Sunday, 28 October 2012

City Break, Pt 2.

As I mentioned in the first part of my City Break posts, I was in a bit of a rush to get to the Louise Gardiner talk at GNCCF, meaning I had to do some speed viewing in the City Gallery. I think I first came across the work of Louise Gardiner through Flickr or Pinterest, on one of my many internet benders looking for interesting thread work and textile artists. The talk took place at the Manchester People's Museum and centred mainly on her work for the Collect showcase at the Saatchi Gallery. If you're interested there's a video on her website that was made specifically about the 5 canvases she created for the showcase, and gives you an idea of the level of work going into each one, and how she arrived at the concept.

Aside from how extraordinary her work is she was a really inspiring speaker, and a lot of the points she made about working as a creative really struck a chord. In particular how important it is to 'say yes to exciting oppportunities' and that only in doing so can you raise your game. Other wise words being that 'if you start thinking about the end you'll never begin' (so true) and a belief in the virtues of sherry and drum n bass when working on your machine (quite a contrast to my tea and Radio 4, perhaps I need to branch out).

I'd done a little free machine work at school, but nothing since, though I'd been meaning to give it another go. Needless to say when I got home I ordered myself a free-machine foot and now I'm itching to use it. (I took the advice of Caroline at Redneedle Sewing when making my purchase)

As for the rest of GNCCF, I have to admit, it's been three weeks since I was there and I didn't make quite as many notes as perhaps I should have done, so I'll keep it brief and give a little rundown of my favourite exhibitors.

  • Lynsey Walters' hand stitched felt jewellery and accessories were beautifully crafted and showed real attention to detail and colour. (Google Image search her name and you'll instantly see what I mean.)
  • Rosie's Armoire was a beautiflly presented stall, brimming with furnishings, bags and purses that are hand-printed with images of old letters and documents. One thing I love is old handwriting and paper so this was heaven for me.
  • I'm really interested in weaving and there were a some really great stands from weavers, like Sarah Tyssen and Sue Christian.
Shamefully I'm very good at remembering the work I can relate to my own, but, no matter how much I liked it when I saw it ,if it's ceramics or jewellery or furniture I have a hard time distinguishing it afterwards. You'll just have to take my word for it that there were some really incredible exhibitors in all those mediums, I just can't remember which I liked best! The full list of exhibitors is here, so I'd recommend having a leisurely browse through because there's bound to be something you love, and we should all support handmade, and when better than Christmas?

Too early for Christmas references? Sorry, I'll get my coat.  

Thursday, 11 October 2012

City Break, Part 1.

Last Friday I took myself on a day trip to Manchester, somewhere I do not visit anywhere near enough, considering it's only 40 minutes away on the train. I'd spotted the adverts for the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair a few weeks back, and then a newsletter for the First Cut exhibition at Manchester City Gallery landed in my inbox. Add to that a long overdue visit to Platt Hall Gallery of Costume and I had a cracking day planned.
A minor 'gas meter battery failing' incident (no hot water and a head full of shampoo lather, rinsing my hair with kettle water in the kitchen sink, four wrong gas emergency hotline numbers and far too much hold music) threatened to scupper my plans, but I made it to Manchester reasonably early. Too early in fact, as Platt Hall doesn't open until 1pm and I hadn't checked the opening times. There isn't a huge amount to see in Platt Fields Park, except the ducks.
 I saw a signpost for the 'Teenage Village' but daren't investigate further, and I found myself unexpectedly detained by a friendly, if slightly odd, man who insisted that you couldn't work in fashion without learning sugarcraft and that I was in town with the Labour conference and friends with Nick Robinson. I politely declined a request to be his penpal.

Platt Hall itself is a beautifully restored Georgian mansion, a testament to the success of Manchester's textiles industry in the 18th century.
I Want It Now.
 The costume collection at the hall is fairly wide ranging, from the 17th century to the present day, and covering men's, women's and children's wear, with an impressive array footwear, hats and bags. My personal highlights were the dresses by Biba and Ossie Clarke from the 60s and 70s, and as always the 19th century held my attention for sometime.

In addition to the permanent collection there was a temporary exhibit of West African textiles, which included this beautiful loom.

Clickety clack, clickety clack.
One day I WILL learn to weave.
 The First Cut, an exhibition of works in paper by contemporary artists is housed primarily at the City Gallery, but there were a few costume related pieces at Platt Hall, including this dress by Violise Lunn. Suspended in one of the upstairs galleries, it is a beautifully delicate piece that seems very much at home in it's opulent surroundings.
 Hopping on a bus full of students back in to the centre (including a brush with that ubiquitous C list celeb, the ex-Hollyoaks actor) I made a beeline for the City Gallery. I hadn't actually looked too hard at where it was so my beeline was none too straight.
I was running out of time by this point as I had planned on attending a talk by Louise Gardiner at the GNCCF, so I dashed past the Pre-Raphaelites and went straight for the paper. Most well known in the exhibit would be Rob Ryan and his silhouette papercutting, represented in some large works and originals of his popular greetings cards. My own favourite was the work of  Claire Brewster, who uses old maps to create intricately cut birds, by themselves or in a huge flock taking flight across the gallery wall, the maps of northern towns give these garden birds a tropical hue.

The First Cut exhibition is on until the 27th of January, and is completely free, so if you're in the North West I strongly reccomend it. I'm certainly going to go back and take it in a bit more slowly, along with the rest of the City Gallery's permanent collection.
I'll be covering my visit to GNCCF in my next post, expect sherry and drum n bass. You have been warned.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Hen Party Purses

I led my first workshop on Saturday!
 I'd been asked by Craft Creative, after helping with a yarnbombing project they organised, to come up with a few workshop ideas for their Christmas events. Craft Creative are an events company who specialise in running crafty parties and workshops, both in Liverpool and Glasgow. Perfect for an alternative night out where you can eat, drink, socialise, and learn a new skill at the same time! One of my ideas was for a hand stitched coin purse, not something I'd ever made to sell myself but I thought it was a fun way to combine basic embroidery with using clasp frames and small enough to complete in a couple of hours. I was lucky enough to be booked by Craft Creative to lead this workshop with the hen party of a very crafty bride.

 I stocked up on Liberty prints so they could make their purses extra special.

And while I was planning I had what I think might be the best idea I've ever had. (you have my permission to use it for yourself.)

 The location was great to work in, plenty of room for all the materials we needed and lots of light and space. I'd never taught a group of people before, though I'd done a bit of one to one teaching through my work as a costume designer, but I thought I'd be ok (both my parents are teachers so I was relying on some genetic advantage). I'd done all my prep so we just had to dive in, needless to say it didn't stay this organised...

Much cutting, sewing and glueing (which proved to be the most tricky part) later...


...everyone had a beautiful, handmade purse!

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