Congratulations to Charlotte Haenlein, who has won the C&G Medal for Excellence for Stitched Textiles 2015 after completing her course at Missenden Abbey. She kindly sent me these images of one of her assessed pieces and gave permission to show them here. This photo is a close-up showing details of the stitching, and the following photo shows the overall design. I’ve been trying to guess the inspiration and design sources behind this piece. It reminds me of Ikat and Double-Ikat weaving; a geometric pattern with a strong structure but with the edges softened by the graduations of colour. I’m intrigued by trying to work out how it’s done. Printed? Pieced and patched? I do know that the fabric is shot silk, and I can see that the quilting is done with a toning space-dyed thread. Congratulations Charlotte, and congratulations also to another Missenden Abbey student, Tina Brier, who has won the Medal for Excellence for Floristry.
The Missenden Abbey Open Day last weekend was a wonderful display of work across a range of different subjects. There were tutor displays that included floral art, beadwork, botanical painting, watercolour, ceramics, mosaics, batik and goldwork. I had an interesting conversation with a graphologist, who ‘read’ my handwriting with great accuracy. She seemed quite intrigued by the fact that I can write fluently in joined-up mirror-writing (not the most useful skill in the world, but apparently quite interesting for a graphologist. I gather I share this strange phenomenon with Leonardo Da Vinci and Lewis Carrol!). I remember quite clearly one day, as a child, I just decided that I would be able to do mirror-writing, and sat down and did it. It didn’t take any practice. There was a strange way of shutting off the part of the brain that said I couldn’t do it, and almost hypnotising myself into knowing that I could do it. It seems to be important that I have both feet planted on the ground, and that I am relaxed. There’s a process of kind of ‘sinking down inside myself’ almost like a meditation, and then it just happens. I have no idea why, or what it means. The only thing I do know is that it feels just the same as being absorbed in observational drawing.
We were impressed with the City and Guilds student work in Stitched Textiles (Embroidery) and Patchwork and Quilting. The photo above is a piece by Bobby Francis. It is a big ‘installation’ of exuberant folded strips of stitched paper, which cascade from a height of about 6ft, to a ‘tumble’ on the floor. Below left is the ‘tumble’ as it lands on the floor, and below right is a detail of a stitched ‘seam’ that runs down the piece. I wondered if it was inspired by seams in rock, as rock formations was Bobby’s subject for her Research Project.
I watched Bobby’s Research Project with particular interest as her chosen subject (rock formations) was similar to mine (rocks and fossils). However, it’s amazing to see how very differently things turn out, even from a similar starting point. Here are a couple more of Bobby’s pieces (left and below) both of which I find very striking and exuberant.
In complete contrast, this lovely piece (below) by Barbara Deacon is stitched in delicate detail. It was made for Barbara’s god-daughter and her husband, and features the two continents of Africa and India that they each have particular connections to, through historical family connections and through travel. Dyed fabric is used beautifully for the sea and the land-mass, and the stitching is exquisite. I love the spirited elephants trotting across the top (see detail below).
What a night! City and Guilds did us proud, with a great celebration of all the awards. Congratulations to Jill Harden, who also picked up a Lion Award for her Floristry course. Well done Jill and Jill!
Here I am on my first (and probably only) red-carpet photo-session! With any luck the official ones will be slightly better…(later comment – no, they weren’t!)
For me, one of the awards that particularly stood out was for Samith Rajapaksha, who travelled all the way from Sri Lanka to collect his award for International Learner of the Year. To do his course and get to his work-place, he had to walk two hours from his village every day. I liked his statement that ‘no dream is too big and no dreamer is too small’. I was also pleased to see an award for Ian Reynolds, Community Supporter of the Year, for his work supporting carers, ‘the forgotten people’.
It was a great evening; drinks, acrobats, eats, entertainments, speeches, awards, posh frocks, more drinks, and lots of socialising. We had some great conversations with so many interesting people, from different subjects, different age-groups and different social backgrounds. The one thing in common was a sense of energy, enthusiasm and excitement. It was great talking to some of the people in their twenties who had won awards – it was clearly a life-changing event. You could see the passion and energy that went into it all. There were a few funny conversations, such as chatting to the felt-making medal-winner while our other-halves compared notes on the silk ties made by their respective partners. Here’s DH, sporting his.
I love the vibrant, highly saturated colours that are so special to Rajasthan. Here are some bits of art-work and a couple of stitch-samples from the Diploma course, based on Indian motifs. Designing and making the dress that I mentioned in my previous post seemed like a great opportunity to to explore these Indian themes further.
I had reached the doom-and-disaster phase of the project (does everyone get that I wonder???) when luckily my fellow Diploma students and I had one of our get-togethers. Settled in the sun in Elaine’s garden, I had the full focus of three ‘helpers’ to re-pin, adapt, cut and re-tweak the prototype. There was also great encouragement not to abandon the project. I think we ended up with something that looks less like a hospital gown and more like a dress!
On that basis I unpicked the prototype and made a new pattern, and dyed the viscose silk velvet to make the finished piece. Here’s the dyed fabric. I love viscose silk velvet because of the way it drapes, and catches the light as it moves. It soaks up dye in great thirsty gulps, which means you can achieve a really highly saturated colour. 3 metres of heavy fabric would be difficult to dye evenly by hand, so I did it in the washing-machine using Dylon machine-dye. Strangely, Dylon don’t seem to have a deep mid-red, so I used a tub of Orange and a tub of pinky-red. Luckily my theory worked, and it came out a deep mid-red colour. Designs for the neck and hem are based on the doodles below, which are a kind of embellished Taj-Mahal motif. Underneath that are some stitch samples for the dress (Janet trained us well!) Now the dress is half-made-up and I’ve started the machine-stitching on soluble fabric round the neck. I hope it works out OK. Eek! Watch this space!
What a big day on Saturday! Missenden Abbey hosted a lovely event for the presentation of the City and Guilds Gold Award Medal for Excellence for Stitched Textiles and for Floristry. There were a hundred or so people in the audience, including current City and Guilds students, my fellow Diploma students, Missenden Abbey staff, and DH for moral support. Thanks to Alison Pearce at the Abbey for organising a lovely event. It was all quite nerve-racking for someone who doesn’t like to be the centre of attention, but I really appreciated that the Abbey made it a special occasion. Despite my nerves it was lovely to be made a fuss of. The ceremony was for two of us – Jill Harden won a Medal for Excellence for her Floristry course. Here’s a photo of all of us.
It felt very unreal to be receiving this award, because of my real diffidence, many years ago now, about signing on for the first part of the course (now the Certificate, then ‘Part One’.) I remember seeing the end of course show at Northbrook College and feeling inspired to try it but also feeling quite intimidated because I didn’t see how I could possibly reach a sufficient standard to do the first course, let alone the second one. Luckily the tutor, Sue Munday, made me laugh about this apprehension and so she was able to introduce me to the delights of design, colour, stitch and particularly machine-embroidery. It was many years later that I signed up for the Diploma Course with Janet Edmonds, and continued the creative journey. Janet has been an inspiring and encouraging teacher, who has opened door after door into new worlds. Her own work is amazing, and we have all learned so much.
I was really pleased that my fellow-students were able to come to the presentation. The support of the group has got us all through many ‘life events’ during the course, as ‘life’ has taken it’s twists and turns over the three years. It has been a pleasure to work alongside such positive and enthusiastic people, who are now firm friends. Here we are, together with Janet Edmonds.
Here’s Janet receiving her thank-you present from us, some time ago now, at the end of the course. It’s a sewing-roll, designed by Cheryl and stitched to her instructions by the four of us.