Bath Spa University School of Art and Design degree show


My two arty girls and I met my Mum yesterday at the Sion Hill campus of Bath Spa University to take a look around their degree show exhibitions.  Both Mum and I are former alumni of the University in it’s former incarnation as Bath College of Higher Education and it was interesting to see how things have changed since I was last there for a visit more than 20 years ago.

There was a huge amount of work to look at, mainly fine art and mixed media at this site, but we also ventured across town to the other venue in Oldfield Park.  Dartmouth Avenue Studios is sited in a council depot so I can see why they don’t feature it at all on the University website but, again, there was plenty of space full of interesting work and a lot more textile pieces seemed to be here.  I didn’t see any fashion or clothing items, apart from one or two costume pieces that were interspersed with other work.  We were all intrigued by the monochrome Bob Marley inspired WC interior …

I didn’t take a lot of photographs, as I learned from an unfortunate incident at Winchester Art College in my younger student days, that some students can get quite uncomfortable with this.

Highlights included some extremely well executed woven pieces from Emily Moore, exquisite layered cutwork from Helen Muir, stage costume from Kym Gribble and humorous contemporary iconography from Polly Hughes.

I did sneak a few shots of Amy Rapley’s painted wall hangings because there was some interesting layered work which was relevant to my theme project:

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I could see paint, cut and applied papers, pencil drawings, cut outs, gold leaf and much more.   An incredible amount of detail.

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I was sorry not to have seen any of the fashion students’ work and we also missed the MA exhibition but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the next show as the majority of work was, in my opinion, of a very high standard.

This blog has images showing work from the 2013 textiles graduates but we did not see many of these on our visit.  I am wondering if they had a separate location or perhaps we missed the dates.


Project 10 A design project – Stage 3 Developing your design – layers


After further work on my theme of entrance I am at the stage where I keep coming back to the image of my grandparents’ front door and the concept of layers of family memories, rites of passage, and coming of age.

drawing 2

watercolour on cartridge paper

drawing 1

collage – wallpaper, brown paper, tea bags, machine stitching

I have made some drawings to illustrate the theme image but I am still developing my ideas on how to best translate this in to a full-sized piece.  Initially I envisaged a door curtain, or series of layers in a doorway but I am wavering whether to proceed with the design on the full doorway scale or perhaps cut it down to a more manageable window size.  This might make hanging a bit easier too.

I have also done some preliminary plan drawings to show how the layers might work but I need to get hold of some tracing paper or bleached greaseproof paper to develop the concept further and produce a full size cartoon.  I have also done a bit of sampling with some voile fabric to see how simple tucks, folds and layers might look with some light behind.

sample tucks

polyester voile folded and machine stitched

I think I need to do some more drawings, perhaps using more colour, although the neutral palette I seem to have kept to still appeals to me.  Something to do with the nostalgia of sepia photography, old linens and dusty memories.

Stroud International Textiles and Site Festival May 2013


Recently a fellow OCA Textiles student and I visited Stroud to take a look at some of the exhibitions and open studios during Stroud International Textiles Spring Select.

I left my camera-phone in the car.   Major fail.  Typical.

However, that did not prevent us from having a great time looking at some wonderful textile and art work.

First stop was Stroud College where the SIT weaving symposium was in full swing in one of the lecture rooms.  We had a look at the books for sale in the foyer and I have now put Hand Stitch, Perspectives by Alice Kettle and Jane McKeating on my Amazon wishlist.  Also on display here was a small collection of very well executed recent work by fashion and textiles students at the college.

We then went along to the Museum in the Park where we found:

  • tapestries by Hillu Liebelt – my favorite was Chasing the Summer (2011), a bold, blue and red, large, horizontal panel in silk, rayon, cotton and bamboo fibre.
  • a hand dyed and woven paper piece specially commissioned for the site by Japanese artist Seiko Kinoshita English Summer Fields Soundscape: Sound of weaving.
  • Mother Love by Ingrid Hesling and Jenni Dutton – two artists’ interpretations of the relationships between mother and daughter using traditional techniques in an unusual way.  Jenni Dutton was observing her mother over the time she was suffering with dementia and produced The Dementia Darnings, a series of large portraits of her mother, some reproduced from family photographs and all made using tapestry wool and other yarns through fine net fabric.  Close up you can see how the artist has blended the yarns to produce the required colours, very similar to the work of Cayce Zavaglia who uses stitch in a painterly way.  Ingrid Hesling’s work A Stitch in Time incorporates embroidery on vintage linens that the artist found after the death of her mother.  She explores her complicated and sometimes difficult relationship with her mother in a series of embroideries that also incorporate photographic images.

Brunel Broderers exhibition Suited was at the Lansdown Hall and Gallery.  Hobbs tailors abandoned their shop some years ago and then recently offered access to the Broderers who used the fabrics, haberdashery and notions to inspire their work for this show.  Tailoring techniques and luxury woollen and silk fabrics are used in novel ways.  Of particular interest to me were the artist’s sketchbooks which are available for visitors to view.

We went on to look around the Studio Seven textile workshop at Stroud Valleys Artspace open studios where we found work by Francesca Chalk, Sarah Jenner, Anne Rogers, Kathryn Clarke, Corinne Hockley, Jenny Bicat and Liz Lippiatt.  I especially enjoyed Corinne Hockley’s theatrical costume pieces and the gorgeously coloured devore prints by Liz Lippiatt.  Also at SVA we saw Zoe Heath‘s beautiful, intricate books and small scale artworks made from found objects.

Later we found ourselves at The Weaving Shed where Sally Hampson, artist and weaver occupies a disused shop in Stroud High Street, a residency assisted by SVA, and engages with visitors in the process of weaving.  Looms are available ready set up for introduction to weaving workshops where students learn to experiment with techniques, yarns and fabrics.

On the way home we stopped off at Frogmarsh Mill in South Woodchester where more artists work was on display as part of the open studios event.  Cleo Mussi‘s colourful and quirky mosaics feature old ceramics and found objects to make wall plaques.  We also saw Fiona Hesketh’s delicate jewellery, Annie Hewitt’s glowing cobalt decorated earthenware tableware and Jacqueline Kroft’s fair trade hand knitted clothing.  Finally we chatted with Jennifer Whiskerd, artist and printmaker who has also been an OCA tutor, and enjoyed looking at her woodcut prints based on the antics of the local wildlife.

Project 10 A design project – Stage 2 – techniques


The textile artist Miranda van Dijk uses an image transfer technique to make her exquisite Puur Anders collection of jewellery inspired by nature and memories.

Puur Anders jewellery

I like the idea of using images that inspire memories.  I have photos of my grandparents’ home and my grandparents themselves and would like to feature these somehow in the final piece.  I need to find a way to transfer larger images or break the process down into manageable parts.  At the moment I am still looking at producing a large hanging work, like the noren door curtains I have posted about earlier.

I am concerned that I must make sure to incorporate enough in the way of techniques that were sampled earlier in the course so that I am able to demonstrate the learning process but I must be careful not to overload the final piece with “bits and bobs” just for the sake of it.  Often, keeping things simple is much more effective.

Noren – Japanese door curtain


“Door curtain” might conjure up the image of one of those colourful plastic strip curtains hanging in the doorway to keep the flies out of the house during the summer.   Practical and lots of fun for children.  I am sure I remember being chided for pulling on the strips at a friend’s house.  You can still get these curtains on eBay!

plastic door curtain for sale on ebayBeaded door curtains are a decorative item typical of the 1970s and still available, especially in the “new age” gift shops in the nearby town of Glastonbury.  This version made of wooden and bamboo beads is for sale at Argos:

beaded door curtain

I am intrigued by the way you have a tantalising view of the room beyond with these door curtains.  There is a sense of mystery.  The barrier is representative rather than actual as the materials are insubstantial and the curtain moves as soon as it is touched.  They also make a sound in a breeze.  The plastic strips swish and the beads rattle, a bit like the sound of the wind in a bamboo hedge.

The Japanese hang Noren, a split door curtain, in their doorways to welcome guests.  Traditionally shops would hang them in the doorway as a protection against sun, wind and dust and they are used as an additional advertising space.  They indicate the shop is open and are taken down at the end of the working day.


Noren usually have one or more slits all the way from the bottom to nearly the top to allow for passage through the curtain.




I am thinking of using a form of this door curtain as a basis for my final piece but I would like to have more than one layer and use a more transparent fabric to allow forms to show through.  I am awaiting a consignment of voile fabric I ordered online yesterday to start experimenting with how colours and shapes might show through the layers.

Project 10 A design project – Stage 2 – Pediment ponderings


A little more research on entrances inspired by the photograph of my Grandparent’s old front door led me to the ubiquitous images of the temple entrances at Petra in Jordan.  I had not realised that there was more than one facade carved into the mountain, having remembered seeing the temple portrayed in the films She and later Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeThis website has some more wonderful photographs of the city.

I found an image of a doorway that reminds me instantly of my Grandparents’ house.  Look at the two together.  What do you think?

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There’s definitely a theme running through here.  I need to do some sketching.

Project 10 A design project – Stage 2 – liminality


I found an interesting blog post from Studio Inscape here on the concept of “liminality”, a term I have not come across before.   From the Latin limen, defines liminality as 1. “relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process”  and 2. “occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold” which links in to my theme of entrance.

Developing on the concept I had for my final project piece using memories and images of my grandparent’s home, I can see how my feelings as a child growing up in this secure and caring family home matured subtly over time as a I became an adult and the dynamics of the family group changed as the older members passed away and my own children arrived.  This was a coming of age rite of passage that everyone must experience in some form.