Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Art Quilts - a personal view (beware .. serious post!)

This is a bit of a rare serious post, but one I would like to make .. so please bear with me!
Some of you will know that I recently I joined up with Annabel Rainbow to look at creating some sort of group/forum/something to champion British Art Quilts. We both felt that the judging of art quilts at Festival of Quilts  showed a fundamental misunderstanding and lack of appreciation of what what art quilts are about. Annabel started us up with  facebook page and we arranged to meet up when we were both quieter after getting exhibitions off our hands. We both feel very strongly that the art part of the quilt needs a much better understanding and fairer judging ... and needs  some judges coming from art rather than quilt backgrounds. As we talked about various ideas to take this all forward, it became clear that whilst we agree on so many issues, we actually have a fundamental difference in how we view and define art quilts. So after discussion we decided we would still offer mutual support, but would take our own routes forward, as the two would dilute and complicate one other. A recent post on the FB page. very much highlighted this difference of position between us, and I think it would be useful to clarify where we stand ... the discussions become very confusing otherwise!! So I am posting my response to that post here too, as I know many people don't use FB, andI would like to make my views quite clear. So here it is:

I undoubtedly make art, but when I choose to call that art, an art quilt, I feel an obligation to show respect to the tradition that has given me that word. Otherwise, I would just call it art (and sometimes I do - not all my work falls in the art quilt arena). I choose to make quilts on occasions as I do love the format, but also because I love the connection to all those women in the past, who were compelled to make something beautiful out of necessity. They could not avoid but try to use their materials creatively and it is that heritage I want to honour. But I do not see conflict with this and my art ... I have choice about what definitions I use for each piece. I do not want to dump or forget that heritage.  My feeling is that if you don’t feel any connection to that history .. then why are you even using the word ‘quilt’ (I am aware that you may not Marion).  So that is where I stand – I am passionate about art quilts and want to see this unique and (almost all) feminine form of art respected and displayed in the art world, embracing all it’s roots. And I do believe you can instigate change from within. I only have to look at the number of students and currently visitors to my exhibitions, who have told me that I am converting them from purely traditional quilts to a real appreciation of how art can be expressed through the medium and a desire to move forward to try and embrace the concept of art quilts. I am sure it helps that they know I have a full understanding of and admiration for our quilting history. This is not a revolution I know – but showing by example is a good route to change – and  will stand the test of time in the future. 
All this said. I respect and understand that Annabel (and yourself) are coming at this from a much more activist sort of a place, and do not wish to be burdened or held back by any connection to the past history of quilting and of course the inevitable misunderstandings and confusion that causes. Annabel is an extremely talented fine artist and has a mission in her mind, to cut through the past and simply concentrate on the art part of the quilt. She is still working out exactly the best way to achieve this, but I am very confident she will – old Beanbonce is an activist without doubt.
But I just could not, and even on reflection, cannot feel comfortable with this severance of all that is past. For me personally that would feel a betrayal and lack of respect for a very female history– please note the word ‘personally’ – I am not making a comment on others choices/beliefs here. I also have too much regard for and far too many friends in the Guild to want to draw such a line of separation from what they stand for.  
So I shall aim for change from within I guess and you two can spearhead your pressure group for severance from without. I hope both groups can support and respect one another … our common ground is that we all love art! – Hilary B

I hope it is not necessary to say that Annabel and I are still great mates and will remain mutaully supportive of one anothers paths. And we both like cake alot too.
I promise the next post will be back to lots of lovely images and my usual not very serious style - Hilary x

Sunday, 28 October 2012

A wonderful couple of days at Art van Go

I can't believe it is now two weeks ago that I was at Art van Go for a lovely relaxing two day workshop with Frances Pickering ... but that is how life is at the moment - disappearing fast! The workshop was my reward to myself for getting all my quilts finished and delivered to Grosvenor shows - which I did, just in the nick of time. So I packed up a bag of gorgeous stuff and went off with my friend Jenny to enjoy ourselves. So here are lots of images of what I was up too ... hope you enjoy them:

We were making fabric books and this is the cover of mine - nice and fat and full of pages and over twice the size of anyone elses (typical)

And here is the back... All the fabrics I used were recycled/vintage and they were a joy to rummage out and use. We added images on top of the fabrics - in this case a print and a drawing I made, using the fabrics as inspiration

Here are a couple of the prints I made, using some clear flexicut 'soft' lino (available from AVG and wonderful|). I was able to put it over an image in a very old book of flowers I found in the charity shop and use the outlines to carve my stamp

Another page being tried out - with another print (I made lots, I always do). The writing is done with a fine sharpie and is just thoughts I had about the flowers. On the left you can see a gorgeous vintage fabric, which I will be using as inspiration for more stamps and applique to go on that page

Another spread - this time a gazania I painted on top of a printed fabric and then softened around with a little gesso. The right side is another vintage fabric, with an overlay of the same fabric, which I plan to applique in place when I have finished painting it. Also lots of lace around ....

A closer shot of the gazania (definitely not botanically correct - although Frances' are)

and here is the rose, just as I have started to colour it in with pencil

Another lovely page of vintage fabric, where I have started adding some stitching

and another possible arrangement

and another (very addictive this) - this one will have the pen drawing I have made on some old yellow linen stitched on

Another pen drawing ready for use ... these drawings were based on another old fabric

And the book laid open - front and back showing 

I have still along way to go, but this is such a lovely relaxing project, I shall definitely get it finished and post images here. The books Frances does are small and beautifully detailed with drawings and paintings. I suspect mine will evolve to be rather more 'busy' than hers, and definitely bigger ... but I love the technique and idea, and will take it further when I have time I think.

I did manage to get to Grosvenors' Malvern Show with a couple of friends yesterday, and had my first viewing of my quilts and many others of course. I was sort of dreading it - it can be hard to look at your own work. But Vicki and the team have done me proud and I was so pleased with how they had the exhibition looking. I promise to post some images from the show and about the day next time - so please come back! - Hilary x

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Studio Edition

If you get Quilting Arts magazine, you will probably be aware that they have a studio edition, where they visit and photograph gorgeous, to die for studios ..... so not to be left out - this is my version. It should also re-assure all those who have been so patient with my unavailability that I really have been busy, and am only just re-emerging!

So lets start with the view from the door as we enter ... the one that cause Stephen to visibly shudder ....

Before we go further into this area (and that is not easy) - let us just glance right into the 'wet' area ....

Ok - maybe lets not linger there .. so bravely onwards - here is the work and laying out table .... above ...

and beneath ......

and on (very carefully) past my expensive and highly valued machine ...

and round the coroner (should be 'corner', but that is the speller suggestion and I loved it"!) to the office/library area ....

a useful bench for sitting and browsing books ....

and back past the design board and another well used chair .. 

I am a Virgo and not naturally attracted to mess ... this really is a sign of the times. I do make a mess when I am working and time has been so tight, I have just not tidied up at all in between. Are you very jealous???

But Stephen is away this weekend, I am just back from a lovely course, (which I shall tell you about next blog) and today and tomorrow are allocated to sorting this out. That done, I shall be ready to go again and the website update is one of next weeks jobs .. so do keep a look out for that. I'll also hopefully have some feedback from the Kent show (if any of you have been, pleeeease tell me how the quilts looked!) and some new work on the go.

Now though - on with the wombles (have you spotted the CD? - I nearly cropped it, but then decided to brazen it out) and out with the mess ... think of me and wish me luck! - Hilary x

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A quickie

Phew - just finished stitching and mounting up these - a triptych started a while a go, but awaiting finishing. I'll be mounting Master Caster tomorrow and get a better picture of these ones too - but right now a glass of red wine and a DVD beckons me ... I am shattered! - Hilary x

Friday, 5 October 2012

Diary of a quick quilt - part 2

I love this blog - it even uploads my photos in the right order - brilliant. So - part two and we are moving along OK, but not quite as fast as hoped ... but a girl can only do her best. Here is the piece, now fully machine quilted (to death - can't help it) and with inktense pencils used to bring back the colour in the photos, which seriously faded under the machine (will not be using that brand again) and also to add detail and extend the images 

This piece will hang with Beach Boy 2 - so I wanted to add some sheer grasses around the edge, as I did on that piece. Here we are trying some out on the wall ...

and adding a few more ...

and stitching them down. I used transparent thread and it was hellish to thread as I couldn't see it (obviously, but still a surprise to me), but brilliant in it's effect ....

So here we are with all grasses stitched on, and ready for hand stitching ...

most of which will be done tomorrow - but here is a little start, using metallic thread to highlight the sea

Hopefully will be finished - or at least ready for blocking tomorrow - will post the final stage then - Hilary x

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Diary of a very quick quilt

To be fair - I do always work quite fast - I find it helps me to get out of my own way when creating. But even by my standards, this next one is a quickie. Luckily, it is basically an enlargement of a journal quilt I made a couple of years ago, so I have a very good map to guide me. So here we are at the beginning - journal quilt on wall and nice blank felt for me to work on - I love being at this point - it is SO exciting! Put Abba on ipod

About 30 minutes later and I have got the bare bones down. I placed the photos much as they were in the JQ and then tried to let instinct guide me as I added some largish chunks of fabric to fill in around them - looking OK so far

At this point I do slow down a bit and start looking hard and working out what I like and what I don't. So here is the next stage and I've filled in some of the large plain areas and added some darkish strips to move the eye around the piece. I'm trying to pick up on the tones and shapes I am seeing in the photos

At this point I lightly ironed the piece to 'tack' everything down and get it up on to the design wall so I can really see what is what

and I feel it now needs some of those edges softening a bit and that big beige space at top left need attention ... out with the lace - brilliant at this stage 

Much better to my mind now, just a couple of quibbles: Still need to break those skies up some more - all the lines are too straight and I would like to get a tiny bit of darker fabric top left, just to keep the eye moving up there ... and here is that done, using some scrim and a couple of narrow strips of fabric

I like this now, although I will want to work into it with crayons and possibly paint later, to blend those photos some more. But the next job is to get it all secure - so on to the sewing machine. I'll report back on progress - Hilary x

Monday, 1 October 2012

4 new quilts - phew

I'm not at all sure the colour on these first three images is quite accurate .... they seem both more vibrant and more subtle in real life - which is nonsensical, but true. But it gives a reasonable idea ... I shall have to get some in proper daylight to put on the website though. These two echinacea pieces are both a mixture of painted, printed and dyed, fabrics and papers, all nicely sealed with matt medium. They will hang next to one another in the Grosvenor exhibition, but each could stand alone, and I shall sell them individually. They are sized 25" x 25" each.

This second one seems more true colour I think

 My wall here is actually a very pale mocha/taupe/pink ... so we are a bit bleached, but this is better than the very overly pink I started with

These details are probably a bit closer to the actual colour

They will hang with my larger quilt Ecinacea 1, and with great wit, I have called them Echinacea 2 and 3. The larger quilt can be seen on my website in Gallery 3

Next we have two Art Deco themed pieces, 'Hounds' 1 and 2 (more wonderful names). These are made from commercial fabrics and the hound is a stylisation of my lovely boy.

I think I have washed the colour out again - must be in that kind of a mood - these are lovely vibrant pieces. Again, the two will hang together in the exhibition, but can stand alone, and will be sold as individual pieces. These are 24" x 30" each.

These two will hang with 'In the Pink' - another quilt featuring silhouettes and with a distinct Deco feel. 'In the Pink' can be viewed in Gallery 3 on the website.

So that is four of the last six quilts ticked off now. Next up is an enlarged version of 'Master Caster' - the small version can be seen in the Small Quilts Gallery on my website. I am going to have to make this in double quick time - although that is becoming such a familiar way of working, it is going to seem very odd when I have time on my hands again (maybe I should say 'if' - things keep booking up!)

Lovely to be able to put images on my blog at last - I hope you enjoy them - Hilary x