whinges were two. Firstly why were only one or two of them taken in the UK. It is so easy to be wowed by a photo of an exotic animal in an exotic place, surely the skill of a photographer is shown when you put them into a boring old field in Kent on a rainy September day and then they come back with a work of art. Well, maybe not exactly but you get my drift. Secondly many of the photos were taken in hides and the photographer was not present because the shot was triggered by a motion sensor. Surely that is just luck? And I now have a thirdly, underwater cameras? That’s an expensive hobby but I do always love photo’s of jelly fish and octopi (octopusses?).

The one that won was of a Red Fox ripping an Arctic Fox to pieces. The implication was that the Artcic Fox was already dead and it was a very good photo , but….

I like hares and the image below was taken in the cairngorms (by Rosamund Macfarlane) so I thought I would like it but there is something about it that I find disconcerting, the scale looks wrong, the hare could be six feet high and it looks a bit mean. It did make the front of the calender so I must be in a minority, although maybe not there were still alot of 2016 calenders waiting to be sold in the shop.

... / Bestsellers / Wildlife Photographer of the Year wall calendar 2016

This was my favourite one:

It is a Temminck’s ground pangolin which is an endangered species living in South Africa and was taken by Tristan Dicks. You only have to look at my brief forays into photography to know why I liked this.

And surprise surprise this was my favourite from the Pink Lady Food Photography Awards.

We also went to another exhibition at the Natural History Museum with photo’s of planets and things in it. There is another rant there so I will save that for next time.