I am delighted to be showing my work in ‘Making Space’ an exhibition by the 62 Group of Textile Artists. The exhibition at Macclesfield Silk Museum runs until 3 September 2016.
A Gallery of Work made in 2015
Most of the year 2015 was taken by the making of 63 • a Self Portrait made up of 63 images but I did manage to fit in a couple of other pieces. I began the year by making a partner piece for Portrait of a Grimsby Girl 2014 which was called Portrait of a Lincolnshire Lad a triple portrait of my Dad. It measures 76 x 55 cms and is mixed media : hand and machine stitch with paint.
I also managed a commission of Great Grimsby Ice Factory.
63 is a self-portrait 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?
There were several reasons, but the main one was that I was asked to take part in a self-portrait exhibition in 2015 and I was given a 6 metre wall to fill!
For this I had to work to a deadline and that in turn forced me to look at the way I work and helped me find a simplification of my mark-making.
I didn’t finish it in time as my thought process was slower than expected and so it was shown as work in progress. Numbers 1 to 42 were shown.
Numbers 1 to 57 were completed in 2015 and are shown below.
I’m proud to say that Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries 2015 shown above is now part of the prestigious Diana Springall Collection . It measures 25.5 x 30.5 cms.
Society of Designer Craftsmen Christmas Market – 14 – 20 December – Mall Galleries, London
Illustrative and Stitched Drawings – 28 November – 10 January 2016 , Customs House Gallery, South Shields, Tyne & Wear, UK
New Textiles Transformed – 3 October – 7 November – Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge, USA
Shifting Images – 8 September 2015 – 7 February 2016 FHC, Grimsby, N E Lincs, UK
Face the World – 12 October – 25 October Sam Scorer Gallery, Lincoln
Festival of Quilts – 6 August – 9 August – NEC Birmingham with Through Our Hands
62 Group • NOW! -17 March – 10 May Upfront Gallery Cumbria
Designer Crafts at the Mall – 8 January to 15 January, Mall Galleries, London
Portrait of a Grimsby Girl 76 cm x 55 cm + Book 29 cm x 26 cm
Statement about work 1: 2014 marks the centenary of her birth. The usual ups and downs of life preceded the diagnosis, in 1978 of a rare form of Leukaemia. In 1979 her family watched helplessly as her life ebbed away. As one life ends another begins. 3 weeks later her grandson, Sam was born.
Materials: cotton/ linen fabric, cotton threads, fabric and acrylic paints, bondaweb
Techniques: hand and machine embroidery, painting, bonding
Photo credit: David Ramkalawon
The Unknown Statistic 100 cm x 70 cm
Statement about work: They stood in the doorway and watched. He whistled as he walked away. He didn’t look back and they never saw him again. The number of children left fatherless by WW1 was not accurately recorded either nationally or locally. Memories fade. Their young lives went on but were changed forever.
Materials: cotton/ linen fabric, cotton threads, fabric and acrylic paints
Techniques: hand and machine embroidery, painting
Photo credit: David Ramkalawon
mixed media • 122 x 92 cms
A Group of small studies made in 2013
As usual my subject matter comes from close to home and I have combined three images. My Mum, my Dad and a church window are the component parts of the composition.
The piece is about my parents early courtship.
He was always a snappy dresser who was a Fish Merchant when Grimsby was known as the ‘Klondyke of the East Coast’. Working his way up he was first a barrow boy and then a filleter before starting his own business. She was a talented tailoress with a rich, and vibrant contralto voice and from a staunch Methodist family.They often met at Flottergate Methodist Church where she was in the choir.
My sister and I have a theory that he only joined the Men’s society so that he could court my Mum. They were married in 1939 when she was 25 years old.
Statement for ‘The Universal Child’ and ’I listen to the radio and hear his voice’
Children are killed, maimed, physically and mentally scarred every day, caught up in the crossfire of senseless religious and sectarian wars
Each stitch on the recycled, linen fabric becomes a symbol of remembrance for the hundreds of thousands of lives lost. The cross-stitches used to represent the kisses those children will never receive.
On radio 4 the news is bad, the words of both bereaved mothers, and victims of horrific attacks are heartbreaking. Those words are depicted by machine embroidered graffiti.
Images of Fred, ‘The Universal Child’ and Harry,’I Listen to the Radio and Hear his Voice’ turn into a device to connect past with present and the materials used to portray them form the common link. The two boys are children of the first world war, the so-called war to end war. Almost 100 years on there is still no end in sight .
A girl from Grimsby, a tuna from Tsukiji, a holiday in Harajuku combine. Travel through ethereal layers of time and place to Takeshita Street. The artist’s mother was born on 6th December 1914 in a fishing port in the UK. 99 years later this Grimsby girl meets modern day Tokyo.
Linen/cotton fabric, cotton threads, fabric paint. Hand and machine stitch, painting. 59 x 145 cms
Grimsby, UK, once the world’s busiest fishing port, is the artist’s hometown. East, west, past and present, connect when three sisters from 1920s Grimsby have a tea party in Tokyo. The youngest of the three, Irene, the artist’s mother-in-law was an avid tea drinker all her life.
Linen/cotton fabric, cotton threads, fabric paint.Hand and machine stitch, painting. 60 x 115 cms
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 opening of the 62 Group Ebb & Flow exhibition is getting closer but the project itself has been almost two years in the planning.
It started with an invitation from Grimsby Minster to show our work in the Minster which is a busy and vibrant resource for the people of North East Lincolnshire, an “architectural gem” tracing its history on this site for more than 900 years. I soon realised, however, that because we are such a large group of very diverse artists that there would not be enough suitable hanging space and display for smaller 3D work in the Minster for all of our work to be shown.
A second venue was sort and we were offered the upper floor, the mezzanine, of the Muriel Barker Gallery at the Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby. The Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre was purpose built and opened in 1991. Its permanent exhibition tells the story of the Grimsby Fishing Industry in its heyday in the1950s. The white-walled space at the Fishing Heritage Centre contrasts nicely with the grandeur of the Minster.
The Ross Tiger, GY398, is an ex-working 1950’s trawler and the largest item in the heritage collections. Lucy Brown, one of our exhibiting members has made site specific work to be shown on board the Tiger. The image left shows Lucy’s ‘sea bags’ which will be installed around the living quarters on the Tiger. Once the venues were in place we worked on the detail of the project and funding bid to Arts Council England by Grimsby Minster which was successful. This enabled us to work with freelance writer and curator, June Hill who has been on hand to advise the group throughout the project and who will be opening the exhibition on 13th September. It also helped the group to put together a full education programme and to produce a full colour catalogue with professional photography which will be on sale at both venues.
Details of our education programme can be found here. Many of our members visited Grimsby in February when we were given a tour of both venues and of the museum collections store. All of our exhibitions are selected by a selection panel of 5. The panel is different for each exhibition and can include a representative from the venue. The selection process has now been completed and 37 pieces of work were selected for the exhibition made by 28 artists.
This week we also completed the photography for the catalogue which is now in the design stages. The catalogue will be on sale at both venues.
The photographer for the majority of the pieces is David Ramkalawon who came to Grimsby from London for 2 days to photograph work at both venues.
The snap left shows David photographing work in Grimsby Minster.
Next week the hanging process begins. Watch this space for more ‘behind the scenes’ glimpses of Ebb & Flow.
Grimsby, my hometown in North East Lincolnshire, UK will be hosting an exhibition of work by the 62 Group of Textile Artists in Autumn 2014. The ‘Ebb & Flow’ exhibition, which is supported by Arts Council England, has been 2 years in the planning and the will run concurrently over 2 very different venues. The first is the Grade 1 listed Grimsby Minster is often described as ‘ an architectural gem’. The second is the purpose built, white walled Muriel Barker Gallery at Grimsby’s Fishing Heritage Centre on Alexandra Dock. These 2 contrasting venues will give the group the scope to show a variety of textile related work from many different disciplines.
The 62 Group was formed in 1962 and has no premises or paid administrators. It does, however attract professional members who are willing to give up some of their time to serve on the 62 Group committee to insure the smooth running of the Group. Membership is achieved by a 2 stage selection process and members can’t relax even then as each of the 62 Group exhibitions are also selected. It is this rigorous selection process which ensures the quality of the Group’s exhibitions and has helped to establish the Group’s international reputation for professionalism.
Textile enthusiasts will not only be able to view the 2 ‘Ebb & Flow’ exhibitions between 9th September to 2nd November 2014 but will also be able to see a fantastic exhibition called ‘Sleigh Belles’ on the Lower floor of the Muriel Barker Gallery. This exhibition, which is part of the ‘Unlocking the Collection’ series of exhibitions is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Joan Sleigh was a textile teacher at Grimsby College who collected good quality costume and accessories all her life and this extensive collection was donated to the North East Lincolnshire museum collection . It will be an exhibition well worth seeing.
The Fishing Heritage Centre will also host an exhibition of textiles by Jan Dowson’s C&G students in its Café Gallery. Jan Dowson is a local teacher of textiles who has recently been awarded the City & Guilds Medal for Excellence for her teaching of textile art and mixed media at NEL Community Learning Services at Thrunscoe Centre in Cleethorpes. Jan was also 1 of only 4 people to be shortlisted for the prestigious Beryl Dean Award for Teaching Excellence this year. Her student’s work is always fresh and vibrant.
All 4 of these exhibitions run concurrently. In conjunction with their exhibitions, the 62 Group will offer a programme of talks and workshops. More information about the Education Happenings which will accompany ‘Ebb & Flow’ will be announced on our ‘Ebb & Flow’ Facebook page as soon as we have the dates confirmed.
image above is work in progress by Sue Stone