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28 October 2011

Last weekend

There were a lot of people for the last weekend of Fair Trade Material Matters, either they were just happened to be in Ely that day or they came before take down.

Good conversations and images, good memories to take away. One of the most interesting experiences has been of providing private space in a public place.

21 October 2011

A change of scene

At the coast again tomorrow. It is a really good place to be for a change of scene after being in the gallery most of this month.
A kite making workshop 10a.m. - 4p.m. at The Parish Hall The Londs Overstrand The online booking form is here, and link to the events diary is here Flying our kites at 12 noon and 3.30p.m.

Half Term workshop

Hat Making workshop Thursday 27th October at Babylon Gallery, Waterside, Ely
This is a family workshop, the online booking is here, all welcome, with children or not!

Moving on - Slowly

The last week of the installation at Babylon Gallery. I had begun to feel settled in the space after five weeks, enjoyed hearing the feedback and conversations. Now I have been looking at the installation for future reference and it's bit like moving house. The studio will change again, how to bring all that furniture to bring back and fit it in the space.
The catch up process of stitching more portraits has got further, but now of course there are fifty plus from this show. Archiving system in place and easier to maintain now, this should mean the online quilt will be easier to add to as well.
In conversation with one visitor I did wonder if I would have to edit some drawings out, I haven't done that before and had previously said I would not. The audience at Babylon Gallery is slightly different from other galleries and events the work has been shown at, some of the drawings are not as intentional. One blanket may have children's faces and become a stand alone 'canvas'.
Comments this week have been very varied and the days visitors really disperate. I found my energy changed, I had a period last week not relating so well and let people 'receive' the work as they were inclined. With hindsight and from a comment Jane Wilson made I would make a sign that encouraged visitors to talk to me and ask questions, then I would not have to initiate those conversations.
A school visit was interesting, having to teach 13 year olds about the conventions of visiting a gallery and respect a shared public space. A conversation with them about how few marks can portray a face, how we recognise someone by those marks was interesting; also about what 'piece work' is and who does that kind of thing. The concept that art could include those considerations was obviously a new idea to the children if not the teachers.
There have been many people comment on how original the idea is and how skillful the work is, perhaps I should believe it. In addition comments about the use of space have been good to hear.
Sunday 23rd tea and cakes 2-4p.m. then take down and move on. I feel a bit like a traveller.

13 October 2011

Continuing the process

This week I have found it harder to relate to visitors and have been more involved with my work process. Something changes  in my approach while I do this work, in my mind stitching and drawing feel more similar. Sometimes it is the same hand action.
I have related with those who come in and want to get involved with the work, drawing themselves and each other and understanding the relationship between a personal and communal action.
Donations of blankets from some, offers of paper and carbon paper from others all help sustain the project.

Five weeks have gone very fast, only one more left before this version of Fair Trade: Material Matters is taken down and takes on another form. Many new portraits to scan and stitch, new relationships and networks to develop.

05 October 2011

Encouraging comments

I wrote something yesterday, then lost it in the ether so tomorrow will have to try and remember what it was. I had started to think about the way this project is like piece work, like so many other jobs and how it might give me more to write about Slow Making.
Today was quiet but because of that productive. While stitching faces I was able to think more about the nature of the process, the relationship with other people doing boring repetitive jobs. 
It seems to me that many artists are doing that, tho' the work may not seem boring if there is a good relationship with the materials used or the end product, but the process has a lot in common with many repetitive factory jobs.
Two Portuguese sisters came and spent a long time making their portraits, more than one each. I found their response to the project refreshing - one had even started to pin her portrait onto  blanket, assuming she would be involved with the stitching. Perhaps that is another stage for some venues. They really enjoyed perfecting the use of carbon paper and have promised to bring some back from Portugal, where it is both available and cheaper than in UK!
I have enjoyed the interaction in the gallery this week.

30 September 2011

Slow Making: planning, use of space and archiving

Is there something about Slow Making that is also about sustainable and efficient use of space? 
While working in the Babylon Gallery I have a chance to refresh my studio. I have a chance to look at the space and try to store tools, materials and finished work in a different way.
Almost everything came out over the weekend, a shock to my system and the rest of the house. Too much stuff in too small a space perhaps, but seeing it clearer should help. The plan is to put things back slowly, throw away or give away everything that I will not use in the foreseeable future.  Time will tell if this means new and better work.
Today the archiving of Fair Trade: Material Matters finished work was completed, now to start stitching again, this time archiving as I go which means keeping good records of people, places and events.

27 September 2011

Exhibition response and conversations

Feedback so far has been good from people ready to engage with the finished and interactive work. A few overheard conversations have proved that the term Fair Trade is powerful and has possibly confused a few. I heard one visitor say 'It wasn't what I was expecting - not sure what is Fair Trade about that". I think they were anticipating work made in the third world by artisan craftspeople, not artists from East Anglia needing their work to be valued on a par with other professionals.
On the other hand some Polish agricultural workers spent a considerable time looking at the work and did very good self portraits. They wanted to know much more than any other visitor so far about the process and people involved. They were surprised when shown the website that there was no fee to take part and gave generously into the donations box.
Visitors from West Yorkshire were intrigued with the use of blankets they had been involved in weaving in the 1950's. The conversations were about an area that used to be fully employed, with two or three generations of families well occupied in the textile industry. Like the Polish workers, they had a depth of understanding about the value and type of work involved.
I get a sense that Slow Making is being added to, while I have conversations and work on archiving the finished work I am beginning to plan a new phase of Slow.

24 September 2011

Walking Matters and changes things.

I have spent the last few days developing a way to record the events and exhibition that Fair Trade: Material Matters has been shown at and the people involved. Archiving has now become the focus for the work already made, so that the next stage will be easier to make. There at least fifty more faces to stitch and scan to include in the online work, so having a system in place is now crucial.
Response to the exhibition this week has been interesting, mixed and somewhat different to other venues, probably because it is not used solely for contemporary visual arts. Meeting with other artist and makers have been good.

Tomorrow a walk is planned, with Liz McGowan and myself. We will respond and play with the place and people we find using all our senses to experience the riverside walk.
images from previous walk in Bergapton, Norfolk.

19 September 2011

Material Matters

I have been thinking about writing more on the blog  for months but not had time. My time has been completely taken up with working on a Story Quilt project and preparing work for exhibition, and of course in the summer the allotment and garden take up any time that is left. Being involved with the slow physical processes of making has been good.

The Story Quilt was with Eastfield Infant School and Rheola Care Home, in St Ives Cambridgeshire. The best so far I think, and the largest. It took a long time to put together, many more hours than  I had estimated. It was completed at the end of last term it spent the summer in the freezer, to make sure no moth larvae were hiding anywhere in the wool. This one is so special because one grandma is a felt-maker, and provided some beautiful hand made felts. Now I have to write it up and add to FrostArt projects page. Meantime a few images.


Exhibition preparation is always admin, sorting out diaries and materials, making sure people are able to help, because of lack of funds it is always a question of help and favours, finding out how generous people are! Fair Trade: Material Matters opened at the Babylon Gallery this weekend and will be there until 23rd October, with a range of events planned.

I am booked to work there as artist in residence three days a week. It feels a bit strange to have a routine in place, but it is good because on the other days I intend to give the studio a really good clean out. What will I find?
An addiion to this post, seems appropriate to have a link to DACS petition about artists rights.

06 March 2011

Slow progression, willow, work and gardening

Another slow progression, overlapping work and home life. I was asked to write an article for my local village magazine, Littleport Life, because I advertise workshops there, and now it is also online so the link to that is here.
For workshop calendar go here. and for online bookings go here
I wonder where this will lead, and am intrigued to find myself exploring how my garden has developed and changed over the years. This year the garden has changed more dramatically; with greenhouse and new pathways it takes on a different feel. The slightly wild and unkempt areas are less, these are now on the allotment where there is more space to be wildlife friendly.
For the first time in years I have cut the hedgerow drastically, almost laying it in places. The birds are a bit phased, trying to find places to hide and start making nests, but it will not take long to produce cover again.
The willow fedge is now six years old, and has produced a good crop of poles for garden structures and plant supports. The effect of willow and yew is intriguing every year, and I still wish we had more space for a pathway between.
I am now a facilitator for Learning Through Landscapes, and find myself looking at outdoor spaces in a different way all the time. The use of materials and techniques, largely self taught, is now relevant to more of the work I am able to offer. Weaving is building and community, weaving my walk is also weaving my life with and for others.