Friday, 16 September 2016

A Growing Concern..Textiles and Community

In common with many artists I enjoy the challenge of creating pieces with relevance to given situations, audiences and locations and an association of over thirty five years with community and public arts keep me motivated and interested in the exchange and learning with others as part of this process.
Leaf Sculpture, Broad Oak Nature Reserve.

Much of my early work was in the Medway Towns and Kent working as a Community Artist with organisations such as Spiral Arts and Shape on projects with hospitals, in education and even with the prison service.  This interaction taught me to explore all kinds of materials from bamboo, willow and cloth used in the making of giant puppets to projects and installations with natural materials and found resources reflecting nature and the world around us. This featured article by Textileartist gives you more detail of this work and some handy hints if you want to engage with other people and work outdoors as part of the process.

Makes a human and emotional connection between environment and landscape through stitch is the domain of many artists who work in textile and the pieces of Australian artists Glenys Mann  featured below) and Holly Story as well as British artist Rosalind Davis also feature in the article talking about the fragility of this relationship.

Glenys Mann, Waiting #16 Bundled
This connection to people and place is marked in exhibitions I am currently featuring in, Stuff for Thought (see previous blog) with its focus on Human Rights and the textile trade.  'Madder' (detail featured below), has been accepted for an exhibition Norwich Shawls: Past Glory, Present Inspiration,in the City famous for its cloth industry (my family home). Madder marks the importance of the dye in Norwich Red and at the same time, taken as adjective, Madder comments on the hard work and often poorly paid employment in the textile industry using fragments gathered in India and Pakistan. The exhibition is on from 1st to 15th October 2016. and is chance to see rarely-seen Norwich Shawls held in private collections alongside contemporary responses in the fine Hostry at Norwich Cathedral. This event is organised by the Costume and Textile Association of the Norfolk Museums Service.
Closer to home I will have a piece on loan to Maidstone Museum in the exhibition Coming Home, Conflict and Care. This includes pieces from the collection based on two paintings in the museum’s collections by artist Frank Hyde

Arrival of a Convoy of Wounded Soldiers at Maidstone Station, Kent, 1916
In October my one person show at Kent Wildlife, Tyland Barn opens and I will also be at the Pavilion Bookshop in Covent Garden from the 5th with a book signing on the 22nd October from 2-4. Please pop in if you can.
Finally I am delighted to be included in short article by  Down Under Textiles Magazine 
with some pieces marking my strong connection with the small things of daily life I love about that Big Country. All updates on exhibitions and workshops can be seen in the drop down pages on my blogsite.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Stuff for Thought – marking Human Rights and Festival of Quilts

Artists have been invited to take part in Stuff for Thought a shared project of textile artist Heidi Drahota and the Human Rights Office of the City of Nuremberg September 9th – September 24th 2016. Journal:Remnants from Not so Ordinary Lives (below) is one of the pieces selected.

My grandmother a Romany Gypsy ,taught me to look at the world and to take responsibility for what we do and how we work. This piece uses fabrics, papers and printing blocks gathered on a research trip to India. I stitched images made on location at railway station where people were gathering for work, at a festival and on a workplace rooftop. All people need access to light, good water and fresh air. Our clothing needs to be made from sustainable sources, not adding to land fill and demanding as much from the land as it does from the makers.(Readers may have seen this piece in my first publication, The Found Object in Textile Art)

This work is in specific response to these two articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Background:With the awarding of the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award 2015 to the labor unionist of the textile industry in Bangladesh Amirul Haque Amin the city of Nuremberg gives the award to an activist for social and economic human rights for the first time.

The exhibition 'Stuff for thought' invited artists to submit work direct relating to 3 different topics:

1 First of all the awareness of the rights of workers in Bangladesh. It is very dangerous to be in a labor union there. The activists don’t only run the risk of losing their jobs when they fight against bad working conditions; they are also often harassed, threatened or arrested. The jury hopes that the award will give Mr. Amin and his allies the protection that they need to continue their work towards humane working conditions.

2 The jury also wants to call upon the consumer conscience and raise awareness for responsible consumption. The public has a right to know under what conditions their clothes are produced.

3 Last but not least the jury’s vote is embedded in an economic framework since global and fair trade without the adherence to social standards runs contrary to basic human needs.

Further details of the exhibitionin German

Art Textiles Made in Britain
This is our second show at the Festival and we will be presenting new work based upon the theme Concealed.This new body work includes work by two guest artists and equally has a strong connection to the human experience discussed above. Hidden meanings and emotions commenting on people and place, social and environmental conscience to personal stories and reflections.

We have produced this lovely catalogue which will be for sale in the Art Textiles gallery and then be available via Hilary Beattie's online shop for those that can't get to Festival. A few of my publications including Stitch Stories will also be available.

Finally, I am delighted to be supporting Hop Art one day exhibition in aid of the Air Ambulance on Bank Holiday Monday 29th August at the Hope Pole Inn, Nettlestead Green. Maidstone. I have donated a small original stitched and collage artwork Hortus, (framed it is 28x22cm). You can bid on this piece by emailing Pauline at Hop Art For details of the Hop Pole contact Mark at the Hop Pole (tel 01622816916.)

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Wildflowers at West Dean..back to nature

The relationship between landscape, nature, place and people have remained a constant in my practice and during a fleeting visit to West Dean last weekend the wonderful management of the gardens reminded me of what a delicate balance this is.

Whilst eating breakfast a friend (and student at the college) said to visit the Orchard mentioning that 'the wildflower meadows around the trees are just simple beautiful right now' and knowing my love for these pockets of nature suggested I make the time.

The gardens are  a little piece of horticultural heaven carefully managed by Head Gardener Jim Buckland  and a dedicated team of gardeners and volunteers for 25 years. The Victorian Glasshouses are a jewel in the gardens and an appeal to restore them is place.

Students drawing around the Glasshouses in sketchbook workshop.

Wildflowers and habitat are so important in places where our gardens and urban sprawl meet the greater landscape. Not least of all, they constantly provide inspiration and a 'place to breath' and just be and to draw.

Whilst in the middle of 'Summer' it is hard to think of winter. This time last year I was preparing for a visit to Australia where winter was in full swing. Equally beauty can be found in the winter landscape and with that in mind I am delighted to once again support the Big Heart Auction  for Chestnut Tree House.. Around 200 donated artworks will be auctioned from local, national and celebrity artists, illustrators and photographers as well as pieces by some of the children.

This piece,  'Winter Tree' , marks the beauty to be seen everyday in the shapes of winter trees.
I sign off with this wonderful interview by Textileartist discusses how community, nature, and art continues to shape and influence my work. (photograph compliments of Richard Torble Photography)
Cas Holmes studio, photo by Richard Torble

Friday, 29 April 2016

Visions and Favourite Things

I have been away most of the last few weeks in the South West of USA (reported on my Magpie blog) at the end of my tour I attended an opening of  'Stitch Stories' at Visions Art Museum earlier in April. This wonderful  not for profit museum managed by a brilliant staff team and volunteers is at NTC at Liberty Station in San Diego presents engaging programs that increase the appreciation of quilts, textiles and fiber as fine art. I am honoured to be have been invited as one of four gallery shows which include: The Jury is InRecurring Dream by Gay Lasher and Geometric,The Visions Members Challenge. I detail two images from the Stitch Stories installation below which included new works and pieces made within the last 5 years.

Tea Garden (photo credit Sue Benner)
Installation of Armchair Botanical (in background) and Wayside Weeds. 
I was able to catch up briefly with old friends and it was great to see pieces by two of my American textile friends Sue Benner  (below) and Patty Hawkins (above).
After a lovely weekend in Ireland on my return  I am preparing for my show as a guest exhibitor at the 7th Quiltfestival in Luxembourg from 5-8th May Image detail of Winter Grasses, I  will report on this on my return..
Art Textiles Made in Britain will be exhibiting 'Identity' (image from Festival of Quilts 2014) at the Minerva Gallery in Wales from 30 April until 30th May. This is accompanied by workshops (I will also be giving a workshop here 7-8 November 2016.)
  Identity Panels on show at Festival of Quilts 2014

Prescriptions has also opened at the Beaney in Canterbury. The exhibition focuses on the book art of Martha Hall, on loan from the University of New England,accompanied by a curated show of artists books responding to themes of art, empathy and wellbeing. Further links and details on all exhibitions here.
Florascript Cas Holmes
I am delighted to be in two publications this month. The 100th edition of Stitch Magazine with Favourite Things. This also happens to be Kathy Troup's last edition as Editor so I am doubly delighted to mark and celebrate her time on the magazine since its inception and wish her well as she passes on a strong legacy the new Editor.
Last but not least, I am equally delighted to be included in Textileartist's series of E publications in 'Textile Art Inspired by Nature'
I was one of the first interviews on this new blog way back in 2012 when I was interviewed at the Knitting and Stitching Show by Sam Pitcher for their featured artist series (To Do Different). Along with his brother Joe, the site continues to develop as a valuable resource and demonstrates we can never have enough writing about textile art either on line or in print.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Telling Stories

Over the winter I gave myself permission to 'hibernate' a bit and concentrated on research and developing new ideas for forthcoming shows. I grew up in a family which liked to tell stories so am thrilled to be a cover girl on the latest edition of Cloth, Paper, Scissors. The inside article looks at how you can create your own folding stitch-story from found materials.
As I order and re-order thing in preparation for another journey in March to the USA for my exhibition 'Stitch Stories' at Visions Art Museum  (reported in my previous blog) I am drawn to consider how I prepare for such events.I have been drawn to the 'lost' part of our landscape..the areas on the edges of our roads, railways and industrial areas we often  miss simply because we pass and not really look at them. Environmentally of value in our increasingly built upon and urbanised spaces

Spring Verge

 2016 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot "Capability" Brown, I wonder how he would have seen and remarked upon the changed post industrial landscape before him in light of the 'English Idyl'? You can get involved in marking this event through the Embroiderer's Guild who are a Capability Brown festival partner.
 In 1998 I was commissioned to work on a community collaboration at Compton Verney House to mark the multi faceted history of the house and gardens (designed by Capability Brown).This was part of the celebratory preview season marking the opening of the newly-restored ground floor rooms We worked high up in the attic space and the participants included the communities of Combrook and Kineton, Campion Youth Group and local training and educational centres. My ongoing project Tea Flora Tales appears in an article by Patchwork Professional.You can see the article and look at how to get involved here.


I use the time spent travelling to think, and to make connections between my home territory and the destination. I collect materials, take photographs, and make notes and sketches to record what I see.The images below are a few photographs captured through window on a damp day at West Dean College where I regularly teach.
A windy night led to a more physical response in red early in the morning ..a warm up exercise and sketch outside before workshops began.
At the same time, participants on my course, Personal Journals-sourcing inspiration for textiles were also looking at gardens for processing their own work
 Head down drawing
 Carol Sacha, walled garden
 Cherry Hirsh Sketchbook development
Lorna Goldsmith, back of work in progress(she records her process here)
Tracey Williams, detail of sample in progress

You can read more about up and coming workshops in the UK and USA on this link
Final news (but not least)is that the reprint of Stitch Stories is finally here and being distributed in the UK and beyond. Thankyou Batsford/Pavilion.