Criminal Quilts at University of Wolverhampton

Criminal Quilts exhibition is now open at the University of Wolverhampton. I will be giving a free talk and tour of the exhibition on Weds 21st November at 5pm.

The exhibition continues until 18th January 2019. Please check opening hours and Christmas / weekend closure dates here.

I am also working on a symposium for artists, archives and academics to explore the crossing points between heritage collections and contemporary craft practice. This will take place on Friday 18th January at University of Wolverhampton and will be free to attend. We are also looking for presentations and activities to form part of the day, please get in touch if you would like to talk about this. There is more information below – bookings will open soon.

Curious Things Symposium

For artists, museums, archives, academics, creative practitioners, makers, curators and others with an interest in how curiosity and things can create amazing projects and research.

Curious Things Symposium aims to celebrate and explore the potential of cross-sector collaborations between artists, archives and academics. This event has grown from Ruth Singer’s Criminal Quilts project in which she has brought together archive research, volunteering, contemporary textile practice and academic partnerships to explore the stories of women photographed in Stafford Prison 1877-1916. A tour of the Criminal Quilts exhibition will be part of the programme for the day. 

The day includes presentations from artists, academics, students, museums and archives about projects bringing two or more disciplines together, discussion panels and group sessions to stimulate potential new collaborations and hands-on activities to create conversions and creativity. 

Artists are welcome to bring along display materials and work related to their projects and archives / museums to bring handling collections or other resources. Project films will also be shown and ample opportunity for networking and sharing of ideas over tea. 

Suffrage Exhibition at Llantarnam Grange Art Centre

Suffrage is a new exhibition at Llantarnam Grange Art Centre focusing on textile art and political expression to mark the Centenary of Women’s Suffrage. I am one of the exhibiting makers alongside Morwenna Catt, Eleanor Edwardes, Caren Garfen, Rozanne Hawklsey and Sue Shields. The exhibition opens Saturday 6th October 2018.

My piece, Prison Apron,  explores the prison sentences of suffragettes, expressed through stitch. Over the last year I have been reading accounts of suffragettes in prison for my project Criminal Quilts and considering the bravery of those women who knew their actions would inevitably lead to prison sentences. Over 1000 people, mostly women, were imprisoned for criminal activity related to suffrage campaigning in the early 20th century. You can also find out more about the exhibition in the online catalogue. I will be at the exhibition preview on Saturday 6th October in conversation with the curator and other artists. I am also running a professional development day for makers at the gallery on 20th October. The exhibition continues until 17th November 2018. 

Recently, I have become very interested in using data as a way of telling a story. For me, using data allows me to step back from the personal story and away from the more obvious interpretations to find a new route into the narrative I am exploring. I have chosen to work with prison sentence data to create this piece, looking at sentence records of women including the famous Pankhursts, Alice Hawkins from my home town of Leicester and Welsh women including Lady Rhondda and lesser-known Kate Evans. 

The apron is an antique piece, selected for its similarity to those seen in prison photographs and descriptions I have read in documents. Prison clothing was marked with painted-on arrows to show the items belonged to the government. Rather than paint on these arrows, I have hand stitched them on using threads in shades of grey. 

I have taken a series of prison sentences imposed upon suffragettes, ranging from 7 days to 9 months as the starting point for this work and created arrows using one stitch per day in prison. Each sentence is a different thread. One of the arrows is made up of 270 stitches of a single 9 month prison sentence, while the others are made up of numerous shorter sentences served by different women. 

The stitch is hand embroidered chain stitch, a symbolic choice, where each single stitch forms a connected chain which completes the whole. There are a total of almost 1000 individual stitches in this piece,  representing the 1000 individuals sent to prison. Hand stitching, and the slow, careful work it involves, reflects the time spent in prison doing repetitive labour including needlework. 

 

 

Llantarnam Grange Art Centre

St David’s Road
Cwmbran
Torfaen  NP44 1PD
Tel: 01633 483321
Email: info@lgac.org.uk

Opening Times

Monday to Friday 9.30am – 5pm
(Closed Bank Holiday Mondays)
Saturday 9.30am – 4pm
Admission is free

New Autumn Workshops

I have drastically cut down the amount of public workshops I run since last year and now only run workshops with galleries and museums alongside my exhibitions. This has given me more time to spend on my own work and the chance to write a new book and so much more. My car is feeling neglected as I’ve stopped driving thousands of miles a year too – all good stuff!

The downside is that I feel bad that my loyal fans don’t get much chance to come to workshops with me any more, and I do miss the interaction with lovely people and seeing beautiful things being made. I will be doing a few workshops alongside my touring Criminal Quilts exhibition over the next year or so, including two in September and October at The Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton-upon-Trent during the exhibition run. These are funded workshops so are very much cheaper than most workshops, so I expect they will book up fast! I am also giving a talk towards the end of the exhibition run.

See below for details. You will need to call the Brewhouse to book: 01283 508100

The workshops are

Embroidered Images, Saturday 29th September 11am-3pm. £15 including materials

Try out embroidering onto digital prints and screen prints of archive photos from Stafford Prison. Using fabrics printed with images from the project, you will learn some new embroidery stitches to embellish and transform a black and white photograph into something completely new. Some hand embroidery experience necessary.

 

Experimental Patchwork, Saturday 13th October, 11am-3pm. £10 including materials

Working with Criminal Quilts artist Ruth Singer, you will have the chance to try some exciting new ways of using paper-piecing in patchwork including working with embroidered paper, collage, digitally-printed cloth and vintage textiles. Hand sewing skills required.

Criminal Herstories Talk

Join artist and researcher Ruth Singer to find out more about the stories of women convicted of crimes and imprisoned in Stafford Gaol 1877-1916. Over the last 12 months, Ruth Singer and a team of volunteers, have been researching the stories of over 500 women photographed on release from the prison, and the social history surrounding their lives. In this talk Ruth will also pick out a couple of local stories of women from the Burton area.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018
12noon-2pm
£3

 

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Criminal Quilts film

Roll out the red carpet for the premiere of my new Criminal Quilts film!

This will also be shown at Festival of Quilts and most other exhibitions, technology-permitting.

Made by the lovely R & A Collaborations, filmed at Staffordshire Record Office and University of Wolverhampton, with thanks to Jan, Jan, Jan and Ann. Yes, I got all three Jans on one film!

Festival of Quilts

Festival of Quilts is just around the corner! I am scrambling to get my book finished and printed ready for the show, alongside a massive exhibition gallery for Criminal Quilts including older and brand new work, including the collaboration quilt. I also have a piece in the Fine Art Quilt Masters competition exhibition again, which is all very exciting. Most of my teaching slots have sold out but there are still a few spaces left on Sunday’s Intro to Corded Quilting workshop. I also have a discount code for day ticket bookings for £13.50 (normally £16) which includes a little something for me so please do use this code if you are booking online. Enter the code WT75 when you book.


Fine Art Quilt Masters 2018

I’m pleased to have had another piece accepted into the Fine Art Quilt Masters at Festival of Quilts again this year.

Ruth Singer Tracery

Tracery will be shown in a large gallery with a lot of other really exciting textile pieces, 9-12th August. I will also be exhibiting my Criminal Quilts project in a gallery of its own too.

Tracery. Machine sewn patchwork. 2017

This piece was originally made for my 2017 solo exhibition Fragments, with the Quilt Association. Tracery is a direct response to the quilts in the Quilt Association collection.  When I went to view the quilts I was entranced by the damaged ones and chose to make work which reflected this. Tracery has been made and unmade to create a quilt purely of seams holding the remaining threads together, just like the quilting stitches holding together quilts which would otherwise fall to pieces.  To quilt lovers, my preference for the discoloured reverse, the wrecked by laundering,  the paint-spattered and the pieced army blankets may be puzzling but I love the stories held in damaged or ordinary cloth. The humbler the better for me.  I am interested in what it says about those who made it, bought it, sold it, used it, abused it, preserved it and mended it. My training in museum work taught me to look at objects from every angle, exploring every possible story to understand the thing as a whole, not purely as a visual object. As an artist I choose to look from one very specific angle and to explore that rich seam of narrative in as much detail as I can.

 

In case you missed it, I won the Fine Art Quilt Masters competition in 2016 which helped me fund and develop the Criminal Quilts project which I will be showing at this year’s festival.

 

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