A holiday dilemma by Julie Turner



I have recently been on a family holiday to the gorgeous Canary Islands where I had the opportunity to find some different items waiting to be transformed into ‘nests’.
Being surrounded by tropical plants and palm trees their leaves were bound to feature highly.
On a trip to the Fuerteventura Island zoo I found some large fallen leaves which were firm and felt waxy. I took the leaves back to where we were staying and forgot about them!
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Luckily I had left them outside in the shade and so they hadn’t dried out too much but were turning brown by the time I got round to using them. To turn these leaves into a nest I first cut out a shape which in maths is called a net if I remember correctly. I then folded to create 4 sides and cut some thin strips from the leaves to use as laces.
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I pierced the sides with a needle and threaded the laces through them to fasten the sides together. The problem with this was that by the time I was threading the last side the thin strips were drying out and becoming brittle. I managed to finish it before the strips became unusable and was happy with how this turned out. I particularly like the way the longer edges curl, I had left these sides longer hoping they would curl like this.
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Another find was in the grounds of where we were staying. Whist wandering around admiring the cacti and palm trees I came across a little tucked away corner which housed the gardeners clippings and general tidying up/dead plant/leaves area. I had to have a peep in the top black bag. I was glad I did as there was treasure in there, well ok just nesting treasure for me.
I wandered around to see if I could locate which plant they had come from. I found it and the foliage/flower looked even better alive.
I decided to use the fallen, older pieces anyway as I didn’t want to be bringing back fresh pieces of plants. After all at this stage I hadn’t even thought about how I was going to get these delicate leaf ‘nests’ home. The long ‘tendrils’ of this tree leant themselves beautifully to weaving in and out of each other creating a rather open but still inviting ‘nest’.
It was as I was proudly showing my family the beautiful delicate plant ‘nests’ that someone said “Have you thought about how you’re going to get them home in one piece?” Oops no I hadn’t, but quick as a flash I said “I’ll buy a box to put them in and I’ll leave something out of my case if I can’t get it all in!” after all there was no way I was leaving these treasures behind.


Storytime by Jane Pugh

As my ideas sheet of paintings nears completion I am finding a structure to my work. The images that I have produced most recently reflect the story told in the embroidery, of objects, creatures and places important to the people. This is somewhat of an assumption as no words link the objects; rather, it is a conjecture using the visual clues in the embroidery.

Using friends and family as a starting point, I am going back to basics, and drawing and painting ideas for larger compositions. I am documenting the method of my practice, and using my photographs to animate the production of certain paintings.

Some inspiration was taken from this watercolour by William Blake, a copy of which has been lying around in my studio for some time. I feel sure, but have no proof, that Marc Chagall must have seen this image as it is so evocative of his work.


This painting is an example including members of my family as well as important moments past and present. I have taken a series of photographs showing the progression of the painting.


I decided to investigate the connection between Blake and Chagall further and found this section in the book William Blake and the Productions of Time*

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William Blake’s painting Visions of the Daughters of Albion

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Marc Chagall’s painting The Birthday

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I also recognized that it could just be a fact that people come up with the same idea. This is called ‘Multiple Discovery’. The first image I I found when researching this was of a mandala, on this website** Inspiration: Where Do Artists Get Their Ideas? This was meaningful to me as I recently came across the word ‘mandala’ when I was looking at flags for one of my paintings. Not being familiar with the word, I had found its meaning on Wikipedia***:

Mandala (lit, circle) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. In common use, “mandala” has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.

The psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote:

I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing… which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time… Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is… the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.

Jung recognized that the urge to make mandalas emerges during moments of intense personal growth. Their appearance indicates a profound re-balancing process is underway in the psyche. The result of the process is a more complex and better integrated personality. — Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pp. 195–196.

So, in accordance with Jung, I have decided to use the mandala structure in a textile piece inspired by the painting of the basket. To be continued…

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** https://www.sophia.org/tutorials/inspiration-in-visual-art-where-do-artists-get-the ***https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandala

Spurn Point, wildness and more repair by Karen Alderson

Having mounted all the pieces for the exhibition I rewarded myself with a short camping trip to Spurn Point, a long narrow sand spit located on the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire.  A friend said I would love it.  When asked why she replied, “There’s nothing there.” Perplexed I did an online reconnoitre prior to setting off, Grimsby looked industrial and Easington Gas Terminal was visible and in walking distance from the nature reserve.

I arrived at Bluebell Pond Camp site in driving rain, there was no camping reception but thankfully a couple, Darron and Cherry, had just arrived in their caravan and pointed to the reserved notice on pitch number 2. I put my tent up, thankful for investing in expensive waterproof clothing, I wish I had followed suit with the tent: an hour after getting all the paraphernalia in: mattress, sleeping bag, pillow, blanket, table, chair, cooker, clothes, food, I sat with a herbal tea and watched tiny tributaries run into the middle of the tent and form a large puddle. I timed it that I had to mop the water up every 15minutes before it came dangerously close to the bedroom area. I checked the forecast, this was in until midnight and it was only 6pm. There was only one thing for it: put all the bedding back in the van and hole out there.

Thankfully when I opened the van door the following morning the sky was big and blue. Where I live in the Calder valley we have hills in every direction and beautiful that it is you can only see 15 miles on a good day if you haul yourself up a steep incline. But here at Spurn Point not a hill in sight. I stood and looked at the vast blueness and out at the humber estuary, I felt like the top of my head had opened up, a master blaster meditation, “blue sky thinking”.


Spurn Point has been owned by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust since the 1960’s the previous guardian being the Ministry of Defence. There is a strict no dogs policy on the Point, not even in cars, as this is a site of special scientific interest (an SSSI).

A new visitor centre is in the process of being build which is not supported by the local residents. This would be the last time I would stay at BlueBell Pond site as the owner had been ordered to close it down and revert it to the grasslands in line with the needs of the SSSI. After 8 years of nurturing the camp site he was worried for his family’s future.

 The needs of tourism are being imposed on the locals, a community who so far have lived without much interference in this liminal place. Dumper trucks and coach parks herald bureaucracy and crowds, both anathema to those who live on the edge of society. “Keep Spurn Wild” read the boards but to no avail, the regeneration army is unstoppable. Of the few properties more than half have a for sale sign outside. These were interspersed with notices saying “Have you left enough time to get back before High Tide?” The pride and respect for the wildness and the fear of it being domesticated is palpable.

It reminded me of my trip to the Isle of Skye earlier in the year where crowds of people were heading to the faery pools, thrust there by tourist internet sites of “What to do on Skye”

There is an increasing hunger for pre packaged wildness the more our culture is driven by consumerism and urban living. The land is commodified, labelled and sold as “an experience”. People are told how to enjoy it, what to look for, where to walk, how to feel, how to think instead of trusting their own experience. Phil Smith in “On Walking” provides guidelines for how explore your locality with fresh eyes. He recommends imagining you are a detective: investigate buildings, scrutinise the skyline, observe the pavement, sniff out aromas, consider sounds, explore texture, draw what you see, create your own maps. He writes, “Our enemies …are not each other. But the homogenisation, policing and reduction of multiplicity.” See also “How to be an Explorer of the World” by Keri Smith.

I made my way straight to the beach, past Bluebell cafe, the car park & the 24 hour toilets. With the north sea to my right, on my left huge wedges of red clay were peeling away eroding the fragile coastline, this is one of the fastest changing coast lines in the UK. The sea had a slightly pink hue as it crashed against huge bits of concrete once built by the MOD, now destroyed by the tides. It felt like a war torn land.

Across the sea was an ocean wind farm & a north sea gas rig.

I turned around and walked on the sand towards the lighthouse noticing how the sea had eroded the cement road leaving an installation of joists rusted by iron bolts.


They had an Easter Island feel to them, looking out to sea, standing still, witnessing the changes.


At the end of the Point is a lighthouse, a lifeboat station (the only one in the UK that is staffed permanently), 4 houses, a building that accommodates the YWT office, a private jetty and a few odd little buildings, one being an old gun store.


On the way back I came across a hawk, it seemed quite young, I managed to get about 2 metres away from it before it took flight. If you are interested in hawk symbolism click this link: https://whatismyspiritanimal.com/spirit-totem-power-animal-meanings/birds/hawk-symbolism-meaning/  Spurn did feel wild, the summer season had not yet begun and I appreciated having the beach to myself.

Being at Spurn has strengthened the repair process of my inner wild part, something I thought had lost. At home I began a small art quilt incorporating the theme of repair,  I’m conscious that I buy as little material as possible and to repurpose and reuse what is in my scrap store, old clothes & charity shop finds.

I began by cutting out some backing fabric and batting, choosing some scraps and pinning them to it.

I sewed the scraps together and then using sashiko stitch I quilted in vertical & horizontal directions and a circular motif. At one point I decided to add a small bit of red fabric.

To edge the piece I used more red fabric, cut it into a strip & sewed the right sides together then folded it onto the back and stitched it.



I edged the rest of the piece with some hand dyed fabric.


Teddy and tights by Julie Turner

If you have been following my blog you will not be at all surprised when I tell you I brought out my saved old tights for these nests. Together with stranded cotton threads, needle, scissors and some of our family’s Ryeland wool I set about the first idea I had.

For this first nest I fluffed up a hand full of the wool and stuffed it into one of the ‘barely black’ legs of the tights. I didn’t push it all the way to the toe as I didn’t want the thicker toe part to be part of my nest. I pondered over how to create the nest shape. I created the nest shape but then had two ends of tights that I didn’t know what to do with. I remembered somewhere I had seen a technique where one end was pushed through the other and pulled, tied and was then secured together in a neat way with one knot which can be pushed back inside and hidden. I made a dent in the middle of the wool to create a circle shape pulled the toe though and secured both ends with a knot underneath. It is only as I am writing this that I remembered where this technique came from – a surprising place -balloon modelling!

With the knot secured and a nice nest shape, I took my needle and single threads and sewed through the layers to quilt them. Quilting requires three layers of fabric with the middle fabric being a cushioned material which allows the outside stitching to ‘sink’ in and the fabric on either side of the stitch to be raised giving it the traditional ‘puffed up’ look associated with quilts. With a French knot on both the outside and inside this embroidery stitch created a luxuriously padded and quilted nest. The French knots remind me of candy sprinkles which would adorn a cup cake or ice cream.

For the next nest I followed the same method up to when I tied the knot underneath. Only for this one I used black tights. Then using a reverse needle felting needle which pulls the fibres (in this case wool) out of the object as oppose to the normal felting needle which takes the fibres in to the object. Because the Ryeland wool has a lot of crimp the pulled wool comes out quite curly. It only pulls through a few millimetres but covers the surface of the tights densely.

I came across this technique when a very kind, generous and dear friend of mine hand made me a teddy bear using Ryeland wool from our sheep. She told me that she was making it but didn’t say how. First she hand knit the pieces and sewed them together then she stuffed each piece with washed raw wool. After sewing the body parts together she added needle felted paws, foot pads, nose and eyes. Following that she reverse needle felted the entire teddy bear to get the look she desired. This was truly a labour of love and I feel very honoured that she took the time to make it for me. It will become a family heirloom to pass down to my grandchildren who will remember ‘Teddy’ coming out to play and then being put safely away until next time. The following pictures show my first and only (so far)  17 month old grandson enjoying special time with Teddy recently. The pictures show how big Teddy is and also show the texture that reverse needle felting created on him.

After going around the whole of the nest with the reverse needle I was happy with the outcome. This nest reminds me of a sugared donut.

Recovered memories, hand quilting and found messages by Karen Alderson

Things are moving forward! We had a meeting at the museum last week and the conversation honed in on display and marketing, namely boards, labels, flyers and Mayors. The week previous I had visited Bankfield with my tape measure and looked at how the gallery attached frames to walls, the size of frames and how much space was available for my work. Whilst there I noticed the huge map I used as a starting point was on display as part of the museums current exhibition, so if you want to see this amazing artefact now, please visit the gallery.



Somehow I had got into a flap about how I would display my pieces but after some research into methods of displaying textile art http://www.textileartist.org/displaying-and-hanging-textile-art/  I realised I knew what to do as I had done it for open studios last year. Memory….

After the relief of recovering this memory I set to work sewing each textile piece onto black backing fabric, this took a few days sitting in the garden (Oh! The labour of a textile artist). Then each piece was carefully measured to assess the size of frame, a list was make of wood lengths, wood was ordered, wood arrived.

Next, I collected tools and materials: a drill, box of drill bits (where did I put that chuck key?), screws, phillips screwdriver, 2 G clamps, staple gun, staples, batting. Now the fun part: drilling holes and screwing the wood together. Like anything else the first one took ages but by the fifth one I was on a roll brandishing my Black and Decker like a six shooter.

I’m about half way through, however, the process was slowed down somewhat when my 15 year old staple gun finally seized up and a new one had to be ordered.


Mounted work in the studio

All this drilling, screwing and stapling is great fun and I’m still working on a hand quilted piece that references road edges.

I hand dyed some linen thread with the same colours I had used to dye the fabric and once I had machine sewed the pieces together it was back out in the garden to sit in the sun and hand quilt for hours.

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Goodness, it was awful sat there in all the peace of the afternoon listening to the bees buzzing and birds singing quietly sewing myself into a trance.

Not content with all of this I had a yen to go back to Brow Lane and revisit the fence from which I had based a lot of work. Someone had left a pair of children’s black shoes and a green curtain there.

Further up the hill I came to the place where clothes and household items had previously been dumped, these had been removed and in the lower field brown cows munched happily whilst there was an overwhelming acrid stench similar to that of an abattoir.

I’m not sure of the business in the industrial park further down but it did invoke memories of a long dead uncle who worked at Borthwick’s abattoir, now owned by Woodheads on Regent Street in Nelson and a similar smell always lingered along the valley. Further up I found a broken picture frame.


Still, something urged me back down towards Holmfield Mill.  As I stood outside taking photos I found some stone steps leading to the car park opposite.

I figured I would get better shots from there and as I reached the tarmac I saw an abandoned van with its windows smashed.

I was taken back to the day I collected my belongings from my smashed vehicle at the recovery garage, at the time a part of me had wanted to spend some time with the vehicle taking in the damage, letting the reality sink in but another part wanted to get away from it as soon as possible, the latter won. Being able to closely observe this van seemed like a second chance to really look at how the vehicle had been damaged, in particular, to be able to look inside as both side windows had been put through.


On the floor of the passenger side I found a piece of paper with a child’s scribbles and underneath a child’s toy from MacDonalds. I retrieved the paper and wondered what was going through the child’s mind as it held the ball point pen. I really like the mark making and will use this to inform further work.






Human hair part 2 by Julie Turner

Earlier this year I began saving some of my discarded hair to potentially use in this project. I have two piles ongoing; one is the hair in my hairbrush which is mostly untangled and loose and the other is a pile of little knots which I always have after washing my hair. I always condition my hair after washing as even though I use no product on my hair it is long and fine and tangles easily. After applying conditioner I use my fingers as a comb to distribute it through my hair. I always find I have several hairs entangled in my fingers (my hair sheds easily too) and for as long as I can remember I rub my hands together to knot the hairs more, pull the little lumpy tuff off and throw it away. This probably started when I had my own house and realised that hair can clog the plug hole! And not having mum around to unclog it I looked for ways of stopping it!

As I had a reasonable amount of these knots I decided to try to needle felt it. Needle felting involves a soft surface to stab into such as a sponge/brush and a barbed needle. By stabbing the needle onto and through the fibres the barbs on the needle catch and carry the fibres tightly against and next to others where the scales on the fibre in this case human hair interlink and hook/ grab on to those next to it this creates a firm and strong fabric called felt. In my last post I talked about wet felting this is the same process but with a needle and is sometimes called dry felting.

The human hair needle felted easily and was soon a firm, neat and inviting nest. I’m really pleased with how this one developed and looks.

Dark and Light by Jane Pugh

During this journey I have had to make reference to events in the world and close to home. I have found the last year very unsettling, as have many, and am still finding myself quite depressed by it all at times, especially by the referendum result.

I know that I don’t have serious depression, but I have found these comments on a question and answer site called Quora, and they help to explain why I have produced my next piece of work:

Depression is a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. When everything you believe in is crushed. When your strongly held beliefs are shown to be useless, one can certainly fall into depression. You can fall into depression about anything you feel strongly about when you feel helpless to change it. Running out of hope and losing the ability to affect change can profoundly affect one’s mental health. However, the world will go on with or without us and our worries. We can sacrifice ourselves to the bad choices of others, or we can create the best possible life we can and be the best possible influence we can within our actual sphere of influence.

I have used a quote from Richard III as part of the DNA of our country being split. The DNA strands were particularly challenging to draw.

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On Newsnight on BBC 1, I saw a graphic image showing the United Kingdom as a pool of blood and I decided to use this as an element of my painting. I have had to research the difference between the use of the terms Great Britain, the United Kingdom, and The British Isles, in order to include the parts that voted in the referendum on June 23rd. This was interesting in itself, and I learned new facts, or perhaps remembered ones from my past.

Great Britain

Great Britain is an island that consists of three somewhat autonomous regions that include England, Scotland, and Wales. It is located east of Ireland and northwest of France in the Atlantic Ocean.

The United Kingdom The United Kingdom is a country that includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Its official name is “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are often mistaken as names of countries, but they are only a part of the United Kingdom.

The British Isles

The British Isles is another term altogether and encompasses Great Britain, the island of Ireland, and several other smaller islands, such as the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man is not a part of the United Kingdom or the European Union, even though its Lord is the Monarch of the United Kingdom.Image 2. Blog 10


I added parts of the flags of the EU, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and the Union Jack to form a backdrop, to illustrate the pain of the situation. The flag of Wales, including the Welsh dragon, does not appear on the flag because when the first Union Flag was created in 1606, Wales was already united with England from the 13th century. This meant that Wales a Principality instead of a Kingdom and as such could not be included.

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On a lighter, happier note, I painted ideas for a textile piece related to the embroidered tea cosy, but using imagery from my son’s childhood (Mario and Toad from the Mario Brothers computer games) as well as imagery from the early embroidery. I began by making drawings in my sketchbook then planning out the painting.

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I added some colour as well as masking fluid before and after the layers of paint, letting the both dry thoroughly before the next layer.

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Then I added stronger washes to build the colour intensity, and added more areas of masking fluid.

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Removing the masking fluid at the end revealed lighter ‘beads’ of contrasting colours.

I have almost completed my ideas sheet of 24 images, which has become more detailed and complex than I imagined. My next aim is to plan a number of larger works using some of these ideas to facilitate my paintings and textiles.