Hanging and private views

I was slightly worried about hanging the fungus, because I didn’t know the gallery or space. I was even more worried when I arrived at the gallery, as it’s very small and intimate, and there were to be more than 30 South London Women Artists exhibiting.


Gabriel Fine Art is housed in a former Buddhist centre – a three-room cottage close to the site of the London Necropolis railway station from where dead bodies were transported from overcrowded London to Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey. The history is fascinating – William Blake frequented the area, and now it’s a creative hub for artists, photographers, film makers and entrepreneurs.

With the ceilings being quite low, suspending the supporting branch wasn’t as difficult as I feared, thanks to help from my friend Magdalen and one of the gallery managers Patrick O’Neill. And in the smaller space, the piece made more of an impact, so I was pleased with the result in the end.

hang 5 hang6hang plus Kim hang with kim 1

The private view last night was packed. It was lovely to see fellow felter Abigail Thomas of Felt Meets Cloth, who I met at the felt workshop in France last year.

Abigail is preparing for her own private view, as she’s having a solo exhibition called Tenter, at House Mill, Bromley-by-Bow, London E3 3DU, from 6 to 10 May. She’s also running some feltmaking workshops there.

A6 template

See here for more details about Abigail’s exhibition and her fundraising campaign.

Death and Transition, SLWA exhibition

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been working on a new piece for another South London Women Artists exhibition titled Death and Transition. It’s taken an age to finish, but I’m nearly there, so here is the big reveal. ;-)

D&T Poster

Rather than trying to make a great spiritual or metaphysical statement, I’ve taken a more down to earth approach. In nature, death is essentially a recycling opportunity. Along with bacteria, fungi are the main decomposers, degrading dead and rotting organic matter to inorganic molecules, which are then taken up by other organisms. Without fungi we would effectively be lost under piles of dead plant remains.

So…my piece is entitled Fungi, and consists of a felt column of felt fungi. I felted each mushroom/toadstool individually (around an hour each!), inspired by a technique I picked up at Liz Clay’s workshop. Then I attached them to a felt column about 1 metre high and felted the entire piece together.

Fungus close up

I did include lengths of covered wire in the stalks of the fungi so that I could bend them into different positions, but in the end this was not really necessary. A few stitches proved to be far more effective! ;-)

At the moment the piece is still drying out – here’s a shot taken from a rather odd angle, as it’s lying over the bath to catch the drips.

fungi bath

And here is a better pic of the whole piece hanging on the washing line.

fungi clothesline

I have to deliver it to the gallery on Tuesday, so I’m hoping for good weather to continue the drying out process!

Death and Transition is at Gabriel Fine Art Gallery, Cottage 2, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, London SE1 7LG, from 17 April to 1 May 2015. The private view is on Friday 17 April, 6.30-9.30pm – everyone welcome!

Textiles at Tate Modern

Yesterday I visited Tate Modern to see the Richard Tuttle installation I Don’t Know. The Weave of Textile Language before it closes on 6 April.

Image: Tate Modern
Image: Tate Modern

Well, I don’t know. I didn’t get it. The scale is impressive, the colours were gorgeous (the fabric was provided by an Indian textile mill), but it left me cold.

Much more interesting was work by an artist new to me, Nicholas Hlobo. This South African artist combines paper, rubber and stitch in beautiful, tactile pieces. He uses rubber from inner tubes and satin ribbon to bring together masculine industrialisation and feminine domesticity. The suture stitches also bring to mind surgery and internal organs.

hlobo1 hlobo2 hlobo3 hlobo4

There are also some other interesting pieces in the same Energy and Process section on level 4. Chen Zhen’s Cocon du Vide sculpture is a hollow chrysalis-like form made of rosary and abacus beads, resembling a figure bent over in prayer.

chen zhen1

In a section entitled Homeworkers, the work of three female artists use materials and techniques traditionally associated with feminine craft and the domestic sphere to make political points.

Margaret Harrison’s Homeworkers is a banner-like canvas highlighting the manual labour involved in piecework and the money paid.

margarte harrison

The Pikes by Annette Messager manages to make stuffed heads and toys made out of old tights look startlingly creepy.

annete messager

And Geta Brǎtescu’s embroidered panels feature different versions of the same machine-stitched motif to represent the character of Medea, who took revenge on her husband Jason by sending his new bride a poisoned dress.


The Arte Povera and Anti-Form section features artists who used everyday materials in their works to upset ideas about how art should be created and displayed.

Jannis Kounellis’s untitled piece of uncarded wool displayed on a wooden frame had visceral appeal, especially as some of the wool was dyed blue (which could have been indigo!).


Godret Stone by Korean artist Seung-Taek Lee features the stones used in traditional Korean weaving.


Finally, I had a look at the temporary exhibition Louise Bourgeois: Works on Paper. I loved the organic forms of her etchings, but the exhibition also includes a couple of her fabric books.

Ode à la Bièvre has been deconstructed, with each page displayed in a separate frame. The varied techniques include lithograph printing and dye on fabric as well as abstract drawings patched together from her fabric stash, including napkins from her bridal trousseau. One page (last one on the second row down) looks like shibori. :-)


Louise Bourgeois: Works on Paper runs at Tate Modern until 12 April 2015.

Spring: new life and death

Spring officially starts this week, though the frogs in our pond have been frisking for more than a fortnight.


To celebrate the new growing season and longer days I cranked up the indigo vat and did my first batch of scarves this year.

spring indigo 2015

These will soon make their way to my Etsy shop, which is looking sadly depleted, as this is the first opportunity I’ve had to do any dyeing since before Christmas. I’ve also got a stall at the Intrigue Emporium at Shoreditch Town Hall on 3 May.

The What is Urban? exhibition is over, so the paving stones are back in the garden. I’m now frantically trying to finish my piece for the next South London Women Artists exhibition, on the theme Death and Transition, which opens on 17 April.

I had to submit an image for the catalogue this week, so this required a strategic close-up shot of the section that was most advanced. :-) Here’s a sneak peek.

Fungus close up

More about how this relates to the theme of Death and Transition in a later post. But I can tell you now that the piece is a lot lighter than the paving stones! ;-)

Also looking further ahead, Carol and I will be running a Women of the Cloth felting workshop at the South London Botanical Institute on 30 May. The workshop will be part of the Chelsea Fringe, the alternative gardening festival linked to the Chelsea Flower Show. Carol will be teaching people how to make needle felted birds, while I will be showing them how to make wet felted bird pods.

felt bird pod1

It’s going to be a busy spring!

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Fascinating piece about the bagworm moth!

Originally posted on Daily Japanese Textile:

Twigs and other found materials, bagworm silk, cultivated silk, thread

This cigarette-sized pouch is made of minomushi, or bagworm moth, cocoon panels. Bags and sashes made of bagworm cocoons enjoyed some popularity in the early 20th century. For this information, Daily Japanese Textile is indebted to Ms. Haruko Watanabe, the very knowledgeable owner of the wonderful Gallery Tsumugi in Tokyo, which specializes in a wide variety of antique Japanese textiles.

According to Wikipedia, bagworms “construct cases out of silk and environmental materials such as sand, soil, lichen, or plant materials.”

(Second bagworm photograph from What’s That Bug, and contributed by Ben.)

The Japanese word minomushi (literally, straw coat insect) derives from the visual similarity between the straw coat once worn by the Japanese to protect against rain and snow and the minomushi’s cocoon.

(This photograph by Baron Raimund von Stillfried-Rathenitz, ca. 1880.)

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