Eklektika Exhibiton 
Last week the Eklektikans held their seventh exhibition in Gallery 'O' upstairs in the Arts Centre of Christchurch. The Eklektika Group is a group of originally nine artists who all showed their work at CoCA (Centre of Contemporary Art) members' exhibitions and a number of us had had work not accepted for those exhibitions so decided to get together and hold our own shows. We have been exhibtiing together twice a year for about three years now. We are a very diverse group of artists hence the name Eklektika. In this exhibtion I showed my straight photographs for the first time.

This photograph shows a section of the gallery with my photographs on the left. I had discovered the panarama mode on my camera and took a number of photographs the best of which I have exhibited here. I scanned the images into my computer, breaking them up into sections and printing the enlarged versions. I then pasted these on to foam card and arranged them into a grid formation. I was quite pleased with the result, but unfortunately cannot guarantee how long they will last as my printer is not an archival one. I am looking forward to buying a better printer that takes ink that is guaranteed for up to 100 years. I would like to buy a Canon A3 printer very soon.

The paintings to the right of my photographs were created by Michael Smetham and the ones on the red wall were painted by Trish Shaw. The sculpture in front is a lovely work by Erica d'Stewart.

Professional Weavers Network of New Zealand Seminar 
Last weekend the Professional Weavers Network Seminar was held here in Christchurch at Cracroft and we all had a great weekend.For the last few months a curatorial and exhibiton committee have been working on a concept for our next major exhibition which will probably happen in 2008/09. The response to our concept has been exceptional and everyone went home excited and full of ideas to work on for the exhibition. We had three guest speakers, Warren Feeney, the director of CoCA talked to us about the history of the Craft Arts in Canterbury and the role that the CSA played in that from the early 1950's to the 1990's when the Government policies on importing goods from overseas played havoc with the lifestyles of craft artists. Ina Johann a local artist and winner of last years Anthony Harper Award at CoCA talked to us about her work and art practice. She works with light, printing images on to perspex and layering them. That is a very simple explanation of her work which is actually very complex and exciting. We visited the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu, and saw the exhbiiton 'Te Maori - The Eternal Thread'. This exhibiton is very inspirational as a lot of the Maori weavers are now working in a very contemporary manner.

This image shows some of the PWN members in serious mode! They are sitting in front of my tapestry which was finished in time to show at the seminar. It is now ready to send away to the Norsewear Awards next week.

Try again 
Here is another try to get this photograph posted.

Wow! It worked this time. Hurray!

The Cutting Off! 
'Cityscape' is finally off the loom! I cut it off two days ago and am now working on the finishings, which do seem to take an awful long time.

Don't I look pleased to be doing this? I was too, actually!!! It is a very good feeling to have a tapestry completed after months of working away on it. The last few inches always seem to take the longest to weave, as that is when you are focussing on finishing the work. Up until then, finishing is not an issue, it is just working away, building the shapes, thinking about colours etc etc. And enjoying the process! I think it is the process that keeps us going as weavers. I get so many people in the studio who say that I must have 'patience'. I do hate that word! It is a particular 'mindset' though to be able to sit in front of a loom for months weaving one work. You have to be quite happy about taking time to do something. In this day and age of 'instant gratification' I feel that weaving tapestry is a political statement, an objection to the way everything in this world must be done in a hurry. In fact I think that a lot of people actually do not experience their lives properly- everything is too fast. It sometimes seems like the experience is almost over before it happens and then on to the next thing. Anyhow that's my philosphical statement for today, for what it is worth!

Here is a photograph of the tapestry completed. Not the best photograph in the world as I laid the tapesty down on the floor, got the ladder and stood as high above it as I could, but did not feel secure enough on the ladder to get right above the tapestry. So it looks as if it is receding at the top. It isn't though, I am quite pleased with how straight it is. There is a difference of about half a centimetre or so at the top end, which I think is allowable.

Whoops! Wrong photo! I still haven't worked out how to delete a photograph once it is in. Will try again!

New Contact 
I have recently made contact with Donna and Neil Hitchcox who live near Timaru. Donna is a tapestry weaver but she also weaves fine scarves, shawls etc.using the best mohair, and alpaca yarns that they produce on their property. They have set up a new business selling their lovely products and their website is certainly worth a look. I have just put a link to their site on this blog so do check it out.

Today is the day when I will complete 'Cityscape' and I am looking forward to seeing the whole tapestry when I cut it from the loom. There will be at least a week's work in the finishings which will keep me busy for a little while yet. I will trim the threads at the back, darn in any that are near the edges, then will turn up the headings and sew velcro to the top edge. The velcro is also glued and stapled to a wooden baton so that the tapestry can hang evenly on the wall. I will post some photographs of this process as it goes along.
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Almost finished! 
The progress on 'Cityscape' is going well. I have about another week's work to do and it should be finished. So all good. The colours are working well too and I am looking forward to seeing the whole work when it comes off the loom. Here is an image of the tapestry as it was two days ago.

I had a small visitor the other day who was really intrigues with the weaving process and was very happy to help me beat down the weft. He asked me if he would be 'famous' because he was helping me, so I asked his mum to take a photo of the two of us together and here it is. This is Andrew from Canada and now you are 'famous' Andrew, because a lot of people visit my site and they will see you too!

Busy times in the Studio 
The last few days since I got back from my holiday have been very busy. A number of visitors, mostly tourists but also one or two friends and people I know. A few days ago Serena and I had a visit from Bev Furness from Auckland. Bev spent a week in my studio about three years ago learning to weave tapestry so it was lovely to see her again.

Yesterday my friend Gwen brought her grandaughter Hayley into the studio so that Hayley could have the tapestry experience. Hayley proved an apt pupil. She loves working with her hands and also draws well. I asked her to make a small design with coloured paper shapes and then we warped up a small frame and she was weaving in no time.

Also yesterday I had a surprise visit from Kate Derrum and her husband. Kate is an Australian Tapestry Weaver who does beautiful work. She was acting director of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop for some time, and I met her when I visited the VTW two years ago. Kate has lectured to tapestry weavers here in New Zealand and she tells me that she is no longer at the workhshop but is now concentrating on her own work. It was a big buzz to have her visit my studio and we spent a lovely hour together. One of the very good things about having a studio in the Arts Centre is that many people just turn up out of the blue to visit and as a consequence of this I have met many interesting artists and tapestry people over the years.

Back from Holiday 
Well, here I am, back to work after a lovely time over in Westport. Brian and I spent a few days wandering around the Buller District. We went to Karamea and walked to Scott's beach which is an hour up the Heaphy Track. Walking through the native bush is just awesome, very good for the soul. I took a lot of photographs, details of bush ferns and mosses, larger images of nikau palms, cabbage trees and of course the rata, which was blooming in abundance all over the Coast. Beautiful red in the bush. The rata is an interesting tree, as it is sometimes a parasite, setting its seed in the branches of a rimu or kahikatea and overtaking that tree, and sometimes it is a tree in its own right if the seed falls and germinates in the ground. Beautiful to see at this time of the year.

We stopped at Ngakawau and walked out on to the beach there and I took photographs of the remains of my Aunty's house which had been washed away by the tide a few years ago. Just a few slabs of concrete overgrown with coastal plants, remain. Made an interesting photograph.

On the Tuesday of last week we went up on to the Denniston Plateau above Waimangaroa and spent two or three hours wandering around up there, again taking photographs and enjoying the view towards Westport. I remember playing basketball at the school in Denniston when I was about 11 years old. Only two houses up there have people in them now, but I stood on the edge of the incline and photographed that. My brother-in-law Bruce Roberts was one of the people who dismantled the Denniston Incline a few years ago. Just being up there makes you think about the hard lives of the people who lived up on Denniston, trying to make a living from the mining of coal. It must have been terribly hard on the women. I bought a copy recently of the lovely book 'The Illustrated Denniston Rose' by Jenny Pattrick. There are many of the old Denniston photographs in that book, so for anyone interested in old places it is a 'must buy'. Certainly was for me. She captured the essence of what it must have been like to live on Denniston in the late 1800's and in the early part of the twentieth century when it was in its heyday.

I am back now working away on 'Cityscape' as I want to have it finished before the end of February. It is going well, and with a bit of luck with be finished before then.

More Stuff! 
I am going to be going away for nearly a week - over to Westport to my nephew's wedding and staying on for a few days. I was born and bred in Westport and some of my siblings still live there. I have not been home for over two years now, so it will be good to spend some time there.

I thought it would be a good idea to post the latest image of 'Cityscape' so here it is!

This image shows the detail of the figures in the shop window and they can be clearly seen if you tip your head a little to the side.

I have also been working on a small portrait of my accountant Bruce Finnerty. This tapestry has been commissioned by Bruce and is being woven on a small frame which I have it set up at home now, so I am working on it in the evenings. Two images show the work in progress.

I enjoy weaving these small portraits and have been commissioned to weave three or four now. If anyone is interested in commissioning a portrait tapestry of yourself or your family etc, a tapestry this size which is approximately 20 x 20cm would cost somewhere between $850 to $1200 New Zealand dollars. A photograph could be easily sent to me by e-mail from this blog. I would then create a design concept from your photograph and send that on to you for approval. I would allow four to five weeks to weave a tapestry this size and it would not cost a lot to send anywhere overseas.

Tapestries are unique and unusual art works to own, are a good conversation point in your home and can be woven to any size.

Now I am off to Westport tomorrow morning, and will post another blog page when I return home.

Work in Progress 
I have been working quite steadily on the tapestry 'Cityscape' and am pleased with its progress. It has to be completed by the end of February at the latest as it will be sent to the Norsewear Awards in March.

The colours in this tapestry are working well. I am mixing the colours on the bobbins only and there are many many different shades of green in this work. It is quite amazing how one new thread in the bundle completely changes the colour. In this work I am also fascinated by how the images have been simplified and abstracted yet are still recognizable as figures. I am working at the moment on the models in the shop window. It is difficult to see them as the tapestry is being woven on its side, but they are definitely forming as I weave.

The first photos is a detail of the central portion of the tapestry, and the second photo shows the second figure forming as the tapestry grows. You can see the figures quite clearly on the cartoon at the back. There are a lot of slits in this tapestry as I am outlining almost every shape in either black or a related colour. I am sewing up the slits as the work progresses as it would be an awful job to sew them up after the tapestry comes off the loom. Also by sewing them up as I go, it helps to keep the tapestry stable and strong and prevents any buckling that might occur otherwise.

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