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Journal

Posts in stitch
Goodbye August...
 
 
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Ah well, there goes August...

Ah well, there goes August…

Are you a fan of August? I certainly used to be, it was usually the month when we went away to the far north west of Scotland. August for me should involve sitting on rocks looking out to sea trying to spot seals bobbing up in the waves, or walking along deserted beaches (often wearing full waterproofs), or up quirky mountains, or being eaten alive by midges. Happy days!


We didn’t go away last month - somehow our hearts weren’t in it and what with A levels and other stuff, a holiday never got off the ground.


Of course I began August with a head full of all things workshop. Some progress was made, but very much true to character, I began to get bogged down. Trying to plan a physical workshop and simultaneously plan an online version sounds like a good idea right? In practice, I’ve found myself getting quite muddled. It’s more complicated than I’d imagined. Anyway, it’s certainly teaching me some new skills, even though I seem to need a week to get my head around every new aspect that crops up.


By the way, many thanks to my army of naggers - you are much appreciated. I hope you’ll stick around even though my progress is slow.


One thing that I did have to divert to, was the structure of this website. Although I’d loved the previous theme, it turned out to be quite restrictive in what I could do with it, and that was only going to get worse as I went on, so a chunk of August was spent changing themes. There are still a few things I need to tidy up on that front, but I’m mindful that sometimes it’s better to just get on with things rather than aim for perfection. I hope that if you’ve noticed anything, it hasn’t been too unpleasant, I’ve tried to keep things as similar as possible.


So I feel a bit like the swan gliding serenely across the water, while paddling like mad below the surface at the moment.


Thank goodness for our morning walks! And thank goodness it’s cooled down a bit and we’ve had some rain. The field has quickly turned green again (although the nettles and thistles that normally grow so thick in the field have barely begun to recover). The bracken in the lane has lept up in the last week or so, and the hogweed seedheads continue to give me so much pleasure with all their wonderful shape and textures.

 
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In other news.

  • In the absence of the ‘Fortunately’ podcast (they’re on holiday), I’ve discovered a couple of alternatives that makes me laugh - Jules Von Hep and Sarah Powell’s ‘Jules and Sarah the podcast’ and ‘Wobble’.

  • I joined SEW - the society for embroidered work. Although I’m really fortunate to show my work in a gallery that promotes textile and stitched art, I’m well aware that in some circles it isn’t given the attention it deserves. I’m hoping that we can all play our part in changing that.

  • And on that note, I currently have two pieces in The Workhouse, Dunstable - Maiden Castle and Enclosure (although it was a tight thing, as the framing elves decided to ‘have a life’ and go off enjoying themselves instead of getting on with my frames…).

  • Oh, and I found Francis Pryor’s Britain BC in a charity shop last week, so that’s pretty much stopped me doing anything else while I immerse myself in Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age archaeology. (By the way, every charity shop I went in last weekend had it’s Christmas cards in store! For pity’s sake, it was mid August, can they really expect us to endure five months of Christmas?)…arrrgh!

 Maiden Castle - inspired by the wonderful earthworks and ditches at this iconic heritage site.

Maiden Castle - inspired by the wonderful earthworks and ditches at this iconic heritage site.

 Enclosure - thinking about the symbolism of the circle and it's occurrence in archaeological sites.

Enclosure - thinking about the symbolism of the circle and it's occurrence in archaeological sites.


And finally

 I seem to have visited a lot of country churches in August. The photograph at the top of this post was taken at St. John The Baptist, Aldbury. Who wouldn't want a wildman to rest their feet on for eternity?

Until next time,

Happy Stitching!

Anny x
 


 
 
working up the workshop...
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working up the workshop

or 'please nag me'

You may remember a while back that I’d been asked to run a workshop at The Workhouse to help people who wanted to try slow, contemplative stitching themselves and who had expressed an interest in my work.


At the time I said that I’d start thinking about it - which I have been doing, but even though I’ve been mulling it over, I knew there were a few things I didn’t feel sat quite right and I needed to work out what exactly I could realistically offer and how I could go about it.


Well, the good news is that I think I’ve finally come up with a plan that I hope will offer helpful guidance and some hands-on experience. I’ve had a couple of flashes of inspiration lately that have fired me up and into action.


So, yesterday I sat myself down and started proper preparation. My plan is this - I’m going to draft out a one-day workshop schedule (which I’ve started - hooray!). Once that has been suitably fleshed out, I’ll prepare the materials I want to use and have a couple of dummy runs (the daughters have volunteered to trial it with me). If that goes well, I intend to offer the workshop at The Workhouse in Dunstable in the Autumn and see how it goes.


Now, one of the issues I had from the beginning was that I knew there were people around the world who’d like to participate and I wanted to find a way to offer the same or similar experience online to them too. So, I decided that as I was working up the workshop format, I would also try to create the same thing as an e-course or online workshop.


I’m getting my head around that, trying to break the information down into useful chunks and work out how to communicate in words and pictures. It’s going to take time, but I’m really keen to make it happen because the global community of stitchers is something I really appreciate being a part of and if there are people who’d benefit from developing a stitch practice, I’d like to do my bit to help.


But here’s the thing…if any of you have read Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘Better Than Before’ or ‘The Four Tendencies’ - you’ll be familiar with the term Obliger…which is definitely my character, spot on.

Obligers are good at doing things that other people require them to do, but can be pretty rubbish at doing the things that they tell themselves they should do - in other words, they’re good at responding to outside pressures, and bad at responding to inner ones.


That matters here, because getting this workshop up and running still fits too snugly into an inner pressure - no one is going to make it happen if I don’t. Gretchen’s remedy for Obligers is to have them enlist the help of other people to whom they can be accountable  - and provide the external pressure.

So, dear readers, this is where I’m going to ask your help.


Please, if you think this is a good idea, will you nag me to keep at it? (I’d prefer gentle nagging if you don’t mind, I’m easily scared). Drop me a comment asking how it’s coming along? That sort of thing. I feel fairly sure that will help me keep up the momentum.


Also, now that I’m getting into the nitty-gritty, I’d love to bounce ideas off you - more of that next time, when I hope to show you an outline, then perhaps if you have a few moments, you could tell me what’s missing or what needs more or less emphasis.


So, there you have it. I am getting my finger out. I am inspired to do it. I am a bit scared and at the bottom of the learning curve. Stick around and see what happens.

Best wishes and until next time

Happy stitching

Anny x

Going round in circles...
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going round in circles

well, stitching in circles...and visiting a few...

Well, how time flies when you’re having fun!

Apologies for the long absence, I’ve just had the craziest six weeks I can remember, with so much packed in that until now there’s been no time to sit and collect my thoughts.

If I tell you that since my last entry I’ve visited three Scottish Castles, the island of Tiree, Callanish on Lewis, Jarlshof on Shetland, Avebury, West Kennet Long Barrow, Bath, Oxford, Leicester, Hay on Wye and Hereford, you’ll begin to get a feel for the dashing about that’s been happening.

In between the trips there have been birthdays, school-leaving, three days over in Bedford for the Bedford River Festival, helping at The Workhouse and the occasional frantic loading of the washing machine.

And throughout it all, it’s been hot! The best summer for weather since 1976 (and I do remember that summer very well), which has simply put the cherry on the top.

It’s been amazing and to be honest I’m only just beginning to slow down long enough to appreciate everything I’ve seen, but I’ll admit to being pretty exhausted too.

So here I am now, back with both feet on the ground and looking forward to spending time mentally processing some of the wonderful things I’ve seen and thinking about how I’ll incorporate them into future art pieces.

Circles in the landscape...

My fascination with stone circles, ditches and ancient earthworks is a fairly recent thing. I suppose there was something tickling the back of my mind, but it's really only been in the last ten years or so that I've fallen under their thrall. But this year has been the great unfolding for me and I've been so excited to visit sites that are full of mystery, places that speak directly to the imagination.

Pictures from this summer's adventures; the Rollrights - Oxfordshire, Callanish - Lewis, Jarlshof - Shetland, Avebury - Wiltshire.

The circle was clearly of deep significance to our ancestors, it’s there in the neolithic, bronze and iron ages. It’s significance is something I’m sure you could spend a lifetime considering.

 Circles have been finding their way into most of my work for some time now, I couldn’t tell you exactly why, it just seems to be something I need to explore (although I'll also be honest and say that there are more now that I use less needlepoint. Have you ever tried to stitch a circle in tent stitch?). But I do wonder where the human love affair with the circle begins? Once you start to look, they are everywhere. 

Circles in hand...

Unsurprisingly, the piece I'm currently working on includes circles - at least three of them.

It's still at an early stage - as you can imagine, there hasn't been too much time for stitching recently, but in case you're interested, here are a few close up photos to show how it's developing.

The canvas is a linen scrim which I painted with acrylic paint and pens. I then attached (glue and stitch) fragments of fabrics and couched sari silk thread to highlight the lines. I began adding running stitch to sections of the piece, these somehow give it movement and hold everything together. And then I decided (possibly rashly), that the circles would include some tent stitch. Here I'm using a DMC metallic thread which has the thickness I needed.

You can see a little more of the development in the three pictures above. Still a long way to go but I'm over the initial feeling of marginal overwhelm and now it's beginning to feel exciting. I'm still posting updates to Instagram Stories on the days when I make progress with this piece, so if you follow me there you'll see it coming together.

In Other News

The dry, hot weather has parched the countryside, bleaching the fields where the only green is random patches of docks. The thistles haven’t appeared this year. The few surviving nettles that line the lane and usually trim it in green are all brown and limp. Everything looks tired - in fact it looks like late August, which is how it’s been feeling. There are sloes on the blackthorn and crabapples beginning to drop into the lane. No blackberries for us yet, but on Twitter I’ve seen people picking them - too soon, I’m not ready for the onset of autumn, and that’s what blackberry picking is for me.

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It’s good to be back. I’ll be picking up the reins again now. I may even put together the occasional gallery from my travels…(only 2058 photos to process...x).

 

Best wishes and happy stitching

Anny x






 

The story continued...
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the story continued.

More stitching, a smattering of heritage and wildflowers...

Apologies for making you wait for the next instalment in the stitch piece I featured in the last post. As I mentioned, it was a holiday week here and as expected there was much coming and going.

Happily for me, the going included trips to Claydon House (on a very wet afternoon) and the Rollright Stones, Chastleton House and Hidcote Manor Gardens (on a very hot day). More of that later, but first to the stitching...

A Stitchery Update

When I left you, I had started to add stitch details to the canvas. I never start off with a plan of how I'm going to do this bit, but somewhere in the back of my mind I feel that the over-stitching should blend the edges of the fabric sections so that you're not really looking at each section, more feeling it as part of a whole.

In practice, this just means adding rows and rows and rows of running stitch. As I've said before, I don't have a wide repertoire of stitches, I find that the simple ones work best for me and a running stitch is like a brush stroke adding a colour (I think of stitching much more in terms of painting with threads than as embroidery).

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I'd added a small section of needlepoint and was feeling the desire to do more. But once I tried, I realised it just wasn't sitting well with some of the other stitched areas. I may well start another needlepoint project because much though I love this more relaxed medium of expression through stitch and textiles, there's nothing quite like needlepoint for a total absorption into the flow of process. But it wasn't right for this piece. 

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So more running stitch, more couching and generally using stitch to integrate all the sections. I really struggle to take good pictures of the finished piece (often that's because I call time late in the evenings and then rush on to the next project and forget about photos). This is no exception. The real thing is much more vibrant. And of course the metallic threads manage to hide whenever I'm trying to capture them - arrrgh!

But you get the general idea.

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This is a slightly better picture to show the stitch details.

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And that's that - I mounted it onto a canvas which the framing elf then framed for me - I like the floating/tray frame system for my work. And it's now on the wall at The Workhouse Gallery in Dunstable, where I'm hoping someone will fall in love with it and want to take it home. I called it Tranquility, which is very much how I was feeling during most of its formation.

Posting daily work updates on Instagram Stories and Twitter seemed very popular with people there, so I'm continuing to do that and I've just begun work on a new piece. So if you're on either of those platforms and want to watch what's happening (it's very slow progress, I warn you), please look for me there.


So, what about those trips out?

Well chaps, you know in an ideal world, what I'd really like to do is to write up each one. But experience has taught me that once I get lost into other projects I'm unlikely to get that organised. So instead, I've put together a small gallery of shots from those visits which I hope will give you a flavour.


Hedgerow Watching..

And meanwhile, in the lane, everything continues verdant and lush...

It's turning into such a glorious summer here. After having terrible weather over winter and spring it's unbelievably lovely to be able to walk around feeling warm - even hot sometimes. I'm loving it!

I hope you're having a good time too, wherever you're reading this. Until the next time...

Happy stitching!

Anny x

 

More experiments in stitch...
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more experiments in stitch...

and a rainy lane.

Well they say you have to experiment from time to time, shake things up, push your boundaries. So having started loosening up and allowing myself some playtime, I'm continuing to see where it takes me.

This week I've moved on to another new piece.

A couple of weeks ago, when I had my painting session, I set up several pieces of fabric, some linen scrims and some old cotton pillowcases, and painted them with a mixture of acrylic paint (variously watered down) and acrylic inks.

The piece I showed you last time used the cotton pillowcase for the background, but this time I'm using painted linen scrim.

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The first thing I did was to add shapes using fabrics from my stash. This was also the first time I've ever really used Bondaweb in anger and once I got to grips with it (literally) I started having quite an exciting time.

I was choosing fabrics for their colour and texture, so I've included some organza, silk, more scrim and something meshy that I have no idea where it came from but which I kept from years back because I liked it.

This was a decidedly interesting afternoon - there was one point when I thought I was going to have to buy a new ironing board cover, but thankfully I managed to peel the offending fabrics off without doing too much lasting damage. I've now developed a greater respect for greaseproof paper...

The Delinquent Dog kept an eye on me from a safe distance near the door - I suspect he was just checking that I hadn't forgotten his teatime.

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Once I had the basic pieces in place I pulled together a selection of threads to use with it (always an exciting part of the process)

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And then I began to add some stitches. Beginning with some basic couching to define some of the spaces and help give it structure. I'm never sure where these lines are going to go exactly, so I often just lay the thread over the piece and see how it falls, giving it a little tweak here and there until it looks right.

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I know several readers are interested in following the development of each piece and I'm pretty rubbish at keeping a regular habit of photographing and posting updates, so this week I thought I'd see if I could be better organised about it.

I decided to try and post an update on Instagram Stories each afternoon and Tweet at the same time - so if you follow me on either of those, you may well have seen these already. It feels slightly better to me, but then of course this week coming is a holiday, so typically just as soon as I get into a routine things go and change. But I will aim to carry on doing that on the days when I'm actually stitching.

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The big difference between this piece and the last one is the nature of the background fabric - the scrim is obviously a much looser weave, and whilst I'm very familiar with it, I'm usually creating the background as I go, this time it's already there and I'm working out how to incorporate it, how to bring the whole piece together.

After the initial couching, I started adding a few cross stitches and running stitch in a variety of threads, to get a feel for what each would do on the scrim. So far on this piece I've used sewing threads, embroidery silks, weavers' silks and 4 ply knitting yarns.

They all do different things and it's fascinating to see how each one looks and how they combine with each other (well, ok, our definitions of fascinating may differ, but I imagine you know me well enough by now to understand).

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Look closely and you'll see I've also done a little section of needlepoint (tent stitch) - going back to my roots perhaps? I'm thinking about it. This canvas just seems to be asking for more needlepoint - we'll see.

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So here we are as of today - my entire repertoire of stitches and the beginnings of some lines and texture.

It's a holiday here this week and I have the OH at home and Number Two Daughter manically revising for 'A' Levels, so I have no idea how many stitches will happen over the next few days - we'll just have to take each day as it comes. If I do manage to fit in some work I promise to try and keep to my Instagram and Twitter postings, so if you follow me there you'll be the first to see what's happening.

In other news...

Hedgerow Watching...

We've had some tremendous thunderstorms this week which have taken their toll on the may blossom, but we've now seen the first of the elderflowers begin to open and, best of all (I'm sorry but they are the best) the dog roses are here!

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I've been catching a few minutes of TV coverage from The Chelsea Flower Show this week, but you know, each morning when I walk the dog and look at the flowers in the hedgerow, there's nothing from Chelsea that I prefer to nature's own.

Wishing you a peaceful, creative and productive week.

Happy Stitching

Anny x

 

April highs and lows...
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April - highs and lows...

Well I’m here, just in time to wave goodbye to April. Crikey what a month!

Out in the lane everything has kicked off despite the weather veering dramatically from winter, straight to the height of summer and back to winter again.

(We appear to be missing spring out entirely this year around here, which is frankly annoying. I for one need some time to acclimatise between the seasons, I have to gradually warm up, not go from wearing my thermals to factor 50 sunblock in the space of two days).

But nature won’t be held back indefinitely and at last we’re seeing new growth in the hedgerows. Over the last four weeks the celandines have finally made a show, the bluebells have started ringing, there’s apple blossom, pussy willow, garlic mustard and of course the blackthorn blossom put on a spectacular show until the next round of gale force wind and rain stripped the branches.

Now, acid green new leaves are unfurling throughout the wood. The beech trees are almost unnaturally green for a short while, just to accentuate the bluebells beneath them.

 Blackthorn blossom - a short season, especially when the weather is so poor, but how lovely while it lasts...

Blackthorn blossom - a short season, especially when the weather is so poor, but how lovely while it lasts...

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Out and About

Desperate for a change of scene, we nipped over to the coast during the Easter holiday. Sadly, I managed to time that precisely with acquiring something that if not exactly ‘flu, was as close as you’d want to come. But on the plus side, if you’re going to feel grotty, a flat on Cromer seafront with a view across the waves is not a bad place to be.

Just before becoming ill, I managed a trip to one of my all-time Top Ten Favourite Places - Harvington Hall, Worcestershire. Anyone who’s followed my ramblings for a while will know how much I love it there, but that’s not going to stop me adding a page of photos to the Spellbook just as soon as I can. It’s a wonderful house, absolutely dripping in real history.

Then just this weekend I ended up in London and squeezed in an hour at the British Museum, looking at the Iron Age to Medieval Europe rooms and indulging my Celtic art fetish. I stand there looking at the swirls and the spirals and I’m entranced, but at the same time I feel connected. I know how it feels to need to make those same lines.

Hopefully, if we ever do achieve a summer, I’ll be getting out and about a lot more very soon. I’ve always needed to keep my levels of ‘old places’ exposure topped up, it refreshes me. Do you have the same need? Or what is it that you need to do to feel inspired and balanced? I’m intrigued to know.

 A detail from the Battersea Shield - well over 2000 years old. Made in Britain and recovered from the river Thames. Many similar items have been discovered in rivers, it seems the Celts made offerings to their gods by depositions into water.

A detail from the Battersea Shield - well over 2000 years old. Made in Britain and recovered from the river Thames. Many similar items have been discovered in rivers, it seems the Celts made offerings to their gods by depositions into water.

Stitch Diary

I’m going to be entirely honest here and tell you that it’s not exactly coming together on the stitch-front at the moment.

Minerva and Guinevere both seemed to practically stitch themselves and I was happy with the way they turned out, but since then I’ve hit an ‘off-patch’.

I’d so enjoyed the pallette I used for Guinevere that I decided to use it again straight away and I set up a new piece just as I usually do. And I stitched - quite a lot. And do you know, it just isn’t working this time. And the more I throw at it, the worse it gets.

So I thought I’d ditch it and start something else. I bought some new fabric - it’s Osnaburg, a soft linen look cotton, and I chopped off a little bit to play with. I got out my paints and had a go at painting the fabric - not something I’ve done very much at all before - and I enjoyed it. Then I thought I’d add a few stitches, still using the palette from Guinevere and at first I thought it was going to be ok.

But for some reason, it just isn’t. Not sure why, it’s just the way it is.  The creative batteries are running low. (Although I do love the Osnaburg, it’s a dream to stitch on/in).

 'Minerva' and 'Guinevere' ( below ) practically stitched themselves...

'Minerva' and 'Guinevere' (below) practically stitched themselves...

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 Laying out the next piece and choosing the palette...

Laying out the next piece and choosing the palette...

 And simply not working....

And simply not working....

I’ve been feeling for a while that I need to have a spell of playtime and experimentation without setting myself any expectations, and now I think I’m actually going to do it.

And as if by magic… I was catching up with blogs yesterday and noticed that Stephanie Redfern’s book is published - so I’ve bought a copy and I’m looking forward to lots of ‘ooh, that’s interesting, ahh, so that’s something I hadn’t thought of and ‘yes!’ I’m going to give that a go’ moments.

Watch this space!

And in other news…

  • A word of warning. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Mac computers can’t be infected with malware or viruses...they absolutely can. I am currently writing this on my totally rebuilt Macbook. Take care.

Have fun chaps and until next time…

Happy stitching (or whatever else keeps you sane).

Anny x

Bring me sunshine...
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bring me sunshine...

Yes, you’ve guessed it. As we’re still waiting for anything like sunshine to find us in our little corner of the shire, I’ve had to take measures to make our own…

I’m happy using gold - although generally as a highlight rather than a feature. But yellow and orange? Well, there comes a time.

This is being worked using various sewing threads, silks and exquisite purples and greens all the way from Texas, (with huge thanks to Laura, who sent them to me in a parcel of delights which certainly lifted our wintery spirits!).

All worked through layers of organza and shot silk, with additions of recycled sari silk.

I assume I’ll just keep adding stitches until the real sun finally decides to make an appearance.

Hoping things are warm and sunny wherever you are.


In other news

  • If you subscribe to Loose Threads you should have received a new issue in your inbox this weekend. I hope you enjoy it. Please do let me know what you think.
  • This week I’ve also added a couple of new pages to the Spellbook - one for the piece I made earlier in the year called Excalibur, including pictures through the working process, and a page for The Lane in Winter. I’ll be adding these pages as and when through the year.
  • On Monday I travelled over to Peterborough and spent a fabulous few hours exploring that amazing building. I'll be adding a page for that when I have a few moments - I’ll keep you posted.

Until next time...

Happy stitching!

Anny x

 

 

Why creative communities are the best!

Hello from a not entirely convincingly springtime in Bedfordshire. (I’m writing this while it's snowing again - I can only hope spring is having a ‘bit of a laugh’).

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why creative communities are the best!

But it’s good to be able to sit and write, there’s been so much stuff happening recently that I just haven’t got my act together. In fact, if I’m honest I’ve really been in danger of losing the plot a few times lately. Do you go through periods like that? I’m sure most of us do. I think my problem is that every time I manage to achieve a period of calm and stability I assume it’s going to carry on indefinitely, whereas in fact a mild chaos is much more the norm around here and I’d do better to try and roll with that than berate myself for failing to maintain order. Oh well…

Observations from the gallery floor...

Anyway, as many of you will know, since October last year, I’ve been helping out a couple of times a week at a new gallery in Dunstable, called The Workhouse. (I wrote about it here if you missed it previously). It came into being because of the passionate will of my friend Joanne Bowes who realised that there were many talented people making art locally, some professionally, many others dipping their toes into the art world tentatively or creating as a hobby, for whom there were very limited opportunities to exhibit or sell their work.

Joanne created The Workhouse to give those creatives a space to show their work and at the same time to provide a welcoming, friendly and approachable gallery experience for people in Dunstable, a place where everyone is welcome to come in, browse the work, chat with artists or just relax in a creative environment.

You can imagine that this is an enormously brave undertaking (even in a buoyant economy, galleries are notoriously tricky businesses) which is one of the reasons those of us volunteering there are keen to help it flourish and we’re happy to contribute as much as we can.

But over the last few weeks, a couple of things have really struck me as important which I doubt I’d have understood so completely without having spent time in the gallery.

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making art is good for you

 ~ for all of us ~

The first thing that really hit me was how important making art is to so many people, many many more than I’d previously have thought. I’m not necessarily talking about making saleable art or even good art generally, just the actual process of doing something creative for the sake of it.

I’d guess that almost every time I’m in the gallery we get a new visitor who comes in, slowly walks around and eventually as we gently chat to them, tells us that they used to draw/paint/stitch. We’re beginning to get really good at spotting them, they have a certain look.

And our job is to encourage them to take it up again, because for the majority, that's what they really want. Since October a number of our 'lapsed artists' have actually gone on to bring in work that’s been exhibited and sold. But that’s not really the point. The important thing is that people need to feel that it’s ok to make art, to feel that there are other people just like them and to feel part of a creative, supportive community, whatever their skills. 

People stop making art for lots of different reasons and that’s a terrible pity because clearly it brings joy and happiness to the makers. Having a means of creative expression is not just a nice thing to have, for many of us, it’s essential to our balance and wellbeing.

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creatives need the community of other creatives

 

The other, related thing that struck me, was how vital it is for creatives to meet up with other creatives.

And as a lifelong introvert with extremely flakey creative self-confidence, that was quite a realisation. But it’s true, finding your tribe, discovering people who think like you, understand you and know what you’re feeling, is massively liberating.

For years I was just too shy about my stitching to show it to anyone, but once I did, and once I then found an artistic community to be part of, everything changed and I was eventually able to start being me.

For a great many of the people we talk to in the gallery who've stopped making art, it was because they had no one to encourage them. They weren’t taken seriously, or they just didn’t have the support network of people around them who understood them, or didn’t know anyone who could help point them in the right direction to progress.

It takes courage to express yourself and very few of us are strong enough to stand up against the crowd alone without support, without having creative friends on-side to cheer you on.

ways to help...

Taking the first steps to finding other creatives doesn’t have to be as daunting as walking into a gallery might sound. These days there are lots of ways to find people to support and encourage you.

Perhaps the softest way is by searching online for people doing the same or similar creative things. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are full of arty types and a bit of browsing will bring you to people you feel comfortable with. And then of course there are the bloggers… (hello!).

For me, this online community is one of the greatest joys of modern life. To be able to see the work of other artists around the globe is simply marvellous. To be able to have real time conversations with them is something that never ceases to amaze and delight me. I guess that having been born in the pre-internet world this connection will always be truly wonderful in my eyes.

But wonderful though online connection is, having flesh and blood contacts and being part of a ‘real life’ community of arty people is equally valuable - perhaps more so.

Here you do have to be a tiny bit braver and raise your head above the parapet, but there are friendly people out there ready and waiting to welcome you. Whether it’s a knitting and nattering club, an embroiderers’ guild, a painting club, life-drawing group, local artists’ network, one-off workshops, quilting circles or whatever, if you look, you’ll find them. And the joy of finding your own tribe is indescribable.

Your creative community gives you friendship, encouragement, inspiration, advice, technical assistance, reassurance and feedback and the occasional kick up the proverbial. And what’s more, you give the same back to the group.

So, if by any chance you're someone who's been suppressing your creativity, I hope you’ll be brave and take a few steps to get back into practice. If you’re feeling all alone in the creative world, please don’t, wave at the people doing things you like the look of and I’m sure they’ll respond. And if they don't, shout louder!

And for those of us already happily ensconced in our own creative community, let's remember to keep a lookout for other people who would like to join in, maybe they're a little shy to ask, but we know there’s plenty of room for everyone and in the end we all benefit.


IN OTHER NEWS

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  • The pictures in this post are details from the piece I'm currently stitching. It's almost finished, just a little more strengthening in the circles and some running stitch texture to the background needed. I was hoping to have it ready for the next exhibition at The Workhouse, but I don’t think I’ll quite make it in time so it will have to wait a while before it goes public.
  • If I manage to stay on track (possibly a big IF, but let’s hope), I’ll be sending out a new edition of ‘Loose Threads’ around Easter time, so if you haven’t previously subscribed and would like to receive a copy, simply fill your details in the box on right or click here.
  • And finally, I’ve been asked if I’d run a short programme of workshop sessions on the theme of Contemplative Stitching. If anyone has any experience of similar workshops or has any thoughts on what you’d want this type of workshop to include, I’d be really grateful for your thoughts/ideas/experience. It’s something I’d like to do, but I’d want to make useful and enjoyable and I'm not sure how to express it - perhaps you can help? Many thanks. Until next time...
     

Happy Stitching

Anny x