Knitting for the impatient beginner

This video shows how to quickly knit a jumper with GIANT needles and thick, gorgeously tactile wool.  It shows absolutely every stage, clearly and pleasantly – from taking that first ball of wool and finding the loose end (tucked in the middle) to begin, then how to cast on that first row….. right to sewing it up together.

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Suddenly the lake – Rosalie Gascoigne

Rosalie specialised in assemblage – putting together pieces of abandoned wood, paper, household goods – and putting them together in exciting, intuitive ways.

Married at 25, with 3 children born in quick succession, she was a bored housewife, uninterested in displaying the ‘perfect’ home – but she walked a great deal, gathering objects in nature which interested her, and displaying them in her home, to the amusement and bemusement of her conventional neighbours.

This 5 minute videos tells of her life and shows a large 4 part assemblage, “Suddenly the lake”

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quilt, Ken Burns, video, documentary

“Civil discourse… quilts and films are ways to do that”

Ken Burns, well-known American film-maker, recently revealed that in a lifetime of making films for other people, he was quietly collecting quilts, for his own enjoyment. Then he let them go on public show, at The International Quilt Study Center and Museum.

The whistle-stop tour in under 2 minutes.

And for the threads enthusiasts – the 10 minute version – which also features great footage of how a textile exhibition is mounted.

“The common sharing of our heritage becomes a way in which you can continue to have a civil discourse – and that’s really, really important to me.  And quilts and films are ways to do that.  And that’s been my mission in life.” – Ken Burns

I love it that a man with a camera move named after him (the Ken Burns effect, look for it in your home video editing program) is that ‘into’ quilts, and sees the same attention to detail, colour, line and creativity which he used in his film medium.

Embroidery, poetry, photography

Maria Wigley combines embroidered handwriting with poetry and photography.  If the thought of that excites you half as much as it thrills me, then don’t miss her website

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© Maria Wigley

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© Maria Wigley

 

As an arts college tutor, Maria has thought much about her art and is able to pull out of her bag the quote:

“Painting is silent poetry and poetry is painting that speaks”

Plutarch.

Also, she is refreshingly honest about how her art received a new influx of life when she was balancing artwork with looking after her young daughter – seeing her joy with mixing the colour and putting it onto paper, without trying to make a particular representation.  Maria joined in.

Now, although her work is different, it still resonates from that place of sitting on the kitchen floor with her daughter, markmaking together, and becoming drawn into embroidering.

The art I produce now focuses on the connection between writing, stories, people and places, particularly the relationship between place and memory. Poetry and songs have a huge influence over my work, as well as listening to anecdotes about other peoples’ lives. The use of photography and drawing, features heavily in my work as it helps builds the relationship between the visual and the text. 

Excitingly, when you look at the list of her c.v. and recent projects, Maria’s embroidery text work is being used in book jackets, film, group exhibitions, artwork for a Paris hotel, handmade books….. there is a sense of her being on the cusp of about to be better known and even more sought-out.  In other words, if you like her work, seek it out now.

 

Creative Takeaways

Do you have a favourite photo, a place to remember, a favourite family quote or few lines of poetry which never go away, but keep resurfacing and still ‘speak’ to you?

How about combining them in a picture, then framing it?

Comedy writing – Monty Python

As a fully-paid up comedy writing fan, I’m delighted by a Youtube documentary “Life before the Flying Circus” – featuring the background to the Monty Python comedy team.

I’ve watched lots of comedy documentaries in my time, and will seek out ones on Monty Python – but this programme seems to have the edge over so many I have already seen.  It not only has the boys themselves, but also brief but insightful contributions from the bigwigs in comedy who encouraged them at the start.  You get a sense of the industry.  The sight of Frank Muir, with the inevitable bow-tie, was delightful.

What comes across is an unglossy version of the beginnings of being an ‘overnight success’.  When you hear that Eric and Michael would spend all week writing comedy sketches, to only get 2 minutes of their material on air and earn £14 – which they then had to split between them – you realise things have always been tough at the bottom.

So, comedy writers – watch this and rejoice – there is hope, there can be breaks – and here, what worked was being hardworking, focussed and taking the unglamorous jobs and just grafting away – ironically while saying that at least we don’t have boring desk jobs.

The picture from the documentary which I’ve chosen as the photo for the top of this blog post is grainy and not taken with an eye to the future.  But I love it – it’s the start of something special, and it’s “in the room”, as it happens.

Encourage curators!

I’ve just been very encouraged to get this feedback on my exhibition, “Signs of Life” (currently showing in Edinburgh at St Andrew’s and St George’s West):

“I spent almost an hour this afternoon at the Signs of Life exhibition with the audio guide on my phone. I had looked at the paintings/photos before, but the explanations, readings and poems brought the whole experience to life and gave a powerful message in a most imaginative way. (The lovely sunny day made it easy to linger!). I do hope that many people will look at it. I shall recommend it to as many folk as possible.”

For those of us not living in Scotland, you can swing by online and view thumbnails of the picture and hear the full audio guide mentioned, here.

Here’s the Takeaway:

Curating an exhibition takes weeks/months of preparation, putting up, taking down.  And it is immersive: you imagine it, physically put it together and wonder if anyone actually notices – and you also eat it, in a way, too – because you end up eating quick and unhealthy food just to get enough calories to keep going!

But every exhibition will, somewhere, have a book or place to make a comment.  Almost no-one does.  But I can tell you, hand on heart, write something therein.  It will take almost no time, and you may feel like it’s a quick not very deep comment – but it is an encouragement.  It’s a proof that someone else enjoyed seeing those pictures together, in that way.

A really good exhibition should show you art that you haven’t truly seen before, or make you engage with art that you’d normally walk past – or at best, takes you on a journey so you spin out the other end, thinking “What was that?!”  And a truly stupendous exhibition will have at least one piece that you can’t tear yourself away from, or you find yourself responding to, powerfully, or you go home and still remember it with fascination.  Sometimes, a picture or collection can change someone’s life.

There are interesting examples of this – such as Wassily Kandinsky who, while waiting to begin formal art studies, was smitten by an exhibition of Monet’s Haystacks series, despite himself (as recorded in Wikipedia):

That it was a haystack the catalogue informed me. I could not recognize it. This non-recognition was painful to me. I considered that the painter had no right to paint indistinctly. I dully felt that the object of the painting was missing. And I noticed with surprise and confusion that the picture not only gripped me, but impressed itself ineradicably on my memory. Painting took on a fairy-tale power and splendour.

— Wassily Kandinsky

CURATORS INVITING VIDEO – Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

I’ve watched with interest the dawn of curators describing their exhibitions to possible attenders.  The small Dulwich Picture Gallery in London started really well with its director, Ian Dejardin.  In a few minutes, he would tell us what to see, in a quietly enthusiastic way.

Now this – the gallery has TWO curators having a discussion and walking around a collection.

Hands up anyone who’d like to see this exhibition, now?

Me too!  And yes, of course, it is a marketing tool, that couch has been placed there, just so – but they do look at least somewhat relaxed and it feels like a real conversation.  They walk amicably around the exhibition, both get to speak and say what they’re keen about in it – and I find it overwhelmingly inviting.

 

Bravo, Dulwich Picture Gallery!