Saturday, 13 August 2011

Festival of Quilts and Studio21

I have just returned from 3 busy days at the Festival of Quilts with a breather before going back tomorrow.
The fibre-art, stitched textile group, Studio21 have been going strong since 1997 and we are all Stitched Textile Diploma graduates from the Windsor School of Textile Arts, over the years.  We have an exhibition called 'Continuum...A Sense of Place' on stand A58, so if you are reading this, and will be at the show, please drop in. There is an interactive area where we are encouraging visitors to apply  fabric and stitch marks by hand onto a very long piece of cloth that began at 40m in length and is still growing. By Sunday, when the exhibition finishes it will be fantastic. Here are some quick photos I have taken so far.  More 'interactive' photos are on
Another highlight for me was the opportunity to spend time in the Art Quilt category and there were some amazing pieces. (see below).
The winning quilt by Janneke de Vries-Bodzinga from the Netherlands was breathtaking, and other strong pieces included work by C June Barnes, Linda Barlow, Maggie Barber, Turid Tonnessen, Sheena Norquay, Janet Twinn, Hilary Beattie, Jane Ashe and Carole Belfield to name only a few.
(I hope the makers don't mind me sharing some of their work). I will be visiting the Festival again tomorrow when I will have the chance to see many more of the competition quilts and other textile galleries.

Teaching a one day class on Digital Imagery in Stitched Textiles kept me busy yesterday.  Students brought a personal theme with black and white and colour imagery that was painted and collaged together. A short basic lesson in Photoshop Elements explained how their collage photos were edited before printing on t-shirt papers. The final heat transferred cloth could then be used as a fabric for stitch in a future piece of work.
Here are a few of the collages that were done. Thanks to students whose work is shown.
I am back to Festival tomorrow on the Studio 21 stand, so come by and visit if you manage to read this in time. There are more exhibitions to visit - Jette Clover, Mary Lloyd Jones, Gillian Cooper, Jennifer Hollingdale, Texui, Pia Welsch, Yoshiko Katagiri, and many others including the Quilters Guild challenge and collections...... and the traders of course.

Thanks again for reading and I will write again soon.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Summer is Here

Sorry to have been so long in writing this -  Life has been very full and when I thought there was time to rest and 're-group' after the big trip 'down-under', I found myself busy with many more commitments and travels.
     I have been busy writing a new book and it is taking shape nicely.  It will be called 'Connecting Design to Stitch'  - how we can find confidence in design and composition decisions in textile art.
It certainly has been a challenge - keeping the mix of a basic knowledge of the principles and elements, design styles to inspire, finding good composition and including a wide selection of artist's work.  The format will be similar to 'Connecting Art to Stitch' - a self-study guide that includes Design classes and a great number of shorter exercises to try in each section.   Watch this space....

I did have a chance to go for a holiday to the Dordogne this month.  It was great to do some writing in the quiet of a peaceful cottage in the country, as well as be inspired by so much colour, pattern and textures of the weekly markets and the towns nearby.  You will see many of my photos as starting points for pattern and design exercises in the new book.  Despite the cool and sometimes wet weather in Beaumont-en-Perigord, it was a great break.  Here are some of the wonderful views and textures nearby - I came home with so many wonderful images to inspire the book - design and composition exercises with line, shape, pattern, texture and colour.
Other News -
Studio 21  - our new website.
We will be at the Festival of Quilts
Studio 21 is a group of professional stitched textile artists from the UK and we have an exhibition at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in  Birmingham next month.  Our exhibition is called 'Continuum...a sense of place'.  Most of the space will be our exhibition but we also have an interactive section where we hope people will join in, adding to a long thin landscape piece with their own inspiration.  Join us if you are at the show.
A detail of my 'Meltdown' piece for the exhibition
Teaching -  I will be teaching at Masseria della Zingara in Puglia, Italy next spring and can't wait.  I have heard wonderful reports of the villa and the workshops provided so I am very pleased to be taking part.  You can get more information from My course will be called 'Connecting Design to Stitch' and include design and composition with collage, imagery and stitch based on a personal theme.
Please see additional courses I will be offering in the workshop section of this blog.

WSTA - the new Windsor School of Textile Art - is open for enrolments now. Please visit their website at  for the latest information on courses.  It is great that this established and creative textile school has relocated to the wonderful venue of South Hill Park, Bracknell, Berkshire.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

More from Australia

Not quite the last post from Australia but long overdue -  After Ballarat, I travelled to Melbourne then on to a week of holiday on the Great Ocean Road in NSW -  another beautiful part of Australia I had not visited before.  Made of sandstone the coastal cliffs have been eaten away by strong waves that constantly beat the shores.  A surfer’s paradise - huge waves and beautiful sandy beaches as well as the most dramatic scenery I have seen in years.  A stay in Port Campbell for 4 nights gave us an opportunity to take day trips along the coast.  Here are a few of those views including the 12 (-1) apostles, the bay of islands, London Bridge and the Loch Ard gorge.  Quite wonderful!!!.
Then, on to Hobart, Tasmania for a week that included more sights like Port Arthur, the famous convict colony, and numerous highlights along the coast.  Such a beautiful part of Australia, so lush in vegetation as well as dramatic in history and coastal scenery.  Bruny Island was especially terrific and we took the boat cruise around the tip which was a fantastic experience.  The most southerly tip of Australia…. Next stop Antarctica.
I would recommend the island cruise if you get to Hobart.  We were blessed with a sunny bright, but quite cool day and you can see from the photos how fantastic the scenery was.
Port Arthur was also a great experience. Understanding the life that convicts had when they arrived in Tasmania over 100 years ago was quite a revelation.  Many of the buildings are derelict now, but set in the most beautiful scenery you could imagine.  It was hard to comprehend what life was like for many who found themselves so far away, banished for petty crimes in England.  It is certainly worth a visit if you are visiting Hobart in the future.  I could see so many textures and architectural images I am sure they will find their way into future work.
We also visited the 'Tesselated' pavement on the Tasman penninsula east of Hobart and I was amazed by even more natural pattern.  These 'pan' and 'loaf' formations seem unique to this area and full of rock pools and wildlife.
 While in Tasmania I taught a 3 day workshop to a wonderful group ‘Stitching and Beyond’, a group I had visited before several years back.  A wonderful venue in Woodbridge gave us a great opportunity to explore art and stitch.  Here is some of the great work done during that workshop….well done !!  We even had inspiration from the Royal Wedding that happened the same weekend.  Thanks to the students who are allowing me to show their work.

 On to Brisbane and Sydney to ATASDA groups in both cities. 
                                                         Stay tuned and thanks for reading

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Ballarat and Beyond

Fibrearts Ballarat - that wonderful Easter Textile Forum that runs for almost a week in Ballarat NSW.  I was teaching the ' Connecting Art to Stitch' class and it included a bound sketchbook.  The students were terrific as usual and it was so good to meet women from all over Australia.  We had such fun.
Here are some of their finished pieces.  Very inspirational.  We workded with painted papers, created collages based on our theme, sometimes inspired by modern artist's work, then stitched them together in a mixed media way (fabric that included papers and embellishment).  Image transfer was included and also a little play with disperse transfer dyes.  They also finished a bound book which included more of their drawings and paintings and collage composition as a starting point for future work.  Here is a view of the final work on show and some detailed photos of only some of the wonderful work done.  My thanks to the ladies for allowing me to show their work and I am sorry I couldn't include everyone's pieces.
Our final presentation on the last day of class. 
Lake Wendouree in Ballarat was dry after many years of drought when I was there 3 years ago, but now it looked so different with water, plants and wildlife.  It was really quite beautiful.
On to Melbourne for a couple of days then a weeks break on the Great Ocean Road.  More to come
Stay tuned.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, 25 April 2011


A few weeks has past since my last messages and I am writing this from Port Campbell, on the Great Ocean road, Victoria Australia.  What a journey it has been so far.
First stop was Canberra
After arriving 10 days ago at Sydney, I arived in Canberra ACT, the nation's capital fora workshop teaching to a textile group there.  It was great to be back in Australia and Bonnie and Christine gave me such a welcome.  These two talented ladies have won awards in the World of Wearable art and it was so interesting to talk to them about the show and the challenges of new creations.  I was shown the sites and was able to visit a wonderful exhibition at the National Gallery on the ‘Ballet Russe’ with a display of theatrical backdrops and costumes from the ballet in the early 1900’s, -just wonderful to see especially for anyone interested in fashion and stitched textiles.
My class about Art and Imagery in Stitched textiles and what a great bunch of gals they were.  Here is only a little sample of their finished work.  We had such fun.
Canberra is beautiful, - in a lovely landscape surrounded by mountains with a modern city plan of lakes and contemporary architecture to rival many cities.  My visit was short but also managed to visit the Botanical Gardens (thanks to Beth Miller) and, as always took so many photos.  I learned about 'scribbly' gum patterns caused by moth larvae under the bark of gum trees - amazing lines just like stitch.
More photos from that day include flowers, and the many shrubs and trees typical of the area.  So many textures and colour.

Stay Tuned -
The Fibrearts Forum in Ballarat was great and I had a great opportunity to meet teachers from everywhere.  My class was terrific and I feel I have made some good friends in Australia.  I will add another post soon,  -  Just so many photos to select from - the work was fantastic!!
Bye for now and thanks for reading.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Springtime WISHES

My Wish - protect the trees
Latest News 
Just to tell you about a wonderful exhibition at the Joshua Creek Heritage Centre in north Oakville, Ontario called 'WISHES'. It is work by 'Connections', a Canadian fibre-arts textile group (myself included) who have an exhibition on from March 20 - 17 April.  If you can - try and visit.

A trip to the Netherlands and Germany
Canals, bicycles and the floating Flower market.
Last week was filled with three different experiences, - first, teaching a workshop in Zeist, near Utrecht, for a great group of ladies.  Subjects as diverse as ' wrinkles, bicycles, the female torso, sailing, and crop-circles were developed with many also looking at stripes and geometric shapes as a starting point.  This workshop was new for me and with some art and painting exercises to inspire more random and abstract approaches, it was mainly about finding a creative 'edge' to one's work.  The mixed media collages were great ( as always ) and we worked through transferred images, with compositions ready for stitch.  I look forward to seeing some final stitched pieces.

We then spent two days in Amsterdam, just walking around that beautiful city and visiting the Van Gogh museum - wonderful!.  I had been many years ago, but there has been recently a new modern wing added which had a Picasso exhibition (his work in Paris 1900-1907).  What a bonus!!!   Amsterdam is so lovely, the tall thin houses by the canal (one of which was our B&B), plenty of restaurants and bicycles.

Quilt Art news 
I finished the week travelling to Cologne for an inspiring Quilt Art weekend meeting.  So great to see friends from the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe, catch up on news and make plans for the future.  Many members have been selected for Quilt National in Ohio which opens in June, and other members have exhibitions at the Festival of Quilts and continental Europe.  Our own exhibition 'A slice of Quilt Art' has just travelled to Sitges, Spain for the Spanish Patchwork Association festival - which is on now. It then travels to Prague, Ireland, Budapest and the Netherlands.
We also have a touring exhibition 'Quilt Art - International Expressions' in the USA at the moment, currently in Roanoak, Virginia, travelling to Portland, Oregon, then in September to Doylestown, PA.
Our 25th anniversary QAat25 exhibition has been a wonderful success and has an accompanying book (thanks to Charlotte Yde's creative skills) and is coming back to the UK to Rhyll Library Art Centre in Wales, then to Heidleberg, Germany
Please see our website for details of exhibition tours, times, venues and our books.

I'm getting ready for the BIG trip to Australia 
Sorry I haven't been posting recently, as I am preparing for a long trip to Australia where I will be first teaching in Canberra, then on to the Fibre arts festival in Ballarat, VIC, My husband will join me for a break in Melbourne and on the south coast - the 12 Apostles and a little rest and relaxation.  Then we fly to Hobart, Tasmania for teaching and more beautiful landscape - West coast, Bruni island, Port Arthur and rainforest walks.  Then flying to Brisbane for more teaching and seeing the sights.  Brisbane surely has suffered with other places in Queensland over the last few months, but hopefully life is getting back to normal.  I have never been to that part of Australia so look forward to those spectacular beaches.  We finish our trip with a week in Sydney that includes another workshop and a visit to friends.
It will be be fantastic to visit again. Can't wait.

Just to add how much my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Japan at the moment.  The earthquake in Christchurch was bad enough.... this horrific situation is terrible and it will take years for life to get back to normal.
Again, thanks for reading.... I will keep you posted....perhaps from Australia.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

A Butterfly Break

Recently, while teaching at Farncombe Estates, I was told about a Butterfly Exhibition at Wisley Gardens and decided to pay a visit.  It had to be the best day this month and although cold, there were blue, cloudless skies. The glass houses were completed in 2007 and are beautiful. 
The tropical section was certainly a hot house - at least 30C+ and so humid it reminded me of Singapore.  The butterflies were magical and here are a few images I took that day - once my camera adjusted to the temperature.
Equally fascinating, another section of the glasshouse was the arid desert plants - cactus, palm trees and succulents.  I could see how they might inspire textures or graphic shapes in future work. More photos gave me a chance to experiment with my new camera.
I think I can see a sketchbook or two with the contrast of hard/soft, humid/dry, dark/light or green and browns

It has amazed me, looking at the photographs taken that day how, in under 2 hours, I had travelled between two very different climates - one with dark lush leaves, tropical flowers and butterflies - to spiky, hard, dry vegetation, as colourful, but in more subtle ways.  I know it isn't the same as being there in the real landscape, but it gave me a glimpse of what to expect.   My sister took these photos last week near Sedona, Arizona where she is on holiday at the moment..... a desert area that I would like to visit one day.  
More News.... 
Future Workshops 
Australia is my spring destination for teaching this year in Canberra, Ballarat (the FibreArts Forum), Hobart, Brisbane and Sydney.  It is always a real treat to visit this part of the world, everyone is so friendly and we all have a universal love of creativity with fabric and stitch.  My challenge at the moment is organising my one suitcase of 20kilos for that long haul flight.  On the way I will be touching down at Singapore, this time there will be no chance to see visit the Botanical Garden.  I no doubt will return in mid May after my travels with hundreds of inspiring photos.  Perhaps there is a series of work based on Australia  in the future?

The Fesitval of Quilts, Birmingham - August 11-14
I will also be teaching a one day class called 'Digital Imagery in Stitched Textiles' - which promises to be fun.  A review of Photoshop Elements, then with design and composition, one collage in paper is taken further to a transferred image on cloth.

Farncombe Estate Workshop - August 26-28  Creative Bound Stitched Sketchbooks
In two days we paint paper and stitch together sketchbooks.  Further collage and art exercises are introduced within those pages. See the Workshop and New Work pages for an idea of the sketchbook you could create on your own personal theme.
More workshops are posted on my website and again here in this site.  This doesn't include all entries in my diary but those that are open to anyone.  I will have more news in future posts about my teaching destinations later in the year.

And on a more serious note
Just to say that our thoughts are with everyone in Christchurch, New Zealand and as they continue to cope with the aftermath of the earthquake. I remember fondly a brief 3 day visit to this beautiful city a few years ago, especially the cathedral and park nearby.

Thanks for reading.....

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Mixed Messages

It never ceases to amaze me how we all view the world in such different ways.  Usually, every time I am taking a photo I am practising composition as well as looking in depth at detail, colour and textures.   There are exceptions........ There was no time for planning this image when I was on the  motorway travelling near Brussels back from teaching recently.... (no I wasn’t’ driving).  Photographs of wonderful ‘marks’ -  images in the night with colour and energy as the cars were racing past. -         I love when this happens.
The workshop in Maasbracht, in Southern Holland, was
‘Mixed Messages’, and we concentrated on words and messages on a personal theme.  One of the first exercises was a collage composition in black and white.  when colour is eliminated, we have a better chance of seeing simple design shapes, tonal values and the overall composition more easily.  When black and white photos are edited by  lightening and increasing the contrast, they will become more abstract.  New detail and information emerges.  This enhanced image can be easier to work with for drawing and sketching as you see more ‘design’ possibilities.  When colour does not get in the way, it is surprising how different the images will look.

       Don’t forget to isolate these areas further with a simple template or 'L' apertures to see the new design.... the essence of the original image will always be there.

       Any black and white images printed as photocopies can be creatively collaged together with interesting results. 
Subtle colour can be added to black and white paper with coloured pencil, or a light brusho or watercolour wash. Always include a bit of personal writing and words for added interest in the composition.  Later simple colour can be added with stitch by machine or by hand.  Perhaps a layer of lightly dyed sheer could be included.  These mixed media paper compositions, kept small are good practise for ‘free machine’quilting (stitching using a darning foot) -  it is only paper after all!!     
      Remember these collages are lightly glued together and backed with a thin wadding (batting) or a piece of interfacing with a backing fabric before machine stitching. 
      In the class, the students brought a variety of themes offering a wonderful array of subjects, colour inspiration and reference design material.  It is always exciting for me to be allowed to learn about these topics whether it is to do with local history, distant travels or the recent effects of the weather and flooding in many places both here and abroad.    Here are a few of the colour collages done in class.
For the workshop we worked with a variety of different compositions and the results were amazing. Here are just a small sample of some of the final stitched pieces. They also include disperse transfer dyed fabrics, dyed, stamped and painted fabrics, sheers and net.  This ' collage and stitch' approach could create a new way of 'looking' at a subject or prompt a change of direction in one's own work.
My thanks to the ladies for allowing me to show their creative and inspired work.   
....'Mixed media with a message.'  
Please remember that all images on this site are fully protected by international copyright law and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the artist. 

Thanks for reading.... watch this space.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Images in a Landscape

The use of photo imagery in art quilts and stitched textiles is here to stay!!
Evening at Lake Mungo, NSW
We love our digital cameras and how easy it is to record information from the world around us – from personal photos of family and friends to favourite places or details and textures in the world around us.
The ‘Landscape’ as a composition is one that we all can identify with.  The horizon line, wherever it is placed, gives us a focus and settles our ‘eye’. This composition is usually used to reflect the nature, but life in the city and the urban skyline could also be considered. The ‘landscape’ of our thoughts, feelings and memories could conjure up other images.
      It is not enough to just use a photo of a favourite scene –a local view, our back garden, or images from recent holiday travels.  The really interesting information that the landscape collage could contain might include 
a) views at different times of the day or seasons, including close-up details and textures, 
b) historical reference, symbols, images of artefacts – stories from the past,  or 
c) our own personal diary writings, poems, experiences or memories from the place. 
These different aspects, especially your writing of the subject in a collage, will enlighten and engage the viewer even more.
      A recent workshop using digital imagery at Missenden Abbey has prompted me to share some student work and ideas that came out of the class.  I am so landscape inspired in my own work, and very focused on a specific theme, that I constantly find it exciting to see how others interpret their own personal journeys.
Student examples of long and thin collages in paper
In most of my workshops I ask students to collect information and photographs on a personal subject.  They  provide black and white as well as colour photocopies that will be used in collages.  These compositions take on a different emphasis depending on the workshop theme.  In this class, students worked with a variety of subjects – from ancient trees and forests, sea scapes and beaches to Chicago, with glass reflections of skyscrapers and modern architecture.  Creating collages in a long and thin format - horizontally or vertically makes them more dynamic. First we painted the black and white copies of their photos and the handwritten personal writings with Brusho a watercolour dye (for paper only). We incorporated the colour copies making interesting collages when torn and layered.
more Missenden Abbey work
     This is done relatively quickly – these simple torn or cut compositions are glued onto thin white copy paper.  Later they would be photographed or scanned into the computer, the image printed onto heat transfer ‘t-shirt’ paper, then ironed onto cotton. Extra fabric or paper could be added to the surface. It is backed with thin wadding (batting) and  fabric they are then machine stitched.  Alternatively the paper collage could be layered and machine stitched as a mixed media piece with other embellishment possibilities.
       I work with a collage of imagery in black and white, coloured and painted photocopies in the early stages of most of my own art quilts and textile pieces.  Sometimes this inspiration is in sketchbook form or they are created on large pieces of paper.  This way, it gives me a good idea of what the end result will look like.  
      There are still many choices to be made before the piece is finally finished......What size will it be and where will it hang?  Will fabrics be purchased, painted, dyed or photo  transferred? Will interesting art surfaces be needed - screen printing or stamp effects?  What stitch techniques will be used -  machine or by hand? Will extra embellishment- wools, metal needed?    This is only a beginning to a new creative and exciting stitched textile.

Materials for a landscape collage
  • Brusho paint – a watercolour dye (Colourcraft Ltd, Sheffield watercolour paints or procien dyes will all work for painting paper.
  • Black and white photo copies (preferably your own images) and colour copies for collage
  • Writing – personal memories, poems, research information – handwritten black and white copies.
  • glue stick and white copy paper   
See my wide and thin paper "Meltdown" collage in the ‘New Work’ section – which will be finished in fabric and stitch for an exhibition at the Festival of Quilts in August, 2011 with 'Studio 21'.  
Many other samples of collages that inspired new work can be found in my books.

Watch this space..... more workshop ideas and photos to come.               Thanks for reading

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A New Year - 2011

Every January, despite the weather in the UK,  there is always a feeling of optimism for the new year ahead.  Looking forward to spring…. more sunshine and longer days….. buds on trees…… new leaf green, and the prospect of flowers and summer. And if you live ‘down under’, with the holidays finished, the glorious colour of autumn will begin soon.  It is a time to get inspired for all the creative challenges ahead of us in 2011.
I love the 4 seasons and in southern England, with low sun, long shadows, foggy mists, water reflections, and subtle green/browns in the landscape. There is so much beauty just around the corner - it never ceases to amaze me.  Yes, we have had our fair share of snow this winter, but last week it all melted, the sun was shining and I am looking forward to what January has in store.
Photos from Henley-on-Thames, New Year's day, 2011 
Playing with a new camera, I had great fun taking photos of grids and pattern for future design exercises. Wandering the streets in Henley, I saw them everywhere.  From shop windows, the pavement below, to gates and fences – grids and patterns were everywhere.  Laying a geometric pattern in front, or on top of any image, can give the information a completely abstract appearance. 

The background would change as I walked slowly from left to right by parallel iron bars or an ornate gate, showing different aspects of the background view.  Here, I have taken a section between the bars and enlarged it for detail.  To make the connection between design, composition and stitch, I would consider patterns with wire and threads…. holes burned in regular shapes from painted or dyed lutradur, woven networks made with stitch through soluble fabric surfaces. 
I have worked with repeat squares for many quilt art pieces in the past and found a satisfying symmetry to that regular style of composition.  Look at my gallery on for some of my 'square' art quilts.
For more ideas on stitch possibilities have a look at Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn’s book Grids to Stitch.
Another book worth recommending is Pattern, Colour and Form by Carolyn Genders - an inspirational connection between other art and craft disciplines (ceramics, and glass) and art textiles with stitch.

Resolutions for 2011???
They are all too familiar ……  keep up the sketchbooks……allow more time for my own work…find more time for playing the piano …work on a language (you would think being Canadian I would be fluent in French – sadly not!!!)…go on a diet!      
'LESS IS MORE'  -  simplifying, de-cluttering, focusing on new work and writing.

Wishing you all a healthy and productive 2011.  
My year will include travel and teaching in Australia and Canada.   I will keep you posted.                
Thanks for reading.