Sunday, 30 October 2016

Julie Arkell at the Harley Gallery

Last weekend I visited the Harley Gallery, it's one of my favourite places to visit on a weekend and they show a good range of fine art, textiles and craft.  At the moment they are showing Julie Arkell's Away Away exhibition.

As usual, I found her work to be slightly unsettling and sometimes melancholic whilst at the same time being humorous and whimsical.  I find the dolls a bit creepy and the rabbit-like animals amusing, like three-dimensional children's illustrations.   I really like how she had given lots of her figures a context - with many of them having knitted shadows or set into landscapes of trees.

Anyway, some favourites below

I was drawn to the ones pulling little carts of yarns along.


I found this one a bit creepy!  Maybe it's the doll's arm attached to the doll illustration.

Love those toadstalls, I'm decorating my daughter's room with a woodland theme next year, so I think I'll be making some of those for her.


Is it just me who finds the doll really unsettling?

Look at those gorgeous shoes!



There were several that I'd like to have taken home - this was one of them.

Entering exhibitions

I had a trip to Scunthorpe on Saturday to enter work into an Open exhibition at the 20-21 visual arts centre.

I've entered a few of these Open exhibitions and have even sold some work through them.  However, I think it's about time that I set my sights on getting represented by a gallery and also try to get myself a solo exhibition.  I've never written an exhibition proposal and my university course was sadly lacking in teaching us useful things such as how to approach galleries, so if anybody can offer any useful advice on this I would appreciate it. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

New work using limited materials

A couple of posts ago I talked about the difficulty in finding my creative voice and what I felt to be my lack of focus.  I talked to a good friend from uni about this and she pointed out that you can't find your own style unless you've experimented lots and naturally found the style or materials or techniques that you are drawn to.  She suggested that I should gather a small selection of favourite materials and make some spontaneous and intuitive work using only those materials.  I took her advice and below are pictures of some of the results.

I think I've learned that I already have a favoured color palette, a liking of found materials, an enjoyment of simple collages and recurring themes in my work.  It's a case of needing to have more confidence in my work and trying not to constantly compare myself with other artists and makers. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Here and Now

Here and Now is the title of the new exhibition of tapestry at the National Centre of Craft and Design in Sleaford, UK.  As I specialised in hand weaving at uni I thought it'd be worth a visit, especially as it's quite rare to see an exhibition devoted to tapestry.  The exhibition is billing itself as " the first major curated exhibition of contemporary tapestry in England for over 20 years" which I'm not convinced is strictly true as I took part as a student in a tapestry exhibition and symposium by the British Tapestry Group in 2008 at Halifax, UK, but anyway... some highlights:

I loved the detail in these portraits by UK artist Pat Taylor, the subtle colour changes and the way she has captured expressions is an amazing feat of craftsmanship.

I am always drawn to tapestry used in an innovative and exciting way, taken off the wall and displayed in an unconventional manner.  This one is by Norweigan artist Tonje Hoydahl Sorli.  I'm not so fond of the subject matter, but I love that it has been left on the frame - which in itself is not a conventional frame and that she has used the warp threads and ends of the wefts as elements of the design.

This one by UK artist Joan Baxter is more traditional but I was impressed with the atmosphere she has captured and the technically excellent way she has mixed colours and created texture.

Overall, it was an interesting exhibition but not as wide ranging as I hoped it would be.  There were only about 25 artists represented and I thought there were a few obvious omissions such as Hillu Liebelt and Cos Ahmet who would have widened people's perception on what tapestry is and can be.  Most of the works were two dimensional, wall hung and made in the traditional manner, which whilst impressive, didn't defy any expectations or break any boundaries.

Upstairs, in the corridor was some MA work from Craig Fellows.  I really like to see sketchbook and process work alongside the final outcome so this was a treat.  The walls were covered with beautiful colour studies, mark making, experimental layering and cutting of paper, drawing and finally his mood boards and textile samples.  I wish I could bottle the sort of inspiration this gives me and save it for a day when ideas are in short supply!


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

At a crossroads

I bought a Mr Site website builder package about three years ago, which remains on my bookshelf unused.  It's not that I haven't done any work to show on a website or lacking the motivation in developing my artistic practice.  It's because I have dabbled, experimented and faffed around with too many different disciplines, themes, media and processes.  Below are some photos of just some of the work I produced or am still working on from the last year or so:

So, what do all these have in common?...well, not a lot and therin lies my problem.  I seem to have fallen into the trap of being "Jack of all trades, master of none"  My best work was done at university...conceptual installation type work that sat on the border between textile craft and fine art.  But, I want to make a career from art and conceptual installations doesn't pay the bills or buy my daughter clothes.  I have found myself trying to make work with an end market in mind and it hasn't worked.  My textile and paper collages are competent but they don't excite me and are not memorable.  I'm not saying there's anything wrong with making textile collages or craft objects, far from it, but I don't feel that mine are offering anything new. And my paintings...well lets just not go there!

I feel I'm at a cross roads.  Do I continue to make "nice" safe, decorative, saleable work that leaves me feeling like I'm cheating myself.  Or, do I start making the sort of work I made at uni - conceptual, meaningful work that no one is ever going to buy.

Maybe I could combine both, I think I need to start concentrating on quality rather than quantity and until then, my website package can stay sat on the shelf.