Last week saw the last of the weaving of 'Musicians in the Square'. This tapestry had been on the loom for quite some time as I had to stop working on it to weave 'Mysterium'. 'Musicians in the Square' is the fourth tapestry in the 'City Life' series and features very abstracted images of young people playing their musical instruments in Cathedral Square in the centre of Christchurch. This tapestry was a lovely one to weave, lots of interesting shapes and colours and very little hatching so it was really quite quick to weave. It is a large work being over 2 metres long and almost 1 metre wide, pretty much the same size as 'The Exhibition Opening' tapestry.
Don't I look sad! Don't believe it though, it's just one of those moments that the camera caught, not the best photograph of me at all. The tapestry is now hanging across the top of the loom waiting for me to start work on the finishings. The slits are all sewn, as I do that as I weave. Discussions on the tapestry list talked about Archie's method of 'sewing as you go' and I always do that too. It does help to keep the tapestry strong and sturdy, and helps to stop buckling especially when there are a lot of colour changes and small shapes etc. I now have to tidy up the back of the tapestry, cutting all the threads to the same size, usually a bit over an inch long, darning in all those threads that are near the edges and those that I feel might come through to the surface, though that rarely happens. I always weave a hem at each end of the tapestry, and then when it comes off the loom I sew bias binding or a tape across the warp threads and fold the hem to the back and then handstitch the tape to the tapestry using a zig zag stitch which stops it from showing at the front. And of course, the velcro has to be sewn at the top of the tapestry for hanging, so lots of finishing work to do yet.
However, I have now been working for just over a week on a new piece, still 'City Life' but the 'Underfoot' part of our city. As I walk about the city I notice the small things, the things we walk over and don't usually see. I take heaps of photographs of these lovely little compositions that are all around us, and I have started to weave the first one of this new series. These works are smaller, 92 x 70cm and will be woven in the same simple techniques, colours mixed on the bobbins but not during the weaving, and abstract shapes etc. I am hoping to show these works in November at my exhbition at CoCA, along with the other 'City LIfe' tapestries. I am hoping that Warren will let me show a couple of the ones that have been seen before, as I would like to show all of this series together. It is sometimes a problem when the process is so slow, to be able to save the pieces for an exhibiton at the end of weaving a series. I am always tempted to show them at other exhibitions and at any opportunity that comes up. I actually think it is a shame to always have to show 'new work' only at an exhibition, as there are always different people seeing the work at any one time.
Lightwaves Exhibition at Pataka Art Museum
The Professional Weavers Network of New Zealand's exhibition 'Lightwaves' was opened at Pataka Art Museum and Gallery on Sunday 29th June. Here is a sample of some of the works on show in the exhibition.
Photo 1: Trish Armour's lovely tapestry 'the Dance of the Pleiades'. Photo 2: A view of the exhibition with Wilson Henderson's double weave 'Windows' hanging in the forefront and Elizabeth Arnold's tapestry 'On Reflection' in the background. Photo 3: My monofilament work 'Mysterium'. Photo 4: Betty Booth's lovely work 'Lightwaves and Pathways' shines in the flash of the camera. Photo 5: The colour in Bridget Howitt's weaving 'Midnight Sun - Whiti Te Marama i te Po' also shines in the light. Photo 6: Diane Dudfield's work glows in the dark section of the gallery.Photo 7. Peg Moorhouse's work 'Colourfall' features novelty threads that catch the light. 8. Rose Pelvin's lovely piece 'Litehaus' shines colours.
The exhibition is on show along with three other textile exhibitions at Pataka until the 5th October
The 'Adoration of the Magi' tapestry
The Christchurch Art Gallery, Te Puna O Waiwhetu has over the last few months, been showing an exhibition of the works of William Morris. This exhibiton 'Morris & Co' has been very popular and people have travelled from all over New Zealand to see it. The best work in the show is the large tapestry 'Adoration of the Magi'. It is an amazing work and I have been lucky enough to be given a free pass into the exhibiton so have visited the tapestry many times, given talks about it and taken a lot of my friends to see it. Last night I demonstrated tapestry weaving at the Gallery and a number of the visitors showed a lot of interest. Go to the link at the right of this page to see information about this exhibition. Also on s how at the gallery in the Contemporary Art Collection upstairs is the tapestry 'Raiment' that I wove from a design concept by Julia Morison. I was thrilled that the Gallery chose to show this tapestry in their contemporary collection. Tapestry in Christchurch is on the 'up and up!' Click on the link to the right and see all information about this exhibiton.
The 'Adoration' tapestry was designed by Edward Burne-Jones in 1887 and John Dearle designed the floral background of the work. It was woven at Merton Abbey in 1900 - 02, taking four guys two years to weave. This edition of the tapestry is evidently to sixth version of the work and is owned by the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide. It was commissioned by George Brookman for Australia and it arrived in Adelaide in 1902. The weaving in this work is superb and it has been wonderful to be able to study at close hand such a beautiful of tapestry. The sett looks to be about 14epi, it is 251.2 x 372.5cm in size and was woven on its side, with the back of the work facing the weavers. The weft is mainly wool but there has been an extensive use of silk as well for all the highlights and this makes the work glow. I was very interested in some of the small anomalies in the work, such as the buckling in the twigs on the left and in the chainmail. This was caused by the number of slits and colour changes in these details but just seems to add to the interest in the work. The composition is superb also and there are many little details that are not noticed at first but pop up when the work is studied.
We have been privileged to have this work in Christchurch and it has definitely created an interst in tapestry. I have had a number of people visit my studio to see the process in action.
I am now settled in my new home
Here is one photo of my new home looking from the lounge into the kitchen. I am finally starting to feel that this new place is home and am also feeling good about it. It has been a hard few weeks and it is so good now to feel more settled. I still haven't put many of my art works on the walls but there is space for some of the bigger tapestries here so they will go up soon. I have put my masks on the wall as you can see in the photo. I had so many books to shift, boxes and boxes of them, five boookshelves full altogether, and boy, aren't they heavy to move around. But anyhow, it is done now and all the bookshelves here are filled to the brim almost! My big bookshelf holding my art books fitted beautifully into the hallway and two more bookshelves are in there as well. One of my bedrooms will double as a spare room and studio. It is a lovely light room and will soon be organised as a small working studio for home. My computer is in the lounge on the opposite wall to which you can see here. I was so pleased when my computer started to work again after shifting it and to get back on line was great also. I had to wait a week for that to happen.
And now for 'Mysterium'. It is finally finished and gone to Wellington for the exhibition 'Light Waves' which opens at Pataka, the public art gallery in Porirua, on 24th of June. Here are some photographs of the finishing process of this work.
There was a lot of work to be done threading a lot of threads back into the work. I cannot believe that I had almost completed the work before I figured out how to get rid of the ends without having to sew them back in after the weaving was finished. Dumb, eh!!!!! This piece was certainly experimental. Monofilament is difficult to work with, but the end result was worth it.
The work looked really good in the perspex mounting. It is not possible to see it well in the photographs as there is a plastic protective cover on the front of it which spoils the image, but that will be taken off before the hanging. Also,it was far too heavy for me to be able to put it up on the wall to see how it looked from a distance,and to get a good photograph of it. I will be looking forward to seeing it in the gallery space if I can manage to get to Wellington. So now I am back working on the 'Musicians' tapestry which will hopefully be also finished soon - another three weeks work on that one.
Tapestry Symposium in Canberra
Wow! It is a long time since I put an entry into my blog. I hadn't realised that it was so long. Life has been rather hectic for me lately, what with having to find somewhere else to live and my trip to Canberra to the Tapestry Symposium in early May. I received notice to vacate my flat in mid March and that was a huge shock for me and a big adjustment to make as I have been living in the inner city opposite the Christchurch Art Gallery and handy to my studio in the Arts Centre. However, just this last few days I have found a new home and will be shifting into it over the next week. It has been a hugely stressful time for me but hopefully from now on it will be all on the up and up.
On the 30th of April I travelled to Sydney with three other Christchurch tapestry weavers, Diane, Meg and Claire. We arrived in Sydney in the early morning of that day after getting up at 3.30am in the morning and catching the plane at 6.30am. We spent a morning at Circular Quay after managing to find the train to take us there. A lovely surprise was catching sight of the Alun Leach Jones tapestry at the head of the escalator at the Airport. We travelled to Canberra by bus that afternoon and had the most marvellous five days attending the Symposium 'Tapestry 2008'. Valerie Kird had done a superb job in organizing this Symposium so thank you Valerie, for giving us the opportunity to attend such a stimulating and exciting event.
We all stayed at University House and had our breakfasts at "Boffins' the reataurant there. This photo shows Anna Tibbutt, Shirley Falconer, Trish Armour and Pam Hutley at breakfast with Diane Meg and Claire in the background. Superb breakfasts which really set us up for the day.
Betty Pears, Trish from Scotland, Trish Armour and Marjorie Blackman all enjoying a morning tea break.
Diane chatting to Maureen Tracey during a break during the lectures. The lectures and talks by renowned tapestry weavers were very informative, interesting and stimulating. A very intensive two days.
Some of the tapestries in the 'Land' exhibition. These small tapestries were hung around the walls in the textile department of the ANU. There were around 160 entries altogether and it was fascinating to walk around all the rooms discovering small tapestry gems wherever you looked. Such a variety of styles and techniques all interpreting the theme of the land.
A view of the exhibition 'The Fine Art of Tapestry Weaving'. This superb exhibitiion featured the work of some of the most important tapestry weavers in the world. I especially responded to the work of the Finnish weaver Aino Kajaniemi whose delicate and poetic work had me standing in front of it in awe.
A group of us at the dinner on the Saturday night. I am sitting between Trish and Anna on the left. Towards the end of the evening Valerie Kirk called Anna up to the front of the hall and told everyone that she had foregone her graduation for her Master of Arts Degree at Auckland University, to attend the Symposium in Canberra. Valerie had received an e-mail from Anna's daughter telling her about Anna's achievement in receiving an Honours Pass for her thesis, so it was lovely that this was recognized and honoured by everyone at the Symposium.
Tomorrow morning I will be taking Roberta out to the airport and waving her goodbye. She is flying home to Denmark after spending almost three months in my studio.
We have got on very well and she has been a great help to me, talking to visitors who come in to the studio so that I can continue on with my work, looking after the studio if I have to go out of it, lunch times and 'going for the mail' times, etc etc. I will miss her and it will seem lonely in the studio for quite a while.
Yesterday we held an afternoon tea at the Artists Quarter to wish Roberta 'Bon Voyage'. You can see some of the artists who work in the Artists Quarter, (from left) Mary Lou, potter, Maxine, pastel artist, Katrina, jeweller, Serena, fibre artists and printmaker, Roberta and Galina who paints in acrylics. 'Me' I am taking the photograph!!
I have been working hard on 'Mysterium' my work for the Professional Weavers' Network of NZ exhibition 'Light Waves'. I am just on the halfway mark with this transparency weaving. It has been a bit of a challenge, but I am now really pleased with how it is looking.
This is the work as it was looking on the 6th March when I was just starting the fourth section. I am now at the top of this section working on the knots across the acetate. This image shows the knots at the beginning of the weaving and also some of the tangles that I get myself into. I am working with nylon monofilament, a grand name for fishing line and it definitely has a mind of its own. You can calso see the strip of acetate being laid in on top of the knots. With Roberta's help the other day I 'invented' a small round piece of plastic with a hole in it and this sits at the end of the bobbin with the nylon thread running through it. This is certainly helping to control the thread on the bobbin and I am weaving faster as a result. Necessity is sometimes the mother of inventions eh!
This last image shows a close-up detail of the weaving. I am using a simple tapestry technique of weaving for the main body of the work with the acetate strips laid in. Once they are all laid in in one row I weave four picks across to hold them in to the weave and then I start to build up the next layer. (see top photograph)
I am now quite enjoying the weaving of this work, but boy, was it a pain to start with. I will be pleased when it is finished though. I think I will be putting this work between two sheets of perspex with brackets at the back which will hold it out from the wall. I think it will need to be lit from the side and the back, but time will tell on that one. I will have to experiment a bit with how it will be lit I think!
A couple of weeks ago my son Mike, his partner Penne and their five children along with Mike's friend Mark came to Christchurch and stayed for ten days or so. I really enjoyed their visit and spent some time doing the 'granny' thing, having one child a night to stay with me. My wee flat is way too small to have the whole family stay so Mike had rented a holiday apartment for the duration of their visit. The following photograph shows the kids in the studio. They are very creative children and the way to keep them happy is to give them paper, pens, crayons, paints, scissors etc, etc and they will work with these for ages very happily.
You can see Roberta in the background showing Nakiya rhe tapestry which she is weaving. Cairenn and Gianna are drawing at the table, as is Brenna on the floor. Annika is spinning the table swift with the green yarn on it. Busy, busy kids!
New Work for Professional Weavers' Exhibition
The last few weeks have been exptremely busy, so much so that I have not had much chance to write my blog page. I have had visitors and family staying which has been very enjoyable and I am now back seriously working on my latest project. There are now actually four unfinished projects in my studio as deadline priorities keep changing and I am doing my best to work on everything at once - finding out that, that is not so easy!
The 'Musicians' tapestry has come to a halt for a while and is three quarters finished but does not have the priority that the latest endeavour has. This work is designed for the Professional Weavers' latest exhibition which is scheduled for late June 2008 at Pataka the Public Art Gallery in Porirua near Wellington. My concept for this work was accepted by the selectors back in October but I have only just started work on it. The theme for the exhibition is 'Light Waves' and we are all portraying 'light' through weaving. My concept is a 200 x 98cm woven work using nylon monofilament and images on acetate. These images are all metaphysical and alchemical images of light. The acetate is cut into strips and woven into the monofilament warp.
I started to put the warp on the loom about the 21st January and commenced weaving on the 30th January, so it took me over a week to have the warp ready to weave on. Monofilament is not easy to work with. It is very bouncy and certainly has a mind of its own.
Here is the warp and you can see how it was bouncing around the top beam before I started to tension it. Notice how the light catches the threads. They are actually rather lovely. I had an idea that I would put optic fibres in the warp and weft and commenced to add these to the warp where I needed them, but unfortunately when i came to tension the warp properly I soon learnt that tying a not in an optic fibre weakens it and as soon as I tried to tighten the thread it snapped, so I had to make a quick decision to take the optic fibres out. Quite a lot of agonizing went into this decision as I had envisaged light surrounding the images. However, I now think it is for the best and as the optic fibres were not in my original concept I have no need to worry too much about it.
Tensioning the warp was 'fun' but it actually went quite well. i used a hessian fabric instead of cardboard which I normally use to wind around the top beam to separate the threads, and the hessian worked really well for the monofilament. It seemed to keep the threads in their right places without too much trouble and the warp went on very evenly.
Weaving is a slightly different prospect!! s taken me a wee while to get used to weaving with this thread but am now feeling that I have it under some sort of control. There is an awful lot of actual weaving in this work as the threads are so fine. This next image shows part of the first section of images woven into the warp.
This image is a close up view of one of the images on acetate. Note the knots underneath the image and to each side of it. The light catches these beautifully and though it does not show to advantage in this photograph because of the brown hessian in behind, I am confident that when this work is properly mounted and lit it will look quite stunning.
A few weeks before Christmas I received a telephone call from Roberta, an American lady who has lived for 56 years in Denmark. She was wanting to spend time in a tapestry studio as a helper-apprentice-student and asked me if it was possible for her to come to Christchurch and work with me. My spur of the moment decision was yes that would be fine and here she is.
Roberta has been in Christchurch since mid December and after a week of settling in to her wee flat next door to mine, and getting to know the city, she has also now settled in to the studio and is working on a small tapestry. She has also started weaving on sections of my latest work to give her experience on a bigger work. Having Roberta in my studio has been fun and it also means that if I go away for a day or so she can keep the studio open. So it is all good and we are enjoying each other's company.