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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fantastic Feedback

All feedback is me! I love it when people stand in front of a painting and say, I really don't like that... providing they tell me why, of course... though sometimes it's just a question of personal taste. But I feel complimented, nonetheless. Art is usually intended to produce strong least, mine certainly is. And I don't know about you, but deathly silence after a post makes me wonder what I did wrong. Usually, the answer is, nothing at all... it's just that people are busy with their lives, and they read the blog, or whatever, and they continue with the rest of their day...
Occasionally, though, someone reaches out and says something. I got a lovely email yesterday from someone who bought the Lovely Lutradur E book. Margie lives in South Africa; I'd never sent anything to South Africa before, and was a bit concerned that it would arrive. It did, of course, and she told me (and I quote, with her permission);
Many thanks for the CD. It arrived this morning!!

It is GREAT !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Inspiring and wonderful!!! Thank you, thank you,
thank you!!!!

Just what the doctor ordered!!

Keep well and good luck with your new book!

I'm a very happy chicken. It's bad enough with a blog, but with a book, you spend a great deal of time making it as good as you can. It's great when someone really enjoys it, and lets you know! Thanks, Margie. And if you'd like to see what she's so enthusiastic about, click here!

The image is a detail of 'Curvilinear', which you can find here

I was at a concert on Sunday night, six emerging bands playing in the semi finals of a competition. Afterwards, I took a leaf from my own book, and told the sound engineer that I thought he had done a great job. He did, too. He made sure that all six bands sounded as good as he could make them. Could you give someone some feedback today? Go on, you know you want to! Make someone's day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Forward Planning

Things are hectic at present; exhibition opening on Friday, busy writing a new book, Etsy, a new shop to set up at Ehive... I don't really know where to turn. Rather than dive in, though, I've decided to take time out to breathe a little, and to create a forward plan. I'm going to go find a wall planner, and chart the next year or so, what needs to be done, when, and by whom (usually me, you understand, but occasionally I can delegate to Robin...). I like taking the longer view, sometimes. It's important to see where you're going in the longer term, remembering where you are likely to be busy, like around holidays, and when not... it means you can plan your time better. So that's how I'll spend the rest of my morning.

But in the afternoon.... I'm going to play in the shed! Can't be grown up all the time...

Monday, October 20, 2008

What Are You Doing Today?

Good question. I've had several people on the phone today, and they've all asked me that, expecting, I think, to hear that I'm painting. I wish. Instead, I've been on the computer most of the (somewhat chilly) day, emailing invites to the private view of my upcoming exhibition, filling in forms for said exhibition, talking to people about a potential new project, wondering what to include in my new UK online shop, packing CDs ready to send away. Anything, in fact, other than painting or sewing. Did I mention keeping the books up to date? Hard sums just aren't my thing, but needs must when the devil drives, or, in this case, expects you to complete a tax return. Sigh.

Soon, though, soon, I will be in the shed. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon...

Meanwhile, Outburst, pictured above, mixed media on canvas, will be shown as part of our 'Mixing Up The Marks' exhibition which comprises mixed media,
textiles and photography. It is taking place from 24th October - 1st November at the Dragonfly Gallery, Wayland House, High St, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk, IP25 6AR
Tel: 01953 883915 Fax: 01953 884084, and is open daily 10.00am – 4.00pm
except Saturday 10.00am – 1.00pm, closed Sunday.

I'm going to be in the gallery on Wednesday and Friday that week, demonstrating mixed media techniques and possibly a bit of lutradur, too... if you're interested, come and join me! I might even let you play, too!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Creative Surprises

Process is a wonderful thing. I say this advisedly; I haven't been able to do much in the way of art making, recently, too busy with the book, visitors and other distractions. Yesterday, though, I got my act together and finished five pieces, all of which had been smallish quilt tops, just lying around, waiting to be worked on. Except Curvilinear, above.

Curvilinear is, in fact, the back of a piece I had made and quilted, using this piece of discarded lutradur (waste not, want not, etc). I quilted it,right side up, and decided I really didn't like it. So I turned it over and thought...Oh... Somehow the quilting worked Just Right on the back, after I'd added a few bits here and there. There are surprises every day when you work creatively...just this one was more surprising than most.

Another creative surprise was the number of potential guinea pigs (yes, okay, cavies...) who volunteered to help me with the new book. Thank you all, I'll be in touch with you shortly. Please, though, no more volunteers! I have more than enough now, but I will offer more opportunities later in the year (I've got plans...).

Now to list this piece on Etsy...if I can get Merlin off my legs, and find a tape measure...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Do You Believe In Gurus?

I follow Robert Genn's newsletter, Painters' Keys, on a regular basis; there's a lot of information to be found on the internet, and newsletters like this one are a great way of ensuring the occasional creative nudge. I have to confess, I don't read them all, and I doubt very much if Robert would expect me to... Anyway... He wrote an interesting piece here
which I felt I just had to respond to, about how gurus and mentors are rife in the art world (they are in the business world too, of course...). And about how many of them are in it for a quick buck. I hope you'll read the whole piece, it's considered and helpful, but I wanted to post my response here, too.

"This gave me a bit of a poke in the ribs. Along with a colleague, I've just published a book for textile artists on using Lutradur. And another two are in development, one on another non woven fabric, another on removing the practical and emotional blocks we put up between ourselves and our creativity. That one draws on my experience as a Self Development specialist and artist. And I've run several online groups for many years, to encourage growth and change in textile artists. Am I a guru? Err... not in my own head. In my own head, I'm a constantly changing and developing artist, sharing some of what I know for free, and some of it for (a very modest) gain. I may be a guru in your head, or my students' heads, but I'm not in my own, and if I ever I get to that point, I hope to goodness someone will take me gently aside and wake me up! When I work with people, I want to encourage them to believe that they have all the answers inside them already, and can learn to draw them out for themselves. Gurus, methinks, create a culture of dependency that is positively harmful to everyone, and stifles creativity."

My aim in writing books and working with individuals (I'm about to start offering coaching for textile artists) is always to show you that you are your own guru. Everything you need, you already have; it just takes a bit of thought to work it out, and it's often easier to do that with someone with no direct connection. Doth the lady protest too much? I hope not. And, like I say in my response, if I ever get to guru in my own head, I'm trusting my friends (you know who you are...) to flatten that tendency, kindly but firmly. You know you'll want to!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The More Things Change...

...the more they remain the same. Why is it that despite legislation, petitions and campaigning, it remains difficult for those of us who are not able bodied to access public spaces? Steve Wilkinson recently made a short film for the Politics Show (see it, and his comments, here), in which he highlights access issues. As an able bodied disabled person (work that one out...), I'm horrified that my less mobile friends have to deal with such discrimination on a daily basis. If you feel the same, and you live in the UK, please consider signing the petition Steve has created here
Basically, the petition calls for amendments to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). To my mind, they seem relatively minor; but they would change many peoples' lives for the better.

I'm particularly disturbed by this issue because in 1980, I wrote a dissertation about the (then) Year of the Disabled and its effect on France. The issues that Steve highlights here are exactly the same as those that were highlighted for me decades ago. Like I said, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose... and how sad it is that we have to ask for legislation to produce changes that represent best practice, and are very low cost.

ps don't forget to check out Steve's website... I should also say that I usually limit my rants to my personal blog ; you can find a few posts about depression there, if you are interested.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saying Goodbye.

As you know, I was in York last weekend, meeting my sister. Robin and I arrived very early and went for a wander round the city; it is beautiful as always, and it is a long time since we have been there. We tried, and failed, to find the Quilt Museum, by following the signposts...but clearly went one signpost too far... But we did visit an incredible installation in a deconsecrated church, St Mary's, entitled 'The Memory Of Place', by Keiko Mukiade. It is incredibly beautiful and powerful, and as I went round it, I found myself thinking of my friend Lynn Bunis, who died recently, and of how much she would have liked it. Lynn was very much on my mind that weekend, as my sister was bringing fabric I had taken from her stash down to me.

The centre of the installation is a long pool of water, and, as it says in the artist's statement; 'Hand blown glass bowls and tea lights are prepared. These lighted bowls make a connetion to a loved one's memory. They are released onto the water from the east side of the pool, flowing gently to the west side, suggesting the sense of passage..' So, I lit one for Lynn, and wept a while, and said farewell... but I have been putting away her fabric in my workspace, and know that it isn't really goodbye, more a transition point.

Joy bright butterfly
vanished into darkness
shines in our hearts.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Well, there's lots to be happy about. As well as a book excerpt in Popular Patchwork's January edition (hurrah...), I've been mentioned in dispatches on Etsy today! The Storque is Etsy's in house magazine, and I've been included in this article on 'High End Textile Art'. I'm honoured to be there, as the article is a showcase for all kinds of textile art, and has some wonderful artists and images included. Please do check it out!

What else is celebration worthy? Apart from the pure joy of living, of course, which I'm full of, today. I'm delighted that some of you have volunteered to be guinea pigs for the new book... see the post below if you have no idea what I'm talking about... I'm very grateful to them, and will be in touch after the closing date. I will keep a list of names after the event, with your permission of course, so if you apply to be a guinea pig for this book, and are not successful, I'll get in touch for the next one... or for the coaching sessions I'm planning. So please do email me if you are interested.

Now to do some work... a bit on the book, and a bit for the exhibition at the end of the month. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun???

Today's image is Autumn Flurries, one of the quilts I have on Etsy. It seemed appropriate, now that there is a distinct chill in the air, and the leaves are drifting slowly downwards... my favourite time of year.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Looking For Guinea Pigs...

or victims, if you prefer!!

I'm in the process of writing a book about getting past the practical and mental blocks or barriers we may have, or put, between ourselves and creative work. I know, it's not an original idea for a book, but it is my approach thereto, and therefore original at least to me. I would like to try it out on some people, and intend to put together a yahoo group to do so. I can't offer any money (I don't have any ), but you do get to work through the process with me, and with the other participants. I would also throw in a free copy of the book when it is published, and a name check in the book itself. I may want to quote you, but if I do, I'll ask for your written permission, and I won't put any pressure on you to agree. I'm looking for around ten people to participate in this process. You can be based anywhere, as I'll be doing most of this work by email, though I can phone, too. I'm looking for a cross section of people, from beginners to more experienced crafters/artists; I hope the techniques will benefit everyone, though I should think that beginners would benefit most.

The book is in the early stages, but I'd be ready to run with the early chapters at the beginning of November. If you would like to take part in this, please email me by 20th October(my email address is in my Blogger profile). I'll notify everyone who has applied at that stage as to what is going on.

Actually, if I'm honest, I'm writing two books at once... I'm in the planning stages of a book about Evolon, which I love as much as I love lutradur! Well, I usually read at least two books at once, so why not? The image above is of an Evolon quilt, Flying Circus, which I think I may have shown here before, or which you may have seen at Festival of Quilts on the Spunart stand.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Long Time No See...

but I've been around. I've had visitors staying here, from Inverness, and we've been having a great time. And when they left on Friday, last week, I popped up to York to meet up with my sister and brother in law for the weekend. In amongst all that, of course, I still managed to take photographs for the 'scars/cracks' series of work that's ongoing, work from which will be shown in Watton at the end of this month in the 'Mixing Up The Marks' exhibit.

Mixing Up The Marks will have five of us showing together, three photographers, a textile artist and me. I'm not sure what to describe myself as, other than artist, as I seem to be showing and making mainly mixed media at present (that would be a good tongue twister... try muttering making mainly mixed media ten times...). It is taking place from 24th October - 1st November
at the Dragonfly Gallery, Wayland House, High St, Watton, Thetford, Norfolk, IP25 6AR
Tel: 01953 883915 Fax: 01953 884084, and is open daily 10.00am – 4.00pm except Saturday 10.00am – 1.00pm, closed Sunday. In fact, I'm going today to arrange to spend some time demonstrating at the exhibit; I'll let you know what we arrange. Jill Arnold, my textile artist friend, will probably also do some demonstrating. If anyone wants to meet up with me at the exhibit, please email me; I'd be happy to come and talk to you about the exhibit, and maybe have a cup of coffee, too!

As well as all of this, I've been talking to Popular Patchwork; an excerpt from Lovely Lutradur will be featured in their January 2009 issue, but you don't have to wait that long to catch a glimpse of my work in their pages... the December issue will feature a little taster...and more... so do check them out! (For those of you not in the UK, Popular Patchwork is a UK magazine; click the link for more information). So, life is busy, and exciting!

Today's image is 'Setting Sun'; suddenly it's chilly, the colours are changing in the garden and the sun is distinctly lower in the sky... soon be Christmas. Of which more later in the week! More images of Setting Sun can be found by clicking here