Tapestry in Exhibition 
Yesterday Brian and I travelled down to Ashburton to see the tapestry 'Watching the Rerun of an Ancient Programme'. This tapestry was a collaborative work with Michael Armstrong, an artist living in Timaru. Michael's work is on show at the moment in an exhibtion at the Ashburton Art Gallery.

This photograph shows the tapestry hanging alongside paintings on similar themes. Michael's work deals with issues of face and Capitalism, saying that capitalism employs racist means to protect the wealthy elite. Tribal ownership and the empty rewards of materialism feature also and the images in the tapestry are no exception. Large colourful organic shapes with faces intersect with images in grey blues, of figures watching multiple televisions, figures on couches, faces separated out in boxes, etc. These all feature in the tapestry and also in the paintings. I was especially intrigues when seeing the exhibiton yesterday, in the contasts between the textile and the paintings. The textural qualities of the tapestry are very strong and the colours seemed to me to be much more intense and vivid than the colours in the paintings. This is the first time that I have seen a tapestry alongside paintings on the same themes and with similar imagery.

New Work 
I have been very busy the last few weeks. A new work has been started on the same loom on which 'Cityscape' was woven. This work is titled 'Ferns' and is a fairly colourful abstraction based on the ferns found in our native bush. The tapestry measures 55cm across and will be approximately 160cm long, so a long narrow piece. The sett is 8epi, and consequently is growing quite quickly. The last couple of works that I have woven have been much finer than this and have taken a longer time to complete.

This image shows the first few days work. This first sectioon only took me 10 working days to complete and I am now working on the second second and hope to complete that by the end of this week. So it is going well.

As you can see, the colours are quite different from my last work, very vibrant and exciting to use. This work is much more decorative than a lot of my previous works.

Small Portrait Tapestry Finally Completed. 
The small portrait tapestry for my client Bruce Finnerty is finally completed. I worked hard last week to try and finish this wee work and here it is at last - ready to go into its frame.

I am really pleased with this work. It is a good likeness of Bruce and though it is a very abstract work it shows his personality well. The sett for this tapestry was 7 ends per centimetre and the overall size is 18 x 20cm. The design turned out to be much more complex than I had realized so took quite a lot longer than I had first thought it would. However, the end result is worth it, I think.

S0 on to other things now! I am back working on 'Lace 2' for the moment and will continue with that until I have the smaller lapponia loom warped up for another work.

Completed Tapestries  
Marie and Heather were the first two students to send me photographs of their completed tapestries. Heather photocopied her self portrait photograph and cut two copies into strips, one horizontally and the other vertically. She then wove the two together to create her design. This formed an interesting grid pattern with her face very fractured but still recognizable.

Marie's tapestry was of one of her grandchildren I think, and she also cut her photocopy into strips and then rearranged them out of sequence. The face in the tapestry is still recognizably a child's face but in a distorted way.

Workshop with Manawatu Tapestry Weavers 
Two weeks ago I spent five days in Palmerston North teaching my workshop 'Deconstruction, Reconstruction - Portraits in Tapestry' to the Manawatu tapestry weavers. The workshop was organised by Heather Adlam and took place in her home. Luckily she has a large house with plenty of room as I had 11 students on the first day for the design session and 10 every other day for the weaving. The workshop was very successful and everyone enjoyed the work and produced some awesome wee tapestries. Here is a photograph of the students gathered outside on a lovely sunny day. Needless to say we only stayed outside at lunch time as everyone was very busy working on their tapestries.

The first day was spent designing their tapestries from photographs and images that they had brought to the class. The students were all asked to bring photographs of themselves or of friends or family. The photographs were then cut, torn, woven together, pasted and rearranged to create new images from the old ones. Colours were added using coloured tissue paper, coloured paper and felt tip pens amd coloured pencils.

After the designing was completed we looked at all the works individually and decisions were made about which images to weave, what setts to use, and which warp threads would be appropriate for the setts etc etc. Weaving started on the second day. The following photograph shows some of the students hard at work.

Left to righ Barbara Purchas, Marie Clewes, Heather Adlam, Maureen Tracey and Jenny Wilson in front.

The following two works are by two students, Barbara and Gwynneth whose surnames I cannot remember but who are both fairly new to tapestry. They are both very pleased with their works and I am looking forward to seeing photographs of the finished tapestries sometime soon. Gwynneth was 'over the moon' with her tapestry of her nephew's eyes. She realised during the process that everything comes down to shape and colour and if the forms are woven correctly then the tapestry will be successful.

Barbara's small tapestry of her grandaughter was also working well. She decided to add a black and yellow grid behind the deconstructed face and this added impact to the work.

I enjoyed teaching this group of very enthusiastic tapestry weavers. There was a wide range of experience amongst them, but together we had a 'ball', a thoroughly good time. The students enjoyed the designing and the weaving and I am sure that even the most experienced of them learnt something new. I find also, that there is always somethng new that I can learn from them too so teachng is often a reciprical experience. I am very pleased with the results of this workshop and look forward to seeing photographs of the finished tapestries.

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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