I’ve recently been having a great time experimenting with screen printing, which I’ve not done since school! I’ve been printing on fabrics to make into more petals for Interlace, my collaboration with Bethany Walker. Our exhibition opens in less than 4 weeks time so there is lots to do….
Along with grey petals, I’m also celebrating the nicer shades of grey on Instagram with the hashtag #50niceshadesofgrey. I’m posting pictures of lovely grey things, when I remember.
There have also been some blues. Made on Monday, when I was really feeling blue. It didn’t last.
Week 7 has mostly involved visiting exhibitions, taking down exhibitions and preparing exhibitions, which isn’t so bad. But there *must* be more needle and thread in the next few weeks.
I’ve long been fascinated by Bethany’s combination of textiles and cement; the contrasting soft and hard materials, the transformation of cloth from malleable to solid objects and the potential her innovative techniques would hold for my kind of manipulated textiles.
Last year I applied to a-n’s collaboration bursary to fund our travel and expenses to develop a collaboration and we started working together in January 2014.
Our aim is to create work suitable for public art commissions, large-scale installations and projects. I wanted to explore Bethany’s techniques and she wanted to look at more organic forms, moving away from her usual square-format.
We started by simply setting a whole series of my textile and paper samples into cement to see how they worked and then moved on to making specific samples to test based on what worked best and looked most interesting.
Plenty was simply scrapped as uninteresting, or not sufficiently exciting to stand out. I wanted to make sure what I made was sufficiently different to Bethany’s existing work too. A new set of samples worked much better and gave us new avenues to explore.
Their success was limited but other pieces definitely worked and we have finally hit upon the perfect combination of form, textile structure, colour-palette, type of fabric and display concept which we are really happy with.
The finished work is a series of smaller pieces; potentially a lot of small pieces, so we are busy making more and more. Our aim is to exhibit the work in 2015 and use it as a basis for joint application for projects and commissions.
Two pieces of my collaboration with Alys Power are now on display at Unit Twelve Contemporary Craft Open (the show that I won a prize at last year!). They’ve been beautifully displayed as usual, and the rest of the show looks stunning. I’m looking forward to getting over to see it. The show continues until 1st March 2014.
The whole collection made by Alys & I will be displayed next year in a gallery in Dorset, which is very exciting. More on this soon.
I’ve also got pieces from my collaboration with Jan Garside on display at Pedestrian, a small gallery in Leicester just up the road from my studio. There are also a few of my paper Christmas decorations available there too. The show is open until 23rd December.
The last couple of years have been quiet for me, in terms of producing new exhibition work. I have more than fully occupied teaching, writing, making small products, teaching more, setting up Ruth Singer Studio and who knows what else. What I haven’t done much of is make new work. It hasn’t been a priority for quite a while, and I have mostly only made work for specific exhibitions. When I say ‘work’ I mean exhibition pieces, not products that I make for publications or as teaching samples, or small bits for sale like brooches and purses. My WORK is the stuff that comes from my heart and usually takes months of thinking and then weeks of making, and is intensely personal.
Although I have not been massively productive in the last couple of years, I have gone through a major creative reevaluation and have been working in a new way, far removed from the designer-maker-churn-out-products style that I started out in. This has taken years to work out but I finally feel I have got to where I ought to be. I suppose in most peoples’ terminology, I am more a textile artist than a designer-maker. Although I find labels unhelpful personally, it does help explain what I do. What is more difficult to work out is how to get my new work out there. I know how the designer-maker world works; trade shows, retail shows, galleries, shops… but textile art is different and I have a lot of challenges to overcome to make a living out of this type of not-so-commercial work.
I almost feel like I am starting afresh, looking at new routes to exhibit my work, new galleries, new projects and new places, which is incredibly exciting. It has taken a few years to gather a body of work which really shows my new style of work and explains what it is that I want to do.
I have finally taken on board the idea that work I make in collaboration with schools or with other groups also counts as My Work and that I should take (partial) credit for it and add it to my gallery of work, even though it is not ‘mine’ to exhibit nor was made by me.
It looks like collaborative work may well become an even more major part of my creative output; I love doing it and I love the outcomes of it.
I’m very excited at the moment that I am involved in two collaborations with two extraordinary makers for exhibitions next year. And I have a commission to make for a gallery to be exhibited early next year. More on all of these soon.