Rainbow Flowers – after winifred?

Here I am on my birthday in July with the posy that would change my work

For several months, since March, I have been working on a new stitched sky – an image combining 2 photographs, the first of a wonderful brooding grey sky with different shades either side of the bow, and another of Denney Island in leaf in the middle of the Severn Estuary, they were made during different spring-times and are rare sights so I wanted to capture them.

As usual I got going quickly and decided to work by drawing onto photographs of the emerging work using photoshop…well it partly worked – but really it is always better for me to work directly from my drawn ideas. Nevertheless I quickly layered fine silk chiffons onto the sky and sea areas adding several layers of shot cottons and a brilliant green silk georgette for the salt marsh – to enhance the curious green foliage on Denney Island

I worked on the piece for several weeks, well 2 months an and off, putting in and pulling out the rainbow – it proved hard to get it to glow but not become a garish boring band of colours: I wanted this rainbow to be part of the sky, not sit on top of it.

I was working at the same time on my patchwork room so needed some distraction from the finishing -off chores. BUT I was getting no-where with this rainbow , so put it away and started reading instead.

my favourite read was “My Name is Red” by Orhan Pamuk, as it is at heart a treatise on how “Persian” book illustrations where developed by different studios of specialised artists, and how trade with the West, notably Venice, brought in the whole notion of realistic images using perspective and observation of the real people and landscapes. I found several books in my shelves and spent hours just enjoying the exuberance of the work: I was definitely on the side of the symbolic flat pattern making of the illustrators – I realised that I was too hung up showing what I saw in the natural world not what I see in my head. I decided to add some decorative fabrics to my work and searched for some symbolic

I stated to realise that I could rekindle the rainbow embroidery with extra patterned fabrics – my old silk fabrics were dragged out and I found my drawings of Iris for the Flora Embroideries, she was the messenger of the Greek gods and of course the rainbow……things started to feel interesting again.

THEN I received this lovely posy on my birthday from my friend and colleague Jane-Marie Mahy she had bought it at Court House Farm and I drew it.

During my break from the stitched sky, I also bought a book about the wonderful paintings by Winifred Nicholson, “Liberation of Colour” – initially because of her interest in painting colour prisms, but it was the flowers and the looseness fo the paint that I admired most

and then it was so obvious what I had to do with the rainbow sky – embroider the posy and applique it onto the Kantha stitched sky….easy peasy – not!

above the initial embroidery coloured ground is painted onto a fine cotton fabric, checked for size before continuing to be stitched into position onto the stitched sky.

And here it is – the finished work ” After Winifred” stretched and about to be bound with velvet ribbon and off to the printers to make an edition of giclee prints for sale in time for Court House Farm’s open garden event, Art in the Garden where I am exhibiting and talking about the making of the Kantha Stitched Skies for The Portishead Art Festival. www.portisheadartsfestival.co.uk.