Chair of Leicester Society of Artists

Over the last couple of years I have been working as a consultant for Creative Leicestershire, researching the future of the role of Made in Leicestershire, a network of local artists. Since this work has now finished, I have decided to try and take some of my recommendations forward through working in partnership with another Leicestershire artist network, The Leicester Society of Artists (LSA). In early October I put myself forward as Chair with the hope of taking some of my learning from Made in Leicestershire into this thriving, well-established group. I picked the busiest time of the year to do this, just before our Annual Exhibition opened in early November. The last few weeks have have been intense, with my focus being on the exhibition judges and prizes, the preview event, working with the museum staff and then some PR and marketing activity while the exhibition is open, as well as future planning with our President Lars Tharp and the LSA Council. The exhibition continues until 7th December and is open seven days a week. I have three pieces in the exhibition too and was awarded one of the prizes as well. But the best part so far has been handing over prizes to other artists, which is a joy – and can result in hilarious photos with Tim Fowler!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Made in Leicestershire consultancy

Earlier this month Creative Leicestershire was awarded a grant from Arts Council England to enable us (me) to do more on my Made in Leicestershire development project. I’ve been working on research and consultation for Made in Leicetershire for about 18 months and this grant has allowed us to extend until the end of September and run some exciting new programmes for Leicestershire and Rutland visual artists and makers.

We are piloting peer mentoring for artists, beginning with training next week and then facilitated meetings over the next month. Those taking part will also have the chance to have a professional photo taken of them with their work and apply for a small professional development bursary. There’s still time to sign up to the peer mentoring programme which takes place on Monday 19th August.

We are also hosting a larger networking event on 24th September, where I’ll be launching a new printed report which will showcase some of the finest creative talent in the city and two counties. There will also be professional development talks and business support 1:1s for new and established artists. Tickets are just £5 and can be booked here.

I love working with artists and it is great to be able to provide development opportunities and work on ways to make the network stronger in the future. It would be great to be able to expand this area of my work into other counties and regions and to work with agencies to create support networks. Hopefully Made in Leicestershire will take flight in the next few years and be the brilliant showcase I want for this creative county.

 

Libraries Live Artist Residency

I’m almost at the end of my two-month library artist residency. For the last few weeks I’ve been in the village library / community hub of Newbold Verdon in rural West Leicestershire. I’ve been talking to volunteers, running workshops for over 50s and getting a feel for why so many people volunteer and why they love it so much. I’ve focussed my sessions around pattern-making; simple, everyday creative activities. We’ve had great time doing village walks collecting patterns through rubbings and photography, cyanotypes in the sunshine, drawing, stamping and simple embroidery, and have visited the local WI and run a session for the Forget Me Not dementia cafe.

Early next year I will be working on a commission for the library to keep, using digital patterns created from the drawings, printing and photos created during the workshops and some other ideas I am working on about volunteering and the sense of community the library creates.

Tacit exhibition

Tacit – Made in Leicestershire contemporary craft exhibition at LCB Depot 17th-29th September.

My first co-curated contemporary craft exhibition is now open! On Friday I installed Tacit – Made in Leicestershire exhibition at LCB Depot in Leicester. I am working for Creative Leicestershire as a consultant on the Made in Leicestershire brand development and putting together this exhibition and events programme is part of that process. It has been a delight to work with so many brilliant Leicestershire makers and to discover new ones selected by co-curator Jo Keogh. The exhibition is only up for a short time until 29th September with a couple of events next week for makers and for visitors to meet the makers.

Exhibition details here along with studio shots of the makers’ work. Late evening preview event is on Facebook. Leicestershire-based professional artists and makers are invited to a Makers Gathering on Thursday 27th Sept hosted by me for Made in Leicestershire.

This show includes my Tracery hanging and my Interlace collaboration work Halo.

I’ve installed two exhibitions in the space of 10 days so my tool box is well-used and I’m all out of cup hooks and glass cleaner. In my previous career I curated and developed museum exhibitions and have worked on a lot of craft exhibitions too over the years. I really enjoy this kind of work, though having help with the ladders, drilling and lifting from LCB staff was great – I’ve had to go up scaffolding to install things before and it wasn’t my favourite thing. Tacit has been an interesting, if very rushed, project to work on. The exhibition concept was developed by LCB Depot in the summer and they asked me to select makers and sort out installation. Jo Keogh (one of the artists) also found a group of emerging makers with new work I didn’t know about so the exhibition is really varied. I really enjoy mixed material exhibitions more than single material – I love to see my work alongside ceramics, glass and metals rather than just textile. It gives all the work a new perspective.

Themed school workshops

I love collaboration; I find it exciting and engaging both creatively and practically. Sharing skills, knowledge and expertise is vital to creating a good outcome and I always find it pushes my own creative boundaries and helps me work better and learn all the time. Whether it is working with schools, community groups or other makers, I always find it invigorating coming up with new ideas to show them as well as seeing how they take my ideas and techniques into new an exciting directions.

The school workshop shown below covered 3D fabric manipulation and appliqué techniques, following the students’ own inspiration and research, including projects as varied as fungus & lichen, decayed building, peacock feathers and jellyfish.

The images below show a session I ran for GCSE students to create weather-inspired samples using shadow trapunto techniques.

I loved this school’s textile classroom with inspiration walls and a great display of dried fruit and vegetable skins.

 

Find out more about workshops for school groups here.

Travelling Tool Shed

Today would have been my Grandad’s 98th birthday. My work, Tool Shed, inspired by his collection of tools, is heading off for a new exhibition later this month.

What’s in Your Shed opens at Snibston, Coalville, Leicestershire 26th July – 26th September 2014 curated and conceived by Transform, an arts project working to create artistic interventions in this industrial museum.  This work inspired the whole exhibition, apparently, which is fantastic.