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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dozy Days.

I've been quiet, the last few days. Much as I like to pretend that depression takes nothing out of me, when I'm busy, the pretence crumbles, and I have to sleep and sleep. Which is how I account for today, pretty much. Yesterday was spent exhibition sitting, talking to some interesting people, making some extra totem dolls, the day before, some retail therapy with Robin and dinner with friends. Today, though, it's been dozing, dozing all the way. Though I did put the finishing touches to my quilt for 'Small Things', and took the photos, too, must send them on, today is the deadline. I've written a review, too, for the art quilt review list, which will appear at some point soon. But the to do list remains long, and I must get on with it. Sigh. Next week, though, is fairly quiet. I'd like to get some sewing done, maybe even some housework... and lots of peace and quiet.

For those of you curious about my opening attire, the pic shows Heather, Helen and me... I never look good in a photo, and this one is no exception! The second pic shows some of the paintings, a couple of mounted textiles and a view of 'Where', which has featured elsewhere on the blog. In the near corner, there is a partial view of 'Fragment : Graven Idols'.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


just to correct my mistake, the exhibit ends on the 3 September... you can't get enough of a good thing, I know, but I also know that Helen needs her workshop back!

The opening was a lot of fun, friends brought presents (presents...I love presents), and some totem dolls went to new, and very good, homes. One of them has moved to the house next door, which is lovely, I have visiting rights! Photos when I retrieve my camera, which I abandoned last night (overtired and overexcited is a lethal combination!). Thanks to everyone for the good wishes. And yes, as you might expect, I'm overtired today, so back to bed...I'm sitting with the exhibit tomorrow, and I need to get my voice back!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ready, Steady...

and tonight, it's all Go! Yesterday was spent hanging pieces in Helen's workshop...tonight is the opening, and we're all looking forward to that, of course. It's an interesting moment, this, wondering who will attend, what they will like...what they won't like...whether the totem dolls will stay upright ( I certainly hope so...). Robin is taking the afternoon off so that he can drive me there, and I dare say I'll fit in a nap before then...and a lovely hot scented bath, too.

Wish us luck, won't you?

Meanwhile, if you want to attend, directions can be downloaded here; the show is entitled Elemental, and runs til September 8. Email me for more info. And yes, we will have tidied up before people arrive...the hammer is an interesting touch, but Not Quite Arty Enough!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


In the last few days, I've received a couple of those circular emails, you know the kind... They have an uplifting message, a picture or two and an exhortation to send it on to at least six/ten/twenty or however many people. And you get to make a wish before you do it, and if you follow the directions, you get your wish granted. A sort of spiritual chain letter.

I don't like these things, much, but I don't feel strongly about them, either way. So, I tend not to pass them on, unless there's something in them that I think is pertinent to a particular person. What struck me, though, with the last two, is that I have nothing to wish for. I live an abundant life. It did cross my mind that I could wish to be rid of the demon depression...but actually, that's a part of me. It may not be pleasant to live with, but it is authentic, and it does help me to live a balanced life. When I do want something, I go out and find it, one way or another. For example, when we moved down here, I wanted a kiln for working with clay. Two years on, I still don't own a kiln, but I have found a kiln that I can use when I want to. I'm not a believer in wishing; it seems to be a focus on what I don't have. I much prefer to count my blessings, be grateful for what I do have, and work with it, share it, spread it around. Work out what I want, and make it happen. All in all, it seems like a good way to live and to be.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


has set in...not surprising after three days away and a lot of brainwork... However, it didn't stop me popping next door to wrap some silk around a rusty gate which my neighbour bought to clean up. A little bit of rust dyeing never did anyone any harm...results on the blog when I get them. Now, though, I think it's nap time...again... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz... at least this is better than things used to be, when one day out would mean three days in bed. If three days out equates to one and a half days in bed, then the demon depression is perhaps loosening (rather than losing...) his grip. And that's something to be very grateful for.

The image is a blast from the past...a sample quilt for a workshop on using dyed fabrics, called 'Autumn Rain'. It's interesting to look back, sometimes, and see where you came from. Sometimes, that can be as important as knowing where you're going...if only to be reminded that change is possible, and ongoing, and to be welcomed.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Post Show Syndrome...

I'm sure you'll recognise it. When there are plastic bags all over the floor. When you know you bought such and such, but can't find it in the bags. When you kick yourself, once again, for failing to take your camera. When you get to lunchtime, and realise you need to go back to sleep. When you can't remember what you bought, but you do remember how much you spent. When you think of all the people you meant to talk to, but didn't actually see. When you spend half an hour just patting fabric (in my case, the nineteen metres I bought from Heide Stoll Weber to dye with...). Mind you, that last one happens most of the time.

Did you miss me? No??? Oh... did I mention I did a workshop on critiqueing with Michael James? Thought that might catch your attention! I didn't intend to do any workshops, but as we were there for three days, and there were spare spaces, I thought, I can do that... it was a very interesting exercise. Sadly, I discovered that he won't be running the masterclass that June attended for a number of years...but when he does, I hope to be first in the queue...and that from someone who doesn't do workshops...

More over the week, as I think about it and calm down. That calm, though, will be overtaken by the panic of hanging our first exhibit on Thursday, finding something to wear to the opening on Friday and possibly making one or two more books to show... It's a hard life...but I wouldn't have it any other way.

The image is the quilt I showed in the Innovative Small category. I clearly took the small a bit too far; hardly anyone seemed to notice it! One of the judges was very enthusiastic about it, which made up for it a bit...see what you think. Photo courtesy of Sally Bramald, yes, I really did forget my camera...sigh...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I'm Off!

but not for long. I'm going to the Festival of Quilts at Birmingham this weekend, travelling with friends Helen and Heather, meeting up with other friends as and when, and generally intending to have A Good Time. And yes, I have been to the bank... I'm planning to write a review or two of what I see, so be prepared for it when I return..meanwhile, consider 'Blue Tree Dreams'. I think you've seen it on the blog already, but that was before it was shown in the September issue of 'Popular Patchwork' (a UK publication), it thinks it's famous, and requires a second viewing!!
Back on this space!

Better Out Than In?

I got a call from a friend, today. Oh, she said, you're in, in the exasperated tone of someone who has called repeatedly with no success... And life has been rather busy, recently, 'tis true. But yesterday, we proved that you don't have to go out to have can have people to visit, and have fun at home, instead! Helen, Barbara and Lynda, three friends from The Well, all part of the admin team that keeps the group ticking over, came to meet and do admin stuff, as well as what the corporate world calls 'team building', and we call 'making art'.

We did do the obligatory 'visit to the studio'. Crikey, said someone, you did tidy up downstairs, didn't you...well, ok, it is a bit, errr, untidy as you go upwards in this house... I didn't like to say that its current condition is an improvement on the norm... And I was given some useful feedback about the paintings...the textile room was ogled at length, and then we got down to work. The work, of course, expanded to fit nearly all the time available. But we did manage to squeeze in an hour or so. First we made a communal drawing, using oil pastels. Then, we tore it up ( and that was much more fun than you'd expect!!). Then, we collaged it onto a stronger paper, as in the picture above. Finally, we added paint, as seen below.

We had so much fun, we thought we'd do this next time with the entire Well community. Looking at it today, I found myself wondering if we should perhaps add an overall blue wash, then cut it again into uneven strips, and recollage on a contrasting plain paper... but I won't do anything more with it until we are all together again and can talk about it...over coffee...and cake...and chocolate...and...and...and... Ah, the joys of collaborative art!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Spot Of Conversation

A couple of weeks ago, I was wandering through the Forum in Norwich when I came across a taster exhibit by Norfolk printmakers. I love looking at prints, love making them too, and began to learn at in Inverness. I'm particularly fascinated by etching; the process is so different to my usual approach to art, which is very much the school of 'turn up, make a mark, see what happens, keep going...'. With etching, much more forethought is required, it's altogether a different kind of thinking, and I found it challenging. Sadly, we moved before I could become proficient with etching. However, I did get chatting to the man who was sitting with the exhibition, who turned out to be Colin Bygrave, whose work I had been admiring as I wandered round. To cut a long story short, he recognised etching withdrawal symptoms when he sees them, and invited me to visit his studio. And that was where I was this morning.

I love the internet, but there is something truly wonderful about sitting with another human over a cup of coffee, surrounded by art in various stages of completion, and the tools for making it, and just talking about The Art. Or anybody's art, actually! It's always interesting to look at someone else's work, and be able to ask things about it, or talk about what it suggests to you. One piece caught my eye in particular, and I told a story about it...including, I said, that house. What house? said Colin, who should know, of course, it being his work, and all... Being a kind man, he let me finish my story. And then, he said, of course, that's not actually a house...just a fence, and a bush... And when I got closer, I realised he was right (as if he was going to be wrong, under the circumstances!!). But whether it's a house or a fence, I'm still sticking to my story. The picture made me feel that wonderful way you feel in late autumn, when you've been for a walk, and it's getting dark, and you're nearly home, and you see the house in the distance, just under that bridge, there, and you're anticipating getting out of the cold and into a warm armchair by the fire... And if you need more than that, go look at his website!

If you're reading, Colin, thanks for the coffee and the (very civilised) conversation. We must do that again soon!

ps today's image is an acrylic painting on Khadi paper, which is destined, methinks, for either cropping, or collage, or possibly both...not everything succeeds as planned!

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Inspired by the workshop I did a couple of weeks ago, I find myself playing with the shapes of letters, hence this little painting (little being the operative word, all of five inches by eight inches in size). It started out as an M, but upside down, it turned into a Y and a V, and I liked it better that that way it stays.

This theme fits in nicely with my series, 'In More Than One Language'...I think once the exhibition is over, I can turn my full attention to it, and see what transpires. It's an exciting thought. Before then, though, there's the Festival of Quilts; after that, the Carrefour in Alsace. I spent five months in Alsace in 1981; it will be interesting to return and see what has changed. If it is anything like the rest of the world, that is likely to be everything and nothing...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Well

The Well met yesterday, and for the first time, we had the chance to make some art together, as well as doing a bit of the usual work that you do when starting a group of this kind, finding premises, arranging visits... For anyone new to this blog, The Well is a small group of artists with mental health issues, who decided to meet together to create community, as well as art. It was a joy to sit and work with other artists; fun, too. We laughed a lot, told stories, shared information about ourselves and our work...there was even an impromptu discussion about materials and approaches going on in the top corner. Jo made a birthday card for a friend; Rob made a drawing or two, as well as 'lending' me his kitchen roll; Michelle made a pastel drawing of a flower. Me, I made some of the little secret journals, and was teased unmercilessly about taking up more than my fair share of the room! I pointed out that I always managed to expand to fill the space available plus ten per cent... okay, probably more...

We're planning a visit to London together soon, to see the Kandinsky exhibit. I'm not sure if London is ready for The Well...but we're surely ready for London!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Well, It's Happening....

I know, for I have the invitations to the Private View to distribute! Our joint exhibition, 'Elemental' starts at the Raveningham Centre in Norfolk UK on Saturday 26 August and runs til Sunday 3 September (email for more details, or check out the other blog to see what the exhibit is about). Am I looking forward to it? I don't know...ask me when it's over! I find myself suddenly with ideas for work that I should have had months ago; isn't that typical! So I've been making some postcard sized pieces, today was the turn of the mini books, and next week, doubtless, more frenzied creativity. The paintings, though, are long since ready. That's the thing about oil have to start early, or it won't be dry in time!

Altered Quilt, The Result

It had been waving at me from the cutting table for a couple of days, had Marion's quilt, as I pondered on what to do with it. The first impulse had been to discharge dye it, but I liked the colours a lot, and didn't feel that I wanted to lose any of them. So I hummed, and I hawwed, and I procrastinated... and finally, went with the first impulse! And I'm glad I did. I just hope my Australian namesake likes it too...what do you want to call it, Marion?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Knew It...!

Knew that people might think that yesterday's blog was a quilt...sorry, folks, but it isn't, it's just a photograph of a big old tree at the Gressenhall Museum. Now this picture, here,'s a quilt... It struck me that as more than one person has said what a good quilt the photo made, that it might be a good idea to go with that idea, and make one. So, I printed out the photograph onto cloth, added the usual layering and stitched.

Immediately looking at the piece, you might not see the resemblance at first glance; there's a lot of stitch, the cloth is not a high thread count, so the print isn't as good as perhaps it might have been (knew I should have used silk...), and, besides all that, I've cropped the image and turned it upside down! But a bit of careful study, and you should be able to work it out.

What this made me do was to get past the block I've had about using photographs printed on cloth. We've all seen the memory quilts, with family photos used on them, and the quilts that take their inspiration from altered books, with Victorian ladies' photographs on them...I didn't want to make that kind of quilt. And I admire quilts that use photography effectively, like June Underwood's 'Consider The Horse Chestnut'. But I do take a lot of photographs, as inspiration or reminder. What I've done with this piece, is to use the photograph as an abstract. The fact that it is of part of a tree, is irrelevant...I've simply added stitching in response to what I see. No references to trees, leaves, anything... and that suits my way of working. So I'm really grateful to those of you who wrote and said, oh, nice quilt... without you, this particular piece (all eight inches square of it), would not have been made. And I'm glad it was. Hope you like it.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Smug, Smug, Smug...

as the little quilt is finished, as is one for the quiltart 'Tiny' challenge. Actually, smug doesn't begin to describe it!! Plus, there are a couple of pieces set up ready for quilting, so I guess I know what I'll be doing over the next few days. Not bad for an hour and a half's work, huh?

A friend popped in for coffee and a chat, and I'm now starting to think about going into Norwich. I've been invited to the opening of a new show, 'Technology Sketchnology', by Jacqui Petrie, one of the artists, whom I met at the last workshop I went to. Hopefully, she'll return the compliment, and come to mine at the end of the month. The time is speeding by...fortunately, I'm pretty sure I have enough work for it, so I can relax a bit, and continue the Smug Moment...

Monday, August 07, 2006


on a piece for the exhibit 'Doing Small Things', which is due at the end of the month. The cloth, a piece that has been screenprinted and then discharge dyed, has been hanging around for weeks, waiting for me to do something with it. So today, I basted the layers together and got to work. I had intended not quilting the central portion, so that it would puff up, but it soon became clear that the distortion caused by the stitching round the motif would be too great, so it is now stitched, and things are lying a bit flatter now... There is a lot more stitch to be added, though, so who knows if that state of affairs will continue.

I've been painting today, too, and find myself slowly but surely running out of large canvasses, my last one has now been worked on...which means sending Robin and his car to buy some more...I can't get them into my little car at all. I need a van to take them to exhibitions...sigh.

The Well meets this week, it will be good to see everyone again. I'm doing a lot of research work for the 'umbrella' group, Creating Community, trying to create something that is robust, businesslike and yet still meets the needs of the community it is trying to create and serve. That is proving to be challenging. I find I have to make allowances for myself; I can't work as hard or for as long as I used to do, thanks to the demon depression, so I have to curb my impatience and slow down a bit. I hope the project will be the better for it. Not sure that my temper will be...!

The photo is for Digital Gran, who likes nooks and crannies, she says... this one is clearly 'altered' is in the old city wall in Norwich. I'm intruigued by the man in a helmet effect that seems to have been produced...all the best images seem to be produced by accident!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Nice Surprises

I like reading my namesake Marion's blog, all the way over in Australia. So, when she put a picture up of a piece she wasn't entirely happy with, asking for thoughts, I gave her you do... If it's cotton, I said, why not discharge dye it? Send it to me, I said, I'll do it...thinking, as you do, that she would get lots of answers, and I was fairly safe... It arrived a couple of days ago (thanks, Marion), with a snazzy little bag, and I've been contemplating it ever since.

I've pinched Marion's photo of it for the blog, here. My first surprise was that in real life, the colours are quite different, the lights are lighter, the greens more sophisticated. So my first thought, to break up the structure a bit by random discharging, is not something I really want to do. What I may do, is introduce some diagonals...and quilt accordingly. I've become increasingly interested in 'stitch as mark'. I'm not sure that that will work in this highly structured piece, it may not be enough to draw the eye out of the structure and into the marks... but you never know. Or at least, not until you try.

Watch this space...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Cooking Up A Storm...

well, okay, let's not exaggerate. Cooking a meal for some friends this evening...pasta in a chicken, bacon and basil sauce. Light, simple, just what's needed for a warm evening and a good bottle of wine... I haven't been cooking much, this summer, too hot. But serving up a salad to visitors, no matter how well made, just doesn't do it for me. Besides, I needed an excuse to make chocolate mousse...with a raspberry and Cointreau sauce... yummmm... and me on a diet, too!

Most female quilters seem to add cooking in with the rest of the housework, and avoid it, judging by the many jokes and stories on the subject. Personally, I see it as part of my own creativity. The pasta recipe is my own, developed from an idea I saw on a restaurant menu; it now has two or three variations. The mousse recipe is idiotproof, from a book, and the only thing that has been adjusted is the amount of alcohol in it. Yes, upwards, of course! Actually, now that I think about it, that's not true. The recipe stipulates double cream; I use creme fraiche, and/or sometimes plain yoghurt. That gives it an underlying sharpness that cuts through the richness of the's a surprising but enjoyable combination.

Now to go do the boring bits, the tidying up, hoovering and cleaning...sigh. I know they're coming to see us, not the state of the floor...but all the same... I do find it difficult to see anything creative in cleaning, nonetheless. If I did, I might do more of it. Or there again, maybe not.

The image today is a computer generated pattern (paintshop pro...not, as I just typed, painshop pro...); originally, I took a picture of some autumn leaves. Playing about with it, I found this pattern, which reminded me of a tartan. So I kept it...though I don't expect I'll ever do anything with it, not really my kinda thing...

Friday, August 04, 2006

What IS that?

Continuing on the theme of altered images, the picture at the top of the blog is another altered image from Gressenhall. This time, it is a brick wall, on its side (the joys of technology hold no bounds!) with the remains of some ivy or other climbing plant, which has been removed from the brickwork. I find those tracings of previous life intruiguing, so tend to take pictures when I see them. I think of them as a type of natural graffiti; in taking away the plant, we add to the brickwork the marks of its life and passing. Of course, in this case, the photograph has been altered even more...but I think, hope, that it adds to its interest, rather than diminishes it.

The problem of working this way, of course, is that once I've altered the image, I don't feel that there's anything left to do... but I might make an exception in this case, I really like the image.

The other image, though, is a naturally occurring phenomenon, or, at least, it is under certain circumstances... So...what are those circumstances? Do you know/can you guess? A FQ of handdyed fabric to the first correct answer!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Just a humble crack in the pavement...

...but look what it became!

Losing It...

no, not my mind, for a change... just everything else! I had arranged to meet a friend at Gressenhall for coffee, and the museum at Gressenhall is all of five minutes away in the car. So, ten minutes before I left, I thought, where's my purse? I hunted high and low, and in the midst of it, the phone rang. Could I talk...yes, for a few minutes....and in putting the phone back on the cradle, discovered my purse sitting beside it. Then it was my keys. In the hunt for the purse, the keys had disappeared...sigh...but they turned up in my handbag. Hurrah.

So, off I went. And I was on time, too! Had my coffee and conversation, and stayed on at the museum to take pictures. Strolling back to the car, I started to look for my car keys...yes, you've guessed it...gone! Fortunately, someone had found them and handed them in...whilst Gressenhall is only about a mile and a half from where I live, it started to pour about half way back to the house, so I would have been drenched and unable to get into the house!

I've been to the museum several times since we came to Norfolk, just over two years ago, but this was the first time I remembered to take my camera (lost my keys, but remembered my camera...). So I had fun wandering round the building, taking shots of this and that. The most unprepossessing was perhaps the picture at the very top of the blog. I'm fascinated by nooks, crannies and cracks in the pavement...and this one was, I thought, interesting. I think it got more so when I played about with it in PaintShop Pro. Suddenly, I see all sorts of uses for the lines, and the colours. I've always had a thing about photographing odd stuff, like most artists. For me, it's not what a thing is, it is what it suggests, or represents for me, that is important. I suspect that some interesting work may well come out of will, however, have to get in the queue. I'm always sympathetic when people say they've 'lost their muse', but I really don't get it. The world is full of fascinating shapes, colours and lines. All you have to do is look, and have enough inspiration for ten lifetimes or more. So off you go, look!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Rain, Rain...

usually that line is completed 'go away, come again another day', but actually, there has been so little rain recently that it seems appropriate to beg it to Keep Raining! It's cooler today, too, so I'm more comfortable, which always helps.

Perusing my diary, it looks much busier than usual, as I'm visiting both Festival of Quilts and Carrefour this year. So August and September have blocks of time taken out of them, both for attending these shows and recovering, afterwards. I discovered a double booking today, and as I can't be in two places at one time, something will have to give...and it isn't likely to be flying back from France! Oops...Must Get Better At Admin!

Today's image is the structure I made from willow at Saturday's workshop. Just the right weight (if maybe not size) for making mobiles. The willow is bound with bits of straw...a completely natural art form. I enjoy working with natural fibres and found objects. I have a box full of eucalyptus bark from the tree in the front garden, which I feel must be useful for *something* (other than dyeing...). So watch this space...