Saturday, 9 April 2011

Miles and miles for Smiles

This week I have been fortunate enough to travel around the midlands and visiting two textile exhibitions. The first was in Stafford at the Shire Hall Gallery. This beautiful building is in the Market square and houses a museum and gallery as well as a sensory room and cafe. We had come ostensibly to view works by Caroline Kirton

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Caroline uses mixed media, appliqué and machine embroidery to create scenes with narrative based around phrases and events in her teenage daughters lives. They are enchanting and much bigger than I had imagined them. Henry, 14 on Monday, and Elliott, almost 9, were fascinated too. Henry has since imagined what situations he has been in would look like in Caroline Kirton style pictures, such as today when he was hanging out by the canal with his friends " Because we are cool!"

The other artist I had particularly wanted to see was Debbie Smyth. On this blog I have already devoted a whole post to Debbies thread and pins work so I won't devote too much time here suffice to say she had created a wonderful installation on a wall of a street scene and then had smaller framed works for sale.

The other artists at the exhibition included Morwenna Catt who makes weird and wonderful creatures and 3 D pictures with birds heads protruding out and strange looking rabbits. I was interested in looking at her work and I like the turns of phrase but I wasn't drawn to it and wouldn't want it hanging on my wall!!

Another artist we saw work by was Cas Holmes. I have recently bought her book The Found Object which I have found to be a very interesting and useful tool. I liked her work of mixed media, fabrics, paper, found objects with embroidery.

I also enjoyed the work by Rosie James. She works in the " drawing" style of machine embroidery that I like to do and she also "draws" figures as I have done. I really liked her work and the way she incorporates other fabrics as backgrounds and builds up crowds with her people.

We were fortunate then to visit some friends in Leek and to take a bracing walk/ hike/ climb along the Roaches and stay overnight before driving across the very foggy Peak District bright and early the next morning.

The second exhibition we went to was at the Harley Gallery in Welbeck, Nottonghamshire and it was the Smile exhibition.

There were a great many pieces by artists whose work I adore such as Julie arkell

Janet Bolton and her wonderful naive appliqué pictures. These were among my favourite pieces of the day.

The wonderful work of Lucy Casson whose tin creatures and found objects are simply Devine.

I think her pieces were my favourite. Closely followed by Abbott and Ellwood who work with similar materials. And in a not dissimilar fashion and yet both are unique!

The lost adults tent was one of my favourite pieces in the show.

Another artist whose work I have admired for years was Linda Miller with her machine embroidery. These are the pieces that first inspired me to colour in pictures with thread and so it was such a treat to see Lindas latest work here.

The exhibition was enjoyed by Henry, Elliott and Anna and afterwards we had a delicious lunch in the cafe and then journeyed home. I was so glad I had made the journey for these very interesting and stimulating shows. I was also glad I had taken the boys. For Anna, I want her to think it's completely normal to go to galleries all the time(!) and for the boys it provoked lively discussions and have got their creative minds ticking over now too.

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