lavender and box

My Walk this Week 163 – Sunbury Walled Garden

My walk this week is around Sunbury-on-Thames walled garden. It is just a few minutes down the river from Hampton Court where my walk took place last week.

entrance

I was lucky with the weather and thoroughly enjoyed both these recent walks. The reason I was there was not for walking but to discuss the arrangements for an exhibition of my tapestry weaving and sound work to be held in the Sunbury Embroidery Gallery next year.Continue reading

rigging and masts

My Walk this Week 151 – The Music of Storm Hannah

My walk this week was short, cold and through the remnants of Storm Hannah – it was part of a sound and weave workshop I was running over the weekend. The first stage of the workshop was to go round Swansea Marina and listen to the sounds which featured what is known as the Marina Orchestra.

dark water

The leading orchestral instruments are the masts and rigging followed by the percussion of clanks and bangs, thumps and gloops of other maritime artefacts and of course the choppy water of the marina itself.

It was wild and cold and although we found a relatively sheltered spot to listen to the “symphony”, when we ventured down to the seafront, Continue reading

Swansea Festival of Stitch

A Centre of Art – Swansea 1 Festival of Stitch

As a tapestry artist and weaver I was keen to see as much as I could of the second biennial Swansea Festival of Stitch 2018 and managed to get to several of the city wide venues. My first port of call was Swansea Museum where some of the best quilting was to be seen.

Judy Stephens

The first four photos below are from the museum with others being from the Waterfront Museum, the Leisure Centre and the Grand Theatre. The festival is over now but there is much more art to look at in Swansea and I will be doing so over the rest of this week.

Uplands landscape

Punctuated By Ice at The Waterside

My walk this week has been around the lake at The Waterside – Felindre and seems to have been punctuated by ice. Indeed, the whole language and grammar of the posts has been dictated by the freezing icy conditions.

Icy Punctuation

Influenced as I am by the things I see and hear around me, I look at the light and shade, the patterns and textures, and I wonder what it would feel like to touch, to run my fingers along some of the surfaces of frozen water, hard ground lightly dusted with snow or old reeds and rushes from last year as they poke through the semi opaque sometimes mushy lookingContinue reading

Fighting ducks 5

Fighting Fit Like a Duck

In this, the middle stage of my walk this week around Brynmill Park in Swansea, I was entertained (not sure if that is the right word) by a pair of fighting fit ducks going at each other tooth and nail . . . or should that be bill and feather?

Fighting ducks 1

This was a very serious argument which carried on a lot longer than 8 still images can describe. I wonder what it was about? Continue reading

Bath City Centre

Bath – Reviewing the Walk

Bath Abbey sits, as you might expect, in the centre of the city. The Roman Baths are next to it and while I took a shot of the baths ceiling with its dome, I didn’t have the time to justify the cost of entry and I am sorry to say I didn’t go into the abbey either. So now I have an excellent excuse to revisit the place, and next time I will take my family – and if that’s not a good recommendation of the place, I don’t don’t what is!

Bath Abbey

So my original reason for going to Bath was to see the Contemporary Tapestry: Here and Now exhibition at the Holburne Museum. I was able to take a very enjoyable look at the city as well – its parks and architecture, its quiet and more noisy areas. On my home, prompted by my viewing of the tapestry exhibition,Continue reading

That Old Freezer – why I like it?

So, back to the canvas, or at least, the place from which that “Metallic Canvas” came – the old burnt out freezer that provided me with so much colour and texture for my camera and sound for my recorder. I said that I would try and explain my interest in metal and my weird liking for the sounds it can make and these are the clues.

Over this last week I have shown something of the ways in which I have used metal in my work but perhaps I have not explained why I use and like it.

Synesthesia – This is not how I would describe my visual, aural or linguistic experience of the world. However, from the moment I started tapestry weaving at college many years ago, I was excited by the touch and texture of the materials I handled.

Old Freezer

It took many years of weaving to reach a level of expertise with which I was happy and confident. A part of this development was my deepening understanding of how my body, my fingers, interacted with the structure of warp and weft. For many years I used strong bold colours and blends in my tapestries and this too helped me to gain a clearer understanding of how colour interacts in different ways in different circumstances. Tapestry weaving is unique in its absorption and reflection of light – hence its generosity with colour.

These things are key to my approach to photography, sound recording, StillWalks and my “Interventions”. I have carried out workshops in the past where I have asked people to close their eyes and listen to the sound of an instrument or an everyday kitchen object and think about what colour the sound might be or what it would feel like if they could touch the sound as it travels through the air around them. Music, too, is often described in terms of colour, texture and form. This is not synesthesia, I do not see numbers as colours or whatever the crossover of senses might be for an individual experiencing synesthesia.

I find the relationship of one sense to another exciting and I am thinking more and more these days in terms of how everything in this world is interconnected in one way or another. The texture and colour of an old burnt out freezer relates precisely to what has happened (or been done) to it. The sounds it makes in this state are unique to its condition and the circumstances of the space that it occupies.

Sounds are very important to me and whilst it may just be a matter of personal taste in the end, the fact that I like those (some would say harsh) sounds that metal can make, is relevant to StillWalks. I specifically do not like the soft, ethereal music that is so often used on meditation disks and it is this fact that led me to explore field recording and its use in StillWalks. The sounds in StillWalks are unique to the time and place of the walk, and the photography, and therefore, what you hear in each walk is entirely the result of the conditions at the time.

I find it fascinating how little these conditions need to change in order to create a different sound – it may be wind strength and direction or simply atmospheric pressure, time of day or year or how many people, birds and other creatures are around . . . and those thing too, only exist as they do because of the conditions and circumstances at any given time and place.

Everything is interconnected and it is this that I try to impart to project participants when out in the field. How we interact with our surroundings has an influence on everything that is a part of those surroundings and as a species that is in the privileged position of being able to make conscious choices about what we do and how we act in relation to everything (and everyone) around us, we have a responsibility to consider the effect we have on all those things to which we are connected directly or indirectly.

Oh dear, now I’m getting preachy – sorry about that folks 🙂 Comments welcome!

Suffice it to say that it is the colours and textures both visually and aurally that attracts me to metal. This says nothing of the symbolism that it can have in different forms and conditions, but that is something that perhaps should be left to the audience to interpret.

 

Now and Then – looking back on my work.

Sticking with the theme of conflict, this piece has, perhaps, become more personal again (see previous posts this week for context). The patterns from printed DNA are still there but the barbed wire is also becoming more personal. StillWalks development is not far off!

Woven from the back – as a tapestry artist, I have usually woven my designs from the front. Design development continues, for me, throughout the weaving process and working from the front obviously facilitated this. However, “Now and Then” had to be woven from behind and I think the reason is obvious – perhaps this piece, more than others, has indeed got my personal DNA within it!

This work is available for sale – anyone interested should contact me.

"Now and Then" - 78 x 69 x 20 cms

“Now and Then” – 78 x 69 x 20 cms

Now and Then - detail

“Now and Then” – detail

Conflicting Arguments

The theme of “Conflict” in my work began to broaden over the years. My two previous posts (Dialogue and The Conflict of Working with Metal) illustrated my work as it related to a specific situation, that of the troubles and peace talks in Northern Ireland at the turn of the  century.

The conflict in this piece is more personal and more general. The barbs still represent conflict but relate more now to the world stage rather than just Northern Ireland.

By now I have also become more interested in the physically contrasting  textures of the two materials, metal and wool, and how they interact. The pattern in the weave relates to the paper prints you sometimes see of DNA and it is this that relates to the personal element of conflict.

People often ask whether the barbs were inserted during the process of weaving or pushed through afterwards . . . it was the former. The barbs would significantly have damaged the weave if they had been inserted afterwards and, yes, there is blood as well as “sweat and tears” in this as well as other tapestries I have made. Don’t be concerned though, they were only minor scratches (for the most part) and a few rips in clothing!

This work is available for sale – anyone interested should contact me.

Conflicting Arguments

“Conflicting Arguments” 85 x 120 x 10 cms

Conflicting Arguments

“Conflicting Arguments” 85 x 120 x 10 cms

Conflicting Arguments

“Conflicting Arguments” – detail

Dialogue

Dialogue is essential – no argument an ever be resolved without it. No matter how much fighting goes on, the argument will always be resolved through dialogue.

The peace talks in Northern Ireland 14 or 15 years ago were the original inspiration for my work with barbed wire in weave (see yesterday’s post).

“Dialogue” is another piece of work I made using the contrasting textures of wool and steel. The rods on which the weaving and barbs are suspended, wobble and waver if touched, and represented for me, the delicate, no, precarious nature of the situation in Northern Ireland at the time. It could be said that that precarious situation has continued to exist there, albeit to a lesser extent.

This work is available for sale – anyone interested should contact me.

Dialogue

“Dialogue” 215 x 211 x 45 cms

Dialogue detail 1

“Dialogue” detail 1

Dialogue - detail 2

“Dialogue” – detail 2