Lockdown Patchwork Project

Determined to make the most of the new year 2021 winter lockdown in the UK, I decided to cover my damp (although supposedly cured) and now ruined sitting room walls…….with patchwork!

And with real fabric. the left-overs from my work organising quilt making in the UK for Kaffe Fassett‘s books of patchwork and quilting designs. Below are 2 of my favourite quilts from previous books that I have worked on and which I referenced for both colour and patten.

Patchwork is part of my professional textile practice and I have always used it for all types of furnishings, from wall papers for Heart Space Studios to my old but still glamorous dining room curtains.

Now I chose fabrics that reflected the colours in the rest of the house: basically turquoisey blues, buttery yellows, mauves and greens – I like colours to blend through the rooms. I had painted the hot pink walls for a New Year’s Day party 2 years ago….as you do!

I really loved the first fat version on my studio quilt wall above, but seeing it in situ was another thing. I wanted to cover the whole room and suddenly I felt totally overwhelmed by colour and pattern – the photoshopped version confirmed my misgivings…..it just hit me in the face and made me feel hot and sticky!!!!!

photoshopped version of sitting room walls!!!!!

The larger size of the fabric pieces, 21inches in length, made the patterns fight one another; in the smaller pieces used for quilts the patterns meld together as the eye sees so many at once AND there is only 1 quilt per room. Here there will be at least 6 large quilt sized pieces from floor to ceiling on all walls. Back to the studio.

And back to the oldest and simplest way of softening and unifying coloured fabrics – dip them in brewed tea. Above see the different shades to be had using: top = 1 bag, middle = 2 bags, lower = 2 bags boiled. It is a shame to kill the brilliant singing colours of the Kaffe Fassett Collective’s fabrics but hey ho! These wall coverings will take months to make and mount on the walls and then we have to live with them for ever…….I am not doing this again!

Back in my studio sorting out newer softer colours. Meanwhile the Kaffe Fassett Studios had kindly sent me lots more fabric strips based on my original sample….dipping a few of them in week tea I placed them on top of the quilt wall – wow this looks like a mad Japanese kimono design! Should I introduce stripes?

I am now 3 weeks into this sampling phase, I am still uncertain about the design on the wall. My Christmas star light reigns over chaos.

Time to get a grip! sort out the separately coloured triangles and tidy up

I set them all out on the table ready to start work – tomorrow. Looking at the fabrics the next day they appeared to look so calm totally unlike the design on the wall. Maybe it is the Covid experience of the last 10 months but now I seem to want calm from my colours. I looked at the table and my eyes just glided over the strips of colours – back to the quilt wall again – to organise the diamonds into stripes.

Now my eyes tend to glide up and down rather than dotting about to see other diamond combinations. But that is as far as I can take this designing phase: there comes a time to every project when you just have to commit, and we are now into the first week of the new year. So I am simply sewing one single coloured strip at a time, and when I have finished them I can start to play with the design again – it should see me through until I get vaccinated.

nexus – meetings at the edge: exhibition

IMG_6545

The night before the private view I had a dream that a giant version of the work featured on the poster ( see above) was writhing around the gallery walls and flashing strobe lights, while all the other pieces of work in the exhibition were equally massive and glowing while moving to – for want of a better word –  ‘disco’ music: I thought –  oh no! my poor flat patchwork!

cover ex
reassuringly  static ‘ Entangle Tiles ‘ by Lynne Maclachlan

The featured work by Lynne Machlachan was on display with her other wonderful constructions in blends of strong colours they undulated around the walls and in the air. A panel of photographs showed them  being worn, I hesitate to call them jewelry…

On reflection I feel that this work set an atmosphere for the exhibition; clear, strong, flat colour, immaculate attention to surface detail, and a definite sense of playfulness were qualities I enjoyed throughout the rooms. The only strobe effects were caused by overlapping patterns on a smaller scale in many exhibits.

IMG_6486
strobe effect in metal in tiny scale by Andrew Lamb

Whether  by intention of the makers or sympathetic lighting on the part of the curators, the play of light and shadow were fascinating.  I constantly returned to view the works of 2 makers who collaborated to show small woven metal constructions, Jonathan Cleaver and David Poston,

neux ex3
weave1
views of the woven metal works from different angles with metal jewelry work by

Even when I viewed  larger scale works that had became almost installations in the way they were exhibited, the same themes of flat brilliant colour and clean elegant construction were apparent – and the use of this singing yellow and metal together.

IMG_6480
Rajesh Gogna metal appliances with attitude

colour and pattern throughout the exhibition links very disparate materials and ideas

nexus ex2
machine embroidered coat by Jacky Puzey echoes the metal sculpture beyond

The machine embroideries of Jacky Puzey echo both colour and form when seen against the metal sculptures. Her large dramatic panel of birds is a real master class in placing together disparate materials and media so that they flow easily one into the another.

IMG_6464
machine embroidered parrots in thread and feathers. Jacky Puzey
joining
detail of embroidery and fusion with feathers – harder than it looks here!

The degree of skill on view within the exhibition is made apparent in different ways, certainly to change or add new materials to your original practice makes you concentrate on the “joins” and here nearly every piece of work combined either 2 or more materials or the makers had transferred the techniques of one discipline to another…or they made juxtapositions of natural with man made found objects – never easy.

thimble
3 Sea Thimbles by Romilly Saumerez Smith

Ancient bronze thimbles carry coral and sea urchin spines, like tiny offerings to the goddess of stitch! And there were boxes made from a metal shield mount, still with tracings of old patterning mounted with diamonds.

One of the major themes of the exhibition is the transformation of one material to describe another and there were many examples including my own.

annalorenz

One of the advantages of Private Views is to meet up with other exhibitors, I often find that talking to people work who work totally differently to me are always stimulating. I was introduced to Valeria Nascimento and we spent some time together discussing our very different work. as we walked we both stopped and gazed at the work of Anna LorenzIt is intriguing; you just can’t guess the material ( well I am a maker and stimulated by materials) It looks like unglazed porcelain or paper porcelain, or unfired porcelain, or paper or felt or…. or….but it is news print; and it is perforated, but how? Valeria and I were looking behind it, inside its layers and I took this image of the gradated shadow it threw – so much a part of its complete and compelling mystery.

Arriving at Valeria’s work I realised that I had photographed it as soon as I walked into the gallery, drawn to the far wall of what looked like bleached shells and sea creatures.

valeria sea
porcelain ruffs and spirals

Her table of porcelain jewelry in stark blacks and whites really intrigued me, the fluffy neck pendants and the massive rings and brooches are not to my personal taste but their presence and implication of natural forms through simple and sympathetic use of her media, just made me want to hold them – and that’s why we go to exhibitions isn’t it – to extend our imaginations and ideas.

sea creaturesSea creatures emerged as inspiration in the beaded work of Wanshu Li, translucent and iridescent tentacles of colour made up large rings and bracelets.

sea photo
photographs of jewellery by Wanshu Li

and accompanying her work were high contrast photographs underlining the quality of deep sea beings… looking at this work made me see a fish in an adjacent vitrine.

fish
strange fish emerges from the glass work by Kate Haywood

Every once in a while you see work that just makes you jealous and wishing that you could have made  it – the work of Zoe Hillyard really stopped me in my tracks. First it was beautifully thought-through and formed, second it reminded of work that I had made previously, and third – I wished that I could have used it for an exhibition I co-curated some years ago – Mending at the Museum.

joining1
broken ans mended jar using fine fabric.

I had actually tried  a similar exercise when I was working on ‘mending’ ceramics – but it did not look like this; here are elegant breaks, refined textiles wrapped and stitched to perfection and the soft colouring entirely at one with the materials –  it is patch-worked!

I really appreciated this work, especially her dense stitching on the inside of the pieces, used to draw the fabric tight against the curves, she managed to make this as decorative as it was functional. Just so desirable and a perfect transference of materials and ideas – and she made the jars then smashed them herself!!

I cold go on and on about the ideas, images, thoughts and provocations elicited by this exhibition – but now show that finally, after months of work, the Patchwork Enamel was successfully  transported and hung and here it is complete with shadows…

shadowspw1