Working on my fern piece was a challenging but wonderful process. However, although it kept me sane during house renovations, it sapped all my creative energy. I decided that my next piece needed to be less challenging and full of fun. For Travellers’ Tales I homed in on my collection of African textiles and photos.
Over the last five or six years I have experimented with using cyanotype methods on cloth, using my own sea photos I now wanted to push my work further. I wrote:
Trees have always been an important part of my life and have frequently informed my art work, as has all nature. Thus, I gladly took the opportunity to exhibit in the Westonburt Arboretum with the South West Textile Group.
The original sketch for this design was completed whilst demanding building work was being carried out on our house. I wrapped up warm and sat on a mound of old bricks and made sketches of the Silver birch that was one of the trees that was the final decision point in buying the property. Near a main road, in a city but protected by a wall of ever changing and moving nature.
Cyanotype is a method I have used on several pieces but always using my own photographs as the mask. In this piece, I developed my work further by using sketch as the mask. In this technique, the fabric is dipped into a solution of sensitising chemicals and then dried before exposing to sunlight with a mask on top. The image is then revealed by washing out the fabric, leaving behind Prussian blue where the sunlight has fallen on the fabric.
For this exhibition we were asked to produce something bright in a long narrow format for suspending. I wrote:
The title ‘Strip Show’ made me think about bright strips of fabric and how they are often used on costumes in ethnic dancing to enhance the depiction of movement. In turn, this led me to the idea of trying to base my piece on the Mexican Ribbon Dance – ‘La danza de Las Cintas’ – where dancers wrap a central pole with ribbons as they dance around it, in a similar way to Maypole Dancing.
I went to my stash of hand dyed fabrics and began tearing strips. I remembered attending a Sian Martin work shop years ago where she taught us how to wrap straws and other shapes. I experimented with some of these ideas and decided to wrap and rewrap pieces of dowelling. I machine quilted a charcoal coloured background and then experimented with various arrangements and settled on a wave pattern. This in turn gave me the title of Mexican Wave.
I had had a lot of fun with my work and felt it was time for another more serious piece. Thinking of global warming affecting the layers of nature, I turned to a glacier we had seen in Iceland. It was magnificent and had a deep effect on me. I wrote:Iceland gave me my first experience of glaciers - vast tongues of ice, silent, turquoise, majestic and haunting. Geology tells us of their amazing power, scouring, moulding and depositing history’s layers. However, climate change has forced glaciers to recede too fast, unbalancing the earth’s equilibrium.
This has been a challenging year for textile work as house renovations, in our new home in Exeter, have taken much longer than planned. However, I have spent the year firstly, working on a small piece for a Region 4 Contemporary Quilt Group project, but mainly on a quilted wall hanging for the exhibition of work by the South West Textile Group. This was held in the Museum of Somerset in Taunton. We were asked to choose an exhibit as inspiration and I could not resist the fossil ferns. There is something wonderful about seeing them now, as they were all that time ago.
Much time was spent researching fossil fern shapes and photographing and sketching ferns throughout the year. I revisited my fern leaf gel prints then I dyed many, many shades of greens for leaves and a special effect piece for the background in grey with a moon glowing through at the top.
Next, came designing and re-designing, then cutting and bonding and finally quilting in transparent thread (from a sewing point of view too transparent at times!) Below you can see some of the stages.
The museum did a wonderful job hanging the exhibits and I greatly admired the grey labels with white print. Stewarding was a pleasure, talking to visitors and to museum staff who showed a great interest in all the work. I was delighted that my piece 'Moon over Timeless Ferns' sold. I had become very attached to it so I was also a little sad.
I used some of the very early material to work a small piece for a group project organised by the Quilters’ Guild region 4 Contemporary Quilters.