Planet Textile Threads

January 18, 2018

Margaret Cooter

The End of Pink by Kathryn Nuernberger
A book with a gotta-look-twice cover (2016; via)
a gotta-read-twice poem
My First Peacock
I keep a white peacock behind my ear,
a wasn't, a fantail of wasn'ts,
nevered feathers upon evered
falling all over the grass.
When a green peacock landed
on my shoulder to shimmy
its iridescent trills, everyone asked
if it was my first peacock.
It's impolite to speak of the translucent tail
hanging down behind your ear
like a piece of hair brushed back
in a moment lost to thought.
To make the well-wishers uncomfortably shift
their weight by saying, No,
first I had this white peacock
Because it's not anyone's fault
who can't see the glaucoma
eyes on mist plumes
that don't see them back.
So I say, Yes. And I say
how very emerald joy is,
how very leafed with lapis and gilding.

Kathryn Nuernberger (via)

"Kathryn Nuernberger was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on August 1, 1980. She earned a BA from the University of Missouri, an MFA from Eastern Washington University, and a PhD from Ohio University.

"Nuernberger is the author of The End of Pink ... which received the 2015 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, given to recognize a superior second book of poetry by an American poet. She is also the author of Rag & Bone, which won the Antivenom Prize from Elixir Press and was published in 2011." (via)

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 18, 2018 08:58 AM

January 17, 2018

Margaret Cooter


Apologies if you've already seen these photos on instagram - I am being lazy to post them again, but on the other hand, how gorgeous can feathers be? Do click on the links to see what the entire bird looks like.
Vulturine guinea fowl

Crimson tragopan

Wild turkey

Silver pheasant

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 17, 2018 08:41 PM

Drawing Tuesday - Tate Britain

In the "big hall" were some sculptures chosen by Rachel Whiteread, whose work was on show nearby. I'd spotted Barry Flanagan's rope on a previous visit - its complexity, amid the simplicity of the columns, is so enticing -
In the background, works by Richard Deacon and Linda Benglis
I started with that crack in the floor and then struggled with the rope.
Looked a lot, erased a lot, redrew a lot ...
Janet K drew Richard Deacon's "For Those who have Ears" -

Janet B, still using her large square sketchbook, found a Henry Moore -

 Carol was captivated by the frame of "the Ophelia painting" - she'd noticed a little lever on the inside that allowed the painting to be removed or replaced -
 Sue got a good angle on Jacob Epstein's "Torso" -
 Joyce went after some Whiteread castings (under a chair, inside a hot water bottle) and that Linda Benglis's "Quartered Meteor" -
Having seen what Whiteread did with flattened packaging, Joyce used her own materials (eg sweet wrappers from xmas) -
Also on the extracurricular front, Janet K has been drawing some of her little treasures, including a thimble case her son brought back from a school trip to China when he was 12 -

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 17, 2018 01:47 PM

January 15, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Litter picking, Hammersmith

The lively dog was having some difficulty getting over the awkward wall to go and frisk beside the water and I was about to find out why.
He managed eventually - and then it was our turn to get over the wall - it was surprisingly difficult. This little triangle was the site for a Thames foreshore cleanup -
 Thames21 supplied bags, litter-picker sticks, gloves, wellies, and we set to -
The polystyrene was disintegrating into ever-smaller pieces, and endless process; there was no need to move from one spot, but it would have taken quite a while to fill a bag with this pernicious stuff -
 And it seemed that no matter how much went into the bags, there would always be more still on the ground -
 After an hour, quite a few bags were full -
Plastic bottles needed to be counted before being bagged up -
 With the rubbish cleared, it was into the pub for a bit of socialising -
 after which I walked along the Thames Path for a short while -
These sessions happen every month, depending on the times of the tides. The foreshore doesn't "belong" to any of the London boroughs, or other organisation, so it's volunteers keeping the rubbish levels down.

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 15, 2018 04:59 PM

Neki Rivera

epic weekend

snow in the mountains,rain in the valleys.

i also had time to cut myself badly while changing the sponge bar in the k machine.
sunday afternoon at the er  4 stitches and tetanus shot.of course it had to be the right hand.
will lay low until next monday when the stitches will be removed.
still cringe when i walk past the studio.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at January 15, 2018 10:55 AM

January 14, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Painting: Surface and Gesture, week 1

Surface of the table has already, if inadventently, been painted
During the demonstration I experienced a strong urge to leave immediately - this seemed all too much for me grappling with the fluid messiness of paint and having to choose colour and then working with/from the image of a face - I must have been mad to sign up for this...

But everyone else looked so enthusiastic and pleasant and anticipatory. I stuck it out. "Start somewhere and see what happens."
 My images were "any old thing" from the most convenient newspaper. I turned the first one upside down and mixed some acrylic colours, very thin, for a watercolour effect. The one on the right was my first attempt; second attempt works better. Both are frightening!
 The palette I had chosen was deliberately limited - couldn't resist the pink - plus an orange and a blue. This is an early stage of "the dental implant couple" -

 ... and the "finished" version - I felt very bold using thicker, undiluted paint -
 Second attempt - "The Frightwigs" -
 Well, y'know, this could actually be a bit of fun, if I were to let myself enjoy it. But for years I've been avoiding "faces" and/or telling myself they don't interest me. Which is the sort of negative thinking that gets no-one anywhere. "It's one short class in a five-class course," I was telling myself; "the others have different starting points. You like surprises when you attend a course. You like to learn something new. You like to push against brick walls. And yet, you're being downright silly to react so stubbornly to faces."

Hmm, plenty to think about - and say - about this matter of challenging oneself, or not, by taking courses that put us out of our comfort zone. Another time.

Some gestural inspirations -

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 14, 2018 12:35 PM

January 13, 2018

Margaret Cooter

"Just looking"

After yesterday's dispiriting trip into town to (maybe) get a book, today's trip into town was unexpected and fun. Tagging along as Tom and Gemma tracked down a few purchase possibilities.

In and out of the shops we went, me with just a camera in hand. Lots of lovely things to see... but nothing I wanted to take home.

At Liberty's -

The fabric department

Old furniture and things that look best in groups

Jolly wooden bowls

Jolly pots
 ... and a series of "faces everywhere" - mostly ceramic -

 At Selfridges  ...
Artwork by Hugo McCloud - the polythene sacks have been used by waste pickers in the Philippines;
the installation "plays on the concepts of waste, value, sculpture and ... the sublime beauty of boxing"

Appealing stonewear made by Danish company Broste

 Then on to Anthropologie -

Staplers, yes, but not pleasant to use...

The bag to have "on hand" when you're expecting trouble....

Living greenery and sleek staircase
Hoping this video will work - it's a case of puzzling asymmetry, or is it symmetry? -

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 13, 2018 10:00 PM

Dijanne Cevaal

Urchin Traveller's Blanket

This Urchin Traveller's Blanket has been inspired by early morning walks on the beach at Atauro Island, it was the only time of day you could walk because it was very hot the whole time I was there. Each morning I would hope to find an urchin- I just love the shapes and patterning. There is a zillion colonial knots  as the piece measures 60cm x 85 cm .I wasn't looking to make them anatomically correct- just the feeling that they inspired. The background stitching is done with a feather stitch in a very thin silk thread as I did not want the stitching to overwhelm the urchins.. When you hold this piece in your hands it feels amazing and matched my delight and amazement of encountering the urchins on the beach.

There is still time to join the online  Traveller's Blanket class which starts on 21 January. I will be  joining actively into the stitching this time as I have many traveller's blankets to make this year for an exhibition at the end of June.  The class fee is $75AUS and will encourage you to tell your own story using simple shapes and simple embroidery stitches. Email me if you are interested in joining and  I will send an information sheet.

The photo below is of the back of the  TB. I am  really quite chuffed with the back- it has a very different feel to the front , and I like the way things have become a bit more abstracted. The last two photos are closeup so you can perhaps see the texture of this piece.

 Now onto the french roadside weeds and grapevines travellers blanket. Have to print some fabric first and then  more stitching!

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at January 13, 2018 01:43 PM

Margaret Cooter

Walking research

A quick trip to Stanfords, the map shop, to research the proposed walk along the Camino de Santiago.

The Camino starts off in the mountains - lovely map, scary terrain! -
 There's a (top) shelf full of books, but even lifting my head to look at them brought on dizziness -
 This one seems to be definitive, updated annually -
And this book, by Rene Freund, was available - one man's account of the journey. But I bought nothing at this point. Still mulling.

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 13, 2018 10:33 AM

January 12, 2018

Olga Norris

Looking back and forward

(image above from here)
I visited the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1982 to see a Kandinsky exhibition.  But it was the architecture of the museum which struck a deep chord.  I was with a friend, going round the show at different speeds, and it was looking down to see where she was that it suddenly struck me: this building is a metaphor for life.  I was looking back at where I had been; even my friend was part of my past: she was a colleague from my previous job.
It was even clear that as one progresses, the perspective looking back changes.  Not everything can be seen clearly.  Recently, presently, I have been using the spiral to look back.  For instance, in trying to clarify how to move on with my work, I am first looking back at what I have done to get here in my work blog.
Last year I interrupted my flow of work to look back in a different way.  I had reached a point where there are now memories that only I have, and I have photographs of people who are now only known to me, so I decided to put together a book for my great niece explaining who all these folks are, their characters, and how they are related to each other and to her.  I also included anecdotes, some of which were illustrated by the photographs.
A book of photos with text is so much easier to dip into than a box full of snaps - or even a photo album.  So much more than simple, or even lengthy captions can be put into the text of a book.   Photobox was having a sale last autumn, so I took the opportunity.
I so regret not asking more questions of all my relations when I was young, especially as both my grandmothers' generation had lived through so much history - the wars, the migrations, etc., and so many changes.  I wanted to do a little bit to pass on my own memories of individuals and incidents, so that perhaps the youngsters would be prompted to ask me further questions while I am still around and capable of answering! 

by Olga Norris ( at January 12, 2018 01:23 PM

Neki Rivera


in kyoto, bitter cold,but beautiful.
have a good weekend and stay warm

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at January 12, 2018 09:00 AM

January 11, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday

It stands on the Goswell Road
Today the poem comes from you -- this stump-fantasy cries out for some sort of ode, or at least a haiku. Go to it! (No prizes, just a bit of fun....)

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 11, 2018 09:18 AM

Recreational learners, this is for you

I've written a lot on this blog about various courses, of various durations and in various art and textile subjects, that I've attended and enjoyed over the years. Back in the day they had to fit within the demands of a day job, and now they are one of my main pursuits.

Coming up this term are a painting course called "surface and gesture" (5 weeks) and another 8 weeks of japanese woodblock printing ... more about those later. These involve getting to a places across town, sometimes in rush hour - worth it when you get there, but the travel isn't something I particularly look forward to. That's the stuff I do during the day.

Last term I started a new thing - online classes ( - these are free, can be done anywhere, and present a variety of subjects through videos, articles, extra links, and the occasional quiz, presented in weekly segments. (You are in control of how much you do, at what pace - and whether you finish or not.) I started with 3 weeks of opera; then went on to 6 weeks of animal viruses and then 2 weeks about influenza, those two because I had lots of unanswered questions about whether to get a flu jab. [Yes, one should.]

This term I'll be doing a course on the weather (, and another on Scottish palaeography ... that's old handwriting, you know, the hard-to-decipher stuff ( And while searching out the links to those courses, I found "In the night sky: Orion" and couldn't resist ... ( ... it's 4 weeks, available from now till 21 February, should you fall behind. 

These courses are "just" for interest. Not because I'm bored (that notion is "so very last year") but, well, why not find out something you never yet knew? ... if not now, when?

Ok, that's the stuff I do late in the evenings, curled up with the laptop. Earlier in the evenings, in London, there are often museum "lates" and other events, eg this showcase of mechanical engineering - tickets no longer available, alas. (Check out ianvisits for a weekly listing, or wade through eventbrite. Then: act fast.) 

And there is the wonderful Gresham College.

Founded in 1597 by a philanthropist banker - the world needs more philanthropist bankers - the college appoints professors who talk to the public about ...
"Unusual"? I went to one of those lectures - on the history of sourdough - or rather, the role of bread throughout history, and the changes to the availability of leavening agents. Fascinating. You can watch it here.


Driverless cars? -

And there are dozens, or even hundreds, more...

If 6pm is free time for you - maybe you have that glass of wine handy - the lectures are live-streamed on the Gresham website, and on Facebook. Or, watch the entire range of past lectures here. Warning: this can be addictive!

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 11, 2018 09:04 AM

January 10, 2018

Neki Rivera

not bad

not the states i know, but still quite a lot on the hills.the city was spared.
soup time.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at January 10, 2018 09:00 AM

January 09, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Museum of the Mind

Last week's visit to Bethlem Museum of the Mind (in Beckenham, via Croydon) was most interesting. First of all, Bethlem Royal Hospital has a long history - it was founded in 1247 and has moved from location to location over the years. From the name of this mad-house (or lunatic asylum)  comes the word "bedlam". In the 18th century, it was a recreational outing to go and stare at the peculiar behaviour of the patients - this was stopped in 1770.

Another now-reviled practice that was stopped (by act of Parliament in 1890) was restraint, with chains and later with straight-jackets. ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), which started in the 1930s,  has found a new, if still controversial, niche. 

Of course the entire history of treatment of mental illness was not what we were there for, and we sat down and did some drawing, focusing on the current exhibition, The Art of Recovery (till 24 Feb) - sculptures created by wounded, sick and injured service personnel and their families.
Life sized figures made of metal mesh

The project was coordinated by Al Johnson, who also made this piece, Broken

Joyce's drawing
 Joyce also spent time with the ink-blots -
The Rorsach Test was used until the 1960s
 Janet drew two of the "Art of Recovery" figures -

 ... and I started with this humble, but historical, object -
 ... got the perspective a bit wrong, and then tried to add its context -
 Moving quickly to extra-curricular activities -

Joyce had been to the RachelWhiteread exhibition and seen her use of flattened packaging -
We suggested she paint the background white - the difference was even more striking as the silver sheen caught the light -
Janet had spent time drawing her Christmas table decoration -
Something that struck me particularly at the museum was a large, intricate, complicated painting that made me think of the work of Richard Dadd, a 19th century painter who created most of his work while he was in psychiatric hospitals. This work, called The Maze, is by a Canadian painter called William Kurelek - he was admitted in 1952 and given room to paint - the painting can be interpreted as a means of justify this privilege. He describes it as a painting of the inside of his skull, and provided a description in his biography, Someone With Me.

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 09, 2018 10:00 PM

Olga Norris

Approaches to seaweed

Angie Lewin
Reading Debbie Lyddon's blog post about her recent work with seaweed, my mind wandered to other views and uses of seaweed.  The most usual can be seen in the delicate watercolours of Angie Lewin.
Debbie Lyddon has used the seaweed itself to stitch and to wrap.
And I remembered the intriguing and magical work of Sue Corr which both Margaret Cooter and I wrote about in 2014.
There is a different aspect of seaweed explored by Sue Corr here.
And then I was inspired by seaweed in the work-in-progress below.

by Olga Norris ( at January 09, 2018 03:09 PM

Neki Rivera

this vacay has been productive,although many tries have ended on the floor or the trash. this one is a wip,so far no problems.famous last words.

on the gardening front lots have been done 
albeit the heavy rains.
more this week!
but the solanum is not complaining. bought it a month ago barely 50 cms and now it's over a meter high and bushy.the japanese lilies on the background are also doing very well. 4 small rhizomes brought last year by my brother in law from their garden . we'll have flowers this year.
tomorrow back to school. haven't touched the japanese books (╯︵╰)

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at January 09, 2018 09:00 AM

January 08, 2018

Neki Rivera

trapped in a novel

fortunately it's neither best seller reading nor pulp fiction.
the worst 10 cms of my weaving life slow and nerve wreacking, it is like doing pick up weave.i keep weaving just to see if it gets better because i don't quit easily..
this warp defies all common knowledge and pop beliefs. linseed dressing to strengthen the fibers and avoid fraying? haha. hairspray to tame hairiness? ditto.spraying water ? total derision.
i now understand why countermarch looms were created and the deeper the more efficient.
looks like this household is going to have some posh linen dish rags.
just waiting to see if i can have a word with mr.darcey. (-_-)

neki desu 
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by (neki desu) at January 08, 2018 09:00 AM

Margaret Cooter

Peter Doig (at Michael Werner)

First, my favourite in the show (till 17 February ) -
Figures at Night, 2017 - oil on stretched craft paper
 Some of the paintings were on vellum and had folds and wrinkles of the substrate painted in. (Why?) Others were a sort of series, or exploration, or preparation ... "the Rastafarian Lion of Judah" -

 The room - the Winter Garden - in this Mayfair gallery was somewhat splendid (the house was built in the 1740s) -
Peter Doig currently lives and works in Trinidad.  "Doig was a friend and collaborator with Derek Walcott, the Nobel prize-winning Caribbean poet who died this year and whose epic work Omeros transposes the myths of Homer to the West Indies. Doig’s new paintings are similarly Homeric, or Walcottian. He sees his Trinidad home as a place of giants, monsters, blind singers. ...  all the memories and references that end up in Doig’s paintings are transfigured into a bright palette of dreams. This is imaginative art of the highest order." (via)

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 08, 2018 08:28 AM

January 07, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Floor-standing sculptural mandalas

An informative talk at Waddington Custot gallery, Cork St, by Jon Wood on the work of David Annesley (b.1936), who began making sculptures of welded steel in the 1960s. He studied under Anthony Caro at St Martins School of Art, 1958-62. Before that he had trained as a pilot in the RAF, and it was contended that one way of looking at the works was as aerial views. And the size of the circles was the diameter of a fuselage....
 "The artist Kenneth Noland, who was a close friend, saw Annesley’s sculptures as the extension of colour field painting: as painting got flatter, Annesley saw the potential of sculpture to take colour to another dimension." (via)
 The reflection of colours in Untitled (1969) was particularly alluring -

 As were the shadows elsewhere -
and the sinuousness of the ogee shapes -
Some of the works had been remade, the originals having perished in a warehouse fire in the 1990s.

More words about the exhibition are here.

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 07, 2018 09:06 PM

Olga Norris

A fascinating read in black and white

Grisaille glass panel with unintended colour: 'stained' glass (image from here)

Today I finished reading Monochrome: Painting in Black and White, the catalogue of the exhibition currently on at the National Gallery in London.  I completed the book in two long sittings - it was a real page-turner for me, full of interesting history, and giving me a thought-provoking perspective on monochrome work right up to the present day.
I knew as soon as I saw news of the exhibition that the subject is a great one, but I never felt any urge to see the show.  I was simply keen to read the book.  And indeed the catalogue is full of essential images which are not in the exhibition. I certainly did not feel the absence of examples of great monochrome art - I can now look those up, and keep my eyes open to look with greater scrutiny, if needed, at works I encounter in future.
The reviews - here, and here, and here - are various, but did not persuade me that I need to go to the exhibition for real.  It was the information, the history, the examples, the comparisons, and the ideas which have excited me.

by Olga Norris ( at January 07, 2018 06:36 PM

January 06, 2018

Margaret Cooter

Four reading

Library books in various stages of being read - in bath, bed, bus, or on the sofa - now that my latest pair of glasses make reading easier - no more "double lines" or having to close one eye, what joy.

Jane Urquhart is a Canadian author whose books always seem to involve art or artists in some way, at least all those I have read do ... the first such was The Underpainter (described in this scholarly article), the chief character of which is coming to terms with his personal history in a series of paintings called The Erasures. Her latest book is described as "a novel of melancholy" in the NYTimes' review's title (I have not read the review). The artist appears in the first chapter, in a photograph; the character who appears in the second chapter sees his work, a mural in Gander airport (the novel is set in 1960, the days when propellor planes refuelled at Gander after crossing the Atlantic). I look forward the chapter 3 and the rest of the book, melancholy or not.

Donna Leon's detective novels, set in Venice where she lives, can have grisly scenes but I enjoy the main character, Guido Brunetti, and his colleagues with all their irritations. This 1995 novel has computers doing some of the work, but mobile phones haven't made the scene yet. However there is prescient, if somewhat jokey, mention of avoiding using plastic bottles - and from this interview, it seems that ecology will be rearing its head more fiercely in subsequent novels (there are now 26).

Sea Room is about the Shiants, three tiny islands in the Hebrides, home to half a million puffins, which Adam Nicolson inherited (and has now passed to his own son). Read the first chapter here.

The little grey book, one of the 125 Persephone reprints of neglected or forgotten books by 20th centure writers (mostly women), is Saplings by Noel Streatfeild, whose ballet-themed books I devoured in early adolescence - Ballet Shoes sold 10million copies by the time of her death. Saplings was her tenth book for adults.

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 06, 2018 06:24 PM

"Please do not touch"

Outside the Rachel Whiteread exhibition at Tate Britain (till 21 January) are some sculptures she chose, including this 1967 piece by Barry Flanagan. The instruction caught my eye -
... and was repeated here and there within the exhibition ...

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 06, 2018 05:24 PM