Tuesday 31 December 2019

Looking back

This time last year I wrote a blog, looking back on some workshops I'd attended and various unfinished pieces I needed to work on in the New Year ... and unsurprisingly, I have to admit that several of them are still waiting! This year my thoughts have turned not to the unfinished but the finished - our Revealed exhibition, which we really enjoyed sharing with the many people we met in 2019.

I'm in the middle of updating our Gallery page and looking back and remembering the reactions and various conversations we had with visitors about our work. So, I thought I'd share some of my memories of our year here. Our exhibition, 'Revealed', explored our individual approaches to the idea of what is seen or unseen, using unconventional viewpoints, revealing various hidden layers - in the physical world, in our emotional landscapes and also in our work itself. As always, we came up with a variety of ideas.

Some of our work came from a very personal perspective - most notably, Becca's work relating to her deafness and the response to them was very positive, particularly from the deaf community. Becca has written her own post here eloquently describing her feelings and the various conversations she had. I just remember the smiles and excited faces of the members of the deaf community I met, as I pointed out the inspiration behind the work - leading to the following comment in our book, 'Very impressive work - from deaf fellows'.

The Hidden Face

Hidden Deafness 1/3

Hidden Deafness 2/3

Hidden Deafness 3/3

Bernice was also inspired by a personal accident for the following machine-stitched piece 'Hidden Support', described here in her own words: A personal journey about my breaking my fingers in 2018. The base of the piece is made from the two muslin slings I was given. I kept a photo diary of my treatment and recovery and most of these photos were printed out on cotton fabric. The top layer is made from the hospital appointment letters. The tags show the dates of the appointments up to December 31st.

Visitors were fascinated to learn of the story behind both this and also the following piece. I saw many a smile on the faces of people, reading the label for 'My Mother Said' and pointing it out to their friends. The label said: On the first layer I wrote about my mother disapproving of even a bra strap showing, unlike now when almost anything goes!

My Mother Said
Mixed media distressed vest, made with paper, fabric, stitch and beads

As the following comment shows, some people were very interested to find out the stories behind our work: 'An amazing display of work and so interesting to hear the background of some of the exhibitors'.

Vicki also found inspiration in the human body and biological structure, here exploring hidden vulnerability and disease. This wonderful, delicate stitching showed the fragility of osteoporosis.


The inspiration for this was of great interest to some, maybe with personal experience of the disease, and some commented how good it was to have a common theme running through an artist's work. However, it was interesting to listen to other conversations about this piece as it was clear that it wasn't necessary to know the inspiration behind it to appreciate the work, as is also often the case. It's seen here displayed as it was on a wonderful glass head ...

... which led to many people discussing its suitability as a fascinator and one loud comment, 'It's beautiful - I'd wear it for my wedding!'

Deb's fabulous 'unwearable' dress was also very popular, with many people commenting on the wonderful texture she has created on the surface. The general consensus was that it was definitely wearable - someone wrote the following in our book: 'Green outfit absolutely beautiful. Could definitely be wearable. So beautiful and so clever to be able to have the foresight'.

Another of Deb's pieces which was greatly admired was her beautiful stitched piece - just stunning!

In some cases, a personal response to the work came from a shared experience with a visitor, which was the case with these wonderful needle felted landscapes from Dia. They grew out of her recent holiday in Namibia ...



... and 'Deadvlei' in particular brought back very happy memories of a very special place for one visitor, who talked excitedly with Dia about the work for some time. She had lived in Namibia for many years and wrote in our book: 'Beautiful work. Such skills ... and the picture of Deadvlei, Namibia is a treasure!'

Several of us chose to use wet-felting with resists techniques for 'Revealed', as these close-ups show.

In 'Spiral Space', I challenged myself to do a large spiral resist and it ended up being the largest piece of wet felting I've ever done - physically, quite hard work and definitely a challenge! However, I was very pleased with it and had many conversations about how I had worked it and the various methods I had to use to make the spiral stand up.

Spiral Space
Wet felted with spiral resist, yarn, threads and pre-felted shapes, hand & machine stitch

Another of my wet-felted resist pieces which drew comments was 3D - the vessel, 'Rainbow Totem'. This had multi-layered resists and one of my favourite colour combinations - orange, red and turquoise. After I'd pointed out 'Spiral Space' to one visitor as wet-felting with a resist, she rushed instead towards the vessel, saying, 'Ooh, I like the spiral, but I lo-o-o-ve this!'

Rainbow Totem
Wet felting with resists, nuno felted with silk chiffon

This also had some nuno-felted areas and so combined felting techniques, learned on separate workshops with two inspirational felters, Caroline Merrell and Clare Bullock. The joy of learning new techniques and sharing ideas within the textile art community is important to me and also a very special part of my reason for doing exhibitions. I hope that sharing our work, as we do, also plays a small part in inspiring others - which is why this is possibly my favourite comment of all written in our book this year: 'Thanks for your information and inspiration. I am going to have a go!'

So, we say goodbye to 2019 and 'Revealed' and look forward to next year, where our theme will be 'Senses'. I'll close with one more close-up image of my 'Starshine' lampcover, also inspired by another wonderful tutor, Alysn Midgelow-Marsden, which drew this comment in our book: 'Starshine is spectacular! Magical!'

Copper shim and mesh, stainless steel fabric, heat treated,
zapped layered synthetics, hand & machine stitch, sequins and beads

It brings spectacular and magical 'Happy New Year' wishes to you all with love and thanks from all of us here at Traverse.