Planet Textile Threads

June 28, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - British Museum

We met in Room 41, the one with the Sutton Hoo treasure and other early medieval items, such as the Cuerdale Hoard, 40 kg of coins, ingots and hacksilver found in Lancashire, dating to 905-910.
Intriguingly, "Bone pins hint that the silver was parcelled up in cloth bags" - and there's a bone pin in my drawing (though you'd be hard put to spot it) -





 Technique of the week - using the side of a crayon or even a pencil for instant shading -
Afterwards we went to Pushkin House nearby to see an exhibition of Russian drawing. It's on till 3 August, open 2-5pm "most days".
carbon paper on light box

One of a suite of four - the lines looking rather like modern music scores

3D elements - "rather Anselm Kiefer", we thought

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 28, 2016 10:28 AM

Olga Norris


This year there were far fewer paintings which made an impression on me, but those that did were distinctive.  The first that wowed me was by Hughie O'Donohue: The Girl from Stellata.  It is a big piece and was one of the few which held its own in the chaos on the walls (although it makes a less than successful image on a blog!).

As ever Sonia Lawson's work attracted, and in particular her River Revisited
The muted colours, having to look hard to see the different animals and elements, the repeats, the patterns, the calm, the subtlety all made this a wondrous piece for me.  I was able to get up close and lose myself in it.
Ian McKeever's two gouaches on paper Portrait of a Woman 4 and 5 are lovely, but they lost so much of their effect amongst such disparate competition.  And although Anselm Kiefer's Bose Blumen attracted my attention and my recognition from the other side of the gallery, it too felt distracted by the surroundings.
My favourite painting is Mick Moon's Evening Fishing, which like the Lawson I was able to approach at eye level, and thoroughly delight in the subtle colours and delicate drawing on a sea of wood grain.
Although there were other paintings which attracted, these three reproduced here were the ones which gave me joy, and which may also have inspired me.

by Olga Norris ( at June 28, 2016 10:14 AM

Neki Rivera

on process and post prod

it was ok,but wishy washy and the shape stood dominant bcse of scale and texture.the design problem faced was integrating the shape to the background which on the other hand had not enough variety.

paynes grey all over; dark and gloomy, like the week that was.
better but the shape still stood out dominant also the dark framing drew too much attention towards the small squares were competing for attention.

covered the small squares with some torn tissue paper and added more under them .nickel azo gold you rock!

added washi to the top  center and to the small squares to soften them.  as an aside, have you tried to tear washi?
ripped some of the edges of the textured square and wiped off some of the dark framing, softening it. totally addicted to  alcohol erasing!
 i think it needs some more work, but one has to learn when to say: enough, lets move on.

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at June 28, 2016 08:00 AM

June 27, 2016

Olga Norris

Favourite room

At the Summer Exhibitions in the past, on the whole the Small Weston Room has been dedicated to tiny paintings all crammed in both horizontally and vertically way up the walls.  From time to time, however, a change is made, and this year the room is dedicated to the photographs of Bernd and Hilla Becher.
Water Towers: (Bahnhof)
It is wonderful to see just one group of their photographs of industrial buildings, but to have five groups is just such a bonus.  The love, respect, and attention to detail shown in these disciplined photographs, showing disappearing industrial buildings as a kind of sculpture make these works thoroughly captivating.  The multiples, the collections satisfy both in the similarities and the diversities shown.
I fell in love with their work when I saw a few of the photographs in the collection at the Pompidou Centre in Paris many years ago, and my admiration has grown steadily since then.

by Olga Norris ( at June 27, 2016 05:43 PM

Margaret Cooter

Blast from the past - 1975

The 70s, a time of floaty dresses in my world. And long hair. And wearing contact lenses. Student hi-jinks and parties, though it was my then-husband who was the student ... and it was in Cambridge that this photo was taken. Who knew then that, four decades later, the girl in the foreground would head a theatre company and become my stepdaughter?

And didn't we take fuzzy, blurry photos then, unable to see immediately that they needed re-taking. Even so, it was amazing to come across this one - a rare survival.

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 27, 2016 09:49 AM

Blast from the past - open studio

Three years ago, June 2013, we had an Open Studio - Tony, Mark (photographers); Sabi, me (textiles). Posts are here and  here,  It was quite a bit of work to get it all together, but it was worth it. Like having a retrospective!

Three years later I'm looking at the items that were sold and am quite happy to let go of many of them. What's alarming is, how many are still in the same places on the walls, undisturbed for three years!

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 27, 2016 09:28 AM

Neki Rivera

oh dear

away longer than i expected but back to the land of the living.
the website has a tiny thing that i am not able to resolve, but after tinkering with it for a week and tearing my hair i just went ahead and published. things were learned along the way, so not all was  loss of hair and headaches.
so  here  are the fruits of my efforts, not overly designed in trying to keep things simple.except for the about animation that is ;) please let me know if there are misconducts esp. the mobile site that drove me nuts.
disregard the unsolvable @ that doesn't come up , but it's still clickable.  the image is there, properly linked. go figure.

turning a page here's the first exercise of lesson three which was cruciform composition.think it has enough variety in the quadrants and the cross looks integrated with the background. more tomorrow.

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at June 27, 2016 08:00 AM

June 26, 2016

Margaret Cooter

All things right and dutiful

Much if not all of my time is currently taken up with getting Tony's photos ready for the "Four States Four Minds" exhibition - 16 photos to frame, and yet more to be mounted and bagged for the browser. And everything labelled.
So far, the preparations haven't been easy. My deadline is 10am tomorrow. There's no time to be lost.

(The "party" is on Saturday 2 July, 2pm-6pm, at Hastings Art Forum gallery, St Leonards, should you be in the neighbourhood.)

All shall be well, and all shall be well.

(next day)

Here they are, framed and labelled and cosy in their bubble wrap, 14 photos in five groupings (indicated by the different stickers) -
A further couple of dozen photos have been put in mounts for the browser, for immediate purchase and taking home. Getting this all together  hasn't been straightforward, but it's ready.

I'm really looking forward to seeing all the photos - three others were on the trip, after all - together. 

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 26, 2016 10:36 PM

Barbarity in the bushes

Murder and mayhem in the shrubbery next door. What was - yesterday - dense foliage thrusting out between the fence has been reduced to ... nothing ...
 Perhaps you can see the chain-saw slaughter that has taken place - entire trees lopped off, instead of thoughtful trimming -
Words fail me.

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 26, 2016 10:30 PM

Olga Norris

This year's Summer Exhibition (first notes)

is back to the normal white walls, and back to losing so many of the individual pieces which melt into their neighbours.  (Image above from here)  My immediate reaction is that overall I am not filled with as much delight as last year.   There are, of course individual pieces and groups which did catch my eye, delight, and even inspire.  
Bill Jacklin: Rink II carborundum
And the cherry on the cake was the separate display of Bill Jacklin's prints for which I had come prepared by reading the catalogue in advance, and which I very much enjoyed (both catalogue and prints).  I went there last so that I could come away positive, and with a coherent image in my mind.  Bill Jacklin is a painter and printmaker whose work I have been drawn to for many years now, after first seeing RA postcards of his prints.  So often it has been postcards which have alerted me to a particular artist, and it saddens me that I receive so few these days.  They are always such a pleasure, much preferred to an email.

Other prints at the Summer Exhibition which pleased start with Paul Furneaux, whose work I first encountered when researching for a Japanese woodcutting workshop three years or so go.  I have seen his work at each Summer Exhibition since, and still admire it.  This year there are two pieces: one three dimensional
City Trees II Japanese woodcut on tulip wood
and one mounted on a panel
Burnt Orange: Earth Japanese woodcut
I so enjoy the textures, the movement of the colour in each panel, and the placement/composition of the colours.  Each is somehow both calming and lively, with little surprises each time I look at them.

Stephen Chambers is another artist printmaker whose work I like.  This year two little prints attracted me:
Stupid Stupid: Cow & Brother etching
Stupid Stupid: Horse & Parent etching
As a Royal Academician he has six pieces in the show.  I was not so keen on any other than these two.

My admiration of the work of William Kentridge grows steadily, and I very much enjoyed his two pieces - the huge Mantegna (woodcut) is stunning
and not quite so big, but equally arresting Pocket Drawings 187-241 (lithograph on panel and cotton) had me transfixed for some time.

Ian McKeever's work always interests me, but I think that his pieces suffer rather in the mixed bag surroundings of the Summer Exhibition, his quiet luminosity losing out somewhat in the proximity of loud and showy neighbours.  I was intrigued by his three photopolymer gravure prints.  Of all his work on show they were the ones I was able to appreciate better, and my favourite - though by a very short margin - is EAGDURU 3.

I think that's enough for one post.

by Olga Norris ( at June 26, 2016 08:17 PM

June 24, 2016

Olga Norris

Well, ...

who knows what will happen to us in the UK now - a mystery tour.  The image above is a design, Plunge, I devised a few years ago when I felt that way, and am perhaps appropriately about to finish the quilting now. 
Meanwhile life goes on with a photography session, catching up with a wee pile of quilts. 

by Olga Norris ( at June 24, 2016 10:44 PM

Margaret Cooter

Italian Renaissance drawings: design, form, and function

A wonderful art history course that I'm doing at ...where else... City Lit. For seven weeks we get to sit and look at images and hear about the artist and the evolution and use of the drawing. The tutor gets discussion going with thought-provoking questions, and provides a comprehensive list of the works to be shown at the start of each class. Only problem is, the discussions mean we don't get to the end of the list! 

For instance, here's the painting resulting from Lorenzo Costa's drawing of the coronation of the Virgin - 
Note the saints looking up at the heavenly scene. (St Victor, St John the Baptist, St Augustine, St John the Evangelist, St Jerome and St Sebastian.) Why is one of the reading rather than looking? to show that "some people are non-believers and don't see a miracle when it happens before their eyes".

I have been collecting the image lists and taking notes and making sketches, and hope to review the material and find images of some of the drawings when things settle down a bit here. 
Short video featuring the course tutor is here.

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 24, 2016 12:29 PM

June 23, 2016

Terry Grant

Time passing

Two years ago I made a little fabric hanging from some odds and ends of my fabrics and project by-products, to hang outside. I liked seeing it hanging on the tree next to the bridge and passed it daily.

It hung there through sun and rain, wind and weather. Last summer I noticed it had faded a bit.


Several weeks ago I found it in the mud at the foot of the tree, so I took it to the studio and washed it up, then hung it back on the tree.


It is aging even more noticeably than I am! But it still has life and seems even more at home and comfortable than when it was young and bright.

And so it goes...


by Terry Grant ( at June 23, 2016 11:59 PM

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - "In my craft or sullen art" by Dylan Thomas

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

- Dylan Thomas (via)

The London-based Poetry Society used the text of this poem for their "Knit A Poem" project. Letters of the poem and spaces between words were knit or crocheted into a 12" square by over 1000 volunteers worldwide. The finished poem measured 13m x 9m and was unveiled on 7 October 2009 in front of the British Library in London before touring to Thomas's home town, Swansea.

Each knitter was asked to think of their favourite poem while they knitted, and name the poem on the back of their square – some even embroidered the full text there.

The secret poem that was selected for the ‘Knit a Poem’ project was only revealed when the work was unveiled.

(I found the poem when resuming reading a library book, borrowed in February and much renewed: Ali Smith's "Artful". It starts a section near the end.)

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 23, 2016 05:06 PM

June 22, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Pictures for an exhibition

The ipad drawings for the Home project continue, and the arrival of a monochrome laser printer allows me to make some little "secret" books (folded from one sheet of paper) that hold six images. Ah ... which six to put together, and in which order?

In individual prints, the manipulating of contrast and the use of different weights and colours of lines in the original provide a variety of possibilities. In the four images that are on show in the end-of-course exhibition, which were the first I printed, line thicknesses and amount of contrast are almost random ... in the eagerness (necessity) to produce something I was happy simply to have "a product". But in the feedback session of the class this week, the comment that struck me most was the subtlety that these elements, line weight and tone, contributed to the drawings, especially at the small scale. 

With that in mind, I looked at the drawings made, manipulated, and printed recently.
Lack of nuance in the sofa print

Revisiting the contrast issue
Some of the "leftover" images were used in a book structure made earlier in the course, in a mark-making session -
Last week when we set up the exhibition I put two rather hastily made books into the vitrine. They went on the bottom shelf so that you'd look down into the "room" at their centre - but looked lost in the vast space.
The new selection fills the space better -
Next step with my little pictures of Home is to translate them into lino cuts - starting with a short course next month. Looking forward to that! Meanwhile the Home drawings are being made on Saturday mornings in a coffee shop convenient to Waitrose, before the weekly grocery shopping.

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 22, 2016 10:09 AM

Rayna Gillman


I'm thinking, I'm thinking. I've been mostly working at home but spent a hot hour in the studio today before I had to leave.  I brought two quilt tops home with me; one of them has a back that has no relationship at all to the front, but it couldn't be helped -- and when it goes on the guest bed downstairs, nobody will care that the back is random (and ugly).

On the way home, Whole Foods. Went in for strawberries and yogurt and ended up treating myself to a shellfish dinner. Mussels and clams on the grill.  Since it is just me Tues, Wed, and Thurs, I have enough for tomorrow night's dinner as well.  
I cook for myself. I'm a firm believer in good meals and I deserve to be treated well - even if I'm the one doing the treating - LOL.  I wouldln't mind having somebody here to clean up after me, but that's in my next life.

For the first time in my life, I am giving two of my quilts to somebody else to quilt.  I hate the thought of it, but the last time I quilted a bed-sized quilt it was for my daughter, going off to college - and I did it by HAND.  No thanks.  So, I am outsourcing it. 

What have I been doing in the sewing room (besides cleaning up for a change?) I finished a black and white quilt that, until somebody mentioned how influenced it was by what I saw in Africa, I really hadn't been conscious of it.  But now I see it.  And I actually want to make a piece that is totally inspired by a South African textile I saw. But "inspired by" does not mean reproducing. I wouldn't want to do that, even if I could.

 Maybe tomorrow I will start.  I have another piece that is finished but not quilted, but this one I will do myself. It was inspired by ceramics I saw at the museum in Durban.

But for now, I need my Fitbit to keep track of my sleep:-)).

by (Rayna) at June 22, 2016 04:17 AM

June 21, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Horniman Museum

Among the delights of the Horniman Museum (which do not include rather a lot of unrestrained preschool children!) are the dodo and the opaki  -
(and of course the famous threadbare overstuffed walrus) and Victorian artefacts like this case of beautiful tiny creatures -
 We were dispersed throughout the museum -
Jo's kachina dolls

Carol's musical instruments

Najlaa's butterfly brooch
Janet K's dogs

Janet B loves drawing people, even statues

My "cutaway pigeon" (I do love a bit of skeleton)

... and sundry other animals, drawn at speed after a long
 time spent gloomily staring at them
Tool of the week - oil pastels - how do  you use them?

The caf at the museum was very busy so we went down the hill to The Teapot, which lives up to its name -

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 21, 2016 10:07 AM

Olga Norris

Two exhibitions

The Serpentine galleries have an exhibition on in each of the two buildings. 
(image from this review)
In the main gallery is Alex Katz: Quick Light.  Although familiar with Katz's work I have not seen it other than singly in mixed exhibitions or of course in reproduction.  I still don't know what my reaction is.  I admire the seductive facility he has, making the effect look easy as Adrian Searle says in his review.  But I am also wary of that seduction.  I do not warm to the work, but it was great to be able to explore my reaction to the real thing.  I remain appreciative of his abilities without being attracted - I find them unmoving with cool chic-ery.
(image from here)
On the other hand the exhibition of Etel Adnan's work in the Magazine building I found very much a personal statement that endeared itself to me.  I did not warm to the figurative work of Katz, but loved the abstract pieces of Adnan.  I also especially was attracted to her leporellos - wondrous accordion books so beautifully displayed. 
(two images above from here)
(image from here)
A philosopher, poet, essayist, and film maker as well as artist, Etel Adnan has led an interesting life.  I not only bought the exhibition catalogue but also Paris, when it's naked to give myself more of her perspective, and to elevate myself from my daily routines.  It is wonderful to have so many role models of older women artists these days.

by Olga Norris ( at June 21, 2016 10:02 AM

June 20, 2016

Virginia A. Spiegel

It’s #100!


Simple 78
#100 in the Java Series
Virginia A. Spiegel

Wow!  I never expected to see 100 of these 6″ square found-paper collages using a coffee cup motif.

I started creating these one-a-week collages as part of the Facebook group, Junk Mail Collective.  I share them weekly there, but the easiest way to see all 100 is to visit the three Java Series webpages starting here on my website.

My tagline for this series is Making a collage every week from found paper is a challenge; 
making a collage a week using the same motif is inspiration.  

Here is a little essay about things I’ve learned by doing this small artwork series.

This isn’t my first foray into a long-term collage series.  In 2004 and 2006 I completed a self-directed 365 Days of Art by making a collage a day.  You can read more about those fun projects and how it influenced my textile art here.

In 2013 I turned one of the 365 Days of Art books into the biggest collage I ever plan on creating.  See below and a blog post here about that fun project.


by Virginia at June 20, 2016 04:46 PM

Olga Norris


Yesterday was packed with pleasure.  Within a few minutes' stroll from one another we visited five temporary pavilions in Hyde Park, London, and two art exhibitions.  We went to the Serpentine Galleries to see this year's pavilion, designed by Bjarke Ingels
I like the elegant shapes made by the very simple constituent parts, and I like the way the whole is both solid and see-through, but inside I found that it has the feel of a corridor rather than a place to sit and enjoy coffee - not helped, of course by the fact that all the coffee machines etc. were wrapped in plastic as if for some later forensic examination. 
Also, the pavilion is made of fiberglass which resembles metal, in a blue-grey colour, while the floor, stools, and counters are made of wood which to my mind did not blend well. 
So, although I liked many aspects, especially the sculptural, and in a rich woman's garden it would make a stunning retreat, this is not my favourite public pavilion.  This year being the sixteenth of temporary pavilion commissions, the Serpentine has in addition four temporary summer houses, each by a different architect.
Kunlé Adeyemi’s Summer House is opposite the existing building Queen Caroline's Temple, and is an abstracted mirror image of it.  I was intrigued by the shapes it formed, and by the materials - sandstone and something soft and pliable - but I must admit it did not wow me.
Barkow Liebinger's Summer House was my favourite. 
It also was based on a previous 18th century summer house designed by William Kent, and which rotated to seek the sun or to show an all round panoramic view.  This piece is both sculptural and practical, and a delight to look at and be in.  It is made of plywood and timber, and I loved it.
Asif Khan's Summer House was the best designed as a summer house, I thought, in that it shaded from the sun while still giving a view through to the beauties of the parkland and lake beyond.  It is lovely, elegant, and was calming to sit in.
One design I could not pair with the function of summer house at all, but I was drawn to it as a piece of graphic sculpture, encompassing both three and two dimensions.  This was designed by Yona Friedman.
Here are some reviews of the pavilion and summer houses.

The two art exhibitions I shall leave for the next post.

by Olga Norris ( at June 20, 2016 12:50 PM

Margaret Cooter

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

Across town, my flat is undergoing renovation. First it was a "mere" matter of insulation in the chilly front bedroom, and then its floor was discovered to be sagging drastically, which meant the ceiling of the room below needed doing ... and while we're doing that, we might as well improve the walls and rewire the room ... goodness knows where it all will lead. There's still one room unrenovated, and I dread to think of that.

That ceiling repair is taking a very long time; son Tom has to fit it in with his day job. Clearing the room and stripping the ceiling was the easy part, but alas the rubbish still sits in the garden.

First, though, a photo of my little garden, which I hadn't seen for a month - where did those poppies come from!
It definitely needs weeding ... and those blue bags of rubbish definitely need to go. So do the former ceiling panels -
And now the interior ...
Best room in the house ... just needs a few finishing touches
New view, from the new skylight
Reinforcing the ceiling in the room below

Temporary storage on all three landings

The workroom/studio is where most of the STUFF has ended up
The workroom-turned-storeroom photo makes me feel like one of the sad hoarders you see on those tv programmes. Can't wait to set it to rights ... but I'm not quite ready yet for total minimalism, that feels too much like deprivation.

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 20, 2016 10:49 AM

June 19, 2016

Terry Grant

Portland Art Museum and more

The SAQA group often takes our meeting to the Portland Art Museum, especially when the current exhibit has some connection to fabric or fiber, as we did this last week. "Native Fashion Now" is a very exciting exhibit of fashion being created by contemporary Native American designers. The whole exhibit was such a wonderful combination of traditional motifs and ideas reimagined in very dramatic modern ways. Really a wonderful show! Don't miss it if you are in the area now through September 4.

I love the Portland Art Museum and count it as one of the best things about living here. Besides bringing in great work to show, they are masters at the Art of presentation. While I was there last week, my friends Suzy and Kristin and I headed over to the modern wing of the museum to see the museums recent acquisition by the Ghanaian artist, El Anatsui called called "Life Egg". It is spectacular, with a very fabric-like quality, though it is made from cast off materials, such as scrap aluminum and metal bottle caps and the seals from whiskey bottles. Inspiring and such shimmering beauty!

It was a great downtown day, capped with seeing the traveling roadshow of the Broadway production of "Motown, the Musical." Meanwhile back at the studio I spent a frenzied week of finishing and submitting work, followed by a week of finally getting to some clothing projects I've had on hold.

Last winter I bought a pattern for a summer dress, to use a length of pretty purple linen I've been sitting on, awaiting the right thing, for awhile.

I think it will be cool and nice for a hot day—barely touches the body!

Then I tackled a repurposing of a favorite shirt that got a bleach spot. (Don't you hate that?). I dug around in my stash and came up with a couple fabrics to add to the shirt after cutting off the ruined section. I also cut off the cuffs and added a new look to the sleeves. I wore it to my STASH meeting for their opinions on the result and was assured it it wasn't dumb and no, it doesn't look like a beautician's smock. I lose perspective on some of my clothing choices and feel very insecure. I count on my friends to not let me look stupid.

So, summer is here. I put in a long day in the studio today, before the summer activity begins! Travel, grandchildren, friends and days outdoors beckon.


by Terry Grant ( at June 19, 2016 09:45 PM

Margaret Cooter

Of hedges and roses

I spent the morning finishing cutting the hedge - a job started a fortnight ago. Since then it's been rainy - april showers - but finally we had a nice sunny morning and I had the urge and the energy and (perhaps) the time to be in the garden. 
The hedge on the far side is done as far as I could reach from the ladder - it's high and it's wide. Both privet hedges are showing signs of "wilt", a fungal infection (verticillium). Seems that all you can do about it is use nitrogen-rich fertiliser to try to help give the hedge some strength so it can fight back.
Those eyesores, the bins, are clustered ready and waiting - tomorrow is bin day (recycling and garden bin get emptied every week, general waste every other week). The garden bin, which lives in the back and has to be wheeled down the long hallways, is completely full this week; I like to do a little weeding or pruning first thing in the morning, and it soon mounts up.

June is the month for roses ...
Low-growing rose in the front; prolific this year

The orange rambler, planted recently, has a ways to go before it reaches rambling height

Planted by a previous owner of the house, this very fragrant, very red rose
 is  in the wrong place, beside the far hedge

Moving to the back garden, here's Kifsgate, rambling along fence and trellis, just opened in the past few days
Rosa glauca, grown from a cutting obtained north of Oxford in the late 90s
One of the "original" roses, planted by a previous owner, more than 40 years ago

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 19, 2016 02:40 PM

June 18, 2016

Margaret Cooter


Frottage with simple shapes.
Start with the uppermost, the choose where to stop

Rubbed with a wax candle, then inked over

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 18, 2016 10:20 AM

June 17, 2016

Natalya Aikens

architecturally fitting

I am delighted to have another exhibit opportunity this summer with a group show "Diverse" at the law offices of Ashenfelter, Slous, McDonough and Trefenen in Montclair, NJ. It is a wonderful industrial office space that is a perfect fit for the City Lines series from my portfolio.

Here are a few pictures of the exhibit. The opening reception is past, but of you'd like to see the exhibit and you're not a client at ASM&T, contact me and I'll be happy to show you around.

Architectural Fragments and Urban Perspective
Sunrise and Specular Reflection
Specular Reflection and Architectural Fragments
Home Portraits (on loan) and three different fire escapes

Next up - lot's and lot's of hand stitching! Progress report coming up soon!

by Natalya Aikens ( at June 17, 2016 02:38 PM

Olga Norris

A quote

Image above from here
In my researches for the 3D workshop I looked up sculptor Cathy de Monchaux, and encountered a most thought-provoking quote on this vimeo of a talk she gave at Leeds Art College.

'Culture is having the guts to sit and think,
waiting for the emptiness to fill up with the reflection of the world
- to digest it and attempt to reveal humanity back to itself without going mad in the process. 
The ability to achieve a detached focused intensity,
to believe in the lack of a plan. 
You sit and you think,
and then you brave it out and make something,
however odd and scary it might be.'

Image above from here

Such a banquet to chew over.  (The punctuation is mine.)
Now that I've tidied up, and am turning my attention to what's next on my to do pile, I find that the ideas here are demanding pause for thought.  How fortunate that my slow stitching and the tennis can distract enough to leave the back burner to ponder in peace.

by Olga Norris ( at June 17, 2016 12:49 PM

Margaret Cooter

Garden visit

An evening opening of the gardens at Fenton House, Hampstead - and a tour and talk by Andy the gardener, who obviously loves his job and has grand plans, though I'm not sure about his passion for echiums - size isn't everything!
A glass of wine on arrival

Roses clamber on old walls
In the orchard, queen anne's lace and fritillary have just finished; the trees are pruned to let light in and low enough that the fruit can be picked without a ladder (health&safety...)
Andy had spent 10 years working at Kew and gave us lots of information not just about the gardens and plants now under his care, but also about general matters like slug control - "meticulous hygiene ... and when you find them you just squash them".
View from the house seems to end in hedges
Beyond the hedges is the rose garden

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 17, 2016 09:14 AM

Dijanne Cevaal

Shadowing Rilke or Crossing Paths

"Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the hierarchies of angels?" (Wer, wenn ich schriee, hörte mich denn aus der Engel Ordnungen?) : the opening lines  from the first Duino Elegy by Rainer Maria Rilke.

And so what has this got to do with quilting- nothing really except today when we were hanging quilts at UWC Adriatic someone mentioned the Rilke path- Rilke path ??? my  heart skipped a beat- a path that Rilke walked? Really ? Close by????- yes at the bottom of the school and as the rooms needed cleaning I had and hour and a half to walk this wonderful path, with views of Duino castle where Rilke began his Duino Elegies and spent some time at the invitation of Princess  Marie von Thurn und Taxis ( and yes the family did begin the first taxi service)- and where he walked along the cliffs. Yet again Rilke pops into my life when I least expect him to, but strangely in this last week in Italy I have been noticing angels- quite a lot of them and photographing them and well, the first elegy begins with angels.

So let me begin at the beginning. I caught the bus from Montpellier to Genoa (over nine hours because of stops) arrived late at night and had to find my hotel which was a bit of a walk with my heavy suitcase as of course it was budget. I had booked  a room with a shared bathroom but thankfully I was given a room with my own bathroom- after nine hours on a bus on a very hot day, a shower was like pennies from heaven! Then next day another 7 hours on a bus to  Venezia Mestre and then the train to Padova and then a kilometre walk in drizzling rain, to find my hotel, again budget and this time a shared bathroom. I had booked to see Capella degli Scrovegni ,Giotto's masterpiece from the early renaissance ,and something I have been wanting to see for many years. They only allow in 15 viewers at a time, for 15 minutes after you  have been dehumidified for 15 minutes. After  my 15 minutes I wished I had made a double booking - I wanted to go straight back in- but this is when I began noticing angels- Giotto painted a lot of them really, and I didn't really get good photographs of them because well I was to busy taking in this absolutely most wondrous chapel.Fifteen minutes is simply not enough despite the modest size of the chapel. The chapel is set in gardens and was once the private chapel of  Enrico degli Scrovegni who like his father was an usurer and who commissioned it to try and secure his road away from hell. Anyway it was a magic start to my Italian trip to teach in Oderzo for Cuci Service.

As you can see the Chapel is quite unassuming on the outside, so what you find on the inside is even  more magical. I really did not take a lot of photos as i wanted to enjoy my 15 minutes and try and look at all the panels that  were painted- of course I did not succeed .

I had booked to go to the Scrovegni Chapel for the first session in the morning which gave me the rest of the day in Padova to wander around and enjoy this town/city that houses the oldest university in the world and where Galileo Galilei taught.It also has the largest  piazza ( or square in Italy even though it is oval), and there was a painting of the piazza in the museum, but my photographs could not do justice to the actual size of the piazza.

I have to kind of  wonder about the perspective of the painting- it was definitely before the days of  helicopters or cherry pickers - so all I can think of, is that perhaps the  painter climbed a tower of the Basilica St Guistina. And of course I can't talk about an old Italian city without at least sharing a photo of a tower!

The Scrovegni Chapel is in a compound that actually has a very interesting museum with Roman artifacts and also a collection of paintings that belonged to a Padovan family whose name escapes me. But this is where I started noticing even more angels and even a whole room of the museum devoted to angels- an army of angels no less.

So after a delightful sojourn in Padova for a day or so and I was off to Cuci-Service to teach and  the image below are some of the linocuts that were made, which we printed and then embellished with free motion machine work.

Then it was onto Verona and meeting up with a friend , Sandra Reford, who lives there part of the year and who had offered to show me around Verona for a day. So I found another budget place on Air BNB this time on the outskirts of Verona , but an easy bus ride, and spent a day walking around Verona with Sandra. It is so  lovely to walk around a place with someone who knows a city and is passionate about it's history and has an eye for quirky details, and of course as she is an artist we are often drawn to the same things ( Sandra actually does tours in the Veneto and Umbria in case anyone is interested,simply contact her for details through  her website) And of course there were more angels and inevitably lots of madonnas. The images below are from  the Basilica di san Zeno
heaven knows what is going on in the image below- but it is part of the  iron door that has now been internalised to protect it- and because people can actually reach it , people have rubbed the belly of the woman- for what superstition I wonder?

So while this was going on I was contacted by a group in Trieste  to see if I could attend  their regional Day- well I had never been to Trieste ( so for me this is like waving a red flag) and I had not actually booked my fare back to France- so what can one do but say yes ? I am so glad, otherwise my path would not have crossed with Rilke again- and I do so wonder why he keeps popping up in my life.
Yes the photo below , is a photo of a photo, but it is a photo I have never encountered before and because it was in the Castello Duino I presume it is of Rilke in the garden somewhere.

And then the path - looking towards Castello Duino and looking the other way along the rocky cliffs.

 So what can I say? Simply another week with unexpected and surprising turns. I did do some work, but today was just a buzz walking that Rilke path- and  next week it is back to the grindstone.

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at June 17, 2016 07:58 AM

June 16, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - a sonic journey

From today, till 16 July, you can download a piece by Blake Morrison (poet) and Gavin Bryars (composer) commissioned for the Yorkshire Festival. Or listen here via soundcloud.
It's a series of pieces meant to be listened to on the stopping train journey from Goole (Bryars' birthplace: "If water is the wellspring of music, where better to be born than Goole" wrote Morrison) to Hull ... or vice versa ... or elsewhere, wherever you are.
Read about it here; it's a route not without interest:

"While researching the project, Morrison got off at Hessle and wandered down to the foreshore, where he found cellophane wrapped bouquets laid on benches and tied to trees. Each bunch of flowers, Morrison relates, “naming a few of the hundreds who’ve fallen / – Beth, Lee, Jane, Catherine, Yvonne – / and nowhere as lonely as this place / they climbed to, high in the rigging, / above the mudflats and wind-scuffed tides, / where gulls cry and mist softens the welding”.
"The words are accompanied by the viola, cello and bass of the Gavin Bryars Ensemble, with an electric guitar mournfully wailing like a train whistle as we roll beneath grey skies through a captivatingly lugubrious landscape of low-lying sheep fields and windfarms, as damp and flat as Graham Swift’s Waterland, as saturnine as WG Sebald’s Suffolk."
Humber Bridge (via)

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 16, 2016 10:44 AM

June 15, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Exhibition in Hastings

If you're in Hastings - or to be accurate, St Leonards, which adjoins it - in the next little while, do come and see photos by a group of four photographers, Tony among them, who went to Montana and Yellowstone last autumn.

The show is at Hastings Arts Forum, 36 Marina, St Leonards on Sea, open 11-5 Tues-Friday.

The dates of the exhibition are 28 June to 10 July - you might be able to see that in the photo - but you might not be able to see that there's a private view on Saturday 2 July, 2-6 pm, to which you (dear reader) are cordially invited.

The gallery is just across the street from the sea, so why not come to Hastings/St Leonards and make a day of it, perhaps going to see the new Jerwood Gallery. Or pop in to see the "Animal Logic" exhibition of photos by Wolf Suschitzky at Lucy Bell. Or ... sit on the beach and look out to sea!

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 15, 2016 08:26 PM

Extended drawing - small decisions

Getting work together for the end-of-course exhibition. If you're in the Holborn area on Tuesday 21 June, 6-8pm, drop in to City Lit, 3rd floor, for a glass of wine and the private view.

Using a 5cm square to assess the size of paper needed for printing onto -
 In the end, various A4 papers were on hand, which made for an easy decision in terms of size at least.

Meanwhile the digital drawings went through a couple of metamorphoses. First, collated into a sheet of squares, adjusted to be monochrome. I'm trying to make the drawings look as simple as possible, to strip their information right back - from the photograph to the selected lines of the drawing, and then presented in a simple way. This compilation is for printing out, cutting up, trying out in book form, perhaps stitched into a concertina book -
But the main work is even less complicated than that. Each image was first inverted to look like a "negative" and then printed [thanks, Mary!] at 5x5cm size on a thick, creamy paper with a bit of tooth. Five images should be enough to fill the display case -
The display cases are 115cm wide, which will accommodate five sheets, but four might look better. To be decided on Monday.

A close-up of one of the drawings -

by Margaret Cooter ( at June 15, 2016 08:10 PM

Olga Norris

A side trip into 3D

Yesterday I was fortunate to spend at a workshop - Sewn Animal Sculpture over Wire Armatures - given by sculptor Sadie Brockbank(Image below from her facebook page, here.) 
My attraction to 3D work persists, and the added incentive of the words sewn and wire armature were enough for an immediate positive response when Sadie offered me the opportunity to join one of her workshops. 
My introduction to art quilts in 1981 was when I met Elizabeth Gurrier - I was lucky enough to live for a couple of years in the same village in New Hampshire - and her bas relief forms have stayed in my mind ever since. (Image above from here.)
I have also been a great admirer of Louise Bourgeois' cloth forms of bodies and heads (image above from here, where there are more heads).
In doing my usual pre-workshop research I also encountered the amazing work of Karine Jollet in Paris.  Like Elizabeth Gurrier's work when I saw it, she works only in white - an aspect I also find very attractive.  (Image above from here - please scroll down a bit.)  Karine Jollet's subject matter often involves myth, which in my mind links with Sadie's animal forms.
Anyway, my flirtation with 3D forms had involved a papier mache workshop in 2009, where I explored making a form without a wire armature, and I was keen to try with wire.  Then I had made a mythical creature of my own, part woman, part bird, part fish, ...!
This time I chose a Komodo dragon, for a few reasons: I had a leftover small bit of batik I like from Indonesia, and more important I wanted an animal with a distinct body, legs, claws, and tail in order to get the most out of the workshop.  I also wanted to try an animal which I had not seen Sadie make, so that I had to make most of the decisions myself.
The beginning went well.  I found that working with the wire was OK.  I made the armature and started to wind the base fabric (curtain bump interlining).  I was pleased not to have difficulty with the feet and claws.  The base fabric is wound round and stitched where necessary to keep it down.
I had a clear idea of how I would deal with covering the claws with fabric, but it quickly struck me that I had not thought enough about the main covering of the body.  I had concentrated too much on the idea that I could perhaps reproduce the folds of skin round the head, while not taking into account the manoeuvrings needed to keep the fabric largely flat, tight, and in the stitching of it in surface situ!  I immediately began to wonder if Louise Bourgeois had done all her own stitching, and if so how accomplished both she and definitely Sadie were.
In order to make some kind of progress, and to explore the difficulties further I stitched on bands of fabric - although I was not happy at all with the result.  The elements which pleased me were the armature and base fabric covering of that, and the four sets of claws.
I was exhausted by the end of the day, and happy with what I'd gained - not least a greater specific appreciation of the people whose work I had researched, including of course Sadie.  The dragon, unfinished as is now joins other enlightening samples.  I enjoyed the day, it satisfactorily scratched that itch of curiosity about wire armatures, it led to fascinating research, and re-affirmed once again my familiar conclusion that ideas drive my work, not techniques.  But who knows when an idea which needs to be manifest in 3D will pop up - ?

by Olga Norris ( at June 15, 2016 07:51 PM