We are living through a significant moment in history which has seen a huge resurgence in craft activity with groups and individuals coming together to support the creation of PPE for the health and care services. Others have taken the opportunity to learn new skills or rediscover old ones, to pass the time in lockdown, to support home schooling, to make do and mend while shops have been closed and to support personal wellbeing.
As a museum of textiles, Gawthorpe Textiles Collection feel that it is important to capture and record the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on textile craft at this important time and explore what legacy there may be.
As part of a grant received from the Arts Council England Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund Ruth will gather stories to create a digital archive of activity as well as create a digital publication and podcast.
We will be seeking out stories from Lancashire and the North West as well as a broader perspective from the wider UK and the world. More details will be released over the coming days of how you can get involved in sharing your story.
I’m pleased to be taking part in the Leicester Print Workshop members exhibition this year. I am working in collaboration with Gillian McFarland to produce a changing artwork installation which will develop from week to week as we share ideas, develop and pass things to and fro and create new pieces inspired by two found objects.
The exhibition opens this weekend (17th-18th November) with the Print Festival and Gillian and I will be giving at talk on Saturday 17th November at 4pm about our work. There is also an exhibition preview on Friday 23rd November – details below. The exhibition continues until 26th January 2019.
Gillian McFarland and Ruth Singer work in collaboration as McFarland & Singer alongside their distinct and established solo artistic practices. They began working together in 2014 while sharing a studio; a space that allowed them to share ideas and approaches. In addition to the work created for this residency, McFarland & Singer have a strong convergence of interest around the archaeology of stains and marks of time.
This work is an ongoing collaboration, passing to and fro between us as we each explore related, but separate ideas. The piece begins with two found objects from a charity shop which we both respond to initially, through discussion and making alongside each other. This work will change every week as we add new prints and related pieces of work. This work is displayed in file trays to represent the orderly collation and separation of ideas. Feel free to take the pieces out of the trays and move them around and change the order. We will use this intervention and selection as part of the process of making new pieces each week.
The first five pieces of the collaborative Criminal Quilt have arrived! Thank you contributors. There are another 95 to come – hopefully. If you have one to make, please make sure it is back with me (or to Staffordshire Record Office) by 9th July. Full return details in this document collaborative quilt return form
Thanks for your interest but I’ve now had over 100 people register which already makes an enormous quilt!
I am hoping to re-open this later in the year for exhibitions in 2019, so please keep in touch by signing up to my mailing list, following this blog or my social media including Criminal Quilts Twitter
Alongside my research and workshops at Staffordshire Record Office, my Criminal Quilts project also includes a creative residency in the Fashion and Textile Department of Wolverhampton University. I included this in the project so I could work with students and staff to help develop the creative work and have access to their amazing studio facilities. I am in the process of setting up a student brief for students across art and design to make work for exhibitions based around the information and data which is growing from the archive research. I hope that working alongside a practicing artist on a live project with exhibitions and publications will be a great experience and some exciting and innovative work will be produced.
Personally I am working closely with Senior Lecturer Jan Wrigley and Professor Fiona Hackney on both the practical, creative side and on completely new (for me) outcomes for the project including a symposium at the end of 2018 and academic papers. When I devised the project plan and funding application I intentionally created new ways of sharing the project beyond the usual exhibition and am excited by the possibilities which have developed to share and record the project in so many ways.
I also get the chance to experiment with the equipment and facilities at the University including digital print and tufting, all of which is completely new to me. The screen print workshop has much larger capacity than I am used to as well so I hope that I will be able to make some larger scale work rather than my usual tiny, detailed hand stitched work. I even got to have a go with the embellisher in the machine room on my last visit and hope to use the Cornelly embroidery machine on another session. I was also charmed to find pages from my books adorning the machine room for student reference!
This week I’ve installed and launched the exhibition of our joint McFarland & Singer artist residency in the Genetics Department of the University of Leicester. The work on show is very different from my usual work and includes work in glass and on paper as well as the amazing collaborative petri dish project.
My own work for this exhibition includes new work on paper including prints and drawings including pieces inspired by our research in the university herbarium combined with drypoint printing. I have also used scientific equipment to make textured patterned pieces. The exhibition also includes collaborative pieces Gillian and I have made together combining print, puncturing and stitch. The exhibition is now open daily 7am – 10pm until 22nd December and then again 2nd – 12th January at the Charles Wilson Building (Foyer) at Leicester University and is free to enter. Works in the exhibition will be listed for sale later in the year. A catalogue is available for £3 (+p&p) on request.
Ruth Singer and Gillian McFarland-Boyle artwork
Ruth Singer and Gillian McFarland-Boyle artwork
Ruth Singer and Gillian McFarland-Boyle artwork
I also have other print-based work on show in Leicester Society of Artists exhibition at New Walk Museum from 17th November t0 16th December. These new pieces are created using patchwork, print and stitch. These pieces are part of a new ongoing series of work exploring textile processes and the stages in production of stitched work. These pieces were included in my recent Fragments exhibition.
Gillian and I spent our first full day at work as Artists in Residence at Leicester University Department of Genetics this week spending time observing in labs and extracting the DNA from a banana preparation to testing our own DNA later this week. For the next few weeks were are absorbing, observing, investigating, learning and getting to know the department as well as planning all the other parts of our project including schools project and exhibition.
For me it is a visual and intellectual feast, I’m finding the details of the labs fascinating and so completely new it is somewhat mind-blowing. The joy of this research stage is there’s no pressure to decide what the finished work might be and it’s great to bounce ideas around with both academic staff and of course with Gillian as we begin to scope out how we are going to approach our creative work.
I’m working on a new sketchbook with no fixed aim or direction yet which is very liberating. I am learning – fast- about the very basics of DNA and genetics, starting from knowing pretty much nothing, having not studied any science for 25 years! I’m overwhelmed by the generosity and support from the academic staff already and the enthusiasm shown for what must seem a pretty strange project to them.
My collaboration Interlace with Bethany Walker is going from strength to strength!
In 2016 we ran Urban Growth an exciting community project with 8-13 year olds to create a permanent piece of concrete and cloth outdoor work of art in Leicester. This project was funded by the Joyce Carr Doughty Trust.
Over the Spring and Summer we were pleased to be showing at Jennifer Collier’s contemporary craft gallery Unit Twelvein an exhibition of collaborations. I was also showing my work with Jan Garside.
We followed this with exhibiting at all three Knitting & Stitching Shows in London, Dublin and Harrogate which was a great success. Our popular Spectrum piece grew from 27 bowls to 45.
2016 was rounded off really well with Made in the Middle. Early in the year we were delighted to be selected for this high-quality and well-respected touring exhibition. Our new piece HALO, our largest to date (4m wide) was awarded a prize at the opening night of the show in December.
Made in the Middle continues at The Herbert Museum & Art Gallery until 19th February and then tours throughout 2017 & 18.
I’m excited to be starting a new residency alongside artist colleague Gillian McFarland at Leicester University Department of Genetics this month.
We’ve been granted funds from Arts Council England to support a research project working with academics working on DNA and exploring new work and public engagement. We will be working in the labs with university staff & students and bringing in secondary schools to work with us later in the year. There will also be an exhibition, a touring display, a film and a publication about the project over the summer and autumn, as well as events and blog posts. We hope to extend the project much further in 2018 and beyond too.
I’m on a crash course of learning about DNA, finding my way around the departmental corridors and the inner workings of an academic institution which is all incredibly exciting!
After a bit of a hiatus over the summer, Gillian and I have restarted our DNA project and spent the morning working at Leicester Print Workshop making prints using found objects. We will be exhibiting work in progress at the TedX Leicester event on 26th October.