Sunday, 5 July 2015

Inspired by... Pomegranates

Technically pomegranates aren't in season at the moment although most supermarkets sell them all year round. They really are the most beautiful fruit - the seeds look like little jewels! I am thinking of creating a few prints and illustrations inspired by pomegranates so watch this space for updates! In the meantime here are some pinterest finds including a recipe for pomegranate ice cream and a pomegranate cocktail. Enjoy!




Sunday, 28 June 2015

Using natural dyes

Whilst creating work for my degree piece I began experimenting dying fabrics using natural pigments and products. Years ago I attended a textile workshop where we used rusty objects to dye and stain fabrics which I was surprised to discover produced some beautiful results. Since my latest project focused on the life and work of honeybees, I was keen to use natural dyes to create the fabric used in my textile work since I felt this would work well with the context of my piece. A quick internet search led me to a whole abundance of blogs and tutorials about using natural dyes. From spices such as turmeric to dandelion roots or red cabbage you would be surprised by how many things that you probably already have at home or in your garden that you can use to produce some really effective dyes.

For my honeybee work I was focusing on the symbolism of the colour yellow, so I stuck to using turmeric, onion skins and dried plant extracts from yellow flowers such as weld and madder. If you want to grow plants specifically to use as dyes there is a great website  was able to find a great UK website http://www.wildcolours.co.uk/index.html which sells many different flowers seeds. If you are impatient to get dyeing and see some results, they also sell dyes, flower/plant extracts and mordants. That particular website was a great resource of information for me when it came to getting started with dyeing - they provide some really useful tips and information on which are the best fabrics to use and how to prepare your fabric so that the colours will last. 


Weld - a great flower to use either dried or fresh to create a yellow dye

For a recent commission I was asked to create an embroidery of a sweet pea so decided to use this as an opportunity to experiment with some purple dyes. A quick trip to the supermarket provided me with some red onion skins, beetroot, red cabbage and black beans and after soaking my fabric in vinegar to mordant it, I soon began to get to work with the dyeing! Each dye produced a different colour - all of which were lovely but it was the red cabbage which created the nicest shade of purple. I also used a couple of different fabrics - thin muslin cotton, silk and a thicker cotton/calico which also led to a lot of variation in the tones and shades of each dye. Bear in mind that it is always best to use natural fibres when dyeing to produce good results. Below is a picture of my finished piece. All the fabric used was dyed using red beetroot then layered up an embroidered onto.



I really loved the process of natural dyeing - it may sound silly but it is so satisfying to see such great results so quickly just by using products that are so simple to attain! It is definitely a process I am keen to learn more about and continue to experiment with. The possibilities If what you can do are endless... 
Below I have left some links to some of the blogs and tutorials that helped me get going, as I said there are so many out there each of which describe different techniques and methods. I have also included the website of artist India Flint. A innovative  textile artist who has really taken things to the next level with her methods and use of natural dyes.

Enjoy exploring and experimenting!




Folk Fibers blog -  yellow and red onion skin tutorial










   





Sunday, 21 June 2015

Reconnecting with music

One of my all time favourite things to do is sit in a car or on a train and listen to music. I often feel frustrated that time I spend travelling from one place to another is time I could spend doing something more important... however it is the ideal time to listen to music because you can get completely lost in a song without the obligation or distraction of something else. The perfect time to just let your mind wander and daydream!

Over the last 5 years I have been lucky enough to see a lot of amazing live music through attending festivals and gigs, but actually in a weird way I don't feel like I engage with music in the same way as I used to. I still listen to all the artists and albums that I have always loved but I rarely listen to something new that really moves or inspires me. I think this is down to the fact that I don't like downloading music for free as it does feel like stealing to me but then I just end up spending spare money on other things rather than buying a new album. Yes I know I could stream music - but that requires a decent internet connection which isn't always possible (especially when travelling.)

A few months ago the hard drive on my laptop went and because I hadn't backed anything up since 2012 I lost any new music I had accumulated over the last 3 years. This was (and still is) pretty devastating but at the same time it has given me the opportunity to have a big sort out of whats left of my music collection - figure out what I am missing and discover some new stuff. So that is my challenge for this summer - I have no music festivals booked so perhaps some of the money I would have spent on that ticket can go towards updating my music library. 

I started today after hearing a track from the album 'Idris Elba Presents: mi Mandela.' Normally I'm pretty skeptical of when actors try to transition to music but I was pleasantly surprised by this offering. Idris Elba Presents mi Mandela is a 14-track album on Elba’s own 7wallace imprint, inspired by Nelson Mandela and Elba's own late father. The music incorporates a variety of South African rhythms and styles, including marabi, kwela, mbaqanga and mbube, mixed in with western sounds. Elba wrote the album whilst Long Walk to Freedom. It is by no means a solo project and features collaborations with Shaun Escoffery, Maverick Sabre, Audra Mae and George The Poet. 





I think the reason I love this music so much because it reminds me of a trip I took to South Africa 12 years ago with my family and friends. It was such a beautiful country to visit and I have many happy memories of that holiday. Next time I get caught up in stupid anxieties and worries I intend to put this on my ipod and get back to some good old daydreaming.

Here is a track from the album I particularly like.




Monday, 8 June 2015

Upcoming workshops!


On Sunday the 21st of June I will be running a craft workshop in Bristol to create unique accessories for the upcoming festival season! For details and information please visit my website here

Movie Monday - 'Lilting'

It has been a while since I have done a movie Monday so I thought today I would pick a film which I saw a while ago now but has really stuck with me.


Set in London, Lilting tells the story of Cambodian Chinese mother Junn who after the death of her son Kai is left alone to live in a country she now has no connection with. Adding to her grievance is the presence of Richard, Kai's lover who longs to connect with Junn. As the two struggle to communicate without a common language they attempt to overcome their differences and share memories of a man they both loved.



The film is a beautiful exploration of grief,memory and love, highlighting the difficulties of finding the right way to express yourself and communicate with others. The language barrier between Junn and Richard is just one aspect of what makes their communication with one another so difficult, and what the director and writer Hong Khaou so brilliantly captures are the moments when the words of any language simply do not suffice to express emotion.



Lilting is shot beautifully and has a slow pace to it which is lifted with moments of drama and humour. I would recommend it as one to watch alone on a quiet afternoon - the subtitles and lack of dialogue means it requires a little more concentration to truly appreciate the subtle messages that the film portrays. 




Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Degree Show work

After what has seemed like a very long time I am finally about to complete my degree in Drawing and Applied Arts! The last few months have been an exciting and stressful whirlwind of manically making work, meeting deadlines and trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life...
The degree show exhibition opens this Friday from 6pm at the BowerAshton Campus, Bristol. All the arts degrees will be exhibiting final year work at the University so visitors can enjoy every kind of art form - from fashion to photography. You can visit the website for our degree here, it features examples and information about all the students creative practices. Everyone on the course has worked so hard these last few weeks to create an exhibition which is full of diverse and inspirational art.

 In my last post I wrote about the project on bees I was about to begin and my time spent with Skep maker, Martin. Well throughout the year I have been continuing to explore this theme, gathering information and myths and stories about the lives and livelihood of honeybees. I then created prints, embroideries and and a series of sketchbooks and most significantly made a large human sized bee home weaved from willow! 
The structure of the willow bee hive is inspired by the traditional skeps as well as the homes of solitary bees. It took several weeks of working on it until I was happy with the shape and form, I loved working with willow although it did present many challenges and limitations.
I will be posting some photographs of the finished willow dome as it is exhibited at the degree show, but for now here are some sneak peaks of the artwork I have created throughout the year in response to the theme of honeybees.
More images of my work can be seen on my brand new website!