After two days of teetering on ladders, lugging plinths up and down wooden stairways, and burying a lightbox in bark mulch, I think I’m almost ready for the private view of my latest exhibition at Brixton Windmill tomorrow.
You may remember that I’d made 12 felt windmills to represent the 12 windmills that once existed in Lambeth, but wasn’t sure at that stage how I was going to present them. My initial thought was to hang them at different heights using monofilament, but then I had an idea about making a mobile.
I was particularly struck by images of Calder mobiles and decided this was the way to go. Purely by chance I came across Hobby’s, a model shop in West Norwood. After a long conversation with the owner I came away with 30 feet of brass rods in two different thicknesses and 28 brass collars and screws in two different sizes. I was briefly tempted by something called Liquid Gravity, but didn’t succumb in the end. It opened up a completely new world! 😉
And after much tussling with wire cutters, dropping tiny screws less than 1mm long, and superglueing washers to the tablecloth – not to mention stabbing my fingers with a screwdriver – I had a mobile. Tada!
Magdalen Rubalcava, who organises the Events Group of the Friends of Windmill Gardens and who had the idea for this exhibition, has been a fantastic source of support and help. With her background as a theatre designer, she has loads of ideas, masses of contacts, and is a pure genius at improvising something from nothing. I couldn’t have done it without her.
The private view is 6-8pm tomorrow. Otherwise the exhibition can be seen on days when Brixton Windmill is open to the public – you’ll need to book a tour to visit the upper floors.
Did you know that Brixton had a windmill? Probably not, as even many people who live here don’t know.
Built in 1816, the windmill was originally surrounded by open fields. Now, it sits in a tiny park sandwiched between Brixton Prison and a large sprawling council estate.
After a long period of dereliction, the mill was restored in 2010-11, thanks to a campaign by the Friends of Windmill Gardens (FowG), of which I am a member. It’s now open for free tours throughout the summer, along with a whole series of special events organised in the park.
So what does this have to do with textiles? Well, the events group of FoWG wants to encourage more “artistic” events in the windmill and the park, and invited me to take part in a joint exhibition with another FoWG member, Owen Llewellyn. A vegan/anarchist /postman/musician /astronomer, Owen also takes fantastic photos, not just of the windmill (the photos here are his) but of London in general and nature in particular.
Our exhibition will combine photos and felt, inside Brixton Windmill itself. It’s going to be quite challenging, as the windmill is very small inside, especially on the upper floors.
As well as including some of my shibori felt I am working on some windmill-inspired pieces. These include vessels with patterns based on the grooves that are traditionally cut into millstones.
I’m also making some felt “windmills” based on the shape of a child’s toy windmill. The idea is to produce 12 of these in different colours to represent the 12 windmills that once existed in Lambeth (Brixton Windmill is the only survivor).
I would like to suspend them somehow so that they can actually rotate – but I don’t have a firm plan of how to do this yet! Any ideas welcome. 🙂
The exhibition can be seen on open days throughout the year – details on Brixton Windmill website. Admission is free, but if you want a tour of the whole windmill up to the top it’s best to book in advance via the website.
The private view is on Good Friday 18 April, 6-8pm – email me if you’d like details.
I haven’t written much about what I’ve been making recently for a very good reason – I haven’t had time to make anything! My day job has a large deadline looming, and I’ve also been doing a lot of work on the new Brixton Windmill website, which has just launched.
But I just have to mention that I managed to sell four items last week through Makerhood, the online marketplace we set up in south London to bring local makers and buyers together. I still haven’t managed to take any decent product shots for my stall, which is why I’ve refrained from posting a link on this blog.
But last week I sold a nuno scarf directly online, and a shibori pencil roll and two eyeglass cases at the new Make It Grow It Sell It market in Brixton, which Makerhood was involved in organising. I wasn’t actually at the market, as I was doing another stall at Feast on the Bridge for the Friends of Windmill Gardens, so many thanks to Kristina and Karen for being such good saleswomen!
The pencil roll was made from the piece inspired by the accordion, while the scarf was merino wool on net.
If you’re around Brixton this Sunday, I’m also having a stall at the Brixton Windmill Festival, so stop by, say hello, and take a free tour of the windmill!