Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Inspiration from Art

As I was going to St. Ives…..
No – I didn’t meet a man with 7 wives
I recently saw a wonderful BBC 4 program on the abstract art movement from St Ives and Newlyn in Cornwall between the 1930’s and mid 1960’s.  Names like Kit Wood, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicolson, Alfred Wallis, Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron were so important during that period in British abstract art. 
Until then the centre of the art world was in Paris, but this group in their own way changed that.
In watching I was interested in several aspects of how abstract art could inspire textile and art quilt design.  Alfred Wallis, who had been a fisherman all his life – came to painting later in life and his naïve images of flattened perspective with boats, piers and lighthouses have an innocence and strength about them. 
Ben Nicolson – looked at the rolling landscape and use curves and shapes in his own work. Although with very minimalist leanings, many of his paintings became very evocative of the colours of the west country.  I like the way he kept many of his curved and geometric lines in the frame, and I thought how it lent itself to piecing and overall machine quilted stitch marks.
Patrick Heron not only used exuberant colour – referring to the point… ‘when two colours meet each other the world suddenly pulses’ -  I liked that expression.  He talked about the ‘colour of colour’.  Another aspect of his work was to simplify shapes by ‘windowing’ the landscape.  Looking through one eye at the world will flatten the view – minimising perspective.  The ‘window’ abstracts it all further, simplifying the elements.
We can learn so much from studying modern art as inspiration for our own textiles. 
St Ives and Newland in Cornwall continue today to be a centre of creativity both abstract and figurative in the British art world.  If you can, - visit the Tate in St. Ives, www.tate.org.uk/stives  the next time you might be in Cornwall.
Latest News
I have just revamped my website and it includes workshops for 2011 if you are interested.
Quite a few classes now include exploring digital and art images on cloth and have proven to be quite popular.
Farncombe Estates in the Cotwolds is a beautiful residential centre for workshops in many disciplines.  Set in the beautiful landscape above Broadway in Glocestershire, it is an inspiriting place whatever the season.  Have a look on  www.FarncombeEstates.co.uk


  1. Arlee Barr has flagged up your new blog and I am delighted to become a follower. You have some very exciting and generous plans for us and I am already enjoying and learning from your posts.

    I saw the BBC4 programme and recorded it to watch again. We go to St Ives every year and it is a constant source of inspiration. I am sure you are right in that textile art can be informed so much by modern art and artists.

  2. I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do it! Thanks, very good post. abstract art