Monthly Archives: June 2012

Glass Fusing course last Monday night

 

Thanks and well done to the girls to made last Mondays glass fusing evening such fun!  We spent a very happy three hours cutting glass and playing with colours and designs and the results were really exellent.   A very creative bunch to be sure.  We made rather beautiful jewellery pendants and some VERY pretty window hangers.  Check out the photo below!

In defence of optimism!

Sometimes I need to get things off my chest and this is one of those days!  I am an unashamed optimist. That’s how I see myself, I had an interesting and spirited discussion in the pub recently with a friend of mine, who stated that optimism is a dangerous indulgence which should be actively discouraged. He believes it plays a large part (if not being actually to blame) for most of the world ills.  He has come to the conclusion that looking on the bright side and seeing the positive prevents us from seeing how bad things really are and taking appropriate action, and that’s why the world is in the state it is.  This is an interesting concept to me, as one who had always tried to see the upside where ever possible. I found it fascinating and a little scary, but in a good way!  He was basically saying the same thing as a poster I saw in one of those tourist shops that said… ‘If you can keep your head when all about are losing theirs – you obviously don’t understand the problem!’  Pessimists (or realists, depending on your point of view) work on the principal that they do understand the problem.  Maybe I don’t understand the problem?  Could that be true? Actually I don’t think so.  It’s necessary to have a healthy charge of optimism; it helps with your energy, your vision, your creativity and your self esteem.

 

Humans on the whole (I have read) are hard wired to be ultimately basically optimistic. It’s how we survive!  We believe in better!  But for a reason; we believe in ourselves and our ability to change things, and that ability to adapt has been the key to our survival.  To see beyond the immediate apparent gloom to a better time keeps us motivated to go on, without it we simply couldn’t survive.  Of course we don’t always get it right.  Often we get it wrong but we’re constantly questioning and that gives me hope.

Now I’m perfectly aware that the other thing that is in the core nature of humans is to look after themselves first and foremost.  To build a secure and comfortable place to live is a major drive and so when people have the opportunity to earn or acquire money at the expense of others that instinct can take over, until from the outside it looks a lot like greed.  Then it’s every man for himself and that’s where the problems start.  We’re often torn between our desire to be good, nice, decent people and to look after our own best interests and those of our family.

The constant flow of negative news and of disaster predications keep us scared, defensive and fatalist. It undermines our determination and our sense of power over our own lives.  We start to pull up our drawbridges and build walls rather than be inclusive and to take rather than give.  We get scared, and when we’re scared we see danger everywhere which means we’re more likely to attack first.  Of course it’s important to keep an eye on the world, but actually it’s more important to keep an eye on ourselves and how that information is affecting us and our communities.  Of course, one has to take care of business, pay bills, do tax returns and get the car fixed. But if we could all just determinedly build the world we want to live in from our own back yards, in spite of what we’re repeated told about the world outside, how much difference would that make?

It seems to me that humans have a need to be kind and generous in their personal lives.  It makes us happy to be nice!  It’s actually our core nature, and it’s on that basis I remain an optimist.

I’ll leave you with a nice story.  A little while ago (a couple of months I think) an old chap was walking outside past the gallery. The door was open and my son and I could hear him making really strange noises.  We both looked at each other and questioned if he was OK.  My son went to the door to check on him further but by the time he’d got to the door the old man had collapsed on the kerb side outside ASK pizza.  It was raining heavily but within minutes of him falling he was surrounded and protected by strangers.  The staff at ASK came out, a woman jumped off a bus, ambulances were called, we took out blankets and a pillow and two business men who happened to be passing, without saying a word, stopped and held their umbrellas over him until the ambulance arrived.  People stood around him like guardians, no-one questioned it, no-one thought twice, they just did what was right and it was an amazing sight!

People are basically good and there’s enough for everyone is my maxim for life!  Look for it and you’ll see it everywhere, really you will.  And guess what?  In spite of the terrible weather forecast, the sun is still shining!  Still might take my umbrella though, you never know when it might come in useful!

Janis xx

 

 

 

Artist Spotlight – Jule Mallett

I first saw Jules’s work at the Mall Galleries  in London at the beginning of the year.  I liked her work immediately, I really enjoyed the humour but also the ethos behind it.  The obsession todays society has with physical perfection is a very interesting topic and Jules work highlights the absurdity of it in a gentle and affectionate way that is well said and charming!   Her work is fresh, quirky and can’t help but raise a smile.

Here she talks about her work and gives a fascinating in depth look at how she came to be where she is today.

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‘In trying to achieve true beauty Hengrels have lost their own identity and heritage.’

At the heart of my current work are ‘Hengrels’, an artificially enhanced hybrid species of chicken in search of true beauty. To satisfy their compulsion for perfection they resort to cosmetic surgery.  Their appearance and behaviour is often odd. I deliberately recycle cloth from clothes and used linen because of its association with our bodies, culture and passage through time. The property of humans, it has not belonged to the Hengrel and is thereby symbolic of a false identity. Their story is only at its beginning.

In response to today’s throwaway society I take devalued textiles, from car-boot sales, and give them new life. Often traditional techniques such as layering and patching juxtapose digitally printed hand drawn images.  My work takes its initial inspiration from Boro, a Japanese form of patchwork in which cloth has been patched and repaired with scraps to extend its life beyond normal expectations. By doing so, these cloths embody the passage of time and identity of its owner. Wear and tear enriches and in such ruination we find beauty. The psychology of the Hengrel however turns this on its head.

My creativity is continuously fed by what surrounds me or rather what I choose to immerse myself in. I am extremely self indulgent and can easily ignore domesticity and the demands of, in my defence a grown up family.  Dinner is often ate on laps as sketch books, pencils, fabrics and threads cover every surface, often floor included. I work best when everything is to hand and visible. I thought I’d be tidier when I graduated but I’m not. Out of sight is definitely out of mind for me. Unless I’m immersed in my media I find it difficult to sustain my creativity as other distractions of normal hum drum family life take over.
When I develop new ideas I constantly have random thoughts which I scribble down on anything to hand. Bits of torn paper eventually collate in old envelopes or on the sideboard and I methodically go through each one and try to explore the possibilities it may have.  My creative journey is often very slow and laborious with many detours and dead ends. I wish I could be more decisive in my creativity but I’ve learnt I need to physically work  through all my ideas in order to be able to move on and evolve my work.

Being inspired is crucial to my creativity. I don’t keep a work schedule or any routine as such. My days are currently interspersed with voluntary sessions at a charity shop, family life and catching up with friends or meetings at textile groups. In between I immerse myself in drawing, stitch, reading books, and going to antique markets, jumble  and car boot sales. I can just as easily be found stitching at 9 a.m. in the morning as I can be at 9 p.m. at night. I create whenever the mood takes me. I never see my creations as work!

When I hit a brick wall or feel I have  ‘creation overload’, I tend to tidy everything away to one corner of the room and reconnect with the outside world. I constantly visit galleries and craft fairs irrespective of their focus as I find inspiration everywhere. I also reach for my camera and walk for hours taking photographs of anything that interests me. You can tell when I’m re evaluating my work or taking a step back because the house is tidier, meals are on the table on time and we entertain guests.

When asked what led me to become an artist I shrug my shoulders and answer ‘I’m not sure how I got here but the pieces all fit!’

As a child my favourite shop was the ‘Treasure Trove’ filled with memorabilia, the macabre and a giant stuffed bear. Most weekends I rummaged through my grandparents bureau and drawers looking for something forgotten. At university I studied Archaeology and developed a particular curiosity for Ethnoarchaeology. Today all of these strands have unconsciously come together.

Equipped with a camera on a summer’s day, I am the person taking photographs of rust and peeling paint. At weekends I’m happiest rummaging through battered cardboard boxes at car boot sales. Having moved several times as a child growing up, I have few markers of my own past. Instead our house is filled with the paraphernalia of strangers. Often I am drawn to the domestic: old brushes still caked in paint, rusty tools, old maps, scuffed picture frames, postcards and photographs. Nothing is pristine. Every surface narrates its own passage through time. In recent years I have started to collect used linen, in particular old embroidered tablecloths, napkins and bed linen. Today these form the fabric of my stitched textile practice.

Being artistic dictates my life and enables me to be, as I said before, rather self indulgent. Our house is full of random bits and pieces that have caught my eye. Shelves overflow with books, remnants of cloth, thread and drawing materials.  Much of my time socially is spent with like minded people. I have a legitimate excuse to keep going to galleries and car boot sales. Luckily for me, my family support me though still shake their head and ask why when I show them my latest acquisition. I promise them one day I will be famous and I might even earn some money!

At the moment my work takes its starting point from my graduation show in 2011. Later this year however I intend to introduce new ‘Hengrels’ into my work. I had hoped to expand my work sooner but I have been completely overwhelmed by the response my work has had since its first showing. Consequently, I am repeating work to demand but I always ensure each piece is individual and unique in its own right which is achievable since all pieces are handmade.

I currently sell my work at exhibitions and through galleries. I have set up a website but it is still very much in its infancy. As a child my dream was to own an art studio, gallery and gift shop . I still have this dream but the closest I’ve come is to be able to enter ‘hengrels’ into google and have it come up with links to my website!

Currently I am working on different ways to expand my range in order to make it more affordable for a wider market. Originally my work consisted of framed pieces, now I have introduced greetings cards, fridge magnets, mugs and even t-shirts, Also, I am  working on a range of original digital prints which focus on the drawn image and are simply embellished with cloth in order to appeal to a different market.  In order to succeed as an artist today I do think you need to continually evolve your work and take note of what’s current.  In the future I would love to see stitched textiles gain recognition as a fine art. At the moment it is still seen by many as a hobby or craft as opposed to art.

 

 

The Big Strawberry and all that Jazz!

After all the excitement and the pomp and ceremony has faded away, it’s back to work as usual. The big Strawberry light went up and came down safely and I’m going to hang a little version in Arthurs if you fancy a peek!  It did look lovely!

Thought I’d share a couple of picks from the festival, don’t the lights look pretty?

Gosh it was COLD though!  Aargh… June?  Lucky we Brits are such a hardy bunch!

Still lovely atmosphere and well done to Lesley Christiane for getting it all together in such style, the music coming from the Jazz tent was amazing and warmed us up a treat (OK the calor gas fire helped a lot too!)  and  I also have to say thanks to the staff at Strawberry Hill House who did a splendid job and went beyond the call of duty in their positivity!  All good stuff, make sure ya’ll get tickets for next year because the  weather will be sunny and warm, the music will sweep you away and you’ll just have a fabulous time.

 

 

Artist Spotlight: Annie Rie

Annie’s work got an immediate reaction in the gallery, her small beautifully delicate paintings  manage to describe what feel like little memories we all participate in,  in a way that is classic, even poetic without ever falling into the trap of being sentimental. It’s a pleasure to be able to present her work here.


My inspiration comes from craftsmen and painters such as Christopher Whall, Laurence Whistler, Clare Leighton, Samuel Palmer and Paul Nash and I occasionally see their influence in the windows, door-panels and free-hanging pieces that I make. It also springs from the glorious view down the valley outside my kitchen window which constantly prompts me to work. I delight in knowing that I will never want to stop experimenting with and learning about this fascinating world of glass I have so recently encountered.

I love to see people enjoying the stained glass I make. I am always trying to improve my techniques and am always experimenting with light and shade. Stained glass both draws you in and is uplifting. I love creating light and shade, gaudy and gloom with the dazzlingly colourful glass palette spread out on my light box. As with 14th century glass painters, I mostly use mouth-blown glass and fuse black Glass Painters’ Stain on to it by kiln-firing.

The design, cutting out of glass and the painting all needs inspiration, whereas the leading up and the cementing and cleaning is definitely work! It is nice to have these two things to do as part of the stained glass process so if I am lacking inspiration I can go and do some work in the garage, but if it’s a cold day, I can treat myself to being inside with ideas. I look at books and enjoy the countryside around me. If I see something I photograph or draw it, then I play with pieces of glass to see what they mean to me.


If I have a lull in my flow of ideas then I have to be patient. I do other creative things whilst I am waiting for the ideas to come: caning chairs, patchwork or indigo dying with my daughters, screen printing t-shirts or graffiti stencilling with my sons, gardening, reading, sewing and walking. I have always been surrounded by a creative family in every sense of the word and this really helps. With time to think and reflect I think all these creative things help to bring about new ideas.

I have always done a lot of creative things throughout my life. It became clear stained glass painting was for me when I completed a one day course  and within a week I had bought a very small kiln with some money my mother (who was an artist) had left me when she died. Becoming an artist has meant that I now look at things much more closely and am much more aware of my surroundings. It has given me confidence. I am aware how lucky I am to have found something so absorbing just when I needed it most.

I like selling the work myself because I get feedback from people. Seeing people’s reactions is really interesting and rewarding. Belonging to a guild such as the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen and the Cotswold Craftsmen is really supportive as there is always someone to share problems with. I use my own website www.annie-rie.co.uk  as a tool for people to remind themselves of my work and how to get in touch – not really as a selling tool.

Commissions are only done for people I feel I communicate well with. Usually commissions are inspirational – pushing me beyond my usual boundaries of work, collaborating and encouraging people to take part in the choice of glass and colour whilst keeping some decisions for me. Repeating work doesn’t worry me – it is therapeutic and I do this work whenever I start on anything new to get me going.  In any case, no one piece is ever the same.

In the end, my one wish would be for my stained glass to keep being enjoyed long after I am gone.