Heart Felt Forum

enamel heart complete with paper label

I have just made this broken and mended vitreous enamel heart for an exhibition, Heartfelt Bristol, which is being held between Friday 19th and Wednesday 24th November at the Centrespace Gallery, Leonard Lane, Bristol. The Heartfelt exhibition has been co-ordinated by Bristol textile maker  Jan Connett and she has been working on this project for the last 9 months. Each exhibitor has been asked to make a heart to commemorate their own heartfelt moment and complete it with a label that tells the story that inspired it – so far Jan has over 500 hearts complete with their messages.

I have made this in the nick of time in response to a notice given at the last meeting of the steering committee of Textile Forum South West, which I chair. Jan is a member of TFSW and her work can be seen with many other members on the website. A group of us set up the Forum several years ago when some of the delegates and speakers at the Brunel Broderers‘ conference “No Man’s Land” sat down and talked together over lunch. We enjoyed meeting and speaking to fellow enthusiasts so much that we decided to continue to discuss and meet together in the future and try to include as many other textile practitioners, historians, lecturers and students as possible in the region. Sonja Andrew was the major driving force behind this move; she has since left the area to return to her native Yorkshire, but continues to keep in touch with us.

At the quarterly meeting recently held at rooms at Bath Spa University, Corsham Court, I looked round the room where 8 of the regular steering committee members were discussing our next conference “Mapping the Future – Where are you now?” to be held in March next year. I thought how totally different we all are in our own practice, but we all pull together because we just love textiles..not matter what our discipline we can’t talk enough about the “stuff”.

  • hedgerow.buds.turning.pink. paint and thread on organdie Liz Harding


    From the original group who formed TFSW there are 3 of us left and 2 of them were originally part of the Bunel Broderers group, Liz Harding who is currently studying for a PhD in at Bath Spa Uni and Brenda Miller who has recently completed an MA in Textiles at Goldsmiths University, London. Liz is at present the committee secretary and Brenda is heading up the exhibitions committee. The next exhibition later this month at the Centre for Contemporary Arts and the Natural World, and is called Material Actions which TFSW developed with  Plymouth University Arts.

    digitally knitted panel from video installation. Brenda Miller

    Also at the meeting and studying at Bath Spa for their doctorates, were Kay Swancutt, our strict treasurer, and Alison Harper. Alison had her work selected for the Material Actions exhibitions and it is shown here, she made lengths of “yarn” from discarded crisp packets – those sheeny-shiny coloured ones, winding them into skeins all ready for working with and to quote her in an email to me – “I am currently researching the ways in which textile art and processes can contribute to an ethical dialogue between art, materials and social and cultural change ! so there”

    "Pass Me Another Crips Packet" skeins of prepared crisp packets ready for knitting - Alison Harper.

    I have featured Kay’s work before in an earlier blog, she is looking at the whole idea of re-working patchwork – it’s getting very organic – I share with her the fascination of the written pattern papers still held in old English mosaic patchworks.

    Patchwork in progress. Kay Swancutt
    Jo Beal working in her studio.

    We are constantly looking for ways to sustain the activities of the forum and recently had a grant from the South West branch of the Arts Council – ACESW – where we have been assessing the audience and/or members’ requirements to grow and develop the Forum. Jo Beal is the person in charge of the bidding for grants and she oversees all our applications, we were having to give an account of the money in a written report and this meeting dealt with it. However her own work is varied, she  stitches but she also draws and has her own pages on Flickr.

    This just leaves me with 2 other members of the committee at the meeting, Jan Truman who works in beaded metal wire, I think she would term herself a knitter – but not as we know it.  The image below is ” just one of several projects on the go at the moment. This is part of my 2010 jewellery collection for the Barbican. I exhibit there, with the Designer Jewellers Group each year, so make a special pearl range for the show. Our exhibition this year runs from 11th Nov 2010 to 5th Jan 2011″.

    The "creative clutter" in her workroom - Jan Truman

    And then last but not least – Liz Hewitt  who does a whole lot of different things for the Forum. Her title is membership secretary but she also keeps us all up to date by sending out masses of news clippings and opportunities available between the bi- monthly newsletters posted by the Forum – a round up of everything going on in the textile world – it is worth being a member of the Forum just for these services alone. Also at present Liz is co-ordinating our next conference, as well as showing her dyed and stitched work in  many exhibitions, throughout the country.

    Hand dyed and stitched cotton cloth - Liz Hewitt.

    And Liz and I are meeting together at my studio later this week to talk about the possibility of running workshops in stitching and drawing in the Bristol area, so watch this space….

    But I am leaving you  pictures of the sampling session in the lunch break, where we tried out an idea of Alison’s to make pom poms as an idea for a workshop at the Mapping conference  – the Yarnpomming project. If you are interested in joining TFSW – out of area members welcome as well please go to the website and check in with us.

    Liz hewitt, Brenda Miller and Alison Harper making pom poms
    up close engaging with the "stuff"







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