Leicester Society of Artists Little Selves exhibition opened this weekend at New Walk Museum in Leicester. It’s a gorgeous show with some amazing pieces including impressive pieces by local school students as well as a lovely set of miniature paintings from the museum collection. The exhibition continues until 25th June 2017 and is free to visit.
My contribution is a small embroidered eye self portrait stitched in human hair, which you can read about here.
Festival of Quilts
10-13th August 2017
This year’s Festival of Quilts will be a celebration of my winning the Fine Art Quilt Masters prize last year. I am giving a talk about the Criminal Quilts series past and present and the stories behind the emotive and engaging photographs which inspired my work. Bookings open in April here
Talk: Criminal Quilts: The story behind the Fine Art Quilt Masters winner 2016.
Friday 11th August 13.30-14.15. £8.
Ruth Singer will discuss the complex story behind her winning ‘Criminal Quilt’, inspired by archive photographs of women criminals. In this talk she will explore the background to this work and how it fits into her other research-led art textiles work and ongoing projects exploring heritage, personal stories and textiles with a narrative. Ruth will also discuss the techniques and materials used to create this and other work.
Criminal Quilts – Ruth Singer. Photo by Ashley Brown
‘Caroline Pulley’s Quilt’ More details here
I am also running a half day workshop exploring the techniques I used to create this work.
In the Shadows. Reverse appliqué with transparent fabrics.
Thursday 10th August 13.30. £41
Take applique and layering to the next level with this exciting technique of using transparent fabrics layered and cut away. Using delicate silk organza, you will learn how to prepare and hand stitch a design by hand and create the subtle shadow effects by removing layers of fabric. We will also cover embellishing with shadow embroidery stitch and trapping fragments between the layers. You will create a small sampler during this workshop which can be incorporated into larger project if desired. This technique was used by Ruth Singer to create her Fine Art Quilt Masters winning piece in 2016. Materials will be supplied, cost £7 to be collected by the tutor on the day. Suitable for all levels. Book here
Ruth Singer. Criminal Quilts: Hanging. Winner of the 2016 Fine Art Quilt Masters competition
As usual I will also be running one hour introduction to trapunto quilting quick and easy workshops.
Thursday 10th 10.30am, Friday 11th 10.30am & Sunday 13th 10.30am.
£13 per workshop. Book here
In June I will be running an exciting new 4-day course for West Dean College. In this course I will be sharing my own way of working taking inspiration from antique textiles and creating sketchbooks and samplers to develop into new textile pieces. Find out more about West Dean from my previous blog posts.
My original career plan was to work as a costume and textile curator in museums and I specialised for some years in medieval textiles. It didn’t quite work out like that and textile history became my hobby as my day job in museums was focussed on exhibitions and other projects covering a wide range of social and design history. I spent my days off researching medieval textiles in the V&A and other collections and developing a series of talks and workshops investigating textile and fashion history. When I started out making textile pieces in 2005 I chose to work with techniques drawn from my research, in particular 18th & 19th century dress trimmings.
These days my textile research is purely for inspiration as I work in a much broader way but is still key to forming my ideas and ways of working. I am excited to be able to share my textile collections and research through this course. I am also building up a lovely Pinterest board of ideas related to this course, so you can get a flavour of the colours, textures and patterns we will be enjoying throughout the week.
This intensive and exploratory workshop is designed for others with a love of antique textiles, those who love to explore museums and antique shops and want to make work inspired by what they find. I aim to share the skills to research and explore old textiles, develop your understanding of design and technique as well as learn ways of translating what you love about old textiles into your own original contemporary work. Tuition will concentrate on sparking and developing your ideas, growing your confidence in working from inspiration material and selecting the best techniques to use to take your design ideas forward.
During the course you will have time to study my large personal collection of historic embroidered, embellished and quilted textiles and you are welcome to bring your own and explore the many textile treasures to be found in West Dean College buildings. I will share my experience and knowledge of textile techniques and design and you will develop a sketchbook of shapes, colours, patterns, materials and textures drawn directly from the textile sources, then spend time exploring and experimenting with how to translate the feel of the historic pieces into your own contemporary work. I will demonstrate a wide variety of techniques which you can use for your own designs including hand and machine embroidery, fabric manipulation, painting and stencil printing, appliqué and other methods of embellishment to create exciting surface textures and pattern to develop ideas, designs and stitched samples.
For further information please see the course details on West Dean website.
You might also enjoy my textile history posts about smocking and trapunto quilting, two of my favourite obsessions.
12 to 16 June 2017
Alongside my teaching, my week at West Dean involved a lot of both looking closely at details and looking (and walking) to points far away. I found myself with nearly two days off before teaching, time to explore, wind down and replenish. Between teaching sessions the gardens were my playground. The wide open views of the South Downs are a much-needed counterpoint to city life. The chance to stretch my vision, my horizon and my legs. The college building and the gardens invite close inspection while in contrast the farther hills and the wider landscape need wide angle eyes to take it all in.
Last year’s Postcard from West DeanPostcard from West Dean
This time five years ago I started work on my third book Fabric Manipulation which was published a year or so later. It gives me real pleasure to see these exciting techniques being enjoyed and re-invented.
It is always a pleasure to go back through my boxes of samples from the book and share them anew. Last week’s students at West Dean College produced some amazing pieces, variations and interpretations of the techniques. Shibori work is by Romor Designs.
I hope this course will be repeated at West Dean in a couple of years. In the meantime I have a smocking workshop in London in June and a couple of dates of manipulation techniques with Gillian Cooper Studio in Scotland in August. Next year I hope to launch some online courses exploring manipulation techniques in more detail. There are lots of links and resources on the Fabric Manipulation page too including extensive Pinterest boards and blog posts.
A visit to the extraordinary installation Close Distance by Caroline Broadhead, Nic Sandiland and Angela Woodhouse this week was a real delight. The work, inspired by 17th century textiles from Woollaton Hall and the stories of those who lived there, has been created by three artists in collaboration using dance, construction and film. The works are displayed in a room not normally open to the public, up a narrow spiral staircase which creates a haunting sense of separateness in an empty, high up room. Access is only possible via tours (£3 for the Close Distance tours and £5 as part of a more general tour). We we lucky enough to be the only visitors on a damp Wednesday lunchtime and had the space to ourselves.
The Prospect Room is empty apart from the artists’ work and has views over the landscape from all sides – the wide vistas contrasting with the enclosed and claustrophobic work, much of it film of dance contained and compressed into drawers, boxes and cabinets. The sense of containment and restriction echo the narrative behind the work : the jarring contrast between master and servant in this house, between the spaces used by each.
Unlike other installations in historic properties, the space around these pieces gives the installation a more gallery-like emphasis. They are simply placed and speak for themselves, without the chatter and interaction of other objects, textures and colours around them.
It is a brave decision to position contemporary work in a space with very limited access. It works perfectly for the installation’s meaning and the visitor experience but I feel it will have very little impact on non-arts audiences. It is a challenging and enlightening experience and well worth the effort to arrange to see it. I visited with Jennifer Collier on a day of research, inspiration and thinking and it was the perfect quiet, contemplative exhibition for us to visit.
Two beautiful 17th century textiles are on show in the main hall, completely divided from the work which they have inspired. I would have preferred a little more explanation of how they related. The textiles are poorly described with little interpretation though they are well displayed and easy to see. The close up photographs show how the black silk thread has rotten leaving the impression of the stitches and the needle holes in the linen cloth. The fibre damage of the silk thread is caused by iron mordant use to create black dye which eventually damages the fibres but leaves the linen ground intact.
8 March – 1 May 2017
Wollaton Hall, Nottingham
Earlier this year I was asked to make a project for DHG (Dyeing House Gallery), an Italian supplier for felting, dye and textile art supplies and I opted for a trapunto quilting project. Exploring their exciting catalogue of wool products was very inspiring and I chose the giant yarn with the idea of making HUGE corded trapunto along with beautiful wool gauze (called Etamine) to create a shadow quilting effect. The free tutorial is here. There’s also an interview with me on their site. There are lots of great tutorials and ideas on their site, it’s well worth exploring.