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Journal

Posts tagged art gallery
A Good Hanging...
 

…in which we visit The Workhouse, fail to make much progress with the stitchery and finally leave Narnia.

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Hello again. How’s your week been? Here things have been a bit unusual.

After dropping the Daughters off at the airport at some unreasonably early hour on Sunday (and in -6 degrees!), all thoughts of a slow romantic day with the OH were shelved when I realised that despite considerable wifely urging, he still hadn’t framed any of the pieces I was intending to take to The Workhouse on Monday for the new exhibition.

Luckily, by the time I had to leave the house on Monday, he’d just about finished, so if you should visit The Workhouse in Dunstable over the next four weeks, you’ll be able to see a quartet of work from yours truly…(unless of course some kind soul pops in and buys them).

(Avalon Meadow, Merlin, Minerva and Uriens)

I spent Monday afternoon helping to hang the new exhibition, which is called ‘Mysterious’.

It’s always exciting to see the new work that local artists have brought in for the show. Every time I’m reminded how much talent there is all around us. You don’t have to go to exclusive galleries in expensive cities to see remarkable work. The Workhouse attracts amazingly gifted artists from the surrounding counties, many of whom are new to exhibiting and it’s a joy to see them take the plunge and show their work.

Like many other small galleries, The Workhouse in Dunstable runs as a not for profit organisation, to keep the costs of showing and buying affordable. It is staffed entirely by volunteers, most, but not all of whom, are artists, who give some of their time to help the gallery thrive.

It’s always on the lookout for other people with a bit of a flair for art and who enjoy talking to people, to swell our band of volunteers, and it occured to me that this might be true for a lot of similar galleries. So if there’s one near you and you’d like to get involved, be brave, pop in and ask them. The more time I spend in The Workhouse, the more I see just how important access to art is to everybody, not just a privileged few and so it’s vitally important to do what we can to help these places survive and prosper, because in the end, we all benefit or we all lose.

And although as a volunteer I’m not being paid for my time there, there’s actually a huge reward to be had, listening to and watching the reactions of customers as they walk around the gallery. If you ever have concerns about your work, spend some time in a gallery and see for yourself just how true it is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, so often I see it, where what appeals to one customer will leave another cold and visa versa, there really is someone out there who’ll love your work! We all know that in theory, but a few hours in a gallery and you’ll really know it’s true.

Stitchiness

Well, what with trips to airports and hanging exhibitions, there hasn’t been a massive amount of progress on the current piece. But I’m still loving the palette, which is something of a departure from the blues and purples very much in evidence in ‘Mysterious’.

I’ve fallen for the Gutermann cotton quilting threads with their subtly changing colours, so they feature quite extensively in this piece. I find that not knowing exactly what shade will appear where, adds to my enjoyment. I like to feel that I’m not making all the decisions and that the piece itself might be determining it’s development.

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Also, the light has been so poor that I’ve scarcely been able to take any decent pictures with this one, which is why I haven’t posted updates on Instagram Stories.

(Ali, if you’re seeing this, do you recognise the background?)

I’m using a cotton hand-dyed by my friend Ali, as the foundation layer for the work and it’s really the colours in there that have brought together the palette. As usual, there’s a mixture of batik and recycled sari silk there too.

in other news…

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At the weekend I was feeling decidedly jealous, seeing so many photos of springlike bulbs, snowdrops and Imbolc celebrations. Around here we were most certainly not enjoying the return of spring, more like perpetual winter. But I’ve walked the lane enough years now to know that we’re always a bit behind, we just have to have patience.

And sure enough, as I ventured out with the Delinquent Dog on Wednesday morning, there was a shift, suddenly even though there’s nothing particular to see, spring is here. Later that day I saw that according to the Anglo-Saxon calendar, spring begins on February 7th - and I have to say, they were spot on here!

Oh and talking of Anglo-Saxons, I’ve finally got my act together and I’m off to the British Library next week, to see the Anglo-Saxon exhibition before it closes.

I wonder if the Anglo-Saxons had any theories about the weather and reclining sheep?

I’m sure they were trying to tell me something…

I’m sure they were trying to tell me something…

If you’re interested and haven’t yet seen it, I’ve recently added A Lane in January with more pictures from recent walks.

Wishing you a peacefully uneventful week.

Happy stitching…

Anny x

* A Good Hanging - Ian Rankin’s Rebus short stories…

 
 
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















 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming up for air...

Hooray! I made it into my hidey-hole at last. I'd begun to think it was going to be the New Year before I found a few minutes to write, and then just as I began to despair, a slice of morning opened up and here I am....

So chaps, what's been happening? I wish I could actually settle into something resembling a routine (do I honestly mean that? I've never been one for routines, it's just that for so long now I seem to have ricocheted from one thing to another, I'm beginning to wonder if a monastic routine wouldn't get more accomplished). Are you a creature of habit? Does it work for you? 

I'm not sure that I could adopt a true routine, I inherited too many of my dad's 'get out and about' genes to be properly settled, but nevertheless there are times when I feel as if I'm walking through treacle and it would be lovely to think that a plan might actually have a cat in hell's chance of coming off as scheduled. Is it the creative spirit that's to blame, or is that just a feeble excuse for not being better organised?

Anyway, in amongst all the other stuff this is what I've been doing...

Stitching...

There's been good progress with the piece I showed you in the previous post - partly because I came down with a head cold at the weekend and stayed in the warm. I was lucky, it was one of those mild affairs that gives you a good excuse not to go out spreading germs to everyone, but allows you to actually get on with a few things at home (in between the occasional medicinal hot-toddy)

Out and Abouting...

Bath

I squeezed in my annual visit to the Bath Christmas Market last week. If you've known me for a while you'll remember that I'm not at my best around Christmas time, it generally brings out a sense of panic, exasperation and utter failure which can make me tricky to live with. Then a couple of years ago, we went on a day out to Bath - my favourite city in the country - at about this time and suddenly things felt a lot better. There's something about walking around in such beautiful surroundings that takes away the stress for me and calms my nerves. Last week was every bit as brilliant and I'm feeling a whole load better already. (I've even put up some fairy lights in the sitting-room - and it's not even a whole week into December - must have done the trick). I know it must make life difficult for the inhabitants of Bath, but I for one am extremely grateful.

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Bath Christmas Market...

coincidentally, my favourite tree in Bath is currently blue and red.

The Workhouse

We've been busy at The Workhouse getting ready for the new exhibition - Christmas at The Workhouse - which is now in full swing. I'm delighted to say it's getting a fantastic reception, with loads of people coming in to buy their Christmas gifts and cards. I'm still finding it such an amazing experience listening to people talk about their reaction to the art and crafts there. It's clearly so important for everyone to have access to quality art in their lives, whether they make it, buy it or simply want to enjoy looking at it. Art is a necessity, not a luxury, I'd really love a few hard nose politicians to come and spend some time with me there, maybe it would make a difference.

Wherever you live, I hope you'll find time to pop into your local galleries this Christmas and soak up some creative goodwill.

In the lane...

The last few weeks have moved us from the last golden days of autumn into the beginning of a very grey (so far) winter. I've finally succumbed to a new hat, one that I can pull down over my ears and I've managed to find some of those fingerless gloves with a mitten bit that you can pull over the top - I'm experimenting with them, as you can imagine the fun, holding the Delinquent Dog in full bark, attempting to use the fingerprint log in on the phone and taking pictures in sub-zero temperature, but so far, so good.

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I was thoroughly downhearted this week when I realised that the lane had had it's biannual pruning. Of course it did need cutting back, it was getting dangerous in places and it is a road after all, but really, the butchering of the hedges makes me want to cry. It will recover I know, I've seen it happen before and at least now I can really see my oak properly again from behind the whitebeam hedge, but it still hurts to see the sheer brutality of the attack.

'My' oak, now almost entirely bare of leaves, but looking wonderful to me at least.

'My' oak, now almost entirely bare of leaves, but looking wonderful to me at least.

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But the Delinquent Dog is quite happy at the moment because thanks to these chaps having just arrived back in the field, he's currently getting the longer walk (the one that avoids having to walk through the sheep). I briefly googled quotes about sheep and was disappointed to see that they mostly talk about people being like sheep or wolves in sheep's clothing. Personally I find some of them quite menacing, they stare at you in a certain manner...I suspect they're plotting world domination with the squirrels.

In other news...

  • Not having had a Christmas Party for years, this week I'm going to two! Whoops with vegetarian delight.
  • I found a book about Henry IV in a charity shop and I'm realising how little I knew about him. I'm not seeing Jeremy Irons in my mind's eye (Hollow Crown fans will understand).
  • Another sign that I've succumbed to the Christmas Spirit - a bottle of cheap whisky and Crabbies Ginger Wine have appeared in the kitchen...

And with that I wish you all a happy and productive run up to Christmas. I hope to be back in my hidey-hole again before the festivities begin, but you know me and plans...

Very best wishes...

Happy Stitching!

Anny x

In The Workhouse...

I've learned something since last week's post - I've discovered just how much work goes into launching an art gallery and I can tell you, it's not for the faint-hearted! I think it's safe to say that on Wednesday last week there were people who doubted whether the gallery would open as intended on Saturday, but of course I'm delighted and proud to announce that not only did it open on time, it also looks magnificent and is a wonderful testament to the ambition and vision of the lady whose dream it is, Joanne Bowes.

Joanne has a particular vision of what she wants from her business. As an artist herself she realised how difficult it can be to find a good and suitable space to show your work. She also appreciates how intimidating it can be for people wanting to buy art. So The Workhouse is designed to be a friendly and welcoming space where artists and art buyers can mingle and get to know each other.

I'm delighted to have some of my work in The Workhouse right now. I'm particularly pleased that with the gorgeous lighting my twinkly metallics are looking very good indeed. They certainly come to life under the lights.

I'm going to be over at the gallery doing some stitching a couple of days a week, which I'm really looking forward to - it's always exciting to show people how you work and to hear their reaction and for someone whose default setting is to be sat at home alone with her needle, it can be good to get out and meet people.

I'll leave you with a few pictures from the opening weekend. 


 

Happy stitching!

Anny x