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63 – A Self-Portrait – Work in Progress

63 is a self-portrait which, when complete, will be made up of 63 images, one for each year of my life so far. So why put myself through all this work, and, to be perfectly honest, the angst of self examination, a replaying of all the ups and downs of life?
Well, there were several reasons, but the main one was that I was asked by Alf Ludlam, the curator of Shifting Images an exhibition of self-portraits at the Muriel Barker Gallery at Grimsby’s Fishing Heritage Centre, to produce something other than a straight forward self-portrait and this was the idea I came up with. I also thought it would benefit me personally because I would be working to a deadline which, in itself, would force me to look at the way I work and help me find a simplification of my mark-making.

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63 work in progress 2

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63 work in progress – 4

Although I work in mixed media I consider myself primarily an embroiderer, more specifically a hand embroiderer and because I find hand stitching a therapeutic process, I have a tendency to overstitch. I’m hoping that, in this piece, the viewer will find that my stitching have been given more breathing space and as a result more status. My stitch vocabulary is considered and limited. I don’t use many different types of stitches and but I try to get the most out of those stitches by using them in an original way. I was once given some advice by Constance Howard, when I was studying at Goldsmith’s College in London who said that “you don’t need to know a vast array of stitches but you need to know how use the ones you do know well” so that’s what I try to do.

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63 work in progress -7

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63 a work in progress – 12

I don’t really look at the work of other embroiderers in an inquisitorial way. This is deliberate, an attempt to keep my own work fresh. One of the ways I do this is by mixing different colours and different weights of threads in the needle leaving the eye to mix the colour. You can read about my favourite stitches  here.
I have deliberately tried to be sparing with my stitching of the faces in this piece to produce a more illustrative style. Mood, quality, expression, character can all be changed by the position of each stitch and a lot of drawing and re-drawing, stitching, unpicking and restitching has been done before moving on.

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63 a work in progress -25

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63 a work in progress – 27

I am a ‘glass half full’ sort of person but the process of making this piece has, so far, and I am only just over half way there, been an convergence of mixed emotion. The process has, at times, evoked difficult and even desperately unhappy emotions, the reliving of all that teenage angst, hurt, heartbreak, and loss, the business problems and burglaries, but alongside that the uplifting and happy memories of friends and family and an optimism for the future.

Overall it is proving to be a quite cathartic process.

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63 a work in progress – 32

63 will be shown as a ‘work in progress’ in Shifting Images from 8 September 2015 to 7 February 2016. – contemporary self portraiture
Working in partnership with Abbey Walk Gallery the Muriel Barker Gallery at the Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre will host an Exhibition of of self – portraiture by Lincolnshire Artists past and present.

The Secret Gardens of Spitalfields

womanwithafish:

A wonderful blog post about the Secret Gardens of Spitalfields

Originally posted on Away from the Drawing Board:

I love walking around Spitalfields in East London, along its cobbled streets admiring the wonderful Georgian terraced houses, so when I read about the opportunity to visit some of these houses’ hidden gardens, I just had to make the journey!

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These few remaining streets of Georgian townhouses are all that are left after widespread demolition in the 1960s and 1970s. Originally they were the homes of silk merchants and weavers, many of them of Huguenot origin, who fled their homelands due to religious persecution.

Typically the houses had four storeys and a garret. The ground floor was traditionally  used for business purposes, with the kitchens and servants accommodated in the basement.

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A bobbin hangs outside a house…a lasting reminder of its silk weaving former occupants

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An example of Spitalfields Silk…detail of a Court dress in the Museum of London

The upper floors provided the living quarters and have high ceilings. On the top floor, the garret rooms where the weavers worked, feature large…

View original 943 more words

tiles at Alcazar real, Seville

A Taste of Seville – Part 2

The Tiles of the Alcazar Real

The Alcázar Real of Seville encapsulates the historical evolution of the city during the last millennium, amalgamating influences starting from the Arabic period, late Middle Ages Mudéjar right through to the Renaissance, Baroque and the XIX century.

The tiles at the Alcazar Real are incredible and they are everywhere floors, walls, ceilings,and also outside in the gardens!. Here is just a flavour of what we saw. Truly inspirational.

Read more about this incredible Palace here 

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Tiles Alcazar real Seville

Tiles Alcazar Real, Seville

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tiles seville

A Taste of Seville • Part 1

If I was looking for some inspiration on my recent  travels I certainly found it in Seville. It has everything I love and in the Spring the weather is perfect for me. It ‘s a friendly city with great food (it’s where Tapas originally came from) and is of a modest size compared to some Spanish cities but it has has culture in abundance. There’s still so much I didn’t see I’ll have to go there again.

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First we visited the cathedral which breathtaking and I even managed to climb to the top of the tower to take in the magnificent views.

Details of the Cathedral, Seville, Spain

Details of the Cathedral, Seville, Spain

View from the Tower

One of the views from the top of the tower. Just to prove I made it up there!

It has a beautiful palace, the Alcazar Real with its moorish architecture, decorative and sometimes quirky tiles  and wonderful gardens. The tiles have to be a post all of their own but here’s some images of the architecture, the gardens and the underground pool which was used during the summer months to keep cool.

Details of the Alcazar Real

Details of the Alcazar Real

Details of the Alcazar Real

Details of the Alcazar Real

Alcazar Real gardens

Alcazar Real Gardens

Alcazar Real gardens

Alcazar real gardens

Underground Pool Alcazar real

Underground pool Alcazar Real

You’ll be pleased to know I did spot some graffiti amongst all this culture in Seville. I love the cat!

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Cat Graffiti Seville, Spain

and here are some unusual window displays

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masks

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and finally some dazzling flowers and it wouldn’t be Seville if I didn’t include and orange or two……….

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Fred Harry and Madge Stone

Inspiration for Stitch – Part 4 – The Innocent Victims of War

The inspiration for my work can come from anywhere and everywhere and it sometimes takes on a more serious note. I turned on the radio and heard her voice and the words I will never forget “This is not my War”. They were the words spoken by a Syrian mother whose children aged 5,10 and 12 had just been killed by mortar fire in a war she did not understand. The sound of her voice will stay with me forever.

Some Things Never Change commemorates those children and the many others like them that have lost their lives, or have been mentally or physically scarred by war. The lives of those who have survived war and atrocity are changed for all time.
My Dad and his siblings Harry and Madge were children of the First World War, born just before and during so called ‘war to end war’. I have used their images to represent the universal child. The concrete pillar in the background is inspired by the concrete architecture of the skate park on the South Bank of the Thames and the graffiti of street artist Stik and is covered with cross stitches representing the kisses those Syrian children will never receive.

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Some Things Never Change 2012

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I listen to the Radio and hear his Voice again recalls something I heard on Radio 4. A 10 year old boy was talking to the reporter “You can’t imagine what I’ve seen, what my country has seen”. The Universal Child uses an image of my Dad to represent children affected by war worldwide.

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The Universal Child

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I Listen to the Radio and Hear his Voice.

The Unknown Statistic comes from my research into the First World War during the run up to the centenary in 2014 of the start of the war. A photograph is of some children, unknown to me, but in my husband’s family album was my starting point. I have had this image waiting to be used for many years but it was only when I saw the graffiti in the East End of London I knew how I was going to use it. The children have a poignancy to them. They look as though they are watching someone walking away. I decided to use their images as a way of commemorating all the children left fatherless by the First World War. The exact number of children is unknown as it was not recorded accurately either locally or nationally. I imagined their father was one of the brave Grimsby fishermen whose trawlers went minesweeping the coast with very little protection and little recognition. He walked away and never looked back. It was bad luck for a fisherman to turn around and look back as they walked away to sea. They never saw him again. My own Great Grandfather, Harry Conder died during the first few weeks of World War One when the trawler Fittonia, of which he was skipper, was blown up by a mine in the River Humber. He was survived by a widow and several children. His eldest son Charles Conder died during the last weeks of the war of Spanish Flu, the virus that would be responsible for more than five times as many deaths as the war itself.

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Kids from the Family album

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east end graffiti

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The Unknown Statistic

Japanese Restaurant , Barcelona

Inspiration for Stitch – Part 3 – My Travels

My 5 Favourite Locations to find inspiration for stitch.

My travels at home and abroad provide me with inspiration for my stitched work. I am an avid photographer and I collect hundreds of images on my travels. They are collected as an aide-mémoire for future work and I have built up a library of images including interiors, exteriors, tiles, the usual, the unusual, the smallest of details that can so easily be overlooked.

Here are my current top 5 favourite locations but no doubt they will change as I discover new places on my travels. My next stop is Seville where I hope to find inspiration in its beautiful Moorish architecture.

1. Amsterdam – unusual shop windows, bicycles and graphics.

Shop window, Amsterdam

Shop window, Amsterdam

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Amsterdam

Shop window, Amsterdam

Shop window, Amsterdam

2. Newcastle – some glass blocks caught my eye.

Glass Blocks, Newcastle

Glass Blocks, Newcastle

Glass Blocks, Newcastle

Glass Blocks, Newcastle

3. Barcelona – Gaudi Mosaics, Parc Guell & Dali Museum Barcelona

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Gaudi Mosaics, Parc Guell

Gaudi Mosaics, Parc Guell

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Cardboard cutout of Salvador Dali, Dali Museum, Barcelona

4. Southwold, Suffolk – In and around Southwold Suffolk, UK

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Graveyard, Southwold,Suffolk

Rope, Netting, Southwold, Suffolk

Rope, Netting, Southwold, Suffolk

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Door, Southwold, Suffolk

5.London – In and around E1, E2, EC1

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Cobbles, London

Cobbles, London

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Graffiti,London

Inspiration for Stitch – Part 2 – The East End of London

In this second post about my inspiration I take a look at the East End of London, and my love affair with the Grimsby Street area. The street is situated in E2 and shares its name with my hometown. In the early 2000s both my sons lived in London so I was a regular visitor. My younger son, Sam lived in Hackney at that time and had come across Grimsby Street E2 when visiting a friend nearby. The next time I visited he took me there and it was love at first sight.

Here are some of the images I fell in love with. They may seem strange. It’s quite rundown, but an art school education taught me to look and to see beauty in the smallest detail and to enjoy the ‘out of place’. When I look at these vistas I see my next piece of work.

The images above inspired pieces that depict the then, the now and the journey in-between. The first pieces I made were East End Chair and Closed pictured below.

East End Chair is a portrait of my Grandmother Annie Jane Smith sat in an abandoned armchair nursing a fish. My hometown of Grimsby is best known for its connection with the fishing industry and the fish represents the prosperity the fishing industry brought to the town.

Closed depicts the demise of the Grimsby fishing industry. The closed shop sign represents the end of the town’s prosperity after the Cod Wars in the 1950s and 60s.

This series made in 2012 combine 2 or more images to represent the passing of time and the transience of life. A Girls Day Out, East End Girls and RIP Grimsby St E2 version 1 & 2.

East End Girls combines an image of my grandmother, Alice Ann Stone, her daughter Madge and my Mum Muriel May Sone with an image of 2 abandoned east end sofas. It’s 128 cms wide x 104 cms high.

A Girl’s Day Out for Hilda, Nellie and Ida combines an image of 3 Grimsby sisters Hilda, Nellie and Ida with an image of Grimsby Street E2 graffiti by graffiti artist Stik.

RIP Grimsby Street E2 versions 1 & 2 chronicle the knocking down of part of Grimsby Street E2 in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics. An analogy between 2 different eras and 2 different environments .1930s Grimsby girls meet London 2012

The ever changing images of street art are fascinating. I have now been documenting the area for more than 10 years. Part 3 of the inspiration for Stitch posts will look at my documentation of the South Bank and more recent pieces inspired by the East End.