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.

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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.

Image 1. Blog 10

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.

Image 3. Blog 10

Image 4. Blog 10

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.

Image 5. Blog 10

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.

Image 6. Blog 10

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

Image 7. Blog 10

Image 9. Blog 10

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.

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.