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).
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
See here for more details about Abigail’s exhibition and her fundraising campaign.
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. 😉
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.
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.
And here is a better pic of the whole piece hanging on the washing line.
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 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.
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.
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.
It’s going to be a busy spring!
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.
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.
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? 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.