A whole new world

We’ve all watched Escape To The Country and that’s what my husband and I did. When I first moved here to the beautiful heart of Wales, I had been a teacher for twenty plus years with little time for anything other than work.  At first the chance to have a bit of peace and quiet, take walks in the countryside and read my way through a list of books I’d never got around to filled my days. But after a while I was bored with all that. Plus, when you’re new to an area you need to get out and make a new network of friends.

So one day I spotted a two day willow basket -making workshop at a place called The Minerva Arts Centre which was in our nearest town just four miles away.  The basket making was a disaster – weaving willow was not for me I’m afraid. But what an amazing place I had found!  As someone who had done a bit of patchwork and quilting many moons ago the weekly quilting group, Welsh Heritage Quilters, gave me a chance to not only brush up on my old skills but to build a social life too. And then I discovered the workshops run by the Quilt Association which opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities for me.   I’ve always loved sewing and I’ve also always painted and sketched when time allowed.  Over the last couple of years I’ve been on several workshops at Minerva that have combined my love of sewing and art. Fabric, paints, colour.  What’s not to like!!! This is the journey I’ve been on so far.

In 2015 I went on a workshop tutored by Deborah O’Hare. We learned lots of different techniques for painting fabric and came away with lots of samples, some of which I’ve recently used on a World War One themed piece. Deborah will be back at Minerva on 26th July to teach a workshop called Layers and Shadows

Last March, I did a Print and Stitch workshop with Linda Paris where we used thermofax screens to print onto both commercially produced and hand dyed fabric.  Again, I’m still using up some of the samples we made that day on my WW1 piece. And the little thermofax screen of a stag I bought from Linda was used to make my Christmas cards last year.  I don’t think Linda is teaching any longer but her legacy lives on.

Below are a couple of photos which show an example of the painted landscape backgrounds I did with Deborah O’Hare.  The top one has been incorporated into a piece about World War One and the one below has a thermofax print on top, done with Linda Paris.

In May we held a Spring School tutored by Hilary Beattie. Hilary has a lot of followers and the course was full before I tried to book so I had to make do with looking at her work in our Spring Exhibition which featured work by the group Art Textiles:Made in Britain, of which Hilary is a member. I then discovered she has a whole series of videos on YouTube so I was able to watch and learn. Until I did that I’d never heard of acrylic wax or gelatos. Thanks, Hilary!

In August I did a fantastic two day workshop with Bobby Britnell,  a wonderful teacher who gives her students so much confidence to try new things.  What I took from those two days was an absolute passion for mono printing and, in particular, making my own stamps. I cannot tell you how much pleasure this new technique has given me.  I learned so much from Bobby – I am like a woman possessed. This was followed by a two day workshop in November led by Ruth Issett, Ruth is the absolute hero of many a would-be textile artist because of the way she uses colour in her work.  From her I learned how to improve my work with mono printing by overdyeing with procion dyes and how to be brave with colour.  The workshop was such an enjoyable one – one of my fellow students was beyond excited at the start of the second day (yes you, Lynda!).

Foam print blocks I made after my workshop with Bobby Britnell.

Mono prints in my sketch book using the foam blocks.

Mono prints on cotton fabric, waiting to be overdyed.

Mono printing and overdyeing done on Ruth Issett’s workshop.

Both Bobby and Ruth are members of the Textile Study Group , ‘a group of nationally and internationally recognised textile artists and tutors, well known for innovative and challenging approaches to art practice and contemporary teaching.’ We are so pleased to be one of the venues for their touring exhibition, DIS/rupt, which opens here at Minerva Arts Centre on 21st April. As part of our Spring Exhibition series of workshops, Bobby will be tutoring a half day workshop , Barking Up The Right Tree, for us on 8th May, and Ruth will be here on 25th May to lead a half day workshop called Disrupting Repetitive Pattern. We are also delighted to welcome Sarah Burgess, another member of TSG, on 28th April for a day workshop entitled Lost And Found.

This has been a long (and quite personal) post for me but I wanted to share with you how much being part of the Quilt Association means to me.  As a group of trustees we are passionate about what we do.  We take our responsibilities as curators of the building and conservators of the quilts we care for very seriously but we also have a commitment to sharing the very best practice in quiltmaking and textile art through the medium of our workshops programme.

If you haven’t been on one of our workshops before please give it a go!! I promise you that you will learn so much and have a fabulous time. We are in a beautiful part of the country and many of our course participants bring their ‘other half’ along. There’s plenty for them to do – walking, fishing, cafes, trains!!!

We look forward to seeing you soon.

 

Confessions of a blogger

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since my last blog post.  The thing is, I had so much fun on the last two QA workshops I went on, that I’ve been too busy using my new found skills to get on with what I’m supposed to be doing.  It’s called displacement activity and I’m guilty as charged.   After learning how to print using thermofax screens with Linda Paris, and then doing some block printing with Bobby Britnell I’m afraid I’m hooked.  Sorry 🙁

But on the plus side, my Christmas cards are coming along a treat!!!

Anyway, just to let you know that the information about Bethan Ash’s workshop is now on the website, plus details of a workshop by Jane Davies which is coming up next April.  Don’t tell anyone else yet, but there’ll soon be details on the website of a workshop by Deborah O’Hare too!!

Our programme for 2018 is now complete and our bookmarks, which we use to promote all of our exhibitions and events at the Minerva Arts Centre, are just off to the printers.  I’m really pleased to say that we have something to interest everyone.  An event new for us next year is an exhibition of the work of the talented students at our local secondary school, Llanidloes High.  Some of the QA trustees visited last year to look at the work of their GCSE and A level Art students and were so impressed we felt it deserved a wider audience.  We hope that some of them will go on to further study and begin to use textiles in their work.

That’s all for now.  I solemnly promise to blog more regularly. Unless I get distracted……

Blog on the run…..

It’s been an incredibly busy couple of weeks at the QA.  As you will have seen from our news section, our annual summer exhibition is now up and running.  It truly does look stunning and we’re so pleased with how it looks.

Gallery One has attracted attention because of the unusual pieces of new work by Ruth Singer.  Ruth came to look at some of our oldest quilts and was inspired by the stains and areas of wear and tear the quilts had acquired over their long lives.  The piece in our front window, which she calls Tracery, reflects the way that quilts disintegrate over time – the fabric decaying but the stitching remaining in place.

She has also produced some wonderful stained pieces which our visitors can touch and spread out to see the full effect.

The patchwork blocks have proved very popular with young and old alike.  These are blocks of wood covered in fabric which can be moved around to form different patchwork patterns, although our younger visitors like to make buildings out of them.  On our preview evening we had a beautiful castle made by Elin, and during our opening morning two lovely young visitors made a wonderful house!!

Many of our visitors have been surprised to find that the antique quilts in the exhibition are so worn but of course these are the ones that Ruth found so fascinating.  Some of them have their reverse sides on show in order to display the wonderful staining on the back or worn patches, like the two below:

     

One of the pieces is merely a fragment of an unfinished top – but what a beauty it is, complete with paper pieces that our visitors can examine through a magnifying glass.

There truly is something to interest everyone – whether you are a quilter or not.  In fact, on the opening morning (at the risk of sounding sexist) many of the gentlemen visitors surprised themselves by actually enjoying looking at the exhibits.

 

 

The exhibition in Gallery Two, a retrospective of the work of Bobby Britnell, was an absolute delight to put up.  The four Trustees who make up the Exhibition Committee (including yours truly) got far too excited when we realised we could turn a corner of the space into a reading room.  Bobby’s two pieces Library and Bookshelves became the focal point and we dressed the rest of the room accordingly, including a table borrowed form our local furniture store on which was placed a book called, appropriately, Minerva – genius idea, Joy!!

If you want to see more photos there are lots on our facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/www.quilt.org.uk/

I really don’t have time to post more – it’s time for the last episode of Poldark!!

Suffice to say we had SUCH fun putting up the whole exhibition although we are now exhausted. However, tomorrow is another day and we go again with a two-day workshop tutored by Bobby which we’re SO looking forward too.  I’ll post some photos of that as soon as I can.  Until then, thanks for reading!!!

Busy, busy…

It’s been a very busy week in Llanidloes.  Today was the annual Carnival so the town was packed.  It’s not often you get total gridlock in a small town in Mid-Wales but we had it today.  The weather was relatively kind.  Not as hot as it has been recently but at least it didn’t pour down with rain – always a bonus if you live here!!

Hopefully our Carnival visitors found time to visit the Artisans’ Emporium here at Minerva Arts Centre.  There truly is some wonderful work on show and there are items for sale that are one-offs.  For example, Madeleine Vale is selling some fantastic ceramic works like this little fox’s head.

Jude Riley does amazing marbling on paper and silk and has gorgeous scarves, notebooks for sale.  She also sells these fabulous limestone coasters.

Chrissie Menzies is back with her beautifully made felted items, including this exquisite nuno felted scarf.  The felting is so fine and I know what a perfectionist she is!

All of our visitors have been talking about the unusual lamps made by Alan Mathews from recycled bits and pieces and yesterday I saw someone totter to the till with about three of John Morgan’s beautifully turned wooden bowls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Browning is a potter who lives in Llanidloes and produces wonderful, classic items in his studio.

Sarah Hill uses recycled glass to make fantastic jewellery and decorative items for the home.  Sorrel Sevier also makes gorgeous jewellery from silver and semi-precious stones. Absolutely beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Mulcock is a felt maker from Shropshire who is particularly well known for her wet felted seascapes like the one below.  Who would have thought that this is all made from wool!!

 

The beautiful watercolour on the left, below, is just one example of the work of Steve Terris while the atmospheric Peter Lloyd painting on the right depicts a local scene in oils.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last but by no mean least is this lovely print of Watergate Baptist Church in Brecon, produced by local graphic artist and photographer Keith Wheeler.

You have to agree that there is something that everyone to want to take home in the Artisans’ Emporium!!

Finally, we were very pleased to welcome Bobby Britnell and Sarah Burgess to Llanidloes this week.  Bobby and Sarah are members of the Textile Study Group and were with us to discuss the staging of their exhibition DIS/rupt, which will be at the Minerva Arts Centre next spring.  Bobby also delivered her work for her retrospective exhibition Backwards Looking Forwards which, along with Ruth Singer’s exhibition Fragments, forms part of our annual summer exhibition.  This year we feature some of our own collection of quilts and the exhibition, which runs from 5th August until 16th September, is called Timelines – A Line In Time.  Don’t miss it!!!

Spring forward

Well, the clocks went forward last weekend and doesn’t it make a difference!  More daylight hours to do all the things we’ve been putting off and hopefully a bit of sunshine to do them in.  I’m getting this blog post down now because I know that, come tomorrow evening (given my inability to keep myself clean) I will be up to my elbows in printing ink after the first day of Linda Paris’ Print and Stitch workshop.  I can’t wait to get started and I’ll keep you updated at the weekend on progress so far. Then on Tuesday we’re going to be putting some stitch to fabric.  We still have room to squeeze you in if you want to come.

Saturday sees the opening of our first Vintage Fair of the year which runs from 1st – 12th April.  It always amazes me how many things are there that I have to restrain myself from buying.  If I got my act together I could probably fill my own stand.  For any fan of all things vintage it’s like an Aladdin’s cave of treasures: china, clothing, books, records, furniture, jewellery – the list is endless.  Come and see for yourself.  Open every day except Sundays.

Our next workshop will be the one tutored by Rosie James on 6th May and we still have places but they’re filling up fast.  Likewise the ones led by Cas Holmes, Hilary Beattie and Sylvia Paul.  If you’re interested in those and our summer workshops (Ruth Singer and Bobby Britnell) see our Workshops page for more details and information on how to book.