Friday, 30 October 2009

I have a little shop!

After much procrastination I have finally got myself a little online shop. Visit Folksy to see my shop 'Everything Glows...'. I have only got a few items up for sale at the moment, but keep having a look as I will add more as I make more! Folksy is a lovely online community of makers who sell, buy and share all things (contemporary) crafty. They are currently running a brilliant competition called 'Upcycle Christmas' to raise money for Sue Ryder Care. It combines my twin passions of charity shop rummaging and making things, so watch this space for details of my contribution.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Open Studio Weekend

A belated update! At the end of September I participated in Cheshire Open Studios, a network of artists opened up their work spaces for the weekend to the public. It was a big task to transform my garden and house into a mini gallery-cum-sculpture garden, my cats certainly regarded it as odd! Some lovely people visited and I got some positive feedback.

The weekend was also a good chance to debut my new jewellery pieces. I have been experimenting by creating flowers using sweet wrappers and stitched with wire, a development of my installation work Everything Glows for the Very Small. Jewellery is a new avenue for my work, a kind of sculpture for the body. I would love to develop it further, creating larger, brighter more arresting pieces.

Friday, 28 August 2009

The Four Wards Lighting Project

Earlier in the year I was awarded a commission by Blackpool Council in conjunction with Blackpool Illuminations and The Festival of Light to be a lead artist on The Four Wards Lighting Project. As part of the regeneration of four seafront wards in the town, artists were asked to propose art projects involving community groups and using light in some form. I proposed a project in which I would invite groups to participate in urban and beach clean up events to collect plastic flotsam and litter. The 'treasure' collected would then become the raw materials for illuminated sculptural pieces. I was absolutely thrilled when I heard that I along with three other artists had been selected for the project! Excitement then turned to trepidation as I began to undertake my first big commission since graduating last summer.

I went to Blackpool yesterday for the first meeting to kick start the project. I met the three other artists; Jessica Lloyd Jones, Mark Parry and Ruth Tyson-Jones, each doing fascinating and very different projects. I feel more excited than nervous now (the right proportion I think!). I learnt about the community groups that I may be working with and we talked through the practicalities and time scales. Incredibly Blackpool Council claim that there is no beach litter, due to the practice of sending out big tractors to sweep the sea bed! A beach clean may be off the cards and so the next step is to source a large amount of plastic waste. It may be that donated broken toys, chip forks, bottle tops and so on, when stitched into the sculptures become like a memory bank. Participants can see their objects transformed and illuminated.

We also discussed the possibility of using empty shop units as exhibition space at the end of the project- unfortunately wandering around the town I could see far too many possible units. My ward is Talbot- the town centre and main shopping drag. I loved the riot of colour from the arcades, souvenir and pound shops and plastic illuminations. I think Blackpool is the perfect muse for my glowing plastic sculptures and the chance to work with the Illuminations people, the experts in 'artificial sunshine' is a wonderful opportunity. Once the project is in full flow from October onwards I will be posting updates on this site.

Come and See Me Make!

Time is ticking down to my Cheshire Open Studios weekend on the 26th and 27th September. Hopefully the sun will be shining and I can transform my garden into a mini sculpture trail with some of the installations I have made over the past year. Photographs, drawings, sketchbooks, jewellery and hanging mobiles will also be on display and for sale. It'll be a busy September!
Coinciding with the Open Studios is an exhibition featuring work from all of the artists and makers involved. It is held at the Castle Parks Arts Centre in Frodsham from 16th September until 22nd October.

Come along to my studio for a nosy and a chat between 10am -5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Brochures with the address and information on all of the other open studios in the area are availble from Cheshire Libraries and at various venues. Please contact me if you would like to receive one in the post. Click here to see the website too!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Shiny Bottle Garlands Workshop

Last weekend I was proud to be Rubbish Revamped's very first Guest Workshop Tutor. With a lovely bunch of ladies all into their crafts, I demonstrated some of the techniques I have been developing over the last year. We made Shiny Bottle Garlands from old plastic bottles, bottle tops and CDs. The sun shined on Chorlton just long enough for us to take our creations out into the garden to see how they caught the light and added a bit of colour. I really enjoyed giving the workshop and would like to do some more!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

New Threads

Today I created an new installation at The White Gallery in Bollington for New Threads an exhibition of textile art as part of the Three Shires Textile Festival. I've been busy stitching little wing-like bundles of found colour using old sweet wrappers and toy balls. The work is almost impossible to describe without it sounding very odd indeed! For me the piece is reminiscent of insect wings, birds of paradise and tropical blooms- anything at all that burns with colour and plays with light. Strangely, the initial impetus for the work came from seeing a documentary on the Pixar film A Bug's Life. One of the animators described how as part of his research he would lie in the grass looking up through the flowers, noticing how translucent and luminescent the world was from an ant's eye view. Everything Glows for the Very Small can be seen at The White Gallery from the 4th-19th July.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Drawing With Light

I've just finished a fantastic Digital Photography course with the brilliant Ministry of Craft, in a bid to get to grips with my beast of an SLR. Whilst doing my homework I experimented with light trail photography, something I loved doing whilst on my degree.I'm fascinated by the ghostly, other-worldy shapes and qualities acheived by simply waving light around. I think they have a painterly quality: layers of colour, juxtaposed shapes and delicate line qualties. I've recently worked with some lovely children from Park Lane SEN Specialist School, creating shapes with light in response to music. The sensory delight that comes from dancing lights in a dark space made us all feel uplifted.

Today I visited Manchester School of Art's degree show and came away feeling inspired to draw and make! The next generation of embroiderers are a talented bunch. This year there seems to be a focus on technique with some exqusite work on show. Degree shows are breathtaking in the sheer range of creativity and innovation all in one room. Go and see it!!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Rubbish Revamped

The lovely ladies of Rubbish Revamped have kindly invited me to be a guest tutor at one of their workshops. If you fancy turning those ubiquitous plastic bottles and freebie CDs into shiny, dangley garlands come along on Sunday 12th July. Visit the Rubbish Revamped site for more information and to book a place.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Busy Times in May

What a brilliantly art-packed month! I've just returned from a lovely weekend in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. I was there to install my 'dangler' garlands at Fresh Air 2009 a biennial outdoor sculpture festival held in the grounds of the idyllic Old Rectory in Quenington. Ana the curator found me a beautiful spot to hang them, under a walk way of Laburnum trees. The intense yellow of the petals made the colours of the garlands sing, though the petals were rapidly falling to the ground. Something I have found from these new experiences of installing my work outdoor is how the pieces seem to complement and be complemented by intense floral colours. Though my work uses the most artificial colours and materials imaginable, they do not seem out of place against the shouty flowers of May.

We stayed in a miniature thatched cottage. I love thatch! Its giant outdoor embroidery/hairdressing, what a fascinating craft. I also called into the magical Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, where cabinets of curiosity hold wonderfully idiosyncratic collections of objects. My favourite was the 'Recycled' cabinet of objects from all over the world made from waste materials. These included a place mat from India woven from punctured velvet tape, a by-product of the Bindhi industry! The low lights and crammed cases meant that people inspected them with torches, all this created a magical sense of discovering something precious in these objects though they may have little monetary value.

All in all its been a breathless month with three installations for as many festivals, coupled with workshops and artists trail days. On the 9th I was in Bollington, making in the sculpture garden as part of the Artist Trail. On the 17th I was making bottle flowers with the good people of Chorlton. I've been blown away by the positive and enthusiastic response of everyone I've met at the festivals. I couldn't have asked for a better reception for my Glittering Fall installation than 'wow', which I overhead lots of times as I sat at my temporary workshop under the wisteria canopy of the The White Gallery. Thank you to everyone who has seen or taken part in any of the festivals I've been involved with in May. A huge thank you goes to Fiona at The White Galley for giving me such a brilliant opportunity to exhibit in such a beautiful place.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Installation Station

Last weekend I had a busy time installing for two local arts festivals. 'Glittering Fall' at The White Gallery in Bollington took 7 hours to install but hopefully the time spent 'tweaking' has paid off! The piece consists of hundreds of embroidered and embellished plastic bottle necks, cascading down the steps in the gallery's Secret Sculpture Garden. In this piece the reference to water became more central:

Water is the most precious commodity for human beings. The clay water vessel: a symbol of rural India is being replaced by the plastic bottle. As tourists we amass many bottles, lining them up in hotel rooms like toy soldiers, leaving them behind. Embellishing these empty shells as if they were fine silk, using traditional folk embroidery to make them glitter and shine, I hope to imbue them with a sense of preciousness.

I'm really pleased with how it looks in the natural surrounding, though acid bright in colour, the bottles somehow nestle in the space appearing like flowers: surprise bursts of colour. Elsewhere, my hanging bottle garlands dangle from the trees. On Sunday I took my Mirrorball Spheres to The Arison Gallery in Chorlton to create 'Shine': a window installation as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival. The process was extremely fiddly with lengths of pink monofilament stretched between the spheres. Hopefully they give them impression of shafts of light being refracted through the mirrored spheres. I feel a bit proud of myself now the pieces are installed after months of making! The Bollington Festival runs until 25th May and The Chorlton Festival until 23rd May. Come along to Chorlton Library next Sunday (17th May 1-5pm) to join in with my Plastic Fantastic workshop.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Bottle Flowers

Today I did a workshop with the lovely children at Dean Valley Primary School in Bollington. We made flowers from empty plastic bottles and windmills from laminated magazine paper. The Bollington Festival is fast approaching and we were making decorations for the village's gardens.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

The Big Green Festival

Last weekend I went to Chorlton's Big Green Festival with fellow embroiderer Emily Hayes to sit and stitch. The event was a big success with a huge amount of people attending to see performances, shop ethically and find out about green living in Manchester. Emily and I met some brilliant creative people who were interested in what we do. I was so pleased to find that quite a few remembered me and my work from last summer's Embroidery degree show. The nice ladies from Rubbish Revamped; a great Chorlton venture offering workshops using recycled materials, have asked me to be a guest workshop leader for them. Watch this space for details!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Pussy Cats Washing Dishes?

I took some of the mirrored garlands I have been making outside today. As they caught the light and spun in the breeze they threw discs of light onto every surface. My Nana told me that as a child she used to call this reflective effect 'pussy cat washing dishes'! There certainly was something a bit magical about it.

I have increasingly become fascinated by the idea of festival garlands and the things that people string up to signify a celebration. French artist Sophie Cuvelier makes bunting- but uses it to create wonderful, joyful installations. It reminded me of my long held love of Tibetan prayer flags.

For the Bollington festival in May I want to create some kind of canopy from the bottle garlands- like a maypole or the canopies of flowers you see at religious festivals. I want people to be able to walk underneath and see sunlight streaming through the kaleidoscopic colours.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Hand Embroidery Workshops at Button & Skein

I have recently been invited to deliver some hand embroidery workshops at Button & Skein; a beautiful wool shop in Macclesfield.

On Thursday 18th June 7-9pm, I will lead a session on mirrorwork embroidery, using folk embroidery techniques to make corsages.

On Saturday 20th August 1-4pm, for 7-13 year olds, I'll be teaching simple hand stitch and 'fuzzy felt' applique to make hairslides and badges.

Visit the Button & Skein website for more information and to book a place.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Chorlton's Big Green Festival 2009

On Saturday 4th April, I'll be at Chorlton's Big Green Festival held at St. Clement's Church- a celebration of all things green. In the Cafe area, you will find me stitching and embellishing bottles, in preparation for my forthcoming window installation at the Arison Gallery as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival in May. Please bring along your empty plastic bottles and they may find themselves embroidered and sculpted into a piece of art!

Embroidery artist Emily Hayes will also be at the festival, transforming your unwanted t-shirts into works of art. Do come along and have a butchers!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Make Do And Mend - ArtLink

My work is currently being exhibited at ArtLink in Hull as part of 'Make Do and Mend', a group exhibition of nine female artists to coincide with International Women's Day on the 8th March.
The show runs from the 6th March to the 6th April have a look if you find yourself in Hull!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Locust Wings and Poster Paint

I thought I'd post some of the recent sketchbook work I've been doing alongside making the bottle pieces for exhibition. I'm developing some ideas for sculptural jewellery using the jewel-like colours from Quality Street wrappers(post christmas idea!).

Using book binding stitches I've been exploring ways to create little wing-like bundles.
Feeding into this work are drawings and collages created after looking at patterns within microscope images of plant cells and an astonishing BBC documentary called 'Swarms'. One scene showed millions of bright pink locusts clustering on a tree their translucent wings catching the light. It is this quality of translucency and fleeting illumination that I am trying to capture in my pieces.

Exciting Opportunities

Over the last week I've had a little flurry of exhibtion opportunities opening up. I met with Fiona Bailey of The White Gallery in Bollington who was fantastically enthusiatic and supportive of my work. She has invited me to show my work as part of the Bollington Festival in May and the Three Shires Textile Festival in July. The Gallery is a beautiful space with a lovely tiered sculpture garden at the back. Fiona and I discussed the possibility of hanging garlands of mirrored bottles in the trees. I also want to create some kind of feature piece; a chandlier/birdhouse/mirrorball hybrid!
On the same day I was contacted by the curator from ArtLink in Hull, she wanted to put the series of 12 Mirrorballs in 'Make Do and Mend' an exhibition celebrating International Women's Day. Three in one day - exhibtions really are like buses!
I also found out that my work has been selected for the Chorlton Arts Festival. Look out for some highly fiddled with bottles in the window of Arison picture framers on Wilbraham Road around mid may! I also have the chance to give a workshop as part of the festival- what should I do for it?
Another little joy has been the biennial trip to Ikea- I've gone all focused and set myself a little studio up with a truly magical tilting table with a lightbox in it! I'll need a good space to work from; I need to get making sharpish!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Fresh Air 2009

I recently got some great news; my work has been selected for Fresh Air 2009 an outdoor sculpture exhibition in Cirencester. It's taking place in June, so I've got plenty of time to get making! I'm planning to make a huge installation of lengths of mirrored and embroidered bottles that can be hung from trees to spin and catch the light.

Thursday, 15 January 2009


I'm currently trying to build a bit of a website.
Have a look, it needs a bit of tweaking still!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Giant Pillow Lace

I recently collaborated with fellow ex-embroiderer Emily Hayes on an outdoor
project. Looking at the intricate craft of pillow lace we explored ways of creating networks of lines. Left out in the snow, the piece became a negative imprint.

Friday, 2 January 2009