Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"The Narrative Line" An exhibition by Alice Kettle and Bernie Leahy

Before travelling home from Downpatrick on 12th March I took a detour to visit the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn for the last day of an exhibition of textiles by Alice Kettle and Bernie Leahy which is a touring exhibition organised by the Crafts Council of Ireland.

I've seen work by both artists before but was interested to see them both together as they are very different in style and technique although both rely heavily on stitch.

I am a fan of Bernie Leahy's work and marvel at her stitched drawing skills! The image above was taken from Google images and it is quite small so it's hard to see the detail. The piece itself was approx 20 x 30inches if I remember correctly. There were larger stitched drawings, bronze sculptures with stitched components, victorian lockets with stitched drawings and some plaster-dipped children's dresses with stitched drawings. I liked the variety of work and the mix of materials used. I also like the contemporary/conceptual element of her work. If you'd like to see more check out her website at http://www.efiberart.com/

Alice Kettle uses lots more colour and machine-stitching in her work, which is generally larger scaled. I wonder how she manages to manipulate these large canvas-based pieces on her sewing machine? The finished pieces undulate with the heavy stitching, a quality I think adds texture, depth and movement. Her work reminds me of Chagall's paintings, which I saw in Nice, France when I was a student in the late '80's. Alice Kettle also showed paper collages and ceramics in the exhibition. For more of her work see http://www.alicekettle.com/

The Island Arts Centre is one to be proud of where craft, fine art and the community live together happily! It is a large centre with lots of rooms for workshops. On the day I visited 3 or 4 of them were occupied with groups of all ages enjoying a variety of workshops. Naomi Whan teaches a number of textile workshops here (for info on her work see http://craftni.org/directory/maker/naomi-whan)

The centre has at least one (maybe more) artist studios. One of those is currently occupied by artist-in-residence, Andrea McCullough - a ceramic artist. I liked her quirky 'love-potion' bottle and brought one home to see if it works!

The centre also seems to have a vibrant community arts scheme with the resultant work by community groups also on display.

The centre supports local artists through an award/purchase scheme and the collection is displayed throughout. I was delighted to see that textiles feature prominently.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Textile Art Forum residential week at Ballyduggan, Co. Down.

This was my second year participating in a week's residential with The Textile Art Forum in Ballyduggan, Co. Down (www.thetextileartforum.blogspot.com).
Four of us attended this year to explore the theme "Stitching the Legend".
I am initially creating some pieces with tree silhouettes against various sky backdrops, taking inspiration from the legend of "Eithne the fairy bride" which is associated with the hill of Knockma in Belclare Co. Galway near where I live.
The work each of us will produce on this theme which we have started during our residential week will be exhibited firstly in Ballyjamesduff Museum in June 2011 and will then tour to other venues through to 2012.
This residential week though relaxing is also very productive for me and I have come home with an initial signature piece completed and 3 others in various stages of progress (see above) and lots of ideas for further work....so I'm fired up and hoping to keep up the momentum!

"Function and Form" Conference by Cork Textiles Network

This year I got a chance to attend the Cork Textiles Network conference in Cork for the first time. I think this event will need to be a regular date for my calendar. I could only attend one day of this 2-day event this year but it was definitely worth the trip!

In the morning there were 3 artist talks:

Deirdre Nelson is currently artist in residence at the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, Co. Cork. Read all about her work at http://dstitched.blogspot.com/ and she is looking for textile artists to participate in some of her activities there during March.

Diana Harrison's work has been widely exhibited (see photo from CTN conference brochure above) and you can read some more about her at http://www.clothandculturenow.com/Diana_Harrison.html

Aileen Johnston received the Award of Excellence at the RDS Crafts Competition a few years ago for her stunning 'Book of Hours' which contains her beautiful machine-embroidered illustrations.

In the afternoon I attended a workshop 'sketchbooking for textile artists' with Jenny Monks, a tutor at Colaiste Stiofan Naofa. The workshop was very enjoyable and helped me explore some new directions for a new series of work I am planning related the folklore of Knockma, Co. Galway.

The four pieces above are part of a series called "Aunty's sewing Box" which were included in the "Seamless" exhibition at Colaiste Stiofan Naofa which continues until the 13th April.

II Hemming lace and Harris tweed IV Twinsets and darning wool
I Silk stockings and tea in Ballincollig III Hooks, eyes and pearly buttons

Tread Softly Exhibition by Crafts Council of Ireland at Cork Public Museum

I attended the opening of 'Tread Softly' an exhibition of textiles by members of the Crafts Council of Ireland at the Cork Public Museum on Friday 4th March.

The exhibition continues until 30th April, so if you get a chance to travel to Cork it's definitely worth a visit.