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.
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.
Earlier this year I was accepted as a member of Leicester Society of Artists and I’m pleased to be showing work in their 2016 exhibition at New Walk Museum, Leicester, 4th November – 3rd December.
I’ll be showing two of my Garment Ghosts; suspended transparent pieces made from fragmentary antique clothing. For an invite to the preview, please join my mailing list using the link on the right (below Instagram images).
In a small but meaningful gesture of solidarity, hope, diversity and community, I am gathering knitted hearts to yarn storm public and community buildings in Leicester. Leicester (narrowly) voted Remain, of which I am enormously proud, but still many people from our wonderful diverse community in Leicester are feeling distressed and vulnerable this week, and many others feeling the need to do something to show our support for them and fight against the racism we are seeing in our country. We hope that a little knitted / crafted love will help.
We welcome any contributions of handmade hearts in any material, craft or technique, although ideally not paper as we will probably be putting them outside. There is now a Facebook group for discussion and co-ordination of hearts and links with other groups around the country doing similar things.
We are having a first Craft for Solidarity event on 7th July 6-8.30pm in Leicester city centre. Please message me (below) for details (limited spaces).
If you would like to contribute / collaborate please use the form below to email me, contributions until the end of July would be very welcome.
Pinterest board for ideas
Knitting & crochet pattern suggestions:
Domino Knitted Heart
Simple garter stitch heart
LUV heart (we have permission to distribute this pattern for free)
Heart Attack Heart
My collaboration project Interlace was recently commissioned to create a new public artwork with young people in Leicester.
Bethany and I worked with 8-13 year olds in January and February this year to design and make a set of concrete and cloth tiles inspired by the urban environment to be displayed at Makers’ Yard studios in Leicester. We are launching and celebrating the project on Tuesday 7th June and all are welcome to join us.
Learning to love where I am.
I’ll be opening my studio on Saturday 25th April (12-4pm) as part of the local St George’s day festival.
This is the first time I’ve opened the studio since I’ve changed it from being a teaching space to being my own personal work space where I run occasional creative textiles workshops too.
I’ll be in the studio working on pieces for my exhibition and other projects, and you will be able to see work in progress, textile artworks for sale and find out more about forthcoming exhibitions, workshops and much more. You can also contribute your textile memories for my exhibition.
I share the studio with fine artist Gillian Adair McFarland and you will also be able to meet her and find out more about her amazing work (recently nominated for the Richard Attenborough Prize at Leicester Open exhibition!).
Ruth Singer: Metamorphosis
Silk handkerchief with label
Patchwork pieces (Ruth Singer)