Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Collections - Brooches and Bunnies

I have been itching to join in the sharing of collections that Lesley started and Jane has been continuing so brilliantly, but wasn't really up to taking photos this last week. However, a slight improvement in my back has allowed me to put a few things together today.

The main problem was where to start. Even if you say you need six of anything to make a collection, then I have a huge number of collections. I can even sub-divide. So my collection of china animal ornaments, say, can be broken down into many collections - rabbits, deer, cats, elephants, birds, dogs, and so on. Or my collection of rabbits could be broken down into china ones, wooden ones, plastic ones. And this is without actually looking very far. These are things I don't even consciously 'collect'! 

So I'm sharing two small collections today. Brooches and pins with people on, above, and the china rabbits, below. (I actually have more china rabbits than this...I don't know why.)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Colour and Curiosities (Stroud Part Two)

'Kitsch Blogs would like to apologise for the late arrival of this blogpost, owing to staff sickness.' I've had a bad back and haven't been able to spend much time at my desk in the last week. I'm hoping that, with copious amounts of ibuprofen, I can start getting back to normal now.

Thanks for the comments on my last post. I might have guessed that when I called it 'Part One', something would interfere with my posting 'Part Two'. Well, the second part of our day in Stroud was not quite as exciting as the first. We went to the Museum in the Park, to see part of the Stroud Textile Festival there.

I loved the 1950s textiles in the foyer by Jane Edgar, who designed for Heals. Some great geometric designs, and some charming chickens, too.

After all that colour and style, I have to say I found the main textile exhibition there rather disappointing. I don't have any photos; I don't know if photography was allowed, but I just wasn't inspired to take any.

Moving swiftly on, we had a look round the Museum itself. It's quite small and contains a nice random mix of all sorts of stuff. I particularly enjoyed the toys and games.

Can you solve the anagrams? I did a few, but didn't have the patience to do them all. You might like to know that RED NUTS AND GIN is an anagram of UNDERSTANDING. But of course you knew that.
This animal alphabet merits a second look. B is for Baa Lamb? Well, I might have overlooked that, if they hadn't added this -
L is for Love Birds? What was wrong with B for Bird and L for Lamb? You might also be able to spot Q for Quacking Duck and Y for Yellow Canary. And they ignored X completely.
The museum also had some other very curious objects.
The textile festival is over now, but I will just mention another exhibition which we visited. The South West Textile Group, had a lively, enjoyable exhibition with the theme of 'Talisman'. You can see photos on Facebook.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Cash (Stroud, Part One)

When Mr Kitsch and I go on an outing, we often call it 'an adventure'. It doesn't mean that we do anything particularly adventurous, but means that we approach the day with the outlook that things might not turn out exactly as we plan, but whatever happens it will be fun. There might be disappointments, but there might also be wonderful surprises - things you only get from taking things as they come. And so long as you accept it's 'an adventure', then you can enjoy it all.

Saturday was one of those days. I wanted to visit the Stroud Textile Festival. I've wanted to visit it for about four years running, but somehow never managed it. I had a look at what was going on, and there was a World Textile Fair at the village of Bisley on Saturday, as well as all the exhibitions in Stroud, so it seemed like a good day to go.

To get to Bisley, you have to drive all the way through Stroud (getting lost and doubling back on yourself  - optional) and then go through some beautiful countryside. The road was lined with frothy cow parsley and lush fields and trees on either side. Because we were finding our way, and looking at the scenery, it seemed like we were driving miles into the heart of the rural idyll. In fact it's only a few miles from Stroud, but it felt like a long way from anywhere. 
The fair was in the village hall, and although small, it was marvellous, with vivid embroideries from China and India, crisp French linen, Turkish kilims and Japanese kimonos. I like the setting of the English countryside for exotic textiles. Despite the contrast, it actually feels very traditional, and makes me think of retired colonels and tweedy ladies from the British Raj. I browsed the stalls, knowing I couldn't afford to buy anything, but just revelling in the colour, pattern and texture.

But then Mr Kitsch found this little cap.
It's one of the wonderful things about Mr Kitsch that he has started to appreciate embroidery. He's also started to do it, for his 'Day of the Dead' inspired pictures, and annoyingly, he's very good at it too. So he understands my love of textiles and my love of quirky things and he knew I would love this piece. He loved it too. We had to have it.

It was £40. Too much, really, but we justified it by deciding it was an anniversary present to ourselves (our anniversary was the next day, Sunday). Stupidly, we hadn't brought any cash with us. We had about a fiver in change between us. No problem - Mr Kitsch volunteered to go and find a cash machine, while I stayed at the fair. I asked the man on the stall to put it aside for me, and he told me it was a baby's cap from the Bai people. The face on the top is a tiger, who is there to protect the baby from harm. Wonderful! I carried on looking round and taking photos.

I took A LOT of photos. The minutes ticked past. I went and asked the girl on the door if she'd directed a man to a cashpoint. Yes, she showed me the map directing the way to a Londis shop in the village. Maybe he's walked there, I thought, and went to wait outside. Our car was not in the car park. Oh well, he won't be long then, and I went back in. More minutes ticked past. I tried to ring him, but couldn't get a signal in the hall. I went outside again and walked all round the hall. Still no signal. I saw a woman using a mobile phone, but even when I surreptitiously tried to stand right behind her, I still couldn't get a signal. I went back inside again. It was small village hall and I was starting to feel conspicuous.
After another long wait, I finally saw the car returning and went outside to meet Mr K. The poor man had been on an expedition. He had followed the map, but had not found a Londis shop in Bisley. After driving round and round and checking every turning, he finally found a shop, and went in and asked if they had a cash machine. 'Yes....,' said the assistant, '...but it only works on weekdays.' Weekdays?? I know we were in deepest, darkest Gloucestershire, but a part-time cash machine? So Mr Kitsch drove on through the country lanes. It probably would have been quicker to go back to Stroud, but by this time he probably wouldn't have found it, so he just drove on and on to the next village, looking for a shop. Eventually he found a little post office.
'Can I get cash here?' No cash machine, but he could get cashback if he spent £5. He looked round the shop and in desperation he picked up a large Christmas box of Maltesers. Three pounds something. He added a large bag of toffee popcorn. Five pounds exactly.
'Forty pounds cashback, please.'
'I'm afraid our maximum is thirty pounds.'
Disaster! At this point Mr Kitsch remembered that he had a £10 note in his wallet. It would be okay. The shopkeeper opened his till.
'Oh dear, I haven't got enough cash in this till. Hang on.' Fortunately, there was another till in a tea shop at the back of the shop, and the man got the cash from his wife who was serving there.
Hoorah! Finally, clutching the essential cash, Mr Kitsch starts to leave the shop.
'Oh. Um...How do I get back to Bisley?'

He found his way, we had the cash, and the wonderful embroidered cap was ours. So now, as well as having a great piece of embroidered art, we'll remember the small adventure to buy it.

We carried on to Stroud to look at the textile exhibitions and the museum (parking in Stroud is an adventure, too), but I'll keep the photos for my next blog post. We had a brilliant day - it was just one of those days when we kept making each other laugh. I love that we can still do that after 22 years together. Mind you, after 22 years, you have to be able to take a joke (Boom! Boom!). So on Sunday, we decided we didn't need to go out for a posh meal for our anniversary, but had a Chinese takeaway (with a bottle of champagne that someone gave us as a present ages ago), and, now that I come to think about it, that was a perfect match for the mad embroidered tiger cap. Oh, and we had a box of Maltesers too.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

More Falmouth Fun

I'm quite sure you've heard enough about my exhibition by now, but I would just like to thank you for the kind comments on my last post. I know my art is a bit weird, and some people think some of it is a bit scary, so I really appreciate every ounce of encouragement!

But you'll be glad to hear that this post is on safer ground. The pictures above and below are of some of the cute stuff I found while I was away.(Another pair of clogs? How did that happen?)
Yes, even on a short trip to the seaside, I have to check out any available charity shop/car boot sale/flea market. I didn't think I'd been tempted by much - until I got it home and unpacked it. There was quite a bit more than you can see in this photo - books mainly...
However, we did do a bit of communing with nature as well. We went for a walk on the beach at Falmouth, and were fascinated by the rockpools - so many amazing, beautiful colours in them. We sat for a while and started to watch the little fellas in the photo above (I think they're periwinkles). These apparently motionless shells were rushing about the place at a hell of a lick, once you stopped and watched them.

I could sit and watch the sea for hours, and, come to think of it, I pretty much did. It was great to see so much life on the beaches - loads of seaweed too, some of it washed in by the storm that was raging the evening we arrived. (Typical holiday weather - the sun was shining brightly when we left Bristol.)
I found the colours and shapes in the rockpools very inspiring - you might just see some seaweed crochet or shell assemblage in the future.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Up and Running

'Tokens and Totems', my exhibition at the Here and Now Gallery, in Falmouth is up! Hoorah! We had a lovely stay in Falmouth, a place I'd never been to before. Camilla helped me to set everything up, and after many bent nails and snapped picture hooks, we finally got it all up on the walls! I kept reminding her that she was the one studying to be to be a curator, and therefore she should be doing all the hard work, but I'm not sure it really works like that...
Although it's only a small space, we crammed a lot in, and I'm pleased that I had enough work to show. I included some of the work that was in the exhibition last year, some other work from last year that hadn't been shown before, and some new work.

I worry that there are too many different styles and techniques, and that it doesn't really all work together. I imagine there will probably be some visitors who think it's an exhibition by six different artists, but I'm going to call it 'versatility', and not worry about it too much.
These are some of my newer 'totem dolls'. All the newer ones are mounted on wooden plinths, which I really like, as I can give them spindly wire legs and they still stand up. 

I can see myself doing a lot more work with wire. This how the wire and sequin weaving ended up - mounted in a box frame. Alongside it is a little doll I put in a glass dome, which is not for sale, but included just for its weirdness.

Many thanks to Camilla, and Kate at the Here and Now Gallery who has put photos of all the work on Flickr.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

It's All Going On

Just a quick round-up, as I feel like I've hardly had time to stop for a cup of tea, let alone write a blog. I've been busy trying to get everything together for my exhibition in Falmouth, but, as ever, I'm a slow and distracted worker, and I've still managed to leave an awful lot to the last minute.

The distractions have been fun, though. My good friend Katy had her birthday last week (the sewn teacup above, is the card I made her). She decided to postpone her celebrations until Friday, and have a get-together watching the Royal Wedding with tea, cake, triangular sandwiches, and even a glass of champagne. As we didn't all get together until after 11am, she recorded it and we were able to fast forward through great chunks of the coverage - even through bits of the ceremony itself. You may think that shows a lack of proper respect, but to be honest, I was mainly interested in the hats, and ticking off the words and phrases on my Royal Wedding Bingo card (an inspired idea from Boden).
Then yesterday I was selling at the Vintage Bazaar in Frome. Lots of wonderful stalls of vintage fabulousness as usual, and lots of lovely people too, both customers and stallholders. Well done to Lizzie for her great organisation.

Finally, I thought I'd share one of my new pieces of work with you - 'The Tablecloth of Good and Evil'. It's filet crochet, and I've been working on it on and off since Christmas. I was pleased to get it finished in time for the exhibition. I took these photos before I blocked it, but my blocking skills are not great as I'm discovering, as I try to attach it to a square backing cloth!
I'm not entirely sure where the inspiration came from, but I like the idea of including words in textiles.
So...which side of the table do you sit at?