Page 1


At the Edge of the Quilt: colour me unusual


Folk art at The Tate

Eszter Bornemisza: showcase

Bobby Britnell:

bark cloth to art cloth

Issue 2 August 2014

Cover: “Meltdown I”, Sandra Meech, stitched textile.

Issue 2 Published by Through Our Hands, August 2014 Through Our Hands ‘the magazine’ Established 2014. Editors: Laura Kemshall, Linda Kemshall, Annabel Rainbow Submissions and advertising enquiries: 1 - toh August 2014

© Through Our Hands, 2014. All content copyright. No part of this publication to be copied or reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the copyright holder(s). 11 Knightcote Drive, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire 07877 402455

in this issue...

Welcome 4 Meet the Artists 5 Sue Benner: Landscapes 7 At the Edge of the the Quilt 9 Sandra Meech: News 13 SAQA Earth Stories Project 15 Bark Cloth to Art Cloth 17 Festival of Quilts 2014: Showcase 21 Bente Vold Klausen: Ă˜stfold Art Centre 23 Soapbox: Judge and be Judged 25 Annabel Rainbow: Painting Faces 27 Eszter Bornemisza: Showcase 33 Dijanne Cevaal: Travelling Inspiration 37 Fiona Campbell: From Kenya to Somerset 41 Mirjam Pet-Jacobs: You Never Know How a Ball Might Roll 47 Helen Cobby: Folk Art at The Tate 51 Annette Morgan: New Directions 57 Louisa Boyd: Pageturner 59 Starving Artist 63 Michala Gyetvai: Showcase 65 What’s On 69 Desert Island Design: Mirjam Pet-Jacobs 71 Spread the Word 73 Contributions 74

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Hello again! I’m Annabel and I’m absolutely passionate about what I do. I’m currently working on a huge series of painted quilts called Life Stories. The one I’m pictured with above, is called Life 11 – Trolls and it features a number of stitched and painted portraits. You can find out a bit more about how I work on page 27. And I’m Laura. I love everything to do with art but my current favourite things include working in sketchbooks, experimental print and digital print used together with drawing and stitch. New work happens more slowly now I have an apprentice, but

as you can see, her training is coming along nicely. We’re delighted that we’ve been joined by Linda Kemshall who’ll be a welcome addition to our editorial team. Linda’s a professional artist who’s work’s been exhibited internationally to much acclaim. She’s authored and coauthored numerous books as well as establishing several exciting online City & Guilds creative courses and the online video workshop project ‘DMTV’. She also knows much better than either of us where an apostrophe goes and whether or not a semi-colon is ever appropriate. With her knowledgable yet lighthearted writing style we know she’s going to fit right in. and more...

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Welcome Hello, and here we go with the second edition of the Through Our Hands magazine! We are absolutely thrilled that Linda Kemshall is joining the editorial team at the magazine and we’ve all worked hard to bring you an exciting, packed edition with lots to read and hopefully inspire you. Isn’t that a fabulous quilt on the front page? It’s by Sandra Meech and you can read all about her latest exhibition “Arctic Journeys and Beyond”, which runs until the 13th September at Minerva Arts Centre, in Wales on page 13. In this edition we also have our regular features “At The Edge of the Quilt” by Margaret Cooter and a review of the Folk Art Exhibition at the Tate by Helen Cobby. Mirjam Pet Jacobs is our marooned artist and tells us what she would take with her if stranded on the TOH Desert Island – it’s quite a nice place, but facilities are minimal! Art may feed the spirit and soul, but we’re all in favour of some good grub too. Our “Starving Artist” feature this issue is a recipe for a delicious chicken and tallegio dish that’s perfect for summer dining. There are updates from the artists on their work and exhibitions, and a feature length piece with glorious images from Michala Gyetvai. Dijanne Cevaal tells us all about her travels, and we are also joined for this edition by Annette Morgan, Fiona Cambell and Louisa Boyd. So, a bumper edition for you to enjoy. We all hope you enjoy reading it, and thank you for being with us on this exciting journey.

‘Here I Stand’, Louisa Boyd

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Meet the artists:

Sue Benner

Alicia Merrett

clare smith

Annabel rainbow

deidre adams

bethan ash

dijanne cevaal

bobby britnell

elizabeth barton

Bente vold klausen

els van baarle

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eszter bornemizsa

linda kemshall

jeanne williamson

michala gyetvai

jette clover

mirjam pet-jacobs

laura kemshall

olga prins lukowski

linda barlow

sandra meech

linda colsh

sara impey

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Sue Benner:

landscapes In the latter half of 2013, Sue Benner created three commissioned landscape works for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA, including View from County Road D. The subject of these works continues her fascination with the wetlands of her home state of Wisconsin. She recently completed another quilt in the series, Marsh Detail #2: Poygan Lake. In this quilt, Benner explores the water’s edge, surface, depth, and reflection. Below: View from County Road D

Opposite: Marsh Detail #2: Lake Poygan Shore

30” H (76.2 cm ) x 72” W (182.88)

24.75” H (62.23 cm) x 18.5 “ W (46.99 cm)

Dye and paint on silk and cotton, found fabrics; fused collage, machine quilted

Dye and paint on silk and cotton, found fabrics; fused collage, machine quilted

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At the Edge of the Quilt:

Colour Me Unusual On learning about the source of the

colour of Anna Dumitriu’s quilt, some people feel distinctly uncomfortable, and a few have even said, “But that’s irresponsible! That’s dangerous!” Margaret Cooter explains... The blue doesn’t come from indigo or from a new type of powder – and the way it’s used is definitely not irresponsible or dangerous. “MRSA Quilt” (photo from Though the colour comes from MRSA bacteria (“superbugs”) the colouring process was carried out in a laboratory, under optimal safety with the antibiotic vancomycin, which is conditions. Before leaving the lab, the fabric was considered to be a ‘last ditch’ antibiotic for treated at high temperatures to kill the bacteria.* treating MRSA infection. The bacteria are dyed blue because they are Anna Dumitriu’s unusual dyestuffs are an grown on chromogenic agar, which contains the outcome of an ongoing artist-in-residence dye and which project, initially funded by the Leverhulme Trust soaks into the Artist in Residence Award in 2011 and funded by cloth. As the The Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England, agar feeds at the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project the bacteria, at The University of Oxford in partnership with they take Public Health England. She works by shadowing up the dye, scientists on the project, learning hands on become blue, techniques and investigating their work. and colour the cloth. Natural dyes and medicine

Dyeing in progress at a public workshop; the plates were taken back to the lab and grown with bacteria (photo from annadumitriu.tumblr. com)

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The embroidery thread used in the quilt is coloured with safflower and turmeric – and (in some cases) impregnated

Anna’s exhibition in London earlier this year included other objects dyed with natural dyes: dyestuffs that were also used as medicines, or perhaps became dyestuffs as a by-product of being used as medicines. Madder root for pink/ brown, safflower giving yellow or pink, and walnut husks for brown shades … these dyes were also used as ancient treatments for tuberculosis. Textile dyes are specifically involved in the

history of drug treatment. In the 1930s the dye company Bayer worked on the idea that coal tar dyes might be used to treat harmful substances in the body. The bacteriologist Gerhard Domagk came up with a bright orange substance that they called Prontosil, which, before antibiotics were widely developed, was hailed as a wonder drug and widely used in World War Two to prevent infection.

“Becoming Resistant” (Photo from

“Rest, Rest, Rest” (Photo from

Anna has used Prontosil to stain embroidery on the back shoulders of an antique maternity dress, which was impregnated with the extracted DNA of killed tuberculosis bacteria. She dyed the dress with walnut husks and dyed the embroidery threads and ribbons with madder root and safflower. Also part of the project on tuberculosis (the world’s “The Romantic Disease Dress” (photo from therolargest infectious killer) are little felted lungs. “Where there’s dust there’s danger” advised the Society for the Prevention of Consumption in 1902 (incorrectly, as it turned out). Basing the lungs on this long-held misconception, Anna made them with felting

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the same period has been altered and given a quilt created using squares of natural-dyed fabric and threads treated with antibiotics and antibacterials, and grown with environmental bacteria (the quilt has been sterilised by autoclaving). The antique crochet pillow has been dyed with walnut husks, and the bedstead patterned to indicate the patient’s degenerating lung tissue.

“Where there’s dust there’s danger” (photo from annadumitriu.tumblr. com/RomanticDisease)

wool and household dust, then impregnated them, as she had the antique dress, with DNA that had been extracted from killed TB organisms. The DNA is dead so it’s not harmful – there is no risk of infection from the little lungs, just a “memory” of being contaminated. Referencing Picasso A recent project, made especially for a show at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, is inspired by Picasso’s painting of about 1899 which shows a group of people around a bed of a very sick patient. An antique doll’s bed from “Genius Germ” (photo from theromanticdisease.

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The use of germs, the dusty lungs, the MRSA quilt all give rise to horror-struck reactions. Part of Anna’s purpose in making these art works through her scientific art residencies is to use these objects as a kind of storytelling and to involve viewers in health issues – a way to spread not germs but knowledge. * The Modernising Medical Microbiology Project’s website adds this information: “There is huge gap between the public’s understanding of the issue of hospital acquired pathogens or ‘superbugs’ as the press describe them. MRSA is a mutated form of Staphylococcus aureus, which is part of our normal bacterial flora and thought to be carried by around 25% of the population (this figure could potentially be much higher as it may simply be that our testing methods are flawed). MRSA has acquired genes which mean that it can withstand treatment with methicillinbased antibiotics. However, vancomycin is usually still effective. MRSA is not only acquired from hospitals, there is also community acquired MRSA. In hospitals patients are more susceptible to infections if they are immune compromised or have operation wounds, hence the risk of MRSA there. Patients are routinely tested. However, transmission vectors (how the bug moves from person to person) are not properly understood and the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project is now using

whole genome mapping of bacteria to try to understand far more about this important factor.”

Anna Dumitriu’s website She talks about her work in a video: watch?v=pLHD5lKLvN4. A video showing Anna’s 2012 exhibition, Normal Flora, which incorporated the MRSA quilt, is at, and the video of the “Romantic Disease” exhibition, which is touring to Amsterdam and Berlin, can be seen at


through our hands magazine Issue 3 published November 2014 Sign up to our newsletter, enjoy artist portfolios, blog and online store all available on the website.

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Sandra Meech:


Sandra’s involved with a number of exciting events this year. Here are the details:

as part of ‘Turning Twenty’ - The Quilt Association Show

Arctic Journeys and Beyond - an exhibition by Sandra Meech The Minerva Arts Centre, High Street, Llanidloes, Powys, SY18 6BY. 14 July 2014 - 13 September 2014

“Ice Bay I, II, and III”, Sandra Meech, Stitched textile

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Bath Textile Summer School A reminder of the Bath Textile Summer School 2014 with events including workshops, lectures

and a Textile Fair at the American Museum in Bath on 23 August. Somerset Art Weeks Sandra will open her studio from 20 September - 5 October, 2014. I will be sharing my home studio space with Vera Sheaf another Somerton Artist and printmaker during these dates. New work based on the flooding on the Somerset Levels. or the official website for Somerset Open Studio 2014

For more about Sandra work please visit her website:

“Level Floods I”, Sandra Meech

“Level Floods II”, Sandra Meech

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SAQA Earth Stories Project:

Habitats: species

In 2013, SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates), put out a call for entries for a project titled Earth Stories. Selection of artists was to be made on the basis of a portfolio of past work, and a project proposal to make an artwork reflecting a positive earth story. The work, to be produced within a year of acceptance, should fill a space of 72� by 72� square, either in one piece, or with several pieces. Alicia Merrett tells us about her quilt... I was fortunate to be one of the 25 international quilt artists selected for Earth Stories. As I live almost next door to the Somerset Levels, within which the Avalon Marshes are a wetland home to a wide variety of habitats and plant and animal species, many of which are in danger of extinction, I chose to do my project within Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve, to which I had links and contacts. The Reserve Manager very kindly provided me with suitable maps, and other people working there supplied a lot of information about the local species and habitats. Nature reserves in the area have been set up to provide suitable habitats that encourage biological diversity, and to protect the endangered species. National Nature Reserves also do very important work in the education of the general public, and particularly of young people, about the need to protect our environment. The Reserves rely on a large number of committed and hard-working volunteers to carry out this very important work.

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The quilt consists of two different sections: the larger, lower section, has a map of the Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve, where the different colours indicate the different habitats. The reserve map is located within its countryside area, with the relevant village, buildings and roads in it. The smaller, upper section, has words reflecting the names of the different habitats and the endangered species living in them, placed near each other appropriately. The colours used for each of names of the habitats are the ones used in the map. The colours of the words used for the species reflect the colours of the particular plant, flower, insect, animal, bird, etc. It is made with a fused collage technique, and machine quilted.

Earth Stories has now opened at the Michigan State University Museum and Art Gallery, USA and runs until November 26th 2014. A full catalogue is available from the online store of New! This beautifully presented book about Alicia’s map quilts has three sections: PART I shows most of the quilts

“Habitats: Species”, Alicia Merrett, 183cm x 183cm, quilt, 2013

exhibited at the Mapping the Imagination gallery 21 x 21 cm, 48 pp, full colour, English text. at the Festival of Quilts, Birmingham NEC, UK, August 2014. PART II reviews Alicia’s map quilts and £15 plus P&P available in the Through Our Hands related works, made from 2008 to 2013.PART III is online store. an introduction to the basics of quilted map making, explaining step-by-step Alicia’s techniques and procedures for constructing a pieced map.

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Hands Up for Uganda:

bark cloth to art cloth

Above: (left to right) pieces of bark cloth, stitched bark cloth by Bobby Britnell Below left: Art shoes, by Starchild Shoes, embroidered bark cloth by Jean Littlejohn. Below right: Art shoes by Starchild Shoes, embroidered bark cloth by Diane Bates.

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In the previous issue Bobby spoke about her charity project Hands Up for Uganda and how a fundraising creative collaboration has been formed between herself and Janet Middleton the director from Star Child Shoes. This issue Bobby explains more about the ancient traditional process of creating bark cloth. This collaboration has involved textile artists from all over the UK and abroad in decorating ‘bark cloth’ which we are growing on the farm that we have set up in Kisaabwa, Uganda. Janet has made these decorated pieces of bark cloth into art shoes. We are now half way through the auctioning of 120 pairs of these shoes to raise funds for the Charity. Visit our Facebook page for details or get in touch with me. You will find contact details at the end of this article. Meanwhile I am itching to get cracking myself on some work using the bark cloth, but first I thought I would like to tell you a little bit more about the bark cloth itself. Bark Cloth is possibly one of the world’s oldest nonwoven fabrics which comes from the Mutuba Tree (Ficus Natalensis) from the Buganda Kingdom in Southern Uganda, as well as from other parts of the world. Baganda craftsmen have been manufacturing bark cloth for the royal family for centuries and it is still worn for ritual and healing ceremonies, for cultural events and

Above and below: Stripping the bark from the tree.

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funerals. Traditionally it would have been worn as a toga by both men and women, with the women also wearing a sash. So what actually is Bark Cloth? It is 100% organic fibre and can be described as an organic ‘living’ cloth which, in the history of textile is unquestionably a most ancient cloth and the first non-woven textile. Being Above: Soaking the bark. Below: Bobby looks on as the barkcloth is dried.

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bio-degradable and manufactured with no added chemicals or textile agents, gives it added attraction. Bark cloth was discovered during the reign of Ssekabaka Kimera, who ruled from 1217 to 1247. It is steeped in mysterious cultural heritage and in understanding the relevance and importance of barkcloth, one needs to understand the cultural history in Uganda as well. This I will save for another article, but let’s first look at how the barkcloth is produced. It requires a master craftsman with the knowledge and experience required to carry out this prehistoric technique which incidentally also predates weaving. I was privileged to be shown this process on a trip out to Uganda in 2013. The process The inner bark of the Mutuba Tree is harvested during the wet season when the leaves have begun to turn a yellowish colour. The outer bark is carefully scraped off with a machete. A cut is then made around the top and bottom of the tree and then a slice is carefully made down the full length of the tree. The bark is peeled off in one full piece from the base upwards, with the aid of a stalk from a banana leaf. The next important stage is to immediately protect the tree, by wrapping it with freshly picked banana leaves, bound with raffia grass. The exposed trunk can sometimes be treated by smearing it with cow dung before wrapping it. It is left like this for several days and then unwrapped, leaving it to regenerate, which takes about one year. The removed bark is rolled and soaked in hot water for about 30 minutes to soften it. Then it is ready for pounding with grooved wooden

mallets, a laborious process which is best carried out in an open wooden shed to prevent the bark cloth from drying out too quickly. The master craftsman is required to exercise the best beating rhythm as this is essential for the production of high quality Bark Cloth. This pounding technique gradually increases the size of the cloth from an original width of approximately 12 inches to between two to three metres. The bark cloth is then sun dried and will turn to a gorgeous brown colour, although the shades of brown can vary depending on several factors, such as type of tree, time, rain, area where the trees grow, length of time in the sun etc. The trunk of the tree is also of great use in making mortars (ekinu), beer brewing vessels (elwato), furniture and for firewood and charcoal, while the leaves are useful for animal foliage and soil enrichment. A unique cloth Each piece of bark cloth is unique in colour and texture and is extremely labour intensive. One particular characteristic are the small holes and openings which can appear from the pounding process. These are hand stitched together or patched using a handmade sisal thread. I love this special quality in the bark cloth and the knowledge that yet another skilled person’s hand has been at work.

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Festival of Quilts 2014:


Winner: Fine Art Quilt Masters, Brigitte Kopp

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Festival of Quilts has become the largest celebration of patchwork and quilting in Europe, with over 300 companies exhibiting, more than 30 galleries showcasing the work of professional artists, 1000 plus quilts entered into competition and hundreds of workshops, masterclasses and lectures. The event, which is now in its twelfth year, attracts close to 30,000 visitors from places as far afield as the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Appealing to complete beginners through to experienced quilting and textile artists, this year’s event received a record number of entries to its world famous quilt competition.

Winner: Art Quilt, Mercè Gonzalez Desedamas

Along with giving visitors an unrivalled shopping experience with thousands of products, services and fabrics on offer from dedicated quilting suppliers, the Festival also plays host to hundreds of practical workshops and lectures from leading experts, along with a comprehensive programme of evening events to create Europe’s largest celebration of patchwork and quilting. For real enthusiasts, the four-day event provides a unique chance to see work firsthand from some of the some of world’s best quilt makers in over 30 professionally curated galleries.

Date for your diary: Festival of Quilts 2015, 6th-9th August, NEC, Birmingham, UK. Winner: Young Quilter/Embroiderer age 5-8, Anine Stener

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Bente Vold Klausen:

ostfold Art Centre / Østfold Art Centre is a center for contemporary visual and applied art run by artists in Fredrickstad, Norway. The Art Centre has temporary exhibitions, handles commissions for public and private spaces, arranges workshops, lectures and collaborates with other occupational groups. Bente has created a new quilt, “Eternal Shades of Lost Memories”, made in 2014, 215 x 150 cm. It’s hand dyed fabric, printed and painted and bleached. Machine quilted.

It’s part of the summer exhibition at Østfold Art Centre in Fredrikstad, open now until 24th of August, 2014. Open 12pm-5pm, Wednesday to Sunday.

“Eternal Shades of Lost Memories”, Bente Vold Klausen, quilt, 215cm x 150cm, 2014. Opposite: detail.

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judge and be judged In the first of our Soapbox articles we’re broaching a tricky subject - the judging of quilts! Linda starts the debate... I made my first quilt in 1976 and started entering competitions soon after that. Since that time I’ve received my fair share of score cards and judges’ comments. Some of them I have thought to be fair, informative and helpful whilst others have made me groan or be very cross indeed! The only thing that has appeased my irritation and annoyance is that I have also been a judge on many occasions so I’ve seen both sides of the fence. I’ve judged local, national and international competitions and the experience has made me very aware of the pressures judges face. Obviously there are certain qualities any judge must possess aside from a far reaching knowledge of their subject. The most important attribute is objectivity - the ability to step outside of personal likes and dislikes and look purely at individual merit. Judging is about evaluating a quilt against a number of criteria and those criteria may vary dependent on the nature and aims of the competition as well as the concept behind the quilt and the intentions of the maker. Looking at the judging process, I think it’s fair to say it’s often a pretty thankless task. I suspect most only take it on because of vanity. It is a great ego boost to be considered knowledgable enough to pass judgement on the work that others have created but, technical knowledge of the craft and what’s involved in a quilt’s construction isn’t enough if we are talking

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about quilts as art. Where’s recognition for the passion, the soul, the meaning the maker has instilled in the work? Is it too much to ask that judges possess a wider understanding and knowledge of art in general? Quiltmaking has evolved into a modern day art form and as such the quilts should be judged as a painting or a sculpture would be judged. It goes without saying that the techniques involved in the construction should be excellent but that’s not the be all and end all of a great art quilt. Judges’ decisions are frequently criticised, but on a purely practical level judges are often faced with a huge number of quilts and allowed very limited time to examine each one. In my experience, usually they are also expected to write an individual comment for every entry. I understand only too well how easy it is to rely on stock phrases and standard remarks when composing comments towards the end of a long, exhausting day! But, more fundamentally, what is the point of such hastily written comments I wonder? They can be so generic and superficial that I wonder who they benefit? If they are intended as constructive advice on how the quilt could be improved is that part of the judging remit? I personally don’t believe it should be - judges are there to identify excellence and to reward the outstanding, not to teach. They would have more time to do this reliably if they didn’t have to write an individual comment for every quilt in the competition.

Would it not be better to provide a considered and detailed explanation of why the winners were chosen instead? Why did those particular quilts stand out from the rest? Wouldn’t that be more informative for all concerned? And Laura chips in with her thoughts... I always admire Linda when she accepts a request to judge a quilt competition. It seems at times a thankless task, and a very quick and easy way to inadvertently make enemies. My experience of the process is as the entrant, the eager hopeful aiming to please. Why do quiltmakers like me enter quilt shows? Why do they feel the need to have their work marked and commented upon? Why do we put ourselves through the agony and heartache? It’s interesting to consider these questions don’t you think? Maybe it’s for the money, many quilt shows and competitions now offer very attractive prize funds which can be a tempting way to gain financial compensation for a pursuit that otherwise isn’t always so well rewarded. Maybe it’s for the pleasure of joining in, for being part of a collective. Perhaps it’s about the recognition? We operate in a field that is naturally subjective. I like what I like, you like what you like. Quilts and art textiles encompass a multitude of traditions, disciplines, media and techniques.

Are we now reliant on the say-so of the judges to establish what is good, who is best? Can we always count on them to be right? Over the years I’ve entered a lot of competitive quilt shows. I’ve been fortunate to win and also hugely disappointed too. I think there’s always an element of fluke involved with winning, but there are things you can do to maximise your chances. The most important is to read the rules. Sounds basic, but if you don’t meet the criteria then it doens’t matter that the quilt is a masterpiece in every way. Try to be different, not in a weird, trying-too-hard-for-the-sake-of-it way, but so that your work is memorable for all the right reasons. It’s not often that a bland quilt will win. I think this is particularly important if there’s a theme. On those occasions I try to interpret it in a way that isn’t the most obvious, whilst still aiming to retain a clear interpretive link. And that brings me on to what’s probably the best reason to put your work up for judging - the challenge. Be it working to an imposed theme and the new inspiration that it can bring, a change in format, media, materials or technique, or maybe it’s purely the threat of a deadline, there is much which can spur us to action. Of course, while there’s nothing nicer than the winner’s cheque, it’s still rather thrilling to look for your own quilt amongst the others on display for all to see and who knows what doors that might open.

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Annabel Rainbow:

Painting Faces

The portraits in the stunning “Life Series” quilts captivate gallery visitors, the general public and dedicated quiltmakers alike. Painting faces can be daunting but in her usual down-to-earth style Annabel shares her process...

idea of painting a likeness of someone seemed impossible to me, let alone complicating the process with cloth and stitch! I had just finished a painting course at the local college but felt I hadn’t made as much progress as I wanted to when it came to portraiture.

I’m certainly not an expert, and 4 years ago, the

I didn’t understand how anyone could capture that indefinable something that made a person what they were. I think the problem is that human beings are incredibly good at body language and we read people not only by their movements and body positioning, but by facial expressions. We don’t think about it much, but we know instinctively what someone is thinking before they’ve said a word, and it’s often said that eyes are the way to a person’s soul. Whilst we may be able to read another’s feelings easily in this way, it’s an entirely different and difficlt task to paint them. Basically I was reading too much into it all! The remedy was to concentrate on what I was seeing not what I thought I was seeing. By using the usual drawing techniques of careful observation and measuring, I began to have a little success, and now I love doing

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portraits more than anything else, especially the eyes. Like any skill, the more you do the better you get. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t find them easy, and always want to improve; they’re incredibly hard and demanding to do, but because I find them intriguing and satisfying, I keep trying. I’m quite a slow worker and need to spend time “getting it right” and because of

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that I’m far more successful using a photograph than a life sitting, but that’s slowly beginning to change too. Of course, there are many ways you could portray people on a quilt or textile piece if you wanted to; applique layering, digital printing, collage, etc. but I love the challenge of painting and I like the look of stitch and acrylic paint. For faces, my method is to draw on paper until I get an image I’m happy with, and then trace this directly onto the cotton cloth before stitching over my outlines in an appropriate thread. Quite often this is a fine, good quality, white cotton thread, which will absorb paint and help the stitches to take on the subtle tonal changes of the flesh and hair colours. Occasionally I switch to use a contrasting thread which makes the features stand out and highlights the stitching. I find it much easier to do a full face portrait on a quilt, rather than a profile, because the cloth becomes covered with stitch and you are less likely to get the bagging effect that happens on a profile. On a face, my quilting is usually limited to outlines of the features, and I keep the more complex stitching for other parts of my quilts such as the text over the bodies. I make up the lines for movement in the hair and stitch these freehand onto the cloth. When I’m happy with the outlines, I use acrylic paint and mix them to the consistency of single cream. The first thing I do is to put in the dark areas using a mid-tone green, allowing it to

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bleed into the cloth to soften the edges. If you wet the cloth at this stage, it helps the process of bleeding. I then move on to the flesh colours. The quilt is absorbent, and may need several layers to get the effect I want, so I start with a base layer of colours on the face overlapping it into the hair and over the eyes, lips etc.. I gradually build up the light and dark tones, and don’t get too involved with details at this stage. I continue to work around the face adding these layers, putting in dark areas around the features i.e. the side of the nose, nostrils, eye sockets etc.. If you look at your photograph you can see these darker areas quite easily. I like to blend the edges as I go to make it smooth with no harsh edges. I use my fingers or a stiff brush to blend. When the basic

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flesh tones are looking ok, I move onto the features and the details of the nostrils and lips, and begin to add colour. I stick to a limited palette, mixing the flesh from the green in the base coat, yellow, red and white. The actual colours vary from quilt to quilt depending on what I’m using for the backgrounds and details e.g. if there’s a lot of blue in a piece, I might swap the green in the flesh colour to blue for a change. If you decide to try this for yourself, don’t worry too much about mistakes as they can always be painted over. Allow the cloth to dry between coats of paint, and when you think you’ve finished leave the whole thing for a couple of days and do something else. Come back to it with fresh eyes before deciding if it needs more.

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Eszter Bornemisza:


Eszter Bornemisza, Hungarian, was a research mathematician, but in the 90’s she chose to pursue a career as a mixed media artist, after being inspired by the modern, experimental trends in textiles especially quilts. She lives in the city of Budapest which serves as an ongoing inspiration for her work. Her starting points are ideas that reflect on our relationships to the traces and settlements of past and modern civilizations: the layers of existence. Her main sources of inspiration are the cultural layers found in the Earth, under the soles of our feet and embedded in our minds. Eszter strives to find ways to make her own statements on this theme while attempting to emphasize the unique characteristics of textiles. The exploration that appears in most of her works also determines her working process:  researching cultural history and present crucial issues of the city while experimenting with new techniques for her work.   Using maps of Budapest and other big cities, Eszter contrasts contemporary road, metro, and train layouts with ancient maps. The juxtaposition of these labyrinths, gridlike, urban textures offers a rich ground for associations on the alterations of the city. Whether these quick changes over the last few decades have been organic or if

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the changes have helped make the city more liveable, are still burning questions. Â Recently, still inspired by the patterns of urban living, her interest has turned towards making large scale transparent fibre art pieces. She

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expands the multi-layered networks of the cities into the form of three dimensional objects and installations. She uses a wide range of materials including recycled and self-made paper, reprinted newspaper, discarded threads and yarns in the netted and dimensionally shaped

pieces to underpin the ephemeral nature of the surrounding world.  In her latest work she has applied city grids to silhouettes of human figures to illustrate the organic character of urban life; our relations and responsibility to the place where we live. Heavily textured fabrics and various kinds of papers stitched into Eszter’s artwork are used to underpin these concerns.

Discover more at:

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Dijanne Cevaal:

travelling inspiration The first part of a short series of articles by Dijanne takes us with her on her travels finding inspiration and a desire to keep moving.

I think I was born with a traveller’s boot on. Unlike many travellers I love planes, despite the long distances from Australia, because it is one of the few days in my life where literally you can do nothing but watch some movies, eat food that is not always the best, but at least you didn’t have to cook it, sip a few glasses of red wine and try and get some sleep. I rarely feel tempted to stitch on a plane unless I have let that deadline loom too deadly. Then when you arrive in 24 hours of travel (this is approximately how long it takes from Australia to Europe give or take an hour) you are often in a different land a different language a different mind space. I usually give myself at least a day in my arrival city to soak up the ordinariness of other places. Not running off to great museums on that first day, simply soaking up the way locals deal with their day, the croissant and coffee in the morning, the all important lunch, a wander around a not before visited street, market or area, a coffee or glass of wine on a sunfilled sidewalk café, (and inside if it is raining) some light dinner and then real sleep. Then I am ready for all the visual stimulation that great museums offer, that grand architecture offers and that the difference of place offers. I also don’t travel with a list of textile must sees, if I encounter them well and good, and I love them but all the arts stimulate me, as does nature. I do keep a journal when I travel, but more often it contains words (I did imagine myself being a poet in teenage years, but didn’t we all?) rather

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Stitching small hand dyed squares on brown paper- just experimenting and playing.

than drawings or fully fledged pages, though I do sometimes draw snippets. I love my digital camera despite the fact that it makes me look like such a tourist - I like to be unobtrusive rather than intrusive. Often I will spend a day just looking and soaking up a new place and not use my camera at all until the next day when I have really looked and not just snapped. Travel in Africa inspired my early work - the colours, the patterns, the wax printed Vlisco textiles and the hand dyed indigo cloths in Nigeria - if only I had known about true adinkra

cloth. But as it was, the indigo dye baths in Kano were inspiring. Unfortunately I cannot share much imagery of the early years of this work simply because my life has changed and it belongs to the left behind period. Residency In 2000 I did a residency in France at Chateau de Chassy - it did inspire some journal sized pieces and also some journal keeping but what it did most of all was foment a love of things French, of language, of food, of painting and

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Journal quilts made recording the residency experience at Chateau de Chassy

architecture. Printed fabrics and quilts I love the early machine printed textiles which emerged in an identical period in England - the coverlets made with these pieces are like a homage to printed textile. I was fortunate to see the collection of quilts belonging to AndreJean Cabanel at the Musee de l’Impression sur Etoffes in Mulhouse. It was love, his oldest piece a hand dyed piece of indigo linen with resists and rough stitches which can be seen on this blog post: au/2009/09/end-of-intricate-hand-stitchery.html Was this the beginning of my love for whole cloth quilts? I cannot say, but I do know I stood there for quite some time admiring it, that, and a beautifully stitched yellow silk coverlet for a

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cot, which wasn’t true boutis but was gorgeous nonetheless. I don’t have pictures of any of this - I saw these pieces in the time before museums threw up their arms in despair at the sneakie digital photographers and smart phones. More boutis can be seen here: And then there is indiennes - printed cloths in emulation of indian block hand printed cloth, which became all the rage, each piece surpassing the next in intricacy of design - gorgeous and worth a mint and barely obtainable. default.html. I covet fabric steel books - those ledger books filled with pages of small fabric patches recording dye and print runs - comments often hand written - these are virtually unobtainable these days, although they can be viewed by

appointment in Museums such as the Musee de l’Impression sur Etoffes ,The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney has a digital swatch collection but not quite the same as holding a book with glued fabrics and brown hand written pages is it? electronicswatchbook/ And then I decided I might create some of my own stitched swatch pages by stitching hand

dyed fabrics onto brown paper. I will create a number of these pages. I sat and stitched them at some of the exhibitions I exhibited at recently and I can’t tell you the number of people who asked why on earth I was stitching on paper!

Dijanne’s series of articles continues next issue. In the meantime you can follow her travels and work via her blog.

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Fiona Campbell:

From Kenya to Somerset Fiona is a sculptor working primarily in mixed media including steel, copper, wire, found and recycled materials. Experience living in Africa and the UK continues to inform her work. She tells us more... I’ve lived in Somerset longer than anywhere – apart from my childhood – I was born and bred in Kenya. My work is informed by this passage from Kenya to Somerset, (with a few intermediary years living in other parts of UK). The environment in Kenya is very different to Somerset, but there are similarities. Large open spaces, a thriving wildlife, a slow pace and an earthiness. I do get a buzz from the culture of city life but am always glad to get back to peace, open spaces and nature. Nature has always inspired me. Forms and textures in the environment, the microscopic world, strange gnarled growths, basic primal forms echoed throughout life that have a universal resonance, the human/nature condition, symbiotic relationships and connections.. we are, after all, of the earth. When I was young I used to watch ants endlessly and I have always had a fascination with webs and nests. These are everywhere in Africa – dripping in clusters from trees, clinging to spiky

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plants, growing up from red earth, taking on numerous forms and sizes. I now live in a village in the sticks of Somerset with a large garden filled with nests (made by other creatures and me) and a small cottage full of spiders! I try to be kind to spiders - I have a great respect for them! Cocoons are also a recurring theme in my work. The process of making them as woven layered

forms relates strongly to what they represent. A metaphor for self-protection, encasement, warmth, security, they are beautiful life-affirming symbols. The wires I use suggest lines of energy. Someone described my work as having a kind of ‘organogenesis’ going on. It is my take on life’s substance and wild beauty. My work reflects a passionate interest in our

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sometimes wonder whether I’m a bit of a freak or actually doing what other creatures smaller than me do all the time - sourcing from their surroundings and recycling. This way of working is engrained in me from my roots in Kenya, where locals utilise what is around them for their artefacts and homes.

relationship with the natural world, nature’s cyclical persistence, vitalism and the essence of life - wrought as primal, organic, linear, woven, nest-like structures often in an apparent state of emergence, growth or metamorphosis. I mainly use steel, copper, wire, found and recycled materials. These work well with my linear approach, my sculptures being an extension of drawing – in 3d. When I’m out sourcing materials for my work, hunting for interesting wires in scrapyards, dragging dejected steel bits from woods or finding old mattress springs in a skip, I

I exhibit my work in UK and abroad, work to commission, run community projects, teach and hold artist-inresidence posts. I was pleased to win awards for DSWF 3d Wildlife Artist of the Year ’09 and Atkinson Gallery Summer Show ’11, and be highly commended for my work as Green Capital Artist in Residence ’12, culminating in exhibitions at the Arnolfini, Harbour and Create Centre, Bristol.  Other work includes sculpture trails at Stourhead National Trust Estate ’11 and Magdalen Project ’13 with the Scraptors, of which I was a co-founder/member. Last year I was selected for the Abundance programme – a Somerset Art Works/ National Garden Scheme site-specific Garden Trail. I currently have work in the Hidden Garden Art

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Show as part of Chelsea Fringe in London and Art Parks International Sculpture Festival in Guernsey. I have also been selected to produce a show as part of the Voyages programme at Contains Art, Watchet, Somerset this summer. Entitled ‘Found, Now Missing’, my work for the project is inspired by my travels to Somerset

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and Kenyan coastlines. I am aware of the detrimental effects of collections such as exotic shells and tourism generally to coral reefs and beaches. Having made numerous voyages to Kenyan beaches and reefs over the past 5 decades, for example,

I have witnessed a dramatic decline in its coral life, shells and resident sea creatures. On top of pollution, our human desire to collect, own, trade, discover, colonise and capture continues to impact on the disappearing life and beauty in coral reefs. What once seemed beneficial voyages of discovery by naturalists have, ironically, led to the current situation in which mass tourism degrades the environments/habitats/ ecosystems, which inspire us to travel.

See more of Fiona’s work:

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Mirjam Pet-Jacobs:

You never know how a ball might roll Self promotion and publicity doesn’t always come naturally, even to the most extablished artists. Mirjam tell us about her experiences... Promoting and pushing myself is not my thing; I find it embarrassing. Ever since I ‘saw the art quilt light’ and was able to express myself as an artist in 2002, I have concentrated on

making the – for me – best work I can, entering it into interesting exhibitions and having my administration in order, including photography and website. Only twice did I send some humble CDs to show my work, after having gained some confidence from a few successes. One resulted in a solo exhibition in a local museum in 2004 and the other in an exhibition at the European Patchwork Meeting in France in 2005. These two set a snowball rolling that still is moving. I only needed to be ready to see opportunities when they came up. Gallery opportunity A few months ago I got an unexpected telephone call by a local gallery owner who had been enthusiastic about my work ever since she saw it. She was deeply moved by three large wall hangings on the back wall of the local museum; a red, a blue and a yellow one with long narrow figures on them. I thought.....that must have been the museum solo in 2004! (I exhibited there as well in 2012) Since then she had been following me (yeah for my up-todate website!) and finally considered the time ripe to

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invite me for a group exhibition in her gallery around Pentecost. I was thrilled. I visited the gallery and was awed by the owner’s outstanding refined taste. Practically the whole house, next to the gallery part, would be opened up for the mentioned exhibition, exhibiting a variety of different kinds of artwork in ‘normal’ living spaces. In this way possible buyers would be able to imagine artworks more easily on their own walls, tables, floors or in their gardens. The house was decorated minimally with designer furniture, had soft grey walls and

well thought of light fall. The gallery owner would love to have my work on several walls. I brought a whole pile for her to choose from, to make the best possible combinations with all the works of the other artists. The exhibition was a great success, with many visitors and several sales. People were surprised in a positive way by my work. Textiles are still very unknown as artwork by the main public in the Netherlands. This was an excellent

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way to show what is possible. The gallery owner is very happy with my work and the future will show what this will bring. The whole story shows that an artist needs to concentrate on making unique work, not give up and have patience. People have to get used to visualize textiles as art in their homes. You never know in what direction the ball might roll.

Discover more of Mirjam’s work:

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Helen Cobby:

Folk art at The Tate

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‘British Folk Art’, a vast collection of over 200 pieces was first exhibited at The Tate (until 31st August 2014) and will then be touring to Compton Verney (Sept-December 2014). Helen Cobby tells us more... Gathering together the 200 items, including paintings, textiles and sculptures, for this British Folk Art exhibition took the curators to more galleries across the country than normal, Penelope Curtis admitted. The staggering range of geographical locations adds to the spectacular diversity of artworks and objects on display, indicating the broad spectrum that make up ‘folk art’. Instead of attempting to corner off definitions, the curators are keen for this show to be seen more as a “proposition” of the genre.

information plaque), which arguably adds to their privileged place in the exhibition. Jeff McMillan, artist and co-curator of Tate’s British Folk Art, stated that the first item in the show, a quilt entitled ‘Bellamy Quilt’ 1890 – 1891, is “an index for the exhibition as a whole” because it contains many objects that feature in the gallery’s rooms. Many of the depicted objects are reflected on gigantic scales in the nineteenth-century shop signs on the adjacent wall. Included in the mix is a giant, clown-like shoe and shiny teapot. The abrupt change in scale and oversized familiar objects create humour and gives a playful

The exhibition oscillates between order and chaos, reflecting not only the diversity of folk art and multiplicity of its themes, but the variety of making contexts and histories from which the artworks were produced. The anonymity of the artist or maker is typical of much of folk art and this adds to the chaos, as well as challenging our perceptions of art and viewing rituals in galleries. Quilts However, this show does have a strong and striking backbone in the form of quilts. A quilt marks out the main themes in almost all the rooms, giving the opportunity to appreciate the flexible nature of this craft and the amount of histories and influences it holds. Interestingly, the maker of each quilt is known (and even emphasised in the Tate’s audio guide and the object’s

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atmosphere. It is also interesting to note that the objects portrayed in the quilt are largely from urban narratives. This confronts a common preconceived idea that folk art is about rural - and domestic – activities. With the quilt, a traditional art form and technique are combined with modern subject matter in a particularly thoughtful way. The making of the art on display certainly

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took place in unlikely settings and situations. Consider the ‘Bone Cockerel’ c. 1797 - 1814, a delicately formed object made of bone with intricate, engraved detail on the feathers. It came as a surprise that it was made by prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars held in one of the first prisoner of war camps. With this in mind, the beautiful creature is even more intriguing as we learn it is made of basic, found materials (a common trope in folk art)

and leftovers from the camp kitchens. The suggestion of defiance of one’s situation through producing beautiful art without access to proper materials, let alone tools and blades, is mimicked in the form of the cockerel itself, which is a traditional symbol of France. Although this work was made by a Frenchman, it was made in Britain, and so forms part of the Tate’s collection of British artworks. The prominence that the Tate has given to the ‘Bone Cockerel’ highlights some of the main thematic concerns of the exhibition: Who makes art and how is it made and acquired?

actually made by soldiers, who not only made them for girlfriends on distant shores as anxious gifts by which to remember them by, but also for superstitious reasons because pincushions were thought to ward off evil, particularly witches. This surprising belief arose out of the history of pins. They used to be rare commodities and handmade items which were thought to bring good luck to those that owned and used them.

Three beautifully bold and ornate pincushions not only add to the types of media on display but also to the intriguing mass of histories and stories behind the objects. Pincushions may seem to be a feminine craft made for a female audience, but Tate Britain is keen to rethink such assumptions and examine those histories that have been left behind. These three nineteenth-century pincushions were

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A highly pictorial quilt made 1842 – 52 by James Williams, with an even stronger sense of narrative than the ‘Bellamy Quilt’, offers another challenge to dominant Victorian histories. This is partly because strong narrative and figurative elements are rare for quilts in this period. Indeed, this quilt elaborately displays the story of Noah complete with unusual animals and unidentifiable creatures. Exotic elements, noticeable both in the types of creatures portrayed and the styles in which they are presented, also makes this quilt deviate from ‘normal’ Victorian quilts. In the second half of the exhibition, the quilt made by an injured soldier who had fought in the Crimean War joins in with the theme of abstraction in a regimented way. The design is meticulous and endlessly repeating in mostly primary colours. It is made up of 10,000 pieces, which is both impressive and startling. The material is thick, military fabric that would have required a lot of physical effort to cut and sew, and especially demanding for an injured soldier to use. This is certainly a contrast to the obvious notion of quilts as a feminine craft. Investigating the multiple lives of objects and art practices, whether this is due to how they were made or who created them, is important throughout the whole of the exhibition.

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Although there are many quilts in the British Folk Art exhibition, each with their own specific histories and time periods, they are not the main focus. Instead, being the backbone – and even the counterpoint at times - is an arguably more thought provoking position to occupy. This allows not only the show to explore how far folk art can extend but also prevents quilts from still being seen as the epitome of this genre. Indeed, quilting has moved away from this folk art. We have only to think of Tracey Emin to realise how fashionable and subversive quilts can be in contemporary art itself. Although, quilting is not necessarily leaving the craft world behind - indeed, there is still a divide between art and

craft that can be a productive one. However, new uses and appropriations of quilts suggest that the borderline between the two is becoming increasingly blurred. Overall, this is a valuable, humorous and slightly chaotic exhibition. The combination of different materials, objects, themes, periods and artists makes it a show that you can keep returning to with the confidence that you be struck by a new thought, detail and perspective each time. This can only be enhanced by its move to Compton Verney in the autumn, a fitting venue as this institution holds the largest collection of British folk art in the UK.

British Folk Art exhibition is currently at Tate Britain until 31 August 2014. British Folk Art is touring to Compton Verney from 27 September – 14 December 2014.

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Annette Morgan:

new directions Annette is well known as an art quilter and she has exhibited widely in this country and abroad, but you may not know that as well as teaching patchwork and quilting she also teaches machine embroidery. When embellishing machines first made their debut, several people asked if Annette would purchase one, she felt at the time that it would take her in a direction away from her current work. For those that don’t know, needle felting is technique used to dry felt different fibres

Embellished Sticks and Stones”, Annette Morgan, stitched textile

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“Pay the Ferry Man”, Annette Morgan, stitched textile

Elizabethan inspired sample, Annette Morgan, stitched textile

together, an embellishing machine [it looks like a sewing machine] has five of these needles in a unit which makes embellishing really fast. This year Annette decided to finally have a go at embellishing and this is the result! After a dyeing session her work table was covered with dyed scrim, silk and wool fibres as well as anything else she could lay her hands on. Working to a theme of Sticks and Stones, which was the title of her book published last year, she made a start. The pieces of work shown here have layers of wool fabric, dyed scrim, silk and wool fibres

as well as sari ribbon which are felted onto the background. Annette often turns the piece of work over to work from the back to get the effect she wants. Machine embroidery embeds the fibres and the colours together, and they are completed when hand stitching such as French knots and lazy daisy stitches are applied.

Annette can be contacted through her website and blog:

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Louisa Boyd:

pageturner Award winning artist Louisa Boyd makes the most glorious ethereal paintings not only using paint, but various printmaking techniques, etching, screen printing and block printing. She also makes the most fantastic creations using books. She quite rightly says that all art is in some way autobiographical, and that creative output is a direct result of life’s experiences. Brought up in an environment surrounded by books, Louisa enjoyed the natural world from an early age and says that this has provided the influence for her artwork. “I often consider place and its meaning to an individual in my work. Literal interpretations of the environment, representations of mapping as well as more abstract concepts about our individual finite existence and our relationship with home

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This page: “Cartography I”, Louisa Boyd TOH august 2014 - 60

Above: “Helical”, Louisa Boyd. Below: “From the Crest”, Louisa Boyd.

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find their way into my pieces. Tradition, both familial and cultural, lie at the heart of my artistic practice and in many instances I am considering memory and knowledge and how this is transferred across generations.” Louisa spends a long time experimenting with paper, paint and printmaking, pushing the materials to their limits. Her work with books reflects a cultural heritage and traditional skills that have remained unchanged for centuries. Bookbinding can be as important as the books themselves; they take a long time to make, involving patience, concentration, experience, and can show great beauty and skill.

Louisa has won many prizes for her work including “The Paperchase Future of Design Award” and had a high commendation from the judges of “The New Designer of the Year”, as well as taking part in the prestigious RA Summer Exhibition, and the Spirit of Womanhood Exhibition at the Oxo Tower.

Above: “Pleat’, Louisa Boyd. Right: “Cartology #4”, detail, Louisa Boyd. TOH august 2014 - 62

Starving Artist:

Taleggio chicken Quilters have a reputation for liking cake. While that is undeniably true, there are occasions when something more savoury is required. This is a favourite and very easy recipe I often serve when friends visit. By the way, if you aren’t familiar with Taleggio, it’s a lovely soft Italian cheese that’s well worth seeking out. To serve 6 people 6 medium sized chicken breast fillets 6oz Taleggio diced 3 tbsp pesto 2 tbsp chopped basil 3 tbsp cream cheese 2oz breadcrumbs pinch paprika 14oz cherry tomatoes 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar Method Heat oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 7). Arrange chicken in an ovenproof dish and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix Taleggio which you’ve cut into small dice, pesto, finely chopped basil and cream cheese. Spread mixture over chicken to cover it completely. Sprinkle fresh breadcrumbs on top and dust with a little paprika.

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Linda kemshall

Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven. Arrange tomatoes around the edge of the dish and pour oil and vinegar mixture over them. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked through. I usually serve this with plain new potatoes and french beans but it would be just as good with rice and salad. Enjoy!

Pesto! Most of us probably buy ready made pesto in a jar but it’s very quick and easy to make your own. 50g/2oz basil leaves 1-2 cloves of peeled garlic 25g/1oz pine nuts 6tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2tbsp grated Parmesan Salt and pepper Method Place basil, garlic, pine nuts and a drizzle of oil in a pestle and mortar or food processor. Blend to a paste. Gradually add the rest of the oil and stir in cheese. Season to taste and it’s ready. It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge if you cover with a thin layer of oil to prevent discolouration.

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Michala Gyetvai:


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I use blankets as the basis for my art and I love to hold colour in my hands. The motion of stitching, either by hand or machine, is calming and therapeutic. I think it’s the tactile quality of the threads which is so rewarding. It began when I had a time in my life which was incredibly stressful. I started to stitch incessantly and I found the need to use material, wool, cotton, silk thread became overwhelming. I think the blankets offered a need for protection, warmth and a return to childhood memories of comfort. Ever since childhood I’ve collected fibres, mostly wool and thread, which I used to use when I was playing: I spun the fibres on a spindle I had made using a wooden knitting needle and potato!

influences my final pieces and without this evolution I would not be able to visualise how to construct the finished piece. For example, I recently spent time drawing and painting in the mountains in Italy, I wanted to convey the living, breathing, wild mass of trees and their relationship to the sky above. I layer my experience into the landscape so that it becomes psychologically charged with my own memories, emotions, narratives, dreams, and poems. I’m interested in many  varied aspects of art history including English Romantic Painting, particularly the work of Blake, Samuel Palmer,

Using blankets My natural instinct is to use the warm, soft, woollen blanket to stitch my landscapes. I discovered how to alter the surface of the blanket in the wash, felting the fibres so they became tightly knitted, making the blanket heavy. I now experiment with different blankets; the heavy woollen types develop into more sculptured and three dimensional surfaces. I love the physical aspect of working my movements in stitch onto the dense woollen fabric; my own rhythms accentuating the surface into a relief. Working my stitches into the wool, I let it dictate to me where it wants to distort naturally. My subjects are landscapes and figures developed from intense periods of drawing and painting. The process of sketching and painting is the bare essence of my work, it directly Opposite: “Blue Sonnet”. Right: Work in progress in the studio.

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Above: “Through Yellow Fields”.

Constable and Turner - that and the American Abstract Expressionists. Musical inspiration Music and poetry play an important part in my vision. At the moment I am working on a piece which is from drawings I did of the sea and from listening to music inspired by the sea – Elgar’s ‘Sea pictures’ and Debussy ‘s ‘la Mer’. I am not just using my visual senses. When I listen to music, I can feel the rhythms as actual forms and shapes. I’m looking at how I can balance these through complex use of mark

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making, pattern, colour and texture. By being discerning in my choice of thread types I can create different moods and feelings. I stitch small circular landscapes (my small stories) between working on larger pieces, some 8ft in height. In these it is the physicality of my own movements which connect with and imbue the surface. Matisse My visits to Nice in France have also given me the opportunity to study the works of Matisse and Chagall. I identified with the rhythmical

quality of colour and forms in Matisse’s art, this inspired me to create ‘Homage a Matisse’ which took me two and half years to complete. Over that period of time the piece changed and evolved as my stitching techniques developed, interplaying swathes of seed stitches against larger gestural marks made by using my sewing machine. Each piece is a continuous journey. There is no destination. The act of making is a solace, a communication between myself and the world around me. Exhibitions In 2012 I had an exhibition entitled “ Seas Of Grass Textiles & Paintings” at The Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry. I felt it was important to show the work as fine art painting so decided to display my larger works not in the traditional way of presenting textiles but by stitching them onto canvas, allowing control of movement, direction and dimensions of the blankets. I am now working in a studio at the old stables in Ragley Hall near Alcester in Warwickshire where I have work with other artists on permanent show. Ragley itself has become a revelation, in terms of its grandure of its landscape and the history which surrounds me. Viewing the landscape through formal gardens, surrounded by edges of wild natural planting I see pockets of shapes and colours which has led me to more experimental work in my sketch books.

I am thrilled to be invited to exhibit my work with the international textile group Through Our Hands in Wolverhampton next year.

Above: Michala with “Homage á Matisse”. Below: Sketchbook pages.

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What’s On:

exhibitions and events STITCHED ART BY TEXTILE MAIDS 20th to 26th September 2014 Daily 10am to 4pm at Heartlands, Dudnance Road, Pool, Redruth. Cornwall TR15 3QY Contact Heartlands 01209 722320

Alicia Merrett, Linda and Laura Kemshall will be exhibiting at: CARREFOUR EUROPEEN DU PATCHWORK Ste Marie aux Mines, Alsace, France 18th to 21st September. Their work will be featured at the 20th Anniversary Exhibition of EPM artists. 150 artists will show one of their early quilts, and one new one made especially for this exhibition. Alicia is curating the SAQA exhibition Wide Horizons IV, also opening at EPM. RADIATION This unusual exhibition of the work of over 50

Free admission but Heartlands has a parking charge. An exhibition of stitched textile art by “Textile Maids” which is a group of Contemporary textile artists in Cornwall using many varied techniques and media. See our blog at http://textilemaids.blogspot.

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international artists on the theme of Radiation, will also be shown at EPM. It was premiered in Geneva, during the International Conference on Radiation Protection, this June. Alicia’s piece is based on radiation in subatomic particles and their behaviour in the world of quantum mechanics. These kinds of particle track images are visual interpretations of arrays of computer numbers.

Meet the Artists on Monday 29th September, 4 – 6 pm. The Arts Centre at the Meeting House, East Street, Ilminster, Somerset. TA19 0AN.

Alicia will also have work in the following exhibitions: UNFOLDING STORIES An exhibition by members of Contemporary Quilters West. Tuesday 30th September – Saturday 5th October 2014, 10.30 am to 5 pm, and Thursday until 8.30 pm West Barn, Pound Lane, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, BA15 1LF Unfolding Stories will also be shown at the West Country Quilt Show 13th to 15th November University of the West of England Exhibition Centre, Bristol, BS34 8QZ. PATHWAYS An exhibition by members of the South West Textile Group.  Monday 29th September  - Saturday 25th October 2014. Open Monday – Friday 9.30 – 4.30, Saturday 9.30 – 2.30.  Closed Sunday.

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Desert Island Design:

Mirjam Pet-Jacobs 1. Your art essential? Staying very close to myself. It must be my idea, my soul and my hand in what I create. 2. Studio soundtrack, who’s on the iPod? Anything, from Bach to Red Hot Chili Peppers. It all depends on the mood I want to be in, something that fits the work. 3. Which artist in a sinking ship full of artists would you throw a lifeline to? Mark Rothko. His work always hits me full in the stomach wherever I see it. 4. Favourite colour palette? Off-white, black, greys, sand. And reds (in all values and ranging from orange to burgundy, as long as they are warm). 5. Most inspirational book, place or person? The latest Richter catalogue (Tate Modern

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Our take on the world famous Desert Island Discs. An artist, eight burning questions, one luxury item.

exhibition), any museum of contemporary art, Louise Bourgeois. 11 Deadlines are good, or not? I can’t work well close to a deadline, so I am ready way before one. I need lots of reflection time to make the –for me- right decisions. 12 What’s your wildest ambition for your work? To make my ultimate masterpiece just before I die (not sooner, what else would there be left to do?). 13 What’s your happiest creative moment? When I am in a complete flow and forget about everything and everyone around me. Happens too seldom.

14 And of course, your luxury item? (this can be absolutely anything and unconnected with your work etc.) Time without worries. (I don’t care much for things, but time can never be retrieved)

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contributions What’s On?


Let us know what’s happening in your part of the world! Email us with details of exhibitions and events that you think will be of interest to Through Our Hands readers and we’ll do our best to list them on the What’s On pages of the Mag, or the website.

We welcome submissions for editorial for future editions of Through Our Hands Magazine. If you are interested in writing for us, please get in touch by email to chat about your ideas.

Here’s what we need: The name of the event, location, brief description, contact details such as website, email or phone. Maximise your chances of inclusion by sending us some eye-candy, a gorgeous photo to accompany the listing always goes down well.


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“Rhapsody of Colour”, Michala Gyetvai, Stitched textile. 11 Knightcote Drive, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire 07877 402455

Through Our Hands Magazine Issue 2 Aug 2014  
Through Our Hands Magazine Issue 2 Aug 2014