Tag Archives: Visual Arts

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.

Project 3 – Stage 6 Combining textures and colour effects – research


I came across this artist’s work via Mr X-Stitch on Facebook recently and I think it illustrates well the object of this stage.

Cayce Zavaglia is a painter using crewel embroidery wool  on linen to produce these wonderful portraits.  She normally works in oils and often refers to her textile pieces as paintings.  She has used the mixture of coloured stitches, which are layered in different directions to give depth and form, to produce the required tones and colours.  The work is incredibly detailed, see the close-up below.

She has worked in a way, as you would in oil, so that the whole of the background fabric is obscured with the stitches.  From a distance you would assume this was a conventional oil or acrylic painting since the eye mixes the colours in the same way as in impressionist paintings.  It is a good example of how many different colours go into producing a particular tone.  Amazing work!

Impressionist Painting and Pointillism

Pointillism is a technique of painting small dots of colour in a pattern that the eye blends into a new colour.  It is a similar technique to that used by modern colour printers mixing minute dots of magenta, cyan and yellow with black on a white background to produce an infinite array of colours on the page.  Impressionist painters such as Vincent Van Gough, Camille Pissaro and Georges Seurat were proponents of this technique

Seurat’s Grande Jatte (Un dimanche après-midi à l’Ile de la Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, 1884-1886) is a lovely example of this technique.  The painting is a view of the river bank on a Sunday filled with people enjoying the sunshine, picnicking, sailing or just promenading.  (Images from http://www.webexhibits.org/colorart/jatte.html)

I managed to find some close-up images of this painting which perfectly shows the dots of colour painted in patterns to give the effect of other colours.

This detail from the shadow area above the dog,s back is painted with dots and dashes of blue, red and orange, greens and mauves, and the grassy bank is painted in complementary cream, yellow, orange again, browns, greens and greys.  Looking at this detailed area you do not get the same optical effect that is produced when you view the whole painting from a distance.  When you look back at the original your eye makes the grassy area more green because it is taking in the areas of colour surrounding it.  The shadowed area adjacent also looks more green from a distance.  It is difficult to use images produced by photography and computers to make a real study of this sort of work as the reproduction is not always completely accurate but it is wonderful to be able to see the sort of detail in close-up that you wouldn’t be able to see viewing the work in a gallery.

In this magnified detail of the dots of paint you can even see the texture of the paint.  This texture forms part of the final image, as the subtle hollows and bumps make tiny shadows and brighter areas which all adds to the eye’s perception of the final image.

Project 3 Colour – Stage 1 Introduction & Preparation



I produced my first colour circle using oil pastels in 3 colours.  It was interesting to experiment with mixing the colour in that medium and I was surprised how well it worked.

The next colour circle I made was using gouache watercolour in 6 colours.  I’m not sure I had the correct colours to get an accurate mix but the overall effect works for me.

What a difference the lighting makes when you are taking the photos.  I took another one of this where there was more direct sunlight and I got a much warmer effect:


I really enjoyed the work I have done so far with the oil pastels and so I produced two scales of tone, one using red in the centre and one using green.  I have done similar work with watercolours before and so I found this experimenting with how you can grade the colour with the pastels very constructive.  If you put the black down first you obviously have to work much harder to make the colour show up but if you put the colour down first sometimes it is more difficult to give an even impression of colour.  I like the way that in the photograph the marks look better than my observation close up at my bench.  Also I see how this could be used to convey impressionist style marks, more so than other media I have used so far.

Here I have tried to mix complementary colours to convey saturation, blue to orange (I need some more pastel colours as these weren’t true enough for my liking) and violet to yellow.  You can see how the colours go through their “muddy” brown phase in the middle and then brighten up twoards each end.

This exercise tickled me slightly since, so far, it is the only work I have done that I remember also doing in my previous textile diploma course.  I almost did not produce the colour wheel especially, since my initial thoughts were, oh – I’ve done this before, not much point doing it again.  But using an alternative medium taught me mixing colour isn’t just about the actual pigment, it is also about how you put it down on paper and the qualities of the paper itself.   Also, even if I know I have attempted an exercise previously it doesn’t matter how long ago it was, I will always learn something new and I must remember that!