Tapestry workshop in Palmerston North 
Last week I was in Palmerston North teaching the Manawatu tapestry weavers colour and design in tapestry. We had a great week, very full on, and the students produced a lot of work and hopefully learnt a lot. They were quite out of their comfort zones with some of the design exercises that they had to do, but were pleasantly surprised that they could actually achieve good design concepts to weave. My goal was to teach them that they could use their own images as a starting point for something new. We also worked on colour blending exercises, learning how colour works in weaving and finding many ways to mix and blend the yarns.

Beth, Jeanette and Joy working on their colour exercises.

The group discussing their designs

colour exercises

Some of the designs and weaving that was produced during this workshop.

This was Gwynneth's design that was the result of a line drawing of vases and pots, which was then cut up into strips and rearranged and glued down on to a fresh sheet of paper. Gwynneth then drew into the shapes and finally used colour to create an abstract composition

In this design, Beth placed a grid on acetate over a portrait photograph and then drew into a grid on her paper, using colours chosen from the corresponding grid space on the photograph. A lovely abstract drawing resulted.

This workshop took place at Heather Adlam's home and I would like to thank Heather for her hospitality and warmth which rally made my stay so enjoyable.

Work continues and Paradise ducks 
I have been working hard in my small studio at home on the small tapestries for my exhibition in November. These small works are a spinoff from my 'Beachcomber'tapestry which was in the 'Land' exhibition in Canberra last May. Beachcomber has sparked a whole new series of work, my 'Underfoot' series. The first small tapestry is 'Small Blackbird' and is 10 x 16cm in size. I completed this one about two days ago and have now started on the secoond wee work 'Two Sparrows'.

I am not using realistic colour as you can see from this photograph which was taken when I had just started the row of sumak before the top heading. The design for 'Small Blackbird' was very complex and I have simplified it a lot though it still looks very detailed. It actually seemed to take an age to weave though I was only working on it in the early mornings and in the evenings while the light still held.

I started 'Two Sparrows' yesterday morning and completed the heading then, and last night continued on the main part of the tapestry. This one is also 10 x 16cm so I turned my frame upside down and am working on the same warp as 'Small Blackbird'. So they will both come off the frame together. You can see from the cartoon how I have simplified this image. The colour is a little more realistic, but is still not wholly natural. I am enjoying weaving these wee tapestries but am finding that my body is complaining a little, as I am still working on the larger pieces during the day in my studio at the Arts Centre. But when a deadloom looms, one has to keep on working!!

I took a break yesterday at lunchtime and wandered around town with my camera and took this photograph of the Paradise ducks and their babies. This is the first sighting for this spring of the baby ducklings. The mum, the one with the white head, was hugely fractious and actually attacked a seagull who dared to fly a little too close to the wee ones.

The Paradise ducks are Pasture birds but the last two or three years they have colonised the city, and there is a pair roughly every 50 metres along the banks of the Avon river which winds through through Christchurch. This pair live between the bridges on Worcester Boulevard and Hereford St. and this is their second year breeding there. The ducklings are lovely little black and white striped creatures and their parents are very good parents. They are shelducks so are slightly larger than the grey ducks and the mallards and they pair up for life. I am hugely entertained by their antics on my way to work each day.

A Tapestry in the Contemporary Art Collection  

Last weekend I went to a breakfast given by the Friends of the Christchurch Art Gallery where Julia Morison and I talked about our collaborative tapestry 'Raiment'. The tapestry has been put up in the Contemporary Art Collection at the Christchurch Gallery and it looks really great alongside the works of Christine Webster and Bill Hamond. Our talk went very well and everyone was very interested in the concept that Julia designed and the interpretation that I put on her work. A lot of interest was also shown in the techniques of tapestry and they were all amazed at how much detail could be achieved in tapestry. I pointed out the different setts in the work which created a lovely contrast in textures. Julia said that she was really happy to see her work developed in ways that created something new from her first concept. Together we were able to make a work that neither of us would have achieved on our own.

Here the tapestry is hanging alongside Christine Webster's large cibachrome photographs. The top photograph shows the tapestry alongside Bill Hamond's painting.

Work Continues 
I have been working on the second 'Underfoot' tapestry for two weeks now and it is going quite well, though not as fast as would like it to. The most complex part of this tapestry is in the beginning of it so hopefully the next sections will go along a lot faster. I did not cut 'Underfoot 1' off the loom as I had put on enough warp for the two tapestries. The second tapestry is being woven above the first one. I unwound the two works so that I could photograph both of them at one time.

I am having to pace my weaving time as I am having a lot of problems with my neck. It has been really sore this last week as I have been working far too hard, trying to get all the work compelted for the exhibition.

These two tapestries will be shown in my exhibiton at CoCA in November along with some small tapestries on the same theme, some photographs and some drawings. Here is an example of one of the drawings. It is not quite finished as yet. I am using coloured conte crayons, pastel pencils and charcoal in the drawings.

New Work 
Somce the cutting off of 'Musicians in the Square' I have been working on a new series of tapestries, drawings and photographs. I have an exhibition booked at CoCA for the end of November so am working hard on this series entitled 'Underfoot' to produce enough work for the exhibition. The first tapestry has been going very well and I wove two thirds of it in the first three weeks. Unfortunately I have been ill with a nasty flu all this week so the tapestry has come to a full stop for the moment. The tapestries are smaller than the 'City LIfe' series being about 92 x 70cm in size, sett at 8epi and woven in the same style as the 'City Life' works. The theme is dealing with the 'Underfoot' the sections of the city that we all walk across and hardly ever notice. I love some of the abstract patterns and designs that can come from a rough section of the walkways, gutters and streets of the city - finding beauty in the ordinary and unnoticed.

This first tapestry is of a section of the pavement showing the autumn leaves and I added two little sparrows into this work as I felt it needed some life forms. You can also see the tips of my shoes which I decided to leave in the design. Here are some photographs of the work in progress so far.

This photographs shows the first two or three days weaving. It took me two days to warp the loom and I put enough warp on for the first two tapestries. I created four different images from the same photograph of leaves and a thrown away bottle in a gutter, which you can see to the right of the tapestry. They are all slightly different in colour and I am working from all of them, making choices as I weave, so the tapestry will be different from any of them.

The first little sparrow is woven and on to the next one.


This photograph shows that I have woven the leaves and the bottle and am not too far away from finishing. It would have been finished this week if I had not caught this ghastly flu bug. Not sure just when I will get back to work, but hopefully in the next day or so. I can't remember when it has taken me over a week to get over am illness like this flu, but I am still not feeling as if I can go into the studio yet. However, I am managing to work on a drawing in this series at home, in dribs and drabs as I feel up to it.

I hsve printed up eight potographs in this 'Underfoot' series so far, and I am really pleased with them. The drawing is coming along quite well too, so hopefully the exhibition will be interesting. The tapestries are much more decorative than the photographs which are realistic and show images that I probably would not weave.

'Cutting Off' Musicians 
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.

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