Keeping it together by Karen Alderson

There has been a lot happening in the UK since my last post; the bomb in Manchester and the attack in London, these events, combined with the election, are creating quite a charged atmosphere for everyone. Manchester is not far from where I live, the city prides itself on the peoples’ capacity to come together and support one another. I am holding onto this.

My domestic life also has been turbulent, my daughter has come home and the theme of support and repair is uppermost in my thoughts. Phew.

Walking helps me feel calm and, recently, I have become conscious of the earth beneath my feet, noticing, in particular, the patterns of road surfaces.

Memories of being acutely aware of the stones in the tarmac as I climbed out of the car after the road accident came flooding back, others who have been through traumatic experiences can also recount in great detail certain physical data: sights, smells, sounds, how things felt to touch. The present moment becomes amplified, a zooming into things we usually miss in our busy lives.

Taking the time to really look at what is directly in front of us is a way of meditating on the present moment, it can help to calm our over stimulated minds from information overload.  Read how Cait Flanders went on a social media detox http://caitflanders.com/2017/06/07/social-media-detox/

Getting perspective and staying grounded is leading me to become interested in the slow movement, here are two links to finding solace in the little things:

https://youtu.be/6Gv1CqAQVow

http://slowyourhome.com/167/

Here are some samples inspired by the surface.

I decided on which sample I liked and then incorporated stitching into a quilt. The quilt was flat and although this reflects the road surface I wanted to invoke some sort of altered sense of reality and so cut the strips up and resewed them to change the shape of the piece.

I went back to another piece and distorted that one even more. I then sewed it to a back cloth.

I have noticed that I tend to work on a piece of work in stages and usually have at least three pieces of work on the go simultaneously, working on one for a while then returning to another, letting the work “rest”until it begins to ‘speak” to me again. If I stay with one piece and “push” my ideas onto it then it loses something vital that I cannot explain. Clare Pearl https://clarepearl.co.uk and I were talking about each others process and how we develop a relationship with our work, her with a canvas, myself with textile. Clare mentioned how she had watched a video of Paula Rego explaining how she approaches a drawing: she begins with an idea and slowly the drawing takes on a life of its own which seems reflect a dialogue between her artist self and the dark feelings inside. Hmm, feels familiar. Here’s the link:

https://youtu.be/vDZGh1O72uQ

I put together a quilt from hand dyed fabric. I had used discharge paste on a piece of cotton to depict a railing but the image looked too representational. I ended up cutting up the cotton and inserting it into a quilt and then cutting up and resewing some more. It began to remind me of the mills just off Shay Lane.

At this point I was happy to leave it but after the terror attacks I felt this need to add hand stitch on some of the darker pieces, I left it for a day or two but then came back and had to cut it up even more, this time including cuts on the horizontal.

It feels finished now so the next thing to do it to attach it to some backing fabric.

My attention is now moving towards displaying the works and frame making, there are 6 months left before the exhibition (November) and the end is in sight so I feel a gear change. Secondly, I want to do some more handstitching, I have some ideas for this but they are not clear, it is about putting more human touch into the fabric, I may use some of the clothes I found on Brow Lane.

After Chagall by Jane Pugh

After my last blog, I continued to think about my niece and her family and I decided to base one of my paintings on ‘Woman with a Bouquet’ by Chagall. I love the way he includes memories and objects and uses colour and texture to give a visual feast. I find that his paintings evoke memories of my own, and many of them are emotionally charged. I visited his work at the major exhibition Chagall: Modern Master at Tate Liverpool in 2013 several times. On one occasion I visited on my own, then with friends, and later with a group of adults on a coach trip that I organised. The experience was very influential, and those, in my art classes, who attended the exhibition, afterwards discussed their own amazing memories and produced some very thoughtful work.

But now it is my turn, and I am starting to focus on the idea of paintings which include objects with meaning, sometimes buried or secret, but of great relevance to the individual. The unfinished figures, the creatures and objects of the embroidery are a part of this.

Image 1. woman-with-a-bouquet-1910‘Woman with a Bouquet’ by Chagall

I sketched this and then drafted a design for my own painting. I then worked on a more finished one on my ideas sheet.

Image 2. Sketchbook

 

Image 3 Figures

 

Image 4 Figures

Image 5 Figures

Image 6 FiguresLife is quite hectic at the moment. Sometimes you seem to have a quiet time and then suddenly you are rushing around in response to the various demands of life. So our regular Ellipsis meetings with our updates and plans, as well as the regular blog entries, are important to keep me focussed and developing my work. I am finding it helpful to work in my studio at The Artworks where it is quiet and away from my domestic obligations! I usually photograph what I have done after each visit but one day took more photographs than I intended, and which have now, via Movie Maker, become my third animation. This, as you might imagine, is very time consuming but the outcome is fun, and gives me a great sense of achievement.