Little Selves is an exhibition celebrating the portrait miniature showcasing exquisite pieces from the collections at New Walk Museum Leicester alongside new work by Leicester Society of Artists members and a schools competition. The exhibition takes place 25 March – 25 June 2017.
Although I am no portraitist, I was intrigued by the potential it gave me to create something new. I worked, years ago, on the development of the V&A Portrait Miniatures gallery and have a fondness for tiny, personal portraits. My inspiration for this piece came from this eye miniature of Mrs. Fitzherbert, George Engleheart (1750-1829). Watercolour and gouache on ivory.
“Mrs Maria Fitzherbert was secretly married to the Prince of Wales, later George IV. He stopped all contact with her on his official marriage, but was buried with a miniature of her around his neck. The identity of the single eye was known to the owner, but to no-one else.” From The Story of Leicester.
I am fascinated by personal mementoes and memorials and by human hair and chose to create an eye miniature of my own stitched with hair. Within is drawn from my own eye and stitched with donated human hair on a scrap of Victorian cotton taken from a disintegrated patchwork quilt.
I’m exhibiting at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, in a show called On My Mother’s Knee, opening later this month. I’ve created a new series especially for this show called Tool Shed. I’ll also be showing these two aprons.
The exhibition catalogue is available online.
When I was approached for this show in February this year, I had to confess that I didn’t learn sewing at my mother’s knee. I learned at my stepmother’s elbow as a teenager, after spending my formative pre-school years doing carpentry with my dad as well as plenty of other crafts with other members of my family.
Quilted tool jumble (detail)
Nor are the works I’m showing traditionally domestic – or at least not traditionally feminine. My new work is inspired by my late grandad’s tool shed and uses his well-worn handkerchiefs as the main cloth. I had an idea to use the family hoard of well-used domestic linens in some way and this exhibition fitted in perfectly.
I’m also taking part in an artists In Conversation event on Saturday 23rd November at Llantarnam, alongside the awesome stitch talent Caren Garfen. The exhibition also includes my friend Louise Frances Evans who has been a great inspiration for me, the fabulously fun crochet of Kate Jenkins, the amazing Julie Arkell, Kirsty Anderson, Lynn Setterington and Jessie Chorley. What amazing company!