Sunday, 1 October 2017

Considering Key Themes Within My Work

Friday was the last day of my textile exhibition / open-studio residency at Orchard Square in Sheffield city centre. It has been a fantastic experience and a very enjoyable 4 weeks.

One of my main motivations in applying for the project, was to get the opportunity to mount up and display all my textiles, so that I could get some sense of the 'body of work' created so far. Up to now, it's all just been bits and pieces, stashed away in the plans chest drawer, so it has been hard to get a feel for what I have achieved, what holds it together and where it's going. Seeing everything together, properly displayed, was really useful for me.

It was also very interesting, having to talk to so many visitors about the work. It helped me to crystallise what my themes and interests are. I realised that, though the subject matter is quite varied, there are underlying elements which carry through and which link the textiles to my sketch work.

For instance, I am fascinated by the relationship between enforced randomness and more controlled creative decisions. I realised that there were strong random elements in every single textiles piece on display. I routinely create backgrounds before I know where a piece is going, to enforce unplanned juxtapositions; I often work with fabric shapes as they come out of the rag-bag; I reinterpret randomly created compositions; I work with maps, where roads, borders and areas of water are enforced shapes to work around.

I am also very excited by the way line and linear mark-making can work in tandem with, or in opposition to, areas of colour. Again, this comes through in both my figurative and abstract work, and is there in the stitching, as it has been for some time in my paintings.

I spent quite a while chatting to most visitors, then I asked people to write a comment on a feedback shape, to decorate the outside wall. I counted them up today - 83! With those who didn't get to leave feedback for various reasons (some slipped the net before I nobbled them for instance), and including the people who came to my workshops (more later), I reckon I must have had around 130 visitors through, all told. Which I am very pleased with, given there is no real 'passing trade', because of the location of the unit, tucked away upstairs.

The feedback shapes were a much funkier system than a visitors book and hopefully made the unit look welcoming:

Visitor numbers and my interaction with them did impact significantly on the amount of work I got done of course, but I didn't really mind, since I very much enjoyed the conversations and met some interesting people. I got some great tips for techniques too (ironing beeswax into teabags... watch this space!).

I did a fair bit of sketching around the shops in the first couple of weeks, but concentrated on sewing for the last half of my time. I finished one simple piece, above, based on a combination of 3 different sketches, done early on. My 2nd, more complex piece, based on the Costa coffee-house sketch is ongoing. I'll try and finish it next week if I can, although I have 2 days of school visits to fit in too, so maybe that's a bit over-confident.

It was sad to have to start taking down the work on Friday afternoon. John came in and helped me to wrestle the Velcro fixings from the walls, I packed everything up and we loaded the car.

Early-doors on Saturday morning, we did a 2nd car run to collect the last few bits and to pass on the keys to the new incumbent. Micheal Bukowsky is a perfume artist and he is going to create 'scent portraits' of people, for £5 a time. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? Pop up there and see how it works. I certainly will!

Don't forget, you can follow the progress of all 4 artists in residence on social media, by using the hashtag #artistupstairs. Thank you to Making Ways and Orchard Square for a fascinating project.


Anonymous said...

I am eager to read what you did with tea bags and bees wax. I have been working with tea bags. I fuse them to a stabilizer then screen and stitch on them. Fun.

Rob Nesbitt said...

You have done some really interesting work in September - Great project to work on - what have you got lined up next?

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thank you guys!

The tea-bags tip is to fill them with photos or tiny drawings etc then blob them with melted beeswax and iron it in (lots of old towel / brown paper needed). The translucent results are apparently very interesting. Can't wait to try.

Next big thing is the Australia residency, starting at the end of January, Rob. Til then I'll be carrying on with my textiles work and doing various bits and bobs of school visits and the odd presentation. Be nice to have some quiet time to get my head down :-)