Posts tagged Festival of Quilts
Looking forward to 2017 and beyond.

Looking up through the cherry tree (spring 2016) As the saying goes 'another year over, a new one just begun'! And I have started the New Year by getting into the studio and doing some printing. For me there is no start or end; making art is a continual process even if there are days or even weeks when everything I create goes in the bin. Nor do I wait for January 1st to decide what opportunities to pursue in 2017. Galleries tend to plan 2 years in advance and most 'calls for entry' are publicised many, many months ahead. And so I do my 'big picture' planning looking forward over an 18 month period.

Today however is a good day to tell the world about what I will be working towards in 2017 and into 2018. I am very pleased to announce that myself and artist / friend Helen Conway are working towards a joint exhibition at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery in the autumn of 2018. The exhibition will be called Fragments and will use the upper gallery which is a big, wonderful space in which to exhibit large scale works. We are also hoping to add a second venue for spring 2018. My work will be focussed on industrial landscapes both present and past. Although it will feature new works from my Ruins series I am committed to creating two new, parallel series; one on current, working buildings / landscapes and one on industrial buildings / landscapes from the past.

Because of the way I create new series I know that it is likely to be many months before I produce finished works. If I happen to have suitable work ready there are a few exhibitions that I would like to submit too (including Fine Art Quilt Masters) but I am not going to 'force' the evolution of new works to hit deadlines. Of course that means that I will inevitably have fewer things to do a happy dance to in 2017 but look forward to dancing myself silly in 2018!

Looking back on 2016

Sun setting over Arran (June 2016) It is that time of year when we look back at what we have done and, possibly foolishly, make promises about what we will do in 2017. So today I am looking back at 2016 and tomorrow I will look forward.

2016 has been an amazing year for me as an artist. The big stuff: I had pieces selected for Breakout: Quilt Visions 2016, SAQA Wide Horizons V, Fine Art Quilt Masters, Quilt National 2017 and SAQA Layered Voices. My piece Ruins 5 won the Art category at Festival of Quilts and I made my first 'proper' sale just before Christmas when Ruins 4 sold whilst on show at Quilt Visions in San Diego. I had two exhibitions as part of the Etcetera group, have had older work touring with CQ 'Elements' and had a couple of pieces shown in Visions Art Museums on-line exhibitions. WOW, not sure if my head will squeeze through the studio door!

I have made a determined effort in 2016 to increase my presence on social media. Having resisted for many years I have embraced Facebook, and to a lesser extent Instagram, and made many new friends along the way. I think this has really helped drive traffic to this blog and my website. This piece will be my 63rd post in 2016, a nice increase compared to 52 posts in 2015. But the real growth has been in visitors and views. In 2015 I had 3069 views by 652 visitors. As of this morning I have had an amazing 9635 views and 2262 visits in 2016. 66% of views are from the UK and 21% from North America. Another WOW!

So have I been successful because the planets have been aligned or the gods have smiled down on me? No, it is a combination of hard work and luck. As of this morning I have spent 964 hours in my studio this year - that is an average of 18.5 hours per week. I put in extra hours during the 3 months that I was 'between jobs' and this compensated for the hours lost whilst I went through the shock of redundancy and whilst I focussed on my new day job. I didn't keep accurate records in 2015 but will continue to do so in 2017. I completed 18.87 square metres of work in 2016 compared to 9.57 square metres in 2015 but this is somewhat misleading as I started 2016 with 2 large Ruins pieces part made and a large stack of printed fabric ready for other pieces. Working in series definitely increases output.

2016 has been a pretty awful year for many, many people with loved ones lost and a frightening surge in voilence and hate around the world. There is much to be miserable about much to take comfort from. A hug, a memory of a beautiful sunset, a fragile pattern and wonderful colour on cloth ... Happy New Year everyone!

SAQA UK - first meeting

It was my great pleasure to attend the first ever SAQA UK meeting held yesterday in Milnrow, Lancashire. SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Association) are an US based organisation but they do have a couple of hundred members in Europe and 66 here in the UK. Whilst the organisation provides some really great exhibiting opportunities it is inevitably 'US-centric' and it can be difficult for those of us making very abstract work to break through. Christine Seager, one of the SAQA Europe Reps, has initiated the UK meetings to provide more targeted support for UK members both within SAQA and in their endeavours outside SAQA. If successful she hopes that the model can be rolled out across Europe. I suggested Milnrow as a suitable meeting hall that I have booked in the past for the Etcetera group. And, of course, I took along my coffee pot! Christine and Gillian Travis lead lively discussions on what SAQA means to its members and how the UK meetings can support and promote the growth of a professional quilt / textile artist community. There will be another meeting near London early next year and I really hope that many more SAQA members will attend.

Part of the discussion was on exhibiting opportunities. SAQA currently run a biennial exhibition for members in Europe and the Middle East called Wide Horizons. (My piece Storm 2 (Dark) is currently touring with Wide Horizons V and I was delighted to get my copy of the exhibition catalogue yesterday!). Christine has fought hard and got two more opportunities for European members. The first is called Made in Europe I and will tour in the US though 2017. It is the perfect opportunity for European work to be seen by tens of thousands American quilters. The second has yet to be officially announced but will be Made in Europe II and will be shown alongside the SAQA Tranquility and Turmoil exhibition at next summers Festival of Quilts.

Wide Horizons 5


The cost of art

Lots of people have asked how I am going to spend the £1000 award I received for winning the Art category at Festival of Quilts. Lots of encouragement to spend it on something for myself. Well I did spend £40 on a small piece of work by Rosie James but the rest of it is going into the studio 'pot'. Which definitely qualifies as something for myself! Although I treat my art just as seriously and (hopefully) as professionally as I do my day job the reality is that it does not pay. This is the first significant sum of money that has gone in the pot. And whilst I hope that it is not the last I do recognise that I am incredibly lucky that the money I earn in my day job allows me to work in the way that I want to and in the wonderful environment that is my studio. That said the unexpected income has 'allowed' me to order 60 metres of Cotton Poplin Delphina (from Whaleys of Bradford) rather than the usual 20 metres thus spreading the delivery charge out a bit. And it has 'allowed' me to invest in some new silkscreens. I typically buy one most years whilst I am at Festival of Quilts but, because I damage the occasional one, I only have 4 good screens at the moment. Which slows me down when I am breakdown printing as I only pull each screen a few times before cleaning it and remaking it. So I have invested in 10 new screens from Coated Screens Limited. Five at 14 x 20 inches and five rather large ones at 20 x 30 inches. Buying in bulk has reduced the cost considerably. Now I just need to figure out where to store them!

Highlights from Festival

So where to begin. Festival of Quilts is huge. There are a dozen or so white walled gallery spaces, hundreds of open competition quilts and an awful lot of traders. There have been years when I have been so totally overwhelmed that I have left after a couple of hours. The truly amazing selection of work has sometimes made me wonder 'why bother' but at other times has energised me to rush back to the studio to make art. This year has been a good one. My piece Ruins 6 won 1st prize in the open Art Category, Vestiges got a 'highly commended' in the Miniature Category and Ruins 5 was shortlisted for Fine Art Quilt Masters. I floated on air and was humbled by all the congratulations and kind words. They even played my favourite Blur song (Song 2) when I went on stage to collect my award. Of course this was a completely random thing as the music is pre-selected but it made my grin even wider!

Ruins 6 (270cm x 135cm, £3500)

In between meeting friends and stewarding in the SAQA gallery I managed to visit all the galleries on my 'must see' list and saw quite a lot of the open competition quilts. My favourite gallery was probably Art Textile: Made In Britain: Concealed where I was blown away by the work of Rosie James. I also really enjoyed Claire Benn and Ingrid Press's gallery.

Unlike many visitors I never seem to remember to take photos of the works I like - for the most part I am too absorbed in looking and responding. I did take a few and here is a selection.

Borrowed (Henry Matisse, Tom and me) by Maria Thomas Shortlisted in Fine Art Quilt Masters

Rust rose by Sue Hotchkis Shortlisted in Fine Art Quilt Masters

Big Sister by Claire Passmore

Detail of Surface III by Isabelle Wiessler

Thames Lock 101 by Mags Ramsay

Rainy Day Dora Creek #13 by Judy Hooworth


Making Lists

It is just a week until Festival of Quilts opens at the NEC in Birmingham and I am getting organised. I have been to the show every year since it started. Some years I've spent several happy and productive days there. Other years I have run away screaming after a couple of hours because the shear volume of work on display is overwhelming. This year I am planning on being there on the Thursday and Friday and am determined to get the best out of the visit. I have organised to meet different friends for breakfast, lunch and for dinner (there goes the diet!). I will be stewarding in the SAQA gallery 'Celebrating Silver' between 2.30 and 4pm on both days. So please come along and say hello, it is always nice to see friends and meet Facebook buddies in the flesh!

I have written myself a short shopping list but expect to go 'off piste' and spend more money than I should. That said I am absolutely determined not to buy any more gorgeous coloured threads - I have a wonderful collection that has sat untouched for quite some time as everything I have stitched lately has been in white, black or grey! If you see me at the Oliver Twists stand please pull me away!!!

All my threads - storage and a piece of art at the same time!

And finally I have had a look at the list of galleries to sort out the must see ones. Of course I will start by looking at my own work in Fine Art Quilt Masters and the Art and Miniature categories in the open competitions. Fine Arts has a really strong selection this year and I'm really looking forward to seeing the pieces. The other galleries on my list are:

  • 6th European Quilt Triennial featuring a piece by friend and fellow Etcetera member Helen Conway.
  • Art Textiles: Made in Britain: Concealed - the group features some of my favourite artists and their exhibition at FoQ in 2014 on Identity was amazing.
  • Claire Benn and Ingrid Press - big fan of both
  • Pam Stallebrass - I'm not familiar with her work but it sounds fascinating!

It is going to be a wonderful two days!

The N word .... networking!

Those of you who read my blog will know that my day job became 'unsustainable' a short while ago so I find myself unemployed. I hate that word and prefer 'taking a career break' or 'taking time out to spend with my family' or 'taking a sabbatical to take advantage of an artists residency (in my own studio)'.  But whatever I call it the reality is that I need to find a new job. And apparently the most successful way to do that is by networking. Even the word fills me with horror - I am hopeless at small talk, generally useless at blowing my own trumpet and suffer a big 'I am not worthy' moment when I contemplate approaching somebody to give me a job. Does this sound familiar?

To give myself a head start I attended a workshop on LinkedIn and now have my profile set up and am busy making connections. Please feel free to look me up but don't be offended if I don't connect with you ... I'm trying to keep it limited to day job contacts initially. However the workshop did get me thinking about networking and my 'other life' as a textile artist. Whilst networking in this context isn't aimed at getting a job I am ambitious about my art and do want to get my work 'out there'. Building a network might lead to opportunities to exhibit or towards getting commissions. Although I didn't think of it in terms of networking my website, this blog and my Facebook page have been a good start. Being a member of CQ and SAQA was also a good start.

But one of the key takeaways from the workshop was to actively do whatever it takes to become visible, to be at the top of the list when somebody searches for you. Which, in terms of me as an artist, means making my Facebook page 'public', sending friend requests to people where we only have one or two mutual friends and not just those where we have lots of mutual friends. It means taking time out to steward on the SAQA exhibition at Festival of Quilts. And it means stopping being a 'lurker' on yahoo message groups and starting being a participant. It probably means starting to use Twitter and / or Instagram and / or Pinterest! Which definitely means I need a very large cup of very good coffee ... and probably some chocolate!!

Ta-da! Ruins 6

Ruins 6 270cm x 135cm I finished this piece several weeks ago but have only just hung and photographed it. It is quite different to the earlier pieces in the Ruins series and I am not yet sure whether that is different in a good way. For better or for worse the quilt is now on its way to Festival of Quilts where it will be shown in the Art Quilt section. Because it is so wide I am hoping it will get hung on a white wall rather than on the traditional quilt stands. I think some of the impact will be lost if the lighting isn't great but that is a risk I am willing to take to get my work out there! Wherever there is!

Ruins 6 detail


The runner's up ...

Vestiges II This is the other miniature I completed this week. I added the uprights before stitching the horizontal lines. I'm not sure it 100% works on a piece this small (30cm x 30cm) but I like it enough to give it a name! Just need to add the facings and a label. My original attempt didn't work for me so won't get a name or be finished. That said I have pinned it up on one of my design walls so that I can keep thinking about what would make it work.

A nameless sample that didn't work