Wednesday, July 29, 2015

fly stitch

Stitching just a little more on this quilt lets me remain in a distant place, above it all.
Fly stitching.  Stitch flying. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

I saw a butterfly, there can be more to life

 I made this quilt in 1988.  (when she was three)
 Grace took it to university with her in 2003. (when she was 18)
 I'm glad to see that she really used it.
 I had discovered painting on fabric around that time.
I remember painting and then appliqueing these fantastical butterflies onto the scrap quilt base.
 The title is from a book I was reading at the time  about caterpillars. (and society)
I've started to mend this quilt for Grace.  She still loves it and uses it all the  time. (just turned 30)
A small thing I can do for her in the big picture of her life.

Monday, July 20, 2015

a book about forgetting

"We remember nothing.
Maybe for a year or two.
Maybe most of a life
page 244
"Maybe a lot of people never know love.
Maybe we just get given our faces, our lives, our fates, our happiness and unhappiness.
Some get a lot, some bugger all.
And love the same.
Like different glass sizes for beer.
You get a lot, you get bugger all, you drink it and its gone.
You know it and then you don't know it.
Maybe we don't control any of it. " page 373
I finished my novel on Saturday.
I'd like to say that it was about memory,
but it's more about how people lose memories,
or only hold parts of memories until they become more like dreams.
Title of novel: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
I read it slowly, a few pages a day over two months.
I learned about Australia and World War II.
Through flashbacks, poetry, and glimpses of daily life,
the author pulled me in with his beautiful writing.
He juxtaposes so many things.
Relationships and history, love and death,
horror and beauty, duty and adultery.
It won the Booker Prize 2014.
The images in this post are of the journal I wrapped today using an entire spool of sewing thread.
It's small, fit in my purse and holds two times of my life.  2007 (notes for two artist talks) and in the spaces, small bits of my current time in England, 2015.  Now wrapped up.

Friday, July 17, 2015

sculpted space within and without by Antony Gormley

I'll tell you why I became a sculptor.  What I care about most is making space.  Space that is within, yet also without.

I grew up in the 50's and when I was about 6 I had to have an enforced rest.  My bed was in a tiny hot space, so I told myself not to move.  I found that the space would get darker and cooler and larger, and after a few months I found that I looked forward to it.
That space is the place of imagination.
There are no things there.
It is limitless, it is endless.
That's the space that sculpture can connect us with.
The horizon.
Is art about trying to imagine what lies beyond the horizon?
Can we use the memory of a body to capture elemental time?
The tides.
100 of them
placed across 3 square miles at the mouth of the Mersey river
just outside of Liverpool.

Another Place by Antony Gormley
I visited last week (on my birthday).  The tide was going out.
The words in italics are bits I wrote down while listening to Antony Gormley speak. (here)

Monday, July 13, 2015

above us only sky

To me, quilt backs are as beautiful and important as quilt fronts.
Usually I plan the pieced back with as much design intent as the front, only simpler.
I like things that seem simple, yet are also complex.
 I consider how the stitches will look on the back.
The solid piece of aqua dupioni silk has a sheen that reacts to the light and to the variety of tensions I've put into it with my handwork.
For example, the creten stitch (see here) on the front translates to double lines of small horizontal stitches on the back.
I love the quirkiness and the sensuality of these lines.
I've been focused on this piece for six weeks.
My tools are a needle and a small pair of embroidery scissors, my material is miles of thread.
While I've been stitching, life whirls on.
It whirls past.
What was spring is now mid-summer.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

my embroidered quilts

Order Belies Chaos 1990  detail of the moon, text by Elizabeth I, hand pieced, chain stitch
Between the Leading Note and the Tonic 1998, the chain stitch embroidery is the quilting
  The embroidery on my quilts intensified after our move to Manitoulin Island in 1993.
Inanna's Prayer Rug  2000 pieced, layered, chain stitch  detail
Inanna's Prayer Rug 2000 pieced, layered, chain stitched, Collection of Ontario Juried Show

Visiting the textile museum in Toronto in 1994 and seeing embroidered world textiles inspired me and changed my work.  Although earlier quilts included embroidered text, using hand stitch as a surface design treatment was something that didn't occur in my work until 1996.
Secret Garden 2005  french knot and back stitch, English paper piecing, papers left in
Moisture and Greenness 2006  detail  mirror embroidery, chain stitch (the colour is digitally altered from original)
This post is a reflection on my embroidered quilts done before 2006.  The images are in chronological order and are from 2006 and 2007 blog posts.  In March 2016 I will have maintained this blog for 10 years and am considering how to celebrate that!
The Water Is My Grandmother  2006  detail of back of quilt  chain stitch 
The Water Is My Grandmother 2006 close up
For full views of these quilts, go to the 100 quilt blog and search by date. x

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

I love the whole world

I went to see the Agnes Martin exhibition at the Tate Modern.

Sometimes when visiting art galleries, I actually prefer making quick sketches of the art rather than taking photographs.  (which were not allowed)
Above, Buds 1959  oil on canvas Titze collection
left:  Beach 1958 oil on canvas private collection
right: Untitled 1958 oil paint on canvas private collection

When I sketch something, I really look at it.
I name the colours used, which makes me think why did the artist choose these?
I consider the scale, and the shape of the work.
The subtle changes that are in Agnes Martin's work are not evident if we just glance at them.
It's necessary to slow down and notice the variations of line and the multiple relationships between them.
Left: Untitled 1957 oil paint and graphite on canvas
Right: Heather 1958

Most of Agnes Martin's pieces are untitled, but sometimes not.
The list below are some of the titles that are in the Tate exhibit (not sketched by moi):

Friendship 1963  gold leaf and gesso on canvas
The Islands 1961  oil paint and graphite on canvas
The Book 1951  oil paint and paper on canvas
Dominoes 1960 oil paint and paper on canvas
Islands no. 4 1961  oil paint on canvas
The Heavenly Race 1959  oil paint on canvas
The Garden 1958  oil paint and found objects on wood
Grass 1967  acrylic and graphite on canvas
Adventure 1967  acrylic and graphite on canvas
White Stone 1965  oil and graphite on canvas
Morning 1965  acrylic and graphite on canvas
The Rose 1965  acrylic and graphite on canvas
The Tree 1964  oil paint and pencil on canvas
Happy Holiday 1999  acrylic and graphite on canvas
Left above: Untitled 1959 oil and ink on linen
Left below: Untitled 1960 oil on linen
Right:   Untitled #5 1994  acrylic and graphite

In 1967 she abandoned painting for 5 years and traveled around Canada and the U.S. in a pick up truck and a camper van.

In 1973 she made a portfolio of 30 screen prints entitled On a Clear Day.
Left: Untitled #10 1965  acrylic and graphite
Right:  I Love The Whole World  2000  acrylic and graphite on canvas

In 1974 she painted square paintings,  all sized the same.  (72 by 72 inches)
These were pastels (pale blue, pink, white) with vertical and horizontal stripes, thick, thin, narrow, wide.
In 1977 she made grey paintings, still 72 x 72
In 1979 she made a series of twelve white paintings entitled The Islands.  She stipulated that they should always be shown together.  These are in the permanent collection of the Whitney in New York, on loan to the Tate for this exhibition.  I wrote about them in 2010 when they were at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  (here)
Above left:  Sunlight 1962
Below left: Song 1962  ink and watercolour on canvas
Right:  Horizons  1960  oil on canvas

She reduced the size of her paintings to 60 x 60 when she got older.  Her palette included brighter and darker colours after 2000.
2001 - Gratitude  (lemon yellow, willow green, white and orange
2002 - Untitled  (sky blue with yellow and pale mauve)
2002 - Untitled (variety of greys)
2003 -  The Sea  (black with white lines)
2003 - Homage to Life  (silver grey with black shape in the middle)
2003 - Untitled (large black triangles with lime green peaks, pale grey ground)
2004 - Untitled  (lemon yellow, willow green)
2004 - Untitled (very painterly grey wash with white horizontal stripes)

She continued to paint through 2004, the year she died at age 92.
A large room was full of her drawings.
Above left:  Summer 1964 watercolour, ink, gouache (top) and untitled 1978 watercolour,ink,
Above right:  Her last drawing 2004 ink on paper, in private collection

Agnes Martin was a painter with a long life who painted every single day.  She destroyed those that didn't work with a knife.  Then she would repaint them.
"We have a tremendous range of abstract feelings but we don't pay any attention to them."  Agnes Martin

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

planned freedom

About twenty years ago, I saw large embroideries from India in the Textile Museum of Canada.
 They were so cheerful, colourful, beautiful, and powerful that they hit me in the heart.
 I remember that there was a folk-art quality to them.  I remember miles of chain stitch.
Those cloths were taller than I was, wide enough to cover a bed.
They were completely covered with thread.
 Huge immense spaces of stitched marks.
I get similar heart felt feelings when I visit  English gardens.
My eye and heart eagerly follow the masses of blooms and foliage.
Masses of small unique marks.
There is an aesthetic of labour in both gardens and large embroideries,
There is time.
Gardens and large hand made textiles reach something deep inside us and that feeling is more natural than we can understand.