Sunday, October 19, 2014

World of Threads exhibition, Canada, trip to Prague

If you are anywhere near Toronto, please go and see this exhibition and tell me all about it!

I'm in Prague at the moment, it's an amazing place full of art nouveau buildings.
I should have written more blog posts but wifi has been pretty dodgy till now.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Giant Kimono

The giant kimono was devised and organized by Emma White and Sol from the New Zealand JET Alumni. Emma and Sol sent fabric panels and paint to  New Zealand school and Japanese schools and the kids decorated them and sent them back. Then they had to have eyelets punched around them so they could be linked together. About 10 days ago the work was hung for the first time and I gave them a hand to string the pieces together and sew an extra panel on the base, hence the crash hat.  This is what it looked like when it hung for the first time from one of the lighting gantries in the TSB arena in Wellington, prior to the Japan  Festival last weekend.

You can gauge the size by the people at the left hand side

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sewing in a safety helmet zone

I've never had to sew wearing a safety helmet before! There were electricians working on the catwalks above us. This is me sewing some last touches on the bottom of an enormous kimono which was hung in the centre of the TSB Arena for  Japan Culture Day last weekend.

Dijanne Cevaal's Pozible project

My friend Dijanne is trying to fund a new book using the online fundraising website Pozible. If you would like to support her please go to Musing in France

Monday, August 25, 2014

Artist Blocks

Magazine to Through Our Hands, editorial team: Annabel Rainbow, Laura Kemshall, Linda Kemshall

Art Blocks
I have been a bit out of circulation since January when I discovered I need treatment for my thyroid. I am just starting to get enthusiastic about textiles again. I think part of my quilt 'block' was lack of the right  medication but also a leftover 'art block' from art school. Every time I spend some time studying art it takes about 2 years to get back to making again. In that time I still make simple quilts and knit and do other creative things but I find it hard to get going again after the angst of art school. I needed 2 years off after art  school in Goulburn , Australia, and 2 years off after both stints at Whitireia in Porirua. Thats just me though.

Do other people have 'blocks'? What causes them? Is it after a major solo show? Or is it just me?

When i have an art block,  I think that all my ideas are rubbish. What I am doing is 'self censoring' to a very high degree. It's as if I have a tutor sitting on my shoulder saying "I think you can push it further", "have you thought of …", "I think you are on the wrong track", The answer is often just to make something simple, which leads to something else, and slowly ideas start to flow. Of course, most of the ideas happen when I am on a plane, on holiday on a Pacific Island where I have no access to a sewing machine or dyes/paints, or while  waiting in the ER with a friend. By the time I'm home again, the idea doesn't sound so good any more or the drawings don't make sense.

Anyway, thats just me, how about you?

Anyway, as I said , I'm coming back to my creative life. I have just had a work accepted for World of Threads Festival in Toronto in November. I really wish I could go to see the show, I have been getting the World of Threads weekly newsletter for over a year now and they profile some amazing textile artists.

I will also have work in the UK in 2015 as a member of 'Through our hands'. See the free magazine above , Annabel Rainbow, Laura Kemshall, Linda Kemshall
The exhibition details are below
Bilston Craft Gallery, Bilston, West Midlands, UK.

The exhibition will run from 9th May to 4th July 2015, 

Then of course, there is the New Zealand Quilt Symposium in January, where hopefully I will be teaching 4 different  classes. I say 'hopefully' because I am waiting to see whether the classes have filled enough to be going ahead. The New Zealand Quilt Symposium .

I leave in 3 weeks for 2 weeks in Seattle, San FRancisco and Boston and then another 4 weeks in Eastern Europe (Berlin, Krakow, Prague) then finish in Copenhagen at the end of October. So I need to make a whole quilt to enter in the symposium in the next 3 weeks, I have an idea, I just have to clear the decks first…

Let me know in the comments section about what causes you to have an artist block (if you get them)?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Art and Textiles in Samoa

I recently had 2 weeks holiday in Samoa with the intention of resting and doing a lot of reading and swimming (as physiotherapy for my neck). The first week was very restful, it was very hot and i spent a lot of time in the swimming pool and also did a bit of snorkeling on the reef.

The second week, I volunteered to help at Tiapapata Arts Centre. I expected to just help with classes but was booked to teach one fabric printing class with kids and 3 adult classes (bookmaking, mono printing and natural dyeing) and to do a talk about my work. It was a great week, it got me started thinking about art again after all the focus on hospitals and my health.

 I found the heat very tiring in Samoa, as my body still can't cope with heat or cold very well. The thyroid deals with that sort of metabolic stuff and my medication isn't quite at the right level yet. Luckily the art centre is high up in the hills above Apia and much cooler which was great.

The art centre runs classes for children and adults , and has an Artist in Residence programme and occasional visiting artist/craftspeople as volunteers who help with classes. It also has 3 accommodation options if people want to stay, including a tree house and two flats.  While I was there, the owners were preparing for an Art Therapy symposium  which was held in the studio, with visiting speakers from Australia.

Here are some photos of the studio and grounds of Tiapapata arts centre.

Tiapapata Art Workshop
While I was at the workshop, one of ladies at my talk,  showed me how to print using the wooden boards which used to be used for printing Tapa cloth but are now used for printing Elei fabric. 
Elei fabric printing
Roll the textile ink on a board or glass sheet

Roll the ink onto the carved wooden board

another board pattern

lay the fabric over the board and rub the back of the fabric with a scrumpled plastic bag

after rubbing from back

Printed fabrics, showing repeat patterns. 
It is much harder to match up the pattern repeat than it is for screenprinting. It really needs two people and I was only moderately successful at it on my own. Luckily I tend to cut up my fabric and use it for patchwork or collage rather than in long dress lengths. There is very little cotton fabric available in Apia, as most people prefer Polycotton. It doesn't absorb as much ink and prints very well, but I still prefer cotton if I can get it.

Here are some fabrics I bought in Apia. The main souvenirs in Apia are fabric lengths and wooden items. There are lots of hand printed fabrics using the Elei method above or screen printed. Most of the screen printing is done using a stencil made of old X-ray film on the back of the screen. I've found this often makes a blob of ink as the squeegee goes over the cut edge, and I found signs of the 'blob' on lots of fabric lengths at the market. Its quite easy to see which fabrics have been screen printed and which have been rubbed on the carved boards.

I bought 4 of the stencils made of X-ray film. They were 10-15 tala each (about NZ$5 -$7). They are beautifully accurate and I was told that they are often sold by students from the local art school. When I let school I trained as a radiographer so I was quite interested in the X-rays as they still have the name and left or right lead markers showing on them.

I'm slowly sorting out my photos from the trip and hope to add more over the next few days.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Updated quilt - complete...

Here it is , finished. The new border is sewn on, it has a more conventional hanging sleeve and a label on the back. It is rectangular , the photography isn't that brilliant , and it is rather unevenly quilted so I might do a bit of tweaking to make it hang flat. It looks a lot better without the ugly black borders. For a little quilt made 25 years ago, it doesn't look too bad. The screen printing ink hasn't faded very much at all, and once I'd got the dust off, it brightened up considerably. All in all, I'm very pleased.

Before shot

After finishing the quilt I made something for a challenge I'd given my Facebook friends, Many of us have been stuck at home due to bad weather, illness or in my case , treatment which makes me radioactive, so I have been stuck at home since Wednesday.

I have wanted to make a teacup pin cushion for some time. It is cute and girly and not at all conceptual, just the thing for a rainy afternoon. The glue is still wet. I think I might need a lie down now...