Quilted and embroidered

Two projects finished last week!  Not started and finished obviously, just completed in time for the deadline of my local EG branch annual display of members’ work. I so enjoy seeing what everyone has been doing that I feel it only fair to include some of mine.  This year’s theme was trees which meshed nicely with my textile group’s challenge.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the group – Wyvern Textiles – before.  We haven’t been together long, still finding our way.  We joined together because we wanted to have others to talk to about our work as it progressed.  I don’t know about the rest of the group but I’m really appreciating having such great people to give me help and constructive criticism.  We are all very different in background and in what sort of work we are doing, hence the use of ‘textiles’ in our name.  Definitely not tying ourselves down as a group, or individuals, to one technique.

We set ourselves a challenge. To all use a single point of inspiration to create,  in any way we wanted, a piece to be exhibited this coming month. We chose a painting by David Hockney, Three Trees at Thixendale, Winter 2007.  We have all produced very different work! It’s been an interesting journey. Here’s a detail of my piece  and I’ll ask the others if they can let me have photos of theirs.

This is machine embroidery worked on a pieced and hand and machine quilted ground.  I am enjoying combining different techniques, makes the process varied and challenging. The  image at the top shows my other piece with couched gold and after doing that I painted and quilted the batik it is worked on.

So now – on with the bed quilt and some other unfinished projects.  I’ll see if I can finish something else before my next post!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Gina Ferrari 3On Saturday I went to my local Embroiderers’ Guild annual lecture, this year with Gina Ferrari. I’ve followed her lively blog for some time and had been looking forward to meeting someone I’d only known virtually. She did not disappoint!

Her talk, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, was a fascinating insight into a series of works exploring women’s stories.  Historical and fictional characters had beautifully crafted corsets created for them that in their design reflected Gina’s take on aspects of their story.

We learnt about the elements of character or story that had significance for her and also the techniques she used to interpret them.  For instance, Anne Boleyn’s garment had ivy leaves as a motif, representing the clinging entrapment that Gina felt characterised her life story at Henry’s court.

Gina Ferrari 1As expected the craftsmanship in the works contributed to their beauty; Gina has years of experience as a machine embroiderer. Unexpected, to me at least, was the knitting expertise used for Marie Antoinette.

For me it was most interesting finding out about the artist’s thought processes in developing her theme. Her acknowledgement that the stories we ‘know’ about the historical figures can be as constructed as those in fiction. Was Cleopatra really beautiful? Probably not. Was Anne Boleyn a scheming young woman with ambition or a pawn in her family’s power game? Do we even know what she looked like?

I always enjoy hearing how artists work, why they choose the themes they do and what motivates them to continue.  Gina’s series began as part of her formal learning, assignments in her City and Guilds course. It continued to inspire her for many years afterwards, and still does – Frida Kahlo still hovers around waiting for her winged bodice.

Gina Ferrari 2Gina spoke of the importance to her of being part of a group, Prism, of having that engagement with others and the impetus to produce new work that comes from exhibiting. Thank you Gina, for coming to us despite having cracked your ankle! It was a real pleasure to meet you and learn more about your exquisite and thoughtful work.