Kidsfest Tapestry classes
This week is the week of the Kidsfest classes which are held every July in the school holidays. Christchurch children are able to experience all sorts of activities as well as arts and crafts I have had my first class of three 8-9year old girls.
These three girls, Zoe, Francesca and Nina were working on small card looms and had a lot of fun weaving their first small tapestries. Unfortunately two hours is only long enough for them to get a taste of tapestry and they could not complete them in that time. However, they all took enough yarns home with them to enable them to continue working on their tapestries.
Every Saturday afternoon for the last seven weeks I have taken a small class of three students for drawing. This class is an extension class in drawing for distance learning students for the Diploma of Ceramic Arts at Otago Polytechnic. I have been taking these students for three years now and have enjoyed teaching them and helping them to extend their drawing skills.
This photograph shows Sachiko and Sarah working on distorted grid self portraits in their last lesson.
This entails drawing a normal grid over the top of a portrait photograph, drawing a distorted grid on to the page and then filling each grid with the information in the corresponding grid on the photograph, distorting the shapes to fit the grid.This is a fun exercise which teaches students to really observe the images they are working from, and is one way of using a photograph as a starting point for drawing.
Tapestries in CoCA exhibition
I was really pleased a couple of weeks ago when my tapestries 'Black on Black' were accepted as finalists in the Anthony Harper Award exhibiton at Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA) here in Christchurch. I have been a working member at CoCA for a number of years now, and this exhibition is one to asppire to be part of and it is ia big thrill to have work accepted, especially tapestry. The exhbition is a real mixed media exhibition with works across all the range of mediums and disciplines, from sculptures to paintings and object art pieces. To see other works from this exhibition you can go to their website www.coca.org.nz.
It consists of 12 small black tapestries with the work 'black' woven on a black ground. Ihe sett was 12epi and I used different fibres and textures to differentiate between the letting and the background. The lettering was also woven at the finer sett and the background often over two and under two, Yarns used were cottons, wool, silks,
cut up plastic bags, novelty yarns, slub yarns, etc etc. Now a photo of it as it was seen in the exhibition which closes this weekend. You can see them on the back wall to the left of the ladies viewing the exhibition.
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I took some photographs a couple of days ago of the studio and how it is looking at the moment. There are two looms with work on them and it is looking a very busy place. A week or so ago (when the big tapestry 'Watching the Rerun of an Ancient Programme' went away to Ashburton) I reorganized the back wall. This space is used for hanging work that is for sale, though I find when people visit the studio they usually tend to just see the work that is on the looms and they often do not really look at anything else. They become intrigued by the process of tapestry weaving. I am always teaching everyone who comes in (almost) about tapestry and the processes involved.
This photograph shows the tapestry that I am working on at present. The original design concept is to the left of the tapestry. I created this design about three years or maybe even four years ago now, and presented it to Jonathon Hunt (then Speaker of the House)as a potential tapestry for Parliament. He had visited my studio and asked me to send him a concept for a tapestry. He liked this design but gave it to the Building Development People where it stayed and never resurfaced. I visited Parliament two years ago with the hope of revitralising the idea of a tapestry and was told that there were no funds available for such a large work and that they would let me kow if they ever decided to commission a tapestry in the future. So far I have not heard from them.
Recently I decided to weave a smaller version of the design and I am happy with the way it is looking. It will now be the first tapestry in a series based on New Zealand plants. This one of course is the 'Fern' and I am now designing for 'Kowhai' and 'Lancewood'
This image shows the back wall of the studio with the tapestry 'Living in the South Pacific' on display. This work was woven in collaboration with Michael Reed a Christchurch artist who gave me the design concept for the tapestry back in 1995. The small black and white works are digital prints in my 'Doll' series and the three to the right of the tapestry are the digital prints ''Elements'
This last photograph shows the work 'Lace 2' which is still in progress. This tapestry is a family heirloom work and features my daughter Elissa. The sett is 13epi and the size is 120 x 165cm or thereabouts and is the work that goes on hold whenever I have something else to do. I have worked on it for a total of about four and a half months so far over almost two years and I am about one quarter of the way through the weaving. So this work is a very special one but has no time limit on it at this stage. I had always wanted to weave a large fine tapestry and this one is 'it'. Probably the only really big very fine work that I will ever weave.
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.
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.
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.
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.