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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Trying It Out.

Well, we did have fun yesterday... three women, two machines; one an embellisher, the other a sewing machine. We tried out different types of backing fabric, of fibres, of cloth. We stitched into what we'd made. We laughed a lot. We eventually ate crumpets and drank coffee. Did we have a good time? Oh, yes. The image is one of my trial pieces, a piece of curtain fabric (the image was of a camel, believe it or not), with wool tops and some mohair yarn worked in using the embellisher. I think it has great potential, and I'd really like one. My problem is that I think I may not use it very often. Perhaps I just need to stick to borrowing Jill's every now and again...

I will have all sorts of good intentions, and a list of things to do this year. A Plan, if you will. In amongst it all, though, there will be plenty of days like yesterday. Good friends, good work, a little hilarity and good food...preferably cake. Hey, it works for me!

This evening, of course, is Hogmanay, or New Year's Eve to everywhere in the world that isn't Scotland. May your new year be a joyful, productive and healthy one.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Out To Lunch?

Not quite, but out for the afternoon to help my friend Jill to try out her new embellisher...hey, it's dirty work, but somebody has to do it, right? She lives not far from me, and has an entire extension on her house dedicated to textiles...sigh...want one!

Meanwhile, the paint dries on two new paintings. The first is 'Three Blue Moons'; the second, 'Blue Moon Rising'. The first may not be finished, but the second is...I like simple. It is much underrated.

There is a blue moon textile piece, too, somewhere, also small and simple. These paintings are, in a way, a return to a style I had when I began painting. I set it aside when I discovered impasto; texture is really important to me, and of course, impasto is nothing but texture in paint... I'm not abandoning that, just remembering that it is possible to paint in other ways. Any way you like, really... any way that fits the theme.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Organic Development

I've been tiptoeing around Nefertiti. I had stitched the obvious stuff, the details, but I knew I had a lot of background to cover; just didn't know quite how to do it. When I sat down to quilt today, I decided to bite the bullet. For some reason or other, I decided to make squares and rectangles in the quilting. They have turned out to be very wall-like, in the way that old castles and palaces were built here in England, nothing like the precision of the pyramids in Egypt.

I'm not very good at representational stuff. Making a quilt 'about' Nefertiti was difficult for me. As I quilted more of the walls, I realised that the quilt isn't really 'about' her at all. It is 'about' the sisterhood of royalty. Royal women are perhaps the most highly visible of all of us. Yet we rarely, if ever, catch glimpses of the real women behind the pomp and circumstance, the glamour and protocols. Here in the UK, we see the Queen every year on television, giving a speech to the nation. We know more about her than probably any monarch in UK history. And yet, we know nothing much at all. That, for me, is the story behind the Nefertiti quilt. Of course, it took the quilt to tell me what it was that I wanted to say, exactly. And that's what I love about making art. The quilt would stand by itself as a representation of Nefertiti. What makes it interesting and special for me, though, are those added thoughts, layers of meaning, that make us think a little further, a little differently, a little deeper.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Getting Back To Normal.

It takes a while to get over the holidays and back into a routine... but Robin was out in Norwich today, so I sneaked up to the studio and painted for a little while. I haven't been painting much, so it was good to go upstairs and play with the paint.

I have to say, though, I'm not Mrs Popular with the cats. All had to go to the vets to get their annual checkups and booster jabs today. All protested vociferously all the way there, and all the way back...sigh. Not to mention singing to the waiting room while we were there. Opinionated felines.

Tomorrow, though, I sew; back to Nefertiti. Over Christmas, I took Sandy up to my cloth studio to see her. I had a few nasty moments as I looked around and yes, you guessed it...couldn't find her. Until I realised that she was pinned up on the design wall. Phew. At least I didn't have to look all over the house for her!

I spotted the spiders' web in the photo just before Christmas. Isn't it beautiful? The house next door is a converted chapel, built in the traditional Norfolk manner. It, too, is beautiful.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What Happens...

when you put two artists in the same house for longer than 24 hours? Why, they make art, don't they! In this case, since the block cutting tools were downstairs, we cut lino blocks, or in Sandy's case, an eraser block. It hasn't been all drinking and eating and opening presents, you know!! Of course we did do all that, not to mention a rousing walk (okay, stroll) on Christmas Day.,,, all went well, Santa was kind to us all, and we're now finishing off the leftover cake (which was in the shape of a Christmas tree) and introducing Sandy to the delights of Lorne Sausage. For some reason, you can't get this delicacy in England...definitely a Scottish only treat... I think she was suitably impressed.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


at least, in one sense of the word. It's cold. Freezing fog has led to the airport being closed for days, and Robin's mother stuck in Edinburgh. But she has managed to get on a flight tomorrow, so she will be here for Christmas. So I'm still doing the last minute stuff, zooming up and down... but I did read June's comment on the blog from yesterday, and thought I'd take a photograph of the landscape painting. Looking at it through the lens, it's not what I thought...but it has opened a door to something else. I didn't get a good photograph of it...for that I need to rearrange the studio, and I haven't got time for that right now. But I was drawn to the leftover paint on the palette...and ended up making this little piece. Yes, it's a dreadful photo, and I'm sorry, but I wanted you to see it because I got excited about it. It was painted very quickly, without intention, without thinking...and I think it works. It's very small, about 12"by 9", or maybe a bit bigger, but not huge. It thinks it is, though...that's what I like about it.

I get all caught up in Big Ideas and Concepts, in Themes For Exhibitions and The Like. I say I paint because I want to create meaning. I think I forgot that it's perfectly possible to create meaning without overthinking, conceptualising and all the big words... it's just as possible when you allow the paint to talk to you, and off you go. Now, back to tidying up the upstairs, vacuuming and generally getting Tidy. I'd intended to cook today, but there won't be time, so that will need to wait til tomorrow. Who called this the holiday season??? I'll need a holiday afterwards, to recover.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Breaking Out.

Well, maybe only for the morning. Enough is enough....I decided to paint this morning. I have had a photograph torn from the local paper for several months now, lying about on the kitchen table (where else...). It showed an ariel view of the A11 (one of the major roads in East Anglia), and I was struck by the shapes it made. So I decided to paint it, or at least paint something based on it. And that is how I spent my morning. I'm not sure if you'd call it a landscape or not. I'm not even sure if it's finished. But I did have a good time!

This afternoon, though, things are getting tidier. You know you have a clutter problem when you find a piece of work you don't remember making, lying behind the computer monitor. It's definitely made by me... I'm just not sure when! Another lutradur piece, this one with foil added. Eyeful, it's called, at present at least. See what you think.
note to self: really really MUST start keeping a record of what I make, when I make it. I started it, I failed to continue it (well, actually, I lost it. Ahem.). Must Buy Large Book.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


to those of you who are expecting work from me. I meant to send it last week, and didn't get there (all that housework...sigh...). So I'll hold off until after the holidays, rather than have envelopes sit with Royal Mail during the holidays; they're known for their ability to make small parcels vanish as if by magic . If you responded to my offer of a small piece of work, please send me your snailmail privately, so that I can pop it on the envelope, all ready to go.

Nefertiti continues, as does the housework. There's a stew in the crockpot, it smells wonderful, wish Robin would come home so I could eat it! Otherwise, things are slow and boring...the holiday season seems to be starting early here (you can tell it's my favourite time of year...not).
Meanwhile, Andrew sent us an interesting image. He must have been scrabbling around in his grandmother's photo albums...this is a photo of Robin as most of us have never seen him (and I include myself in that; long hair didn't feature when I started going out with him). Sadly, I can't show it due to technical difficulties (I know, that's what they all say). Andrew went through a long hair phase also...wonder if it's genetic?
Anyway, you'll just have to make do with this image, instead. Reaching Out was intended for the 'Doing Small Things' exhibit, but life rather got in the way...which can be the way of these things. If I'm not careful, the same will happen to 'She Made Her Mark', for which Nefertiti is destined . The closing date for entries is very early in January, so I'll have to get my skates on...wish me luck!

Monday, December 18, 2006

House Cleaning...

goes on, and on...but so does the stitching on Nefertiti, despite breaking several needles, one of which caught me sweetly on the cheek on its way past... a scratch and smart, no damage done. Fortunately. Yesterday, though, we went out to buy a new suit for Robin. Losing a large amount of weight (something Advo is never likely to do, you're right, Terri...) means, in Robin's case, that two new suits no longer fit him. So I wandered round the shop, picking shirts and a tie to go with the newly svelte figure and the seriously lovely suit he picked out.

Other work goes on this small piece that I use as a warm up before working on Nefertiti. It's nowhere near finished, but I think it'll be interesting with more stitch, perhaps some foiling, and maybe even some paint... Not the greatest picture in the world, I admit it freely...the cloth is a small piece of dyepainted vintage linen.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


you have turned over the whole of the upstairs house looking for a quilt top, and it's nowhere to be found, you can do either of two things. You can either give up, or you can go back to where you started. In my case, that was the conservatory. Usually by this time of year the conservatory is too cool to work in, but this winter is so incredibly mild that I went to sit there with a cup of coffee on Friday morning. There I was on the sofa, looking at a pile of books on top of a see through plastic box. In the box was a piece of fabric that looked remarkably like, nay, was Nefertiti. Hurrah!!!

So, it was straight up to the bedroom to iron her, and her backing, and fuse them together. As you can see, Millie and Advo will take any opportunity to get in on the act. As befits an Egyptian Queen, Nefertiti is guarded by Millie. Advo, though, is no respecter of persons, queenly or not. When I popped the backing down, on he got. Millie, disgusted, ran away...just in case. Egyptian royalty was divine, dontcha know... Today, though, Nefertiti is being stitched. I'm really quite excited by the results, but you'll have to wait to see if we're selected before I share the full picture.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Important Announcement for Euro Quilters!

Peg Keeney approached me a while ago, with the idea of putting together a show of European quilts for the Mancuso shows in the US next year. I thought it was a great idea, volunteered to help, and am now pleased to announce the call for entries for 'From The Heart'. For a full copy of the prospectus, or for further information, drop me an email here : to keep you going, though, here's the scoop. Or go to Peg's website (click on her name, above) to download all the details. Please do circulate this information as widely as you can within Europe, we'd love to get as wide an entry as possible. I, of course, am wondering if a jaunt to the US next year is in order...but that's another story altogether.
From The Heart : A Special Exhibit of European Art Quilts
In Association with Mancuso Quilt shows
August –November 2007
Art Quilters in the United States have long been aware of the unique qualities of quilting making in Europe. This juried exhibit is an opportunity for all art quilters in Europe to showcase those unique qualities in a special exhibit which will tour four Mancuso venues. Show us the things that are close to your heart; your country, your environment, your beliefs, your values, your art…
30 quilts will be selected to be part of the exhibition with the Mancuso Shows INC. It is a unique opportunity for European art quilters work to be seen by literally thousands of people.

Eligibility and Guidelines:• Entry is by digital image only (directions below). Each artist may submit a maximum of three works for consideration. Submitted works must have been completed after 31 Dec 2004•Due to shipping issues, no 3-D works will be accepted.
• Artwork must meet the following definition of an art quilt: a contemporary artwork exploring and expressing aesthetic concerns common to the whole range of visual arts: painting, printmaking, photography, graphic design, assemblage and sculpture, but which retains, through materials or technique, a clear relationship to the folk art quilt from which it descends. • Accepted artwork will travel as a Special Exhibit for the Mancuso World Quilt and Textile on Tour XI beginning Aug 16, 2007 in Manchester, NH, then on to PA National Quilt Festival, Harrisburg, PA September 6-9, Pacific International Quilt Festival, Santa Clara, CA October 11-14 and Greater Chicago Quilt Festival, Chicago , IL November 2007.• Artists are responsible for shipping and insurance to and from a collection point in the United States.
• Artwork will be for exhibition only, and must be available to travel the entire circuit.

Size: Artworks may vary in size within the following parameters:
smallest side 1 metre/40 inches - largest 1.5metres/ 60 inches.
Each work must have a standard 8 cm/ 3 inch sleeve

Curators: Marion Barnett and Peg Keeney
Fee: If your work is accepted, there will be a $10.00 fee to cover packing costs.

Calendar: 2007
March 10: Deadline for entries to ARRIVE
April 5: Notification of acceptance.July 25: Artwork due to collection point in United States
December: work returned to artistGuidelines for Submissions• Submit one overall image and one detail image for each piece of artwork you are entering in this exhibit, to a maximum of three works.• Save your digital images at 300 DPI with a maximum of 6” width or height as JPEGS or TIFF. Save to a CD disk – DVD disks will not be accepted.• Title each digital image with your artwork title and the size of your artwork in inches. Example – Last name MyTitle36Hx36W.• Create a Word document with the entry information below and save that to the disk as well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lost And Found

Given that I've got visitors for Christmas, and that I've lost at least one piece of work, I thought that perhaps a good clear out was in order. I started with the cloth studio. My, I do have a lot of lutradur to play with... Then it was the paint studio's turn. Now it was pretty tidy...well, relatively speaking, anyway. Then the music room, then the spare room. That just leaves our bedroom for today, and downstairs tomorrow.

Nefertiti is, of course, still lost. However, I found my inhaler under the spare bed...quite how it got there, I'm not sure. Probably Andrew helped himself when he was up last, but didn't put it back in the cupboard... Why did I think that the music room was a good place for print blocks? Why am I keeping those four paintings, when I really don't think they're worth it? (answer, they were under the bed. They aren't, now. Painting, anyone ?). Do I want to refill my giant sized Filofax (answer, is a bit busy at present...). Who knows what I'll find tomorrow!

And I found this encaustic. Which makes me want to play with wax. Perhaps next week... Meanwhile, Robin is away on business for a couple of days. He rang me at lunchtime. You'd love it here, he said. Near the sea. Nice hotel. Hmm, I thought. Might be a holiday in there somewhere...

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened...

on the way to the Well admin meeting. There I was, minding my own business, driving round a sharp corner when I realise that in the road in front of me is...a waddle of ducks. About eight of them, heading away from the pond in the park, and towards the Big City (well, okay, Dereham. Not quite Big City unless you're a duck...) They looked around at the car, and at each other, then speeded up a bit. Oh, quck, they said. And obligingly got onto the pavement. Actually, I think some of them went into a handy garden. Either way, I didn't knock any of them to quackdom come, so my duck culling record remains at zero. (And what is the collective name for a group of ducks...if you get a gaggle of geese, surely you should have a waddle of ducks??)

The Well admin meeting went...well, well, as you might expect. Budget agreed, we have A Cunning Plan for taking things forward, we seem to have come a long way since we started in June. Plans for another group, or even several... and for A Studio Of Our Own...or at least, somewhere to meet regularly, work sometimes and serve as a base.

And then, driving home, I had An Idea. I went yesterday to look for the piece I had intended to enter into 'She Made Her Mark', 'Nefertiti'. I found...nothing. Well, I found plenty, actually, but none of it looked like Nefertiti. Sigh. But this New Idea lets me start from scratch. So if Nefertiti turns up, I'll quilt her (as it were...), but otherwise, I'm going for a completely different theme. Wish me luck...I need to find somewhere to work where low flying paint isn't an issue...sigh...

And thank you to everyone for the good wishes. The blues, and the flu, haven't gone entirely, but I'm holding my own. Normal service will be resumed...eventually....meanwhile, I need to mount this lutradur piece, 'Forgotten Paths', before I frame it. Or perhaps more stitch...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Back To Basics

Over a week, and the virus is winning, though I feel well enough to get up today (an improvement over the rest of the week). Whether it's post viral blues, or the demons warming up for the Festive Season (I'm not good at Christmas), I find myself in a slump of self pity. My work is poor. Nobody likes it. I could go on whining for an eternity. Instead, I'm going back to sleep. Nothing like a good nap to get rid of the blues. And then I'm going to get out my sketchbook and draw. Nothing like starting from scratch to cheer you up. Or that's what I hope, anyway. And then, when I'm cheered up suitably, I'm going to plan my year. I have enough work committed here and there to keep me out of mischief for the next couple of years, books, exhibits, this and that... all I need to do now is to convince my sad self that it's time to get on with it, or at least to organise it while I'm not well enough to get anything done. And to remember that these periods come and go. It may be the annual pre-Christmas depression; it may not. Either way, whatever it is, it'll pass and I'll survive. My mantra for bad days is from Julian of Norwich; 'All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing shall be well'. She was a smart cookie. And she was right. Hold that thought!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Poor Me...

Andrew gave it to Sarah. Who gave it to Robin. Who gave it to me. The family that has flu together, has flu together. Even when they live hundreds of miles apart. In our case, it has been spread over a number of weeks, and I, being last, seem to have it with bells on, or rather, laryngitis. Yes, that's right, I can't speak. Not audibly, anyway (stop laughing in the back, there). And I feel awful. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, including sending things to people...but right now, I'm going back to bed.