Woman with a Fish '09

Retrospective • an archive of work from 2009/10

Woman with a Fish Solo Exhibition 2009
This exhibition was an observation of the Grimsby fishing Industry from a personal perspective. Many of the pieces in this exhibition tell a story, of experiences and memories from my childhood, of the ‘then’ and ‘now’ and sometimes the journey in between.

Woman with a Fish ’09 ( featured image above)  is the second version I have done of Woman with a Fish . The first which is much smaller was on tour in Europe from March ’08 to November ‘09 with the Embroiderers’ Guild ‘ Art of the Stitch’ International Biennial Exhibition .The original idea came from an illustration done by my husband David Pitcher in the 1970s when he was a student at St Martins School of Art in London. I felt it was such a great idea and as the original illustration had been lost, I felt it was both a name and an image worth reviving. My pieces ‘ Closed’ and ‘ East End Chair’’ are actually closer in composition to the original but this one shares its name. This piece portrays my maternal grandmother Annie Jane Smith standing outside her terraced house in Columbia Road, Grimsby. She is cradling a fish in her arms. The fish symbolises the great importance of the fishing industry to the town and what it meant to be part of it . Grimsby was at one time the largest fishing port in world, the‘ Klondyke of the East Coast’, alas no more.

A Mug of Ship’s Tea • below

In the 1950s Grimsby’s fish docks were very familiar for me as my father Fred Stone worked there as a fish merchant and as a young child I remember being taken on board a trawler by him and meeting the crew who showed us around the ship. It made a huge impact on me as I was fascinated to see how the men managed to live and work in such a confined space for their long and dangerous trips at sea and it is one of my earliest memories of the fish docks. I have a vivid memory of being given a drink of milky tea in an enormous enamel mug and when I went to school the following Monday we were asked to write a story about what we did at the weekend . My story went like this. ‘ At the weekend I went on a trawler with my Dad and I had a mug of ‘ship’s tea’. That memory is captured in this piece of work which shows me with the mug of tea and my father, Fred standing by a trawler with the crew looking on in the background.

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A Mug of Ship’s Tea 2008 • 30 x 46 cms

Life on the Coast Exhibition 2009/10

The touring textile exhibition ‘Life on the Coast’ was designed to preserve a record of the artist’s childhood whilst capturing a glimpse of social history, and celebrating the lives of some of the people involved in the fishing industry.
The project which was supported by the National Lottery, through Arts Council England began at the Campden Gallery in Nov/Dec 2009 and continued during April 1st to May 31st 2010 at concurrent exhibitions at the Fishing Heritage Centre and Gate Gallery, Grimsby

All the work in this exhibition had some connection to my life and environment . Combining hand and machine stitch my work is often figurative, usually narrative and sometimes has a surreal sense of humour. I use thread and stitch as a means of mark making and all its facets; line/colour/texture/tone,the stitches multiplying until the image is complete. My family have close connections with the fishing industry as my husband’s grandfather was a skipper and my own father was a fish merchant so I spent many hours ‘down dock‘ as a child and I have always loved the much underrated Lincolnshire coast where my family holidays were spent. The exhibition was divided into two parts.

At Play
In the 1950s many families from Grimsby holidayed along the Lincolnshire coast from Humberston Fitties down to Skegness . It was commonplace for the father to carry on working whilst the womenfolk and children were on holiday. In my family my Dad used to take us to Chapel St Leonards on a Saturday, go back to Grimsby to run his business all week and then collect us again the following Saturday. In my husband’s family his Dad ferried them to the Humberston Fitties one at a time on his scooter and then commuted every day to Titans to work as a sign writer.

Haille Sands Fort

Haille Sands Fort

The Humber Forts are two large fortifications in the mouth of the Humber estuary. They were built in 1914 to protect the entrance to the estuary. They stand 18 metres above the water and have a diameter of 25 metres. There was accommodation for 200 soldiers. They took three years to build and construction finished at almost the same time as the First World War. During the second World War they remained as a deterrent and were regularly attacked by enemy aircraft. During this time a netting was put up to prevent enemy submarines traveling up the estuary to Grimsby or Hull.
Haile Sand Fort is around the low water mark between Humberston and Cleethorpes on the coast of Lincolnshire

At Work
In the 1950s, Grimsby was the largest and busiest fishing port in the world and was known as ‘ The Klondyke of the East Coast’. As a result of the Cod Wars with Iceland this industry has been in decline for many years. The port is still home to the largest fish market in the UK although most of what is sold is now brought overland from other ports or even overseas in containers.
The Braiding Room hanging (below) portrays several women braiding nets . Amongst those depicted here are Maureen Brown ( in the fore ground) , Ivy Venney, Marie Alcock, Edy French, and Beattie Kinnaird. In memory of Maureen Brown on whose original photograph this hanging is based.

The Braiding Room

The Braiding Room



Retrospective – an Archive of work from 2007/8

Past Forward 2008
This exhibition was the result of seven artists and a composer working with the art of the past.
Each one chose a particular artist and made studies from their work, in the form of drawings, sketches and paintings. The knowledge gained from this analysis was used to make more personal pieces. The artist I studied was Grant Wood.
Grant Wood (1891-1942)
Best  known for his famous canvas American Gothic (1930)  American artist Grant Wood was born and raised in Iowa in America’s rural heartland .
Grant Wood founded his art on his heritage and pioneered a new vision of Regionalist Art.After a trip to Europe in 1928 he started to experiment with some artistic elements adapted from the old Flemish masters using their decorative patterning and solid contoured painting in his subsequent work.
I first became interested in Grant Wood’s paintings a few years ago when I used a transcription of American Gothic  for a series of 5 self portraits so I decided to take a closer look at his lesser known work.
Woman with Plants is an unsentimental portrait of the artist’s mother depicting her as an archetypal pioneer woman with a rather lush farmscape in the background . This was Wood’s first serious attempt at a neo-Flemish painting In my version Woman with Fish  instead of Grant Wood’s mother I have depicted my maternal grandmother Annie Jane Smith and have replaced the Iowa landscape with a Lincolnshire landscape (Tetney Lock to be more specific) The plants have become fish and Wood’s signature windmill is now the Grimsby Dock Tower.

woman with fish

woman with fish 2007

Daughters of Revolution  Depicting them as shortsighted spinsters whom he called ‘ those Tory Gals ‘this satyrical painting was executed as a revenge on the local members of the DAR after they publicly criticised a piece of his work for being assembled abroad. In my version Daughters of Grim (above right) I have replaced the stern faced DAR women with my maternal grandmother Annie Jane Smith and my paternal grandmother Alice Ann Stone on the left of the picture and my mother Muriel May Stone  on the right. The painting in the background depicts the brave fishermen of the Grand Fleet Grimsby c 1920. and I have replaced the teacup with a small fish .

Daughters of Grim 2008

Daughters of Grim 2008

Art of the Stitch 2008/9
March 2008 – November 2009 – I had 2 pieces selected from 944 entries of which 56 were chosen to be shown . Biennial Exhibition presented by the Embroiderer’s Guild in association with Coat’s Crafts.
International Tour :Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery,UK, Deutsches Textilmuseum, Krefeld, Germany, Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest, Hungary, Knitting & Stitching shows, London & Harrogate 2009
East End Chair 2007 (left) Woman with a Fish 2007 (right)

East End Chair

East End Chair

Woman with a Fish '07

Woman with a Fish ’07

A selection of beach and landscapes 2007/8


Tetney Vista


Humberstone Fences




Humberstone Foreshore

Tetney Lock

Tetney Lock

Humberstone Beach

Humberstone Beach

Tapetum Brevis 2005

Retrospective – Where it all began • Archive •2003/6

This is the first of a series of posts documenting the work I have made since 2002 when I started working as an artist after 28 year career designing womenswear.

Thornton Abbey Series
In 2002 I began working from a series of photographs of Thornton Abbey given to me by my friend Alf Ludlam who had visited the Abbey with his daughter, Lucy ,also a stitcher. She thought the photos would inspire me to start stitching again and they did. I later went to the Abbey and took my own photographs . The series of work I have produced is inspired by the beautiful tiles that have been preserved in the Abbey ruins and the gargoyles in and around the gatehouse.
The enormous fortified gatehouse of Thornton Abbey is among the finest surviving in Britain. It is an early example of brick building and was one of the wealthiest English Augustinian monasteries. Built in the years following the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 it provided  lodgings for the abbot and his guests. Within its grounds stand the remains of the monastic buildings.tapetum magnus

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Self Portraits 2006  I made five self-portraits, one for each decade of my life at that time. The composition is based on Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting. I love the simplicity of the two figures in front of the distinctive Gothic window of the cottage. The  painting shows a farmer standing beside his spinster daughter. The models were the artist’s dentist and sister.

The Wigwam portrays me with my sister, Jean during the 1950s. We are in our garden with our one-eyed cat, Tiddles outside our wigwam.

The Wigwam

The Wigwam

The Holiday features me with best friend Olwen on holiday in Polperro,  Cornwall in 1967.

the holiday

The Holiday

The Wedding shows me with my husband, David on our wedding day in 1975. Unfortunately no photographs exist of the event so it is done from my own memory of the day.

The Wedding

The Wedding

The Football Match is a recollection of a time in the 1980s when we had several shops and we sponsored the ball at a Grimsby Town football match.

The Football Match

The Football Match

The Weekend is a memory of all the happy weekends we spent in the Lake District in the 1990s.

The Weekend

The Weekend

Beach and Boatyard 2006 a selection of textiles inspired by beaches,boatyards and engine sheds.

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63 - 16

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.

63 - 2

63 work in progress 2

63 - 4

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.

63 - 7

63 work in progress -7

63 - 12

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.

63 -25

63 a work in progress -25

63 -27

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.

63 - 32

63 a work in progress – 32

63 will be shown as a ‘work in progress’ in Shifting Images from 8 September 2015 to 6 March 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


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!


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.


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


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 














Tiles Alcazar real Seville

Tiles Alcazar Real, Seville