My work at Tate Modern

It’s not a solo exhibition – yet. 😉 But you may remember a couple of years ago that I took part in an exhibition organised by South London Women Artists (SLWA), entitled Pillow Talk. It was a collaboration with the Women’s Art Library (WAL) and took the form of a pop-up reading lounge in a geodesic dome furnished with a selection of readings, cuttings and ephemera from the WAL collection and art pillows by SLWA artists as seating.

My contribution, a felt snail pillow, was inspired by the idea of a nomadic library, carrying information about the ambitions, stories and histories of women artists around the country.

Felt snail pillow
Photo: Cygnus Imaging

Now the exhibition (and snail) has reached Tate Modern. As part of a homage to the centenary of women getting the vote in February 1918, Pillow Talk will form part of the Uniqlo Tate Late event on Friday 23 February, 6-10pm.

For this event, the pillows will be laid out on the floor in the shape of the female symbol where visitors will be invited to sit, read and have conversations. At its heart will be a mobile library full of publications, catalogues, magazines and ephemera about women artists.

Pillow photos: Yoke Matze

We’ll be on Level 2 in the Blavatnik Building – hope to see you there!

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Galapagos-inspired tablet cover

When we were on holiday in the Galapagos, S, one of the other passengers on the boat admired the felt tablet cover I had made for Ever Supportive Partner (ESP). So I agreed to make her one when I got back.

I was delayed working on this because of all the Christmas markets and other activities on my return, but while ESP went back to work between Christmas and new year I finally had the time and headspace to think about it.

S hadn’t expressed any preference about colours, leaving it up to me, so I thought it would be good to make a piece inspired by the Galapagos. Looking back through the hundreds(!) of photos of the trip prompted various ideas, but I finally went for the landscape around Lake Darwin, on the largest island of Isabela.

Lake Darwin is a seawater lake in the caldera of an old volcano. The surrounding lava folds and ridges are covered in incense (palo santa) trees, with ghostly silver bark (in the wet season, a few weeks after we visited, they would burst into leaf, transforming the landscape).

Other trees were covered with beautiful lichens of grey, bright orange and pale mint green.

And here is the tablet cover inspired by this scenery.

I started with two layers of orange merino (to represent the volcanic interior). Then came two layers of grey Norwegian wool, to provide robustness, then two layers of Finnish wool (blue at the bottom for water and brown at the top for the lava). I laid pieces of darker brown yarn on top of this to represent the lava folds. There is also a faint strip of yellow between the brown and the blue.

The tree is made up of two layers of prefelt (white on top of grey), plus prefelt lichen in orange and very pale green. Using prefelt also gives a more textured effect more like bark. Let’s hope S likes it!

Felting get together

Every few months my partner Woman of the Cloth, Carol, organises a felting day with a few friends where we all bring a pot luck dish for lunch and catch up with news and gossip (and occasionally manage to make a bit of felt in between!).

I used the opportunity to make myself a new phone case, as my last one was wearing through. You can see it here in the centre, along with a nuno felt case made by Carol (above).

felt phone case

Happy new year to everyone!

RHS London Autumn Garden Show

RHS Autumn Garden show

Next week I’m taking part in my first RHS show in London. A lot of my customers are keen gardeners, so I thought this would be a good event to try.

As well as my ecoprinted and indigo upcycled scarves and garments, I’m going to try selling some felt pots. I really like making felt pots, and when I first had a market stall I tried selling them. Although people liked them, the most common question I was asked was “But what would I do with it?”.

Then recently I ran a felt pot making workshop at Brixton Windmill harvest festival. After the workshop, I sent one of the sample pots I made to my friend and festival organiser Magdalen. She promptly posted a photo on Instagram of two pots I had made for her, containing some succulents.

Felt pots
Image: Magdalen Rubalcava

This prompted a lightbulb moment – show, don’t tell! So I’m hoping that by showing people how they can be used, this will inspire them to think more creatively.

felt pot and succulent felt pot and succulent

I will also have a couple of the abstract seedpods to see if they attract any interest.

felt seedpods

Wish me luck!

SLWA My Place exhibition

I’m very excited to be taking part in the My Place exhibition organised by the South London Women Artists. The work of 30 artists will be on show, each exploring their sense of place and belonging.

My piece combines ombre-dyed cotton scrim and felt, because my place – where I feel most at home – is by the indigo vat.

ombre dyed felt

The colour indigo is traditionally thought to stimulate right brain or creative activity, but for me it is more of a meditative experience, disrupting the coppery sheen of the surface as I dip the fabric, and watching the magical alchemy as it turns from green to blue before my eyes. The white clouds in the sky above are mirrored by the clumps of foam, or indigo “flower”, floating on the surface of the vat.

My Place runs from 7 to 12 July at Brixton East 1871, 100 Barrington Road, London SW9 7JF, 11am-6pm daily.

The private view is on Friday 7 July, 6-9pm – everyone welcome!

Playing with plaster

As well as sculpting with stone, ESP has experimented with plaster moulding. But rather than carving his own moulds, he has unconventionally used things like discarded packaging.

This piece, which looks like a fragment of a Greek column, was made using some air-filled plastic packaging that protected bottles.

Over Easter we experimented with filling balloons with plaster. Because the plaster takes around 20 minutes to dry and we got bored of moving them around before that, the plaster settled and was thicker in some areas than others. So when we cut off the balloon the tension caused the very thin areas to break. They look uncannily like real eggs!

Then I thought I would try combining plaster and felt. I’ve worked before with the idea of the contrasting hard and soft textures by combining felt and stone here and here.

I started by dipping some felt offcuts into plaster – some just one layer, others more than once.

You can see above that the hairy texture of the wool is quite evident beneath the plaster in places.

I then made and dipped two spherical felt vessels. This one was merino.

This one was made with coarser cheviot wool.

I dipped each vessel four times but there is still a clear difference in texture. This may be more noticeable with fewer dips but then the plaster may be too delicate to withstand much pressure.

More experiments needed! 🙂