Friday, 8 September 2017

UK 2017, Part three and last.



No laughing, filming  in progress

I had managed to organise two days of filming with Steve Balaam from Big Ant Video and press ganged my sister and niece to be models to create a short film using the dresses/costumes I have made over the past year. We had decided on Anglesey as our location partly because I did my first degree at Bangor University and the island of Anglesey was for a while a second home. It is always a pleasure to revisit the area, I am familiar with the feel of the area and was certain that there would be suitable film sites for us. There are plenty of atmospheric location options to choose from on Anglesey, including Neolithic burial sites, early British villages, ruined medieval churches, beaches, copper mines and quarries and cliffs.


Bryn Celli Dhu

Rhos Neigr

Unnamed cove nearby

Din Lligwy village

Church at Din Lligwy

Crypt at the church

Parys Mountain


Understand, this is not big film crew stuff, this is Steve (filming and all things technical, who will also be the producer, is an artistic film genius and musician), Vida and Naomi (models and dancers) and myself as support crew, costume carrier and refreshment supervisor. The outcome however will be an amazing short film playing with the properties of the steel fabric and wire costumes.
Steve

Steve with groovy camera on a stick

Late night between shots.
Can you just dance a bit on those rocks, in the wind, please?

What can you say about Welsh summer weather? About as good as the rest of the UK this summer I suspect, and that is mixed to horrid! Having said that, we were especially lucky with the weather which rained on both mornings but cleared later giving us afternoons and the long summer evenings to film in. So we danced in rock crevices, in the sea, in a bronze mine, abandoned villages and churches from noon to midnight, with lights and smoke bombs, capturing some beautiful footage. The next stage will be to add more images, layer these together with the costumes and movement from this session and to create a sound track. Not a quick job, so this will be happening in stages over months or even a year (watch this space as they say)
Balance and dance, not at all slippery on those rocks!


Pretend you are a breathing rock!!
So, a brief taster! Just ait till you see what we can do with these!
Revisiting Angelsey this time was a great pleasure as there seems to be an uplift about the place, a modernisation of the cafes/bars/attractions which I can’t help but believe will be a great benefit to the island. We made a special effort to visit the new (ish) Oystercatcher at Rhos Neigr. This is a Huff house which includes a very stylish restaurant and bar set in the dunes at the coast (a great place to retreat between filming when the weather closed in).  

Finally a big thanks to Sue and Sarah of Golden Hinde embroidery supplies for letting us use their holiday home as our base for the duration.

The Festival of Quilts at Birmingham’s NEC is always a fantastic show – if you get a chance to visit, whether you are a quilter or an artist in any medium, there is so much to see. The highlights were too many to mention.
A special mention though for Tui and her mum, Suileti whom I had asked to come to the show to celebrate the tapa cloth traditions about which they are experts. Their words say it better than I can:
'The decoration of Tongan tapa cloth is an art form in perpetual transition. Each generation adds their own innovations. This transition can be charted in the works of Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows and her daughter Tui Emma Gillies.
Sulieti’s work is rooted in the traditions of her native Tonga. Often It is a mix of symbols connected to the royal family and Christianity and imagery aimed at catching the eye of tourists, such as flowers, fish and turtles.
Tui was born and brought up in New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, which is also the world’s biggest Polynesian city and her work is much more modern.

It is influenced by the work of her mother and grandmother but also draws inspiration from the world of contemporary art and her own experiences as a half Tongan-half European woman, mother and artist.
Tui’s art is often overtly political. One piece, which was a finalist in the Walker & Hall art awards, is a royal portrait of her mother, an ordinary working class woman with her history painted into the designs of her clothing. Another shows Tonga’s late King George V surrounded by angels taking the souls of the victims of an infamous ferry sinking to heaven.

Tui is one of the most challenging and exciting practitioners of tapa art working in the medium and is blazing a trail that many artists are now beginning to follow.
She and Sulieti have also helped revive tapa art in Sulieti’s home village of Falevai in Tonga and their experiences there were captured in the short documentary Falevai Flava.'



Tui and Sulieti

Painting on Tapa Cloth by Tui Emma Gillies

 Another stand out show was by Diana Harrison, she says:
 '‘Traces in Cloth’, is showing fabric, patchwork and quilt produced by the marks left behind after layers of process have been applied. The stitching, dyeing, shrinking, bleaching, and printing combine to create pieces that reflect my individual ideas and aesthetic.
In these textiles I have recently used and manipulated found items, by unstitching previously sealed pillowcases or overdyeing and bleaching into handkerchiefs, I am working with the original measurements and cloth qualities, boundaries are given and this defines the outcome. The format and history is still evident but transformed.'

Traces in Cloth  by Diana Harrison


Traces in Cloth  by Diana Harrison

Traces in Cloth  by Diana Harrison

 Other offerings which took my attention were the historic quilts, a group quilt by prisoners and this recycled clothing quilt.




The Scottish Region of the EG host their annual summer school at Stirling university, and it has a reputation for selecting great tutors. I was pleased to have been asked to be one of four tutors this year and had been looking forward to getting there as my last engagement of this UK trip.
The Wallace monument through the dreich.
The weather continued to prove to be mixed ('driech' is the correct term I am assured), however the warm and energetic atmosphere created by enthusiastic stitching, painting, burning and chatting from all participants and the other tutors more than compensated. Our late night parties in the hall kitchens took me back to student years!
The other tutors were the amazing Amanda Clayton, Carol Naylor and Tracy Franklin. Here we are sheltering from the rain at Stirling Castle, enjoying 99's, as insisted upon by Mandi - naughty girl!
Amanda Clayton, Tracy Franklin, Carol Naylor, and myself with ice-cream in the rain.

I oversaw two courses over the 5 days. Firstly ‘Personal Statements’, in which we explore the properties of metal fabrics and Lutradur in the context of simple patchwork and collage and favourite phrases.


Personal Statements course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Personal Statements course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Personal Statements course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Personal Statements course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Personal Statements course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Personal Statements course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Personal Statements course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Personal Statements course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden


Personal Statements course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Personal Statements course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
Secondly ‘Wild Wire Weaving’
Wild Wire Weaving course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Wild Wire Weaving course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Wild Wire Weaving course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Wild Wire Weaving course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Wild Wire Weaving course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Wild Wire Weaving course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Wild Wire Weaving course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Wild Wire Weaving course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Wild Wire Weaving course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Wild Wire Weaving course, Scottish EG Summer School 2017. Tutor Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

And just like that, it was all over. Back on a plane (or two) to NZ.
Brian managed about a day before telling me to stop rearranging furniture (a regular habit on my return) and starting his countdown to my next UK sojourn (54 weeks apparently – not that he’s counting!).


Monday, 31 July 2017

UK Tour 2017 Part 2




After a relatively quiet week or so, during which I have continued to help my parents with some of the heavy tasks they aren’t as keen to do nowadays, in particular - emptying the compost bin, cleaning conservatory roof and turning mattresses, I have also been preparing for the Festival of Quilts at the NEC Birmingham which is coming up soon. I suspect that the pieces I am making as a part of a personal take on Tapa Cloth, will not be complete – their full development will have to be held back for later. I would rather do this than rush pieces which are not fully realised and though I have been intermittently working on them for months, they have only just begun to feel as though I am on a wavelength with them. Sometimes this is the way it goes.

Tapa cloth experiments

Tapa Cloth experiments


Interspersed have been groups of you willing to think, work and play with a little encouragement from me.

Pattern and print development on 18th July was a quick dip into a method for making personal print blocks and a background for stitch based on Architectural patterns.

Pattern and Print Development with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden


Pattern and Print Development with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden


Pattern and Print Development with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
Today we did 'Angelina meets Hundertwasser', using non-fusible Angelina fibres and inspired by the lovely organic forms of the artist Hundertwasser to create lush, rich complex surfaces.

Angelina meets Hundertwasser with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Angelina meets Hundertwasser with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Angelina meets Hundertwasser with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Angelina meets Hundertwasser with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Angelina meets Hundertwasser with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Angelina meets Hundertwasser with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Angelina meets Hundertwasser with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden


When we can manage to take a longer, deeper look into a subject, it is a rewarding experience all round. Thank you to those who came to Art Van Go for a 3 day version of Deconstruct: Reconstruct. Time spent closely examining the shape and form of seeds, and developing into sculptural, structural artworks using metal based techiniques paid off handsomely.

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden
Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

Deconstruct:Reconstruct with Alysn Midgelow-Marsden

East Surrey EG were kind enough to ask me to speak at their biannual textile day. Mini workshops, traders and home cooked lunch. Spoiled only by them having to listen to me afterwards (I hope I am joking)!!

Many, many thanks to those of you I have met on these days, and the images are more or less a random selection of your work, sorry if yours was not included here. If you have images of work you later finish, please send them as I will be very pleased to see them and post them for you. 
We caught the final day of the Weeping Window installation at the Derby Silk Mill, and as the artist and many of the assistants were from Derby and I know some of them I was particularly keen to see it.
Rather than describe it myself, here is the official wording:
The presentations by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, will give people across the UK the chance to experience the impact of the ceramic poppy sculptures in a range of places of particular First World War resonance. During the First World War, Derby Silk Mill was divided into two businesses one grinding corn and the other making medical supplies, both integral to the British war effort and scarce by 1916.
Derby as a whole played a vital part in production during the course of the First World War with Rolls-Royce developing the Eagle Engine at the request of the government to power allied aircraft. As Derby Silk Mill: Museum of Making the museum now holds a great number of industrial and social history objects which help to tell the stories of Derby’s companies and its communities.
Wave and Weeping Window are from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red – poppies and original concept by artist Paul Cummins and installation designed by Tom Piper – by Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces. The installation was originally at HM Tower of London from August to November 2014 where 888,246 poppies were displayed, one to honour every death in the British and Colonial forces of the First World War.

 
Weeping Window by Paul Cummins


Weeping Window by Paul Cummins

Weeping Window by Paul Cummins


The second exhibition continues to the 22 October, so perhaps some of you will get a chance. 'House Style' is at Chatsworth House, Derbysire, UK.  I visited in the expectation of a couple of rooms of costumes, and a walk around the house and gardens. However, hats off to the curators and technical staff at Chatsworth. We were engrossed for over four hours on a winding tour around the house. Costumes had been displayed in different ways, contrasting occasions, times, styles and techniques. Giving both a fascinating insight into the public and private lives of the aristocracy who are associated with the House and a chance to see in vivid detail a huge selection of artefacts and background information. 

House Style at Chatsworth House

House Style at Chatsworth House

House Style at Chatsworth House

House Style at Chatsworth House

House Style at Chatsworth House

House Style at Chatsworth House

House Style at Chatsworth House

House Style at Chatsworth House with Mum and Dad playing dress up

Chatsworth House


One costume from a 'fancy dress party' which interested me was this one:

House Style at Chatsworth House
Detail of dress

Though the image is dark, the dress shows the use of metal foils in the embroidery. The only other example I have is a French, probably 18th C sleeve. I would like to find out more!


One question which has been raised several times recently has been: Why do you do it? Why return to the UK each year? What do you get out of it? The reply is simple – years of working with fabulous groups, meeting such characters and enjoying the company of like minded artists is not to be passed over lightly, or to be relinquished unless forced to. And with modern travel being so easy, why not? Additionally, not to be sniffed at, there is always time for socializing and catch ups. I have had conversations ranging from heart felt to hilarious with both old and new friends. Thank you for your time everyone.


Weather in the UK continues to be mixed as the Gulf Stream is further south than usual. In practical terms, that is lots of rain, a few storms and a glimpse of sun now and again! Not a great deal of call for shorts or sun cream as I set off to do some filming on Anglesey tomorrow. Not sure whether to look forward to that or not.