Progress on Tapestry 

This photo shows Helen photographing her tapestry after working on it for the first week of her stay in the studio. Below is a closeup of the tapestry.

A Mini Exhibition of my Daily Sketches 
A suggestion by tapestry weaver Janet Austen from America that I do an exhibition of my daily sketches resulted in a small exhbition of these works. I had the bright idea of showing them on the wall of the landing on our stairs up to the studio. This has worked well and the sketches are looking good in the space. Hopefully they will attract more people up to the studio.

Here you can see all the drawings from my first sketch book for the year. On the wall to the left is Wilson Henderson's double weave wall-hanging and to the right are Anne Field's posters for her weaving books and two wallhangings.

In January of this year I decided to try and do one sketch a day of whatever was on my kitchen table that day. I have found that that is quite difficult to do, as sometimes I have already drawn what is there on any given day. So I have taken to bringing stuff on to my table and drawing it. It is very much a discipline to do a sketch every day and some days I do not manage to do it. Best not to feel guilty about it, as Tommye Scanlon told me. Tommye is a tapestry weaver in America who has set up the blog 'Tapestry Days' for those of us who are doing a daily drawing or tapestry discipline. It is a great incentive to keep going with this work. My lace tablecloth features in many of the drawings. I have found that my sketching skills are improving with doing so much drawing. It takes me about an average of half an hour to do each drawing, sometimes using pencil, sometimes ink and sometimes ink with a watercolour wash. My confidence with watercolour is also growing.

The work progresses 
Helen is progressing well with her tapestry. She has an innate sense of colour and is developing the skill of mixing the strands of yarn to create the colour she is visualising in all parts of the tapestry.

Riko visited the studio on Sunday afternoon with her husband Hugh and the two boys, Alex and Matthew. Here is a photograph of myself with Helen, Riko and young Alex.

My First Live-in Student has Arrived 
My first live-in student, Helen Cadogan, flew into Christchurch yesterday afternoon and she will be staying with me in my home and studying tapestry in my studio for the next two weeks. She was pretty tired after travelling all the way from China to Christchurch but was happy to be in the studio for the afternoon and early to bed in the evening.

Yesterday afternoon was spent getting to know each other and deciding just what she needed to know about weaving tapestries. We worked on the concepts for weaving a couple of small tapestries while she is here. Today we completed the cartoons and for the first time Helen wound a tapestry warp on a warping mill and warped up my Vapapu two shaft tapestry loom. We used the 12/9 warp cotton at 10 ends per inch at a width of six and a half inches.

Riko Rickard, a young Japanese girl who is just getting back into weaving after having two small children, the eldest of whom has just started school, is coming into the studio two days a week and is setting up an eight shaft table loom to weave a double weave experimental piece. In the following photograph Riko is watching Helen adjust the tension on her warp.

Irene's painting is finished and studio things 
Well, it took me a while but Irene's painting of the Pohutakawa blossom is finally finished. I really enjoyed working on this painting and have decided that now I have started working with the acrylic paints again I really should continue with it.

In the studio I have also been working on another woven transparency, this time using a drawing of a cactus plant that I had done some time ago. I had the drawing printed on to acetate, cut the images up and did four weavings on a monofilament warp weaving the acetate strips as weft. I layered the four weavings into a perspex box, putting them very close together so that the whole image showed as one work. Here it is. The photographs show the work from each side so that it appears almost as two works.

My first painting for Thirty years 
At home I am working on a painting commissioned by my brother Peter for his daughter Irene. Irene is now living at Maraetai Beach with her husband Shaun and children Charlie and Emily. Maraetai Beach has many pohutakawa trees growing along the beach front so this paiting is of the pohutakawa blossoms.

Here I am with the painting in progress. I haven't actually used acrylic paints for a long long time. My last painting has the date 1980 on it and for the first week of working on this one I was quite tentative and not very confident. But the more I do the more comfortable I am feeling with this medium again and I think it is going quite well. My grandaughter Jenna and her partner Brent visited for a night last weekend and Jen took this photo. Here is a closer view of the work.

Progress of Lace 2 
Since my return from up north I have been working on 'Lace 2' again and am progressing well. I would love to have this tapestry completed this year if possible.

I have been working in this right hand corner - a lot of colour blending and doesn't the little bit of red look good.

Here is a close up view of this section. It took me the best part of four days work to do this small section on the right - probably about 16 hours work over the four days.

A Neat Surprise 
Before I came home from Auckland two weeks ago today, I attended the Professional Weavers Seminar which we have every year. The Professional Weavers Network of New Zealand Inc, has been going since its inception in 1991 at the International Weaving School in Picton where myself and Birgite Armstrong started the group. We have a seminar every year holding it one year in the South Island and the next year in the North Island. This year we stayed at the St Francis Monastery and Retreat Centre in Auckland, a lovely calm place to hold a weekend seminar. Our first visit on Friday the 5th March was to meet at the Auckland Museum where we were to see the Research Centre and Library and also the Textile Collection. What a surprise I got when the group I was with went to see the textiles. There, lying on the top of all the other works was one of my very early tapestries. I had not realised that this work was in the Museum collection, so it was a big buzz to see it again. It was woven in 1980, probably at the end of the year, as my very first works were textural, using rya knots and soumak, and this work was one of the first true tapestries that I wove. Inspired by the work of Alec Pearson it is an abstract landscape. Here are some of the PWN members looking at the tapestry.

And here am I, looking very pleased to see this work again after almost 30 years. Luckily we were allowed to take photographs and Wilson took this one on my camera.

Back in Christchurch 
Well, here I am, home again after three and a half weeks away in the North Island, visiting my kids, the four of them that live up there, visiting friends, Ross and Anna and also visiting galleries with a view to being able to show my work in Auckland. I am pleased to say that at this stage three galleries are interested in having my work so I now have to make contact with them again and put things into motion.

I took my sketchbooks with me and managed to do a drawing almost every day though I did miss a few days. There was a lot of travelling between Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga, and Reparoa where Kellie lives. My kids were so good about taking me places and taking some time out of their busy busy lives to spend the time with me.

I took a new sketch book with me and this drawing is over two pages in the book. It features the chook house in Krista's garden. They have three chooks named Henrietta, Harriet and Ella and they are very tame and friendly, laying an egg each most days.

Last weekend I attended the Professional Weavers Seminar at the St Francis Monastery and Retreat in Auckland. We had a wonderful inspiring weekend. Both mornings I got up before breakfast and went and sat outside sketching the grounds and the view over Auckland.

Two more sketches and a small tapestry 
Here are two more pen and ink sketches, drawn the last two evenings. I made plum chutney the other night and this first sketch shows the jars of chutney sitting on my table.

I was chatting to my eldest daughter Nicola while skeching these jars so they are almost a doodle.

And here are the last of the plums in the fruit bowl alongside some bananas.

In the studio I have been working on a small tapestry 'Forest Floor' The design for this wee work came from my trip to the West Coast in November. We walked through the native bush past Karamea on the way to see the Oparara Arch and I took heaps of photographs of the forest floor and the big trees etc etc. The design is a composite of a number of these photographs, scanned and altered to fit in with my concept.

The red represents the danger that we are in because of our lack of care for our environment and the black squares represent the void, the emptiness, the possible loss of humankind from the planet.

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