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
This week I’ve installed and launched the exhibition of our joint McFarland & Singer artist residency in the Genetics Department of the University of Leicester. The work on show is very different from my usual work and includes work in glass and on paper as well as the amazing collaborative petri dish project.
My own work for this exhibition includes new work on paper including prints and drawings including pieces inspired by our research in the university herbarium combined with drypoint printing. I have also used scientific equipment to make textured patterned pieces. The exhibition also includes collaborative pieces Gillian and I have made together combining print, puncturing and stitch. The exhibition is now open daily 7am – 10pm until 22nd December and then again 2nd – 12th January at the Charles Wilson Building (Foyer) at Leicester University and is free to enter. Works in the exhibition will be listed for sale later in the year. A catalogue is available for £3 (+p&p) on request.
Ruth Singer and Gillian McFarland-Boyle artwork
Ruth Singer and Gillian McFarland-Boyle artwork
Ruth Singer and Gillian McFarland-Boyle artwork
I also have other print-based work on show in Leicester Society of Artists exhibition at New Walk Museum from 17th November t0 16th December. These new pieces are created using patchwork, print and stitch. These pieces are part of a new ongoing series of work exploring textile processes and the stages in production of stitched work. These pieces were included in my recent Fragments exhibition.
In June I will be running an exciting new 4-day course for West Dean College. In this course I will be sharing my own way of working taking inspiration from antique textiles and creating sketchbooks and samplers to develop into new textile pieces. Find out more about West Dean from my previous blog posts.
Quilt Association collection
My original career plan was to work as a costume and textile curator in museums and I specialised for some years in medieval textiles. It didn’t quite work out like that and textile history became my hobby as my day job in museums was focussed on exhibitions and other projects covering a wide range of social and design history. I spent my days off researching medieval textiles in the V&A and other collections and developing a series of talks and workshops investigating textile and fashion history. When I started out making textile pieces in 2005 I chose to work with techniques drawn from my research, in particular 18th & 19th century dress trimmings.
These days my textile research is purely for inspiration as I work in a much broader way but is still key to forming my ideas and ways of working. I am excited to be able to share my textile collections and research through this course. I am also building up a lovely Pinterest board of ideas related to this course, so you can get a flavour of the colours, textures and patterns we will be enjoying throughout the week.
This intensive and exploratory workshop is designed for others with a love of antique textiles, those who love to explore museums and antique shops and want to make work inspired by what they find. I aim to share the skills to research and explore old textiles, develop your understanding of design and technique as well as learn ways of translating what you love about old textiles into your own original contemporary work. Tuition will concentrate on sparking and developing your ideas, growing your confidence in working from inspiration material and selecting the best techniques to use to take your design ideas forward.
During the course you will have time to study my large personal collection of historic embroidered, embellished and quilted textiles and you are welcome to bring your own and explore the many textile treasures to be found in West Dean College buildings. I will share my experience and knowledge of textile techniques and design and you will develop a sketchbook of shapes, colours, patterns, materials and textures drawn directly from the textile sources, then spend time exploring and experimenting with how to translate the feel of the historic pieces into your own contemporary work. I will demonstrate a wide variety of techniques which you can use for your own designs including hand and machine embroidery, fabric manipulation, painting and stencil printing, appliqué and other methods of embellishment to create exciting surface textures and pattern to develop ideas, designs and stitched samples.
For further information please see the course details on West Dean website.
You might also enjoy my textile history posts about smocking and trapunto quilting, two of my favourite obsessions.
12 to 16 June 2017
People often tell me how patient I am to hand stitch my work. I often counter that I am only patient with sewing, not with anything else (although that’s not really true*). We can all be patient doing something we love. It doesn’t require patience to get to the end of a good book as you are enjoying the act of reading. In the same way, I enjoy the act of sewing:
- the feel of the needle pulling a thread through cloth
- the patterns it makes
- the textures thread makes in the cloth
- the quietness
- the slowness
- the connection with the cloth, the thread, the needle
- the feeling of putting a bit of myself into my sewing
It isn’t about patience, it is about enjoying the process.
I was asked last week about why I sew by hand rather than by machine. I find this an odd question as my work wouldn’t be my work if I made it by machine. I couldn’t make it by machine. It would be completely different work. It wouldn’t be me.
Today, out walking, I figured out the perfect way to explain this:
It is like choosing to walk on a footpath rather than to drive on a road through the countryside.
Just because there are sewing machines, and faster techniques, doesn’t mean I have to use them. Life isn’t about doing the most in the time available, it is about enjoying the process. I am not a machine. I refuse to confine my creativity within bounds of commercial productivity and speed. I like slow.
*mostly my lack of patience occurs when people make statements about my personality or lifestyle based on the needle in my hand. I am actually a pretty patient person. Maybe that’s because I love slow sewing.
Last week I had a short and ineffective battle with creating a simple 1920s-ish dress for an event. The dress was an utter failure, although the fabric has now been recut into something much better, to be made in less of a rush! I wore an original1920s coat and simple skirt and blouse instead, inspired by Lady Mary’s similar outfits in the current series of Downton Abbey.
The incident reminded me that there’s quite a large crossover of Downton fans and sewing fans who might like this special issue by Stitch magazine which came out this summer.
Downton Abbey Sews
Stole designed by Ruth Singer
Patchwork book cover designed by Ruth Singer
Necklace designed by Ruth Singer
I designed three of the projects, a lilac silk stole, a pleated silk necklace and my favourite, a paper pieced patchwork notebook cover. I used the Downton Abbey fabrics from Makower, which was the editor’s choice not mine, but I do think they look nice in tiny hexagons.
The issue also includes lots of really nice clothes, embellished garments, accessories and kids clothes. As always with Stitch magazines, they are beautifully presented and well explained.
I’ve got a copy of the magazine to give away, just leave a comment telling me who you think is the best dressed in this series. I’ll pick one commenter on 24th October and send the magazine (UK only).
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.
Quilted tool jumble
Quilted tool jumble (detail)
Fork: Tool Shed series
Fork & Trowel
I’ve been working on a new style of work using negative space and dense stitching. The piece on the left, Grandad’s Tool Shed, is part of a new body of work for an exhibition at Llantarnam Grange later this year.
The piece on the right uses Jan’s garlands as the design detail, part of the collaboration I did with her earlier in the year. Both of these pieces are pretty tiny and very time-consuming, but I have plans for a larger piece one day.