The Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey, Devon opens in just over a week. I have been flat out making enough stock to make my stand look convincing, as this is the first show I have done with this work. Until a couple of weeks ago I had less than 10 pieces. Now I’ve got…. some… lots…. more. I haven’t counted, but I’ve been really productive. I have also been buying more tools, hunting eBay for beautiful boxes and today, photographing new pieces. I am really, really enjoying making this new collection. It is exciting to be making things which don’t take weeks and weeks like most of my hand stitched quilts and embroideries.
I am now selling some of these pieces on MadebyHand online and they featured an interview with me on a blog post and newsletter last week which has been great promotion. I am also developing some prints based on my tool embroideries and I *hope* I will have these ready for the Craft Festival but if not these will be online in June instead.
My precious objects collection are now on sale on Made by Hand online. The first collection of pieces is now up for sale and I will be adding more after Bovey Tracey Craft Festival in June – I am busy making new pieces for the show! There’s an interview with me on madebyhandonline website where I explain more about the work and the stories behind the pieces.
I am also going to be showing this work at Lustre design fair in Nottingham in November for the first time. Later this year I will also be able to make work to commission so if you have any precious old tools or family screwdriver heirlooms which you would like to have made in to a work of art please let me know. My embroideries of tools on vintage textiles will be making their debut this year at shows and I am working on prints based on these pieces too.
As I develop new work for my Fragments exhibition in the summer, I am investigating and exploring a lot of old quilts. I am continuing to explore my photographs and notes from the research visit to the Quilt Association’s collections in February and creating new technique ideas based on the structures, designs and history of the quilts. I am also investigating the antique quilts and pieces which I own myself and working out ways of incorporating elements from these pieces into new work.
Quilt Association collection
Quilt Association collection
Quilt Association collection
I have also been investigating my own collections of quilts and bits, engaging in Quilt Archaeology (credit to someone on Instagram but alas I forget who). What interests me is not the fineness of the stitching or the patchwork patterns but the textures, the tactility and the reasons these quilts were made and used (or not). I’ve been using drawing, painting, mark making and print techniques to explore my ideas, some of which are very large scale which will have dramatic impact and some much smaller and more intimate, like the quilts themselves, and invite close consideration.
Meanwhile, my Harefield Hospital Centenary Quilt project has been featured this week on the People’s History of the NHS blog.
Rowan leaves to represent Rowan Ward. Hand embroidery.
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
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.