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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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!

Pillow Talk exhibition

I can now reveal that the snail pillow that featured in my last post was made for an upcoming event organised by the South London Women Artists (SLWA) and the Women’s Art Library (WAL).

Pillow Talk PV Invite

Called Pillow Talk: conversations with women, this pop-up women’s art reading lounge is a nomadic reading room steeped in the achievements and ambitions, stories and histories of women artists.

A selection of readings, cuttings and ephemera from the WAL collection will  be housed in a transparent geodesic dome furnished with art pillows by SLWA artists as seating. Visitors are invited to relax, read the material and to interact by sharing their own inspirations and histories, which will become part of the archive. These conversations with women contribute to a collective multi-layered memory of women’s art history and highlight the achievements of women artists.

The pillow artworks feature the work of 60 SLWA artists exploring diverse themes from the environment, science to politics, gender, memory and sex. They are sites of learning, contemplation, discussion and dissent as well as a place to sit.

My snail pillow was inspired by the idea of the nomadic library. Whereas snails leave a trail of slime, hopefully the library will leave a trail of inspiration, ideas and memories. 🙂

snail1 72dpi

Pillow Talk: conversations with women has its private view on Monday 14 March, 6.30-9pm, at Brixton East, 100 Barrington Road, London SW9 7JF. It is open for one day only, on Tuesday 15 March 11am-5pm.

After that it will tour to different locations in the UK throughout 2016 and will feature a colour ISBN catalogue.

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

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!

Spring: new life and death

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

frogspawn

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!

Pavement update

If you thought art was the realm of limp-wristed aesthetes, think again! My arms are aching from lugging the paving stones into the house to ensure they dry off before varnishing. By the time I’ve got the pavement delivered to the gallery, arranged it, packed it up and brought it home again, I’ll be able to beat all comers at arm wrestling. 😉

I had to help speed up the drying process a bit with a hairdryer.

hairdryer

I then had a bit of a wobble about the varnish. I considered doing without varnish at all, but it does increase the contrast and help the leaf prints stand out against the background. It will also help to protect the prints in case anyone does decide to walk on the pavement. 🙂 And I’m not sure how light fast the prints are – I notice that most of the natural prints on the pavement round the corner have now disappeared.

I had a spare test stone where I tried out some yacht varnish, which had a satin finish but was far too shiny. So I moved on to a matt varnish, which was much better (though still with occasional shiny patches). It also tends to emphasise the pimply texture of the stones.

I tried “spot varnishing” the leaves only, leaving the background unvarnished. But that looked too artificial, as if the leaves had just been painted on. So in the end I painted a thin layer of matt varnish over the whole stones.

varnish beforevarnish after

Now all I have to do is protect the surface of each stone to avoid damage during delivery to the gallery on Wednesday, and spend a couple of hours arranging them.

What_Is_Urban_flyer

What is Urban? is organised by South London Women Artists and runs from 26 February to 11 March 2015 at Brixton East Gallery, 100 Barrington Road, London SW9 7JF, 11am-5pm daily.

The private view is on Thursday 26 February, 6.30-9pm  – everyone welcome. I will be there for the first hour or so, as I have to go to my bookclub afterwards.

Printing on pavements

In a previous post I mentioned that I was working on a piece for an exhibition being organised by the South London Women Artists in February, on the theme “What is Urban?”.

My interpretation of this theme started from the view that although we refer to urban areas as “concrete jungles”, the urban environment is but a thin veneer. Without armies of gardeners and maintenance workers, cities would turn wild very quickly as nature reclaims the land. In his book The World Without Us, Alan Weisman claims that if humans suddenly disappeared, residential neighbourhoods would become forests within 500 years.

leaves on pavement

Even if this urban veneer is regularly maintained, nature finds a way to leave her mark on it. In the autumn, pavements that are more commonly pocked with the remains of carelessly discarded gum become the canvas for leaf prints, as the leaching tannins from the leaves are pounded into the concrete by scurrying commuters and shoppers.

leaves on pavement 2pavement prints6pavement prints12pavement prints13

So I decided to try to recreate these ephemeral marks on pavements, by arranging dead autumn leaves on paving stones, soaking them and stamping on them. Although rather removed from my work as a textile artist, it does relate to my experiments of using leaves to make eco prints on fabric.

23 nov 1

Inevitably, trying to reproduce a natural process in a more controlled fashion has proved quite challenging. When I started in November, we were going through a period of wet weather, so I left the stones uncovered and just went out every day to stamp on the leaves.

However, when the weather became drier, the leaves quickly dried out and started blowing away! So I had to water them again, cover them in plastic weighted down with stones, and then stamp on top.

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And on a couple of occasions I went out to find that local urban foxes had left their own organic deposits on the stones! 😦

In my initial experiments with different types of leaves, I had assumed that oak leaves, being relatively high in tannin, would give good prints (they often work well on fabric). However, this proved not to be the case on concrete – it was maple leaves that worked best.

I also tried adding vinegar and bicarbonate of soda (separately!) to the soaking water to see if they help the tannins to leach faster. To be honest, I haven’t noticed a huge difference with either of them.

I had to get my final submission for the exhibition in before I go on holiday tomorrow, so today I unwrapped a couple of the stones to take some photos to send with my application. They are actually quite difficult to photograph, as the prints show up differently depending on the angle of the light, but here are a few examples.

11 jan-3 stones

Unlike the random prints I previously photographed on pavements, which were darker than the stone, these prints are often lighter, resulting in a strangely ghostly photographic effect.

Kim Winter 1-1000px Kim Winter 2-1000px Kim Winter 3-1000px Kim Winter 4-1000px

I have no idea why this is, and I was a bit disappointed at first, but the effect is growing on me. And in the close-up shots you can see a surprising amount of detail.

So I’ve given them a last water, re-covered with plastic and stamped on them for the last time before I go to India for a month.

The next challenge will be getting them to the gallery at the end of February and arranging them without doing my back in – they are very heavy!

I won’t be blogging again till I get back from India, as I won’t have the time or technology while I’m on the move. But I’ll certainly be telling you about the mud resist indigo block printing when I get back – adieu till then!