Artist & Facilitator

I am a freelance artist based in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria in the North West of England. I have worked within the performing and fine arts for 20 years. Initally I worked within the theatre as a performer and on production. Then moving on to a street circus group that performed around the UK. I did my degree BA(hons) Fine Art at Uclan. For fifteen years I have collaborated with local arts organisations, worked on youth community projects and in schools running a variety of creative projects. I am currently a member of North Lonsdale Embroiderers Guild, Blue Tarn, a rural womens artists collective and Trident Textiles, based in Furness. I am always working on a variety of small scale projects including photography, textile and mixed media. Although my favourite thing is meeting and talking to interesting people!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Quilt Sent Off to The Great Northern Quilt Show 2011

Unbelievably the Tsunami quilt has been sent!  I have been ill for a while and felt really lethargic and disinterested so at one point it was touch and go if I was going to finish it.  It turns out I have a thyroid problem and anaemic! No wonder!  So in the first weekend of September the quilt will be exhibited alongside others at Harrogate. 

It mesaures 23" x 33" and has a bias binding on the edge with the required 4" sleeve on the back.  There are technical faults with it but I have learnt alot whilst doing this quilt.  Like do not quilt!

Ideally there would have been a lot more water droplets on the big wave creating more of a 3D effect.  Anyway I have more detailed photos to upload later.  It is now onto the next project!  Recently I went up to Whitehaven with my camera to get some shots for possible work for next years exhibition at the Beacon in Whitehaven. 


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Projects to be Finished and New Ones to Begin!

The Firebird quilts have been returned and they do look better than I remembered!  I had to get my entry and statement in for the next project I am working on.  This quilt is for The Great Northern Quilt Show in Harrogate, this September.  I am entering the themed cateorgry 'Beside The Sea'.  I prefer to do this at the moment so I can really get to grips with the medium and taking part without worrying too much about what to actually do! 

Initially for this I thought I could do a nice art deco poster style scene or a saucy blackpool postcard type but changed my mind for something more current and potent.  The recent Japanese tsunami in March which devasted so many people lives.  Those images of the towns and cities, peoples homes and of course the nuclear power station disaster which flooded our news channels for weeks were very eye opening.

There are a series of famous Japanese 18th century wood block prints of  different views of Mount Fuji.  The sea features in many of them, the most famous being 'The Great Wave'.  I had decided to update this image into a quilt.

The simplicity of the design yet dramatic effect lends itself to fabric and stitch.  I made out the pattern, chose the fabrics and thread that would allow me to make a modern version.  Once I had made the pattern I decided not to follow the original faithfully, in fact I did not look at it.  I wanted the sea to be muddy and allow the viewer glimpses of drowning houses, cars and boats.  Complete devastation and debris.  Make it difficult to tell where sky, land and sea meet.  Instead of Mount Fuji it is now Fukashima the nuclear power station.  I printed onto fabric various old texts and photos showing that some part of history and heritage has been lost.  However, the use of the Japanese flag rising sun symbol shows revitalized life and hope.  I have much more work to do on it.  It is just in its 'about to be embellished' state, before sandwiching it.

I have used applique and reverse applique with heavy machine embroidery.  There is a lot more to do with the crest of the waves, they are heavily wadded and will have a dramatic 3D effect when complete with droplets and debris coming out of the scene. 

At first I was concerned the subject matter may be too recent and morbid but soon dismissed that as I felt it was more worth my while to highlight the disaster then to work on something that did not mean anything to me.

I had applied to be part of Blue Tarn, a rural womens' artist network in Cumbria and after a couple of months I had found I had been accepted and attended my first meeting just recently.  It was great meeting the ladies and getting to find out about what they do, their work and more importantly their wonderful workshops!  So inspiring for me!  There are lots of things in the pipeline most notably a two month exhibition next year at The Beacon in Whitehaven.  So lots of new things to gear up for and even more interesting is the actual networking opportunities now available to me through this group.  So excited!!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Firebird Journal Quilts Published!

I previously entered my work into a journal quilt competition and I knew they were being exhibited in various places for the Spring Quilt Festivals 2011 and Quilts UK 2011.  Ardingly, Edinburgh, Exeter and Malvern. I did not expect to win my first competition or anything but secretly hoped something would come from it. 

Anyway this morning a package arrived with the enclosed magazine 'Fabrications', April/May Issue, and letter informing me that my quilts had been featured in the review alongside the winners!  I was thrilled especially when I saw the quality of the quilts entered.  Most newsagents and Tesco have a copy of this so feel free to nip in and browse to pages 6 to 11!

So although my friends sometimes laugh at my sewing and being a member of the embroidery/quilt guild, as it is seen to be old fashioned, it brings me joy and some rewards although not always in the form of this!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Spring Quilt Festivals Are Under Way!!

The Quilt Festival season has started!  I have seen the adverts in various national quilting and sewing magazines.  Three shows down and two more to go.  It was Ardingly in January, Edinburgh in February and this month has been Chilford.  Next month is Exeter and then onto Malvern for the Quilts UK Festival at the Three Counties Showground.  I have no idea how my quilts have done other than they were accepted to finish off at Malvern, as not all entries go to the end due to space allocation.

I am now working on the next small art quilt which is for The Great Northern Quilt Show in Harrogate in Novermber.  I am entering the themed section which is 'Beside The Sea' this year.  I have drawn up my ideas and selected the fabric.  It is a case of making the pattern now.  Will share images further down the line.

At home I have also been doing some dodgey rusting experiments on fabric.  I have trays of vinegar sodden fabric in rusty metal trays around the house and garden.  So far very limited results so I am continually tweaking.  No pictures yet as the results are poor!

Lastly I attended a workshop at Lanternhouse International last Tuesday with Creative Futures Cumbria's, Hank Williams.  It was for creative practitioners and agents requiring useful coaching skills for when working with teachers in schools.  It was brilliant to see how Hank worked but also a very useful networking session for me.  I met up with people I had worked with in the past before having my son, so it was great to be talking projects rather than baby stuff!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Ski-ing and New Projects

Just back from our annual ski holiday.  This year it was just us three in La Plagne, in the French Alps.  The hotel was the Terra Nova in Plagne Centre. It was different not being a group of friends but still a great holiday.  Alex our son loved it!  It was really hot too, so apres ski in deck chairs was particulary relaxing!  Took lots of photos for possible future projects.  The Bellecote Glacier scenery was just amazing!

Now it is on to new projects for me.  I have finished off all little jobs I have had pending like my friends posh cushions to match her curtains.  So I started doing a bit of a clear out the other day and found the Koolade sachets that I had bought at last year's EG regional conference.  They are an American flavouring you add to water to make pop but they can be used to dye fabric like wool.  They were really cheap and I thought worth a try but had forgotten about them.  Anyway having just bought an old fashioned wool blanket to do some dry felting with, I thought to do an experiment.

It was easy enough to mix it up and put in a bottle.  Once the wool had been soaked for a while in a bucket of water I just squirted the solution on.  Then the fabric was put in a bowl and microwaved for 3 mins.  Once cooled it was thoroughly rinsed and left to dry.  No fuss and no other ingredients. 

The dye is quite bright and you would need several sachets if you wanted to make a solid deep colour.  I was going for a more painterly look.  However, the coloured wool can become a really good basis for some project in the future.   If I was to use it again I would get more sachets and perhaps experiment using resists aswell.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Spring Quilts Festival UK 2011 - Art Journal Quilt Entry

I have finished, sent and had accepted my two A4 art journal quilt entries for the Spring Quilts Festival UK 2011.  I am entering the Art Journal Quilt section.  The theme was 'Fantasy' and two had to be entered no bigger than A4.  It is a competition but will be exhibited at the various venues aswell.  I will get it back sometime in June. 

Going with the theme of  'Fantasy' I chose to do a Firebird and a Firebird Feather.  I felt this would give me freedom to be creative with fabric and texture.  I printed my own text onto sections to add deeper meaning and fantasy.  I used mainly silk but included cotton that I had dyed used procion dye and then embellished with acrylic paint.  Sections were appliqued and then free motion machine stitched. I used sequins and glitter thread to embellish the feathers. I quilted the silk background to the felt wadding using machine stitch too.  The backing is a black linen cotton mix that has a  3" sleeve and label.  A satin bias binding was used to finish it off.

I wanted to convey a deep yearning of love through texture and layers, the layers representing our lives and dreams which are never fully revealed.  The Firebird in many cultures represents deep longing and the wish for something better.  The Firebird Feather is often sought as it is believed an owner of such a feather could have three wishes.