My London trip

I have just got home after a few days in London. It was an opportunity to feed my creativity by visiting lots of galleries and take a break from teaching and my studio work. It was a great mix of exhibitions, theatre, restaurants and a little retail therapy. I was fortunate to be invited to Burberry House to see the lastest catwalk collection from London Fashion Week. Amazing clothes and fabulous fantasy capes inspired by Henry Moore sculptures. Some made out of found objects others sculpted out of metal, wood or leather.

It was great to see the Burberry collection, but the real treat for me was the chance to see sculptures, maquettes, sketches and studio tools giving a great insight into Moores way of working.

Over the few days of the trip I went to the Mall Galleries to see the Pastel Societys Exhibition, Tate Britain for the Hockney and the RA for the America After the Fall  Exhibition, lots of visual treats.  I love to look at other artists work, their techniques,  colour palete, choice of compositions. I am inspired by the brave choices and bold decisions they make and hope it encourages me out of my comfort zone!

On the way home we made a detour for Stanley Spencer. We visited the lovely gallery in Cookham, his home town. The unfinished Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta is on display there and it was like meeting an old friend! On seeing it for the first time in the RA I was fascinated by the unfinished areas as much as the finished sections of the painting. I particularly like  the details on the mop head and the check trousers of the centre figure.

I first saw his work at a retrospective at the RA about 30 years ago and have been a huge admirer of his work ever since. I especially love his eye for colour, pattern and rhythm.

RA Summer Exhibition and Womans Hour Craft Competition

I have spent a few evenings recently filling in application forms and now I remembered why I don’t enter competitions! It is so time consuming to do it thoroughly and quite stressful making decisions about which works to be judged on. We artists are not generally very good at promoting ourselves but you have to be “in it to win it” so they say!

First of all I have entered an embroidery for the RA Summer Exhibition, there are only 12000 people doing the same thing! I visited the Summer Exhibition last year and saw an amazing array of artwork and felt inspired to apply  So, this is the year I put myself forward, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

I have submitted this piece of work, it is 16 x 10 inches. Based on photographs and sketches of the woodland at Plas Tan Y Bwlch in North Wales. It is a piece of work I am proud of so it seemed a good choice.

The Moss Beneath My Feet

The second event is the Womans Hour Craft Competition in conjunction with The V&A and the Craft Council. They are looking for the 12 best craftsmen in the UK, the successful ones will have their work exhibited at The V&A and the best of the 12 exhibitors wins £10,000. This application form was extensive and I nearly gave up! I have submitted 4 embroideries to be judged on and a proposal for a new embroidery for the exhibition if I get that far i the process. It is all based on work from the last 5 years. This a new piece of work this year and one of my submissions

On a Frosty Morning

 

I intend to forget about it now, the process is complete and l wont hear anything until April, I will keep you posted!

 

Starting the New Year

It makes me very happy to hit the ground running in January! I do enjoy Christmas but crave getting back to my studio and creating new work. I had prepared so many painted silk pieces for my Australia trip last October that it seemed a good idea to lay them all out in my studio, and work towards the completion of each one. I use images that inspire me as examples for courses so the intention is always to complete them.

It was interesting looking at them all again, quite a range of subject matter, lots of flowers and some seascapes, also woodlands and dramatic skies. Hard to choose which one to work on first! A lot of the creative decisions have been made by the time I have a painted background, a commitment to colour, image size, shape and composition, so in most cases each painted background was ready for my stitching to add texture, depth and definition.

Working these prepared backgrounds is a great way to get me back into the creative zone. As with many things I do it’s become part of my annual routine. I always focus on producing new work for exhibitions in the first few months of the year. Then a week at Chelsea in May swiftly followed by my Open Studios in June, then the summer ( if we get one!) Finally in October my 6 week teaching trip to Australia…if I am in a rut, it’s a very happy rut! There is of course a liberal sprinkling of teaching throughout the whole year, with courses at my studio and around the UK.

I am always pleased to have a magazine article about my work, there were two last year and one in 2017 already. This time it’s in “Be Creative with Workbox, a four page spread of a snow scene which is the winter project out of my Woodlands book.

 

Australian adventures

I really intended to write a blog for each city/location I visited during my trip to Australia this autumn. Each place was rich with sight seeing, great students and good times. You will probably have noticed it didnt happen! So here is my tale of the whole 6 week trip.


End of October I arrived in Canberra, a new place for me to visit. Before I started teaching I had a couple of days to get over the journey spent looking around the surrounding countryside and the downtown area. My hosts were very generous with their time and I enjoyed seeing a lot of the spacious green city. Built around a huge man made lake there are fantastic vistas of the ANZAC Parade with Government House one end and the Australian War Memorial at the other. I love the story about both Melbourne and Sydney wanting to be the Capital as as neither would give in to the other they built Canberra!

I taught 2 courses, “Dramatic Skies” and “Seascapes” so I was there for a week in total. Thank you Leonie and Lorna for taking great care of me.

I moved on to Melbourne next for 2 weekend courses, “Up Close and Personal” and “Textures in Nature”.

My painting demonstration for ” Up Close”

This meant I had 5 days off in between the 2 weekends in such a great city with so much to see and do. Fortunately I coincided with the last few days of the Australian textile artist Annemeike Miens exhibition and the first day of the David Hockney! What a lovely way to spend time off. There was a Banksy exhibition on too so it was a visual feast for me.

Hockney giant landscape

I always meet new students keen to learn my techniques but also several who I have taught before. As the number of my visits increase the friendships grow, we keep in touch and I look forward catching up with them. At the Annemeike Mien exhibition I bumped into 2 women I knew, that’s a strange but lovely situation to be in the other side of the world!

There is a large selection of the work by my Australian students on the website courses page. There were 6 courses in total so a wide range of work and a lot of talent to see.

Sad to leave Melbourne but with more places to go, I flew to Syndey for a few days, staying in Manly and travelling into the CBT on the ferry each day. Its such an iconic sight, as the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge come into view. I hand delivered an embroidery that was bought at the Chelsea Flower Show in May earlier this year. Can’t promise everyone that service but it just worked out I could do that! I enjoyed the Rocks and The Botanical Gardens were fabulous, 2 days were spent there taking photographs, lots of inspiration!

Next venue was Harrington, a 3 hour drive north of Sydney on the coast. 2 more courses here for Jen at Love Patchwork. “Landscapes” and “Flowers and Foliage”. Jen and her friend Cecily had been to Margaret River on my Seascapes course in 2015 so it was really good to meet up with them both again.

View from my teaching room!

I had a wonderful room to teach in, overlooking an estuary and warm sunny weather too. It was a great week, exploring the area and meeting all the neighbours.

The trip ended with a few days in Queensland on Hamilton Island.

Hamilton Island

Sunset over the Marina on Hamilton Island

Time to unwind, sit in the sun and think about what a great experience it all was. I am often asked why I keep returning to Australia. It’s an extraordinary country with warm hearted generous people. I hope my plans for a trip in 2017 work out so I can enjoy even more of the same.

A visit to Gardens by the Bay in Singapore on the way home

Travel, home and away, plus a new gallery

September and October have been a fun months for me with a bit of holiday travel combined with some textile work (of course!).

A few days in the Lake District with good weather gave me an opportunity to take some great photographs. Such inspiring scenery in Langdale with lakes, mossy walls and mountains. This was swiftly followed by a 4 day trip with the family to Rome. Not a place inspirational for my embroideries in the way of lush English countryside but a wonderful city with fabulous architecture at evey turn. We walked over 24 miles in 4 days, so we certainly saw a lot of the city!

My sons at the Trevi Fountain!

Before I set off for my 6 weeks in Australia I selected a few of my embroideries to have on display at a new gallery. A few local scenes with an autumnal theme, including 2 pieces inspired by one of my favourite places, Ellesmere. So…

Across the Mere

The Copper Tree Gallery in Tarporley, Cheshire now has a collection of my embroideries. This is a new venue for me in a beautiful part of the country. My work will be on display from October 18th until Christmas. I do hope you can get there to see them, the gallery is easy to find in the High Street.

For my next blog I will be in Australia, where it will be a bit warmer! I start my trip in Canberra which is new location for me, so I am really looking forward to being there.

Bare Roots in Springtime

 

Magazine Feature

“Our Quilting” magazine have given me a fabulous 8 page feature in their August magazine.

Here are 4 of the pages. They have included many images and a wide range of stitch techniques too.

It is a German publisher, printed in the UK in English and a lovely quality, glossy magazine

Thank you. I am thrilled!

Teaching through the summer

The year is flying by and the variety of my activities certainly speed it along!

I am enjoying teaching a few embroidery courses this summer in beautiful locations, Brighton, Dorset and of course at my home studio in Shropshire.

My silk painting of a white poppy in the Chelsea Physic Garden

A range of subject matter as always, to keep me fresh and enthusiastic. Rivers and waterfalls, flowers and reflections in water are the themes. I am inspired again by another trip to the Chelsea Physic Garden where some close ups shots of their colourful borders gave me some great source material for the “Up Close and Personal” course in my Garden Studio this month.

Lots of colour and inspiration from the Chelsea Physic garden

During the course in Brighton I started a waterfall embroidery of the Liffey Falls in Tasmania. It is an amazing place and I have wanted to make an embroidery for some time based on my visit there. The students work from all my summer courses are posted on my students work page

My trip to London was filled with visits to galleries and gardens, it was a great few days break. The RA Summer Exhibition was a wonderful eclectic mix as usual and a return trip to the RA to see the Hockney – 82 Portraits and a Still Life completed the visit in style. Lunch in the National Portrait Gallery gave us great views over London!

New work in the M1 Fine Art Gallery

I have some new work in the M1 Fine Art gallery in Greenwich, London this week.
10 pieces in total, a range of colourful countryside scenes, including bluebells, daffodils and poppies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is the Summer Exhibition and I am deighted to have my embroideries included in this predigious show. The opening night is July 15th but the work will be on display throughout the whole summer. Please go along and take a look!

Juggling pictures and a magazine.

With Chelsea Flower Show and my Open Studios event behind me I can now focus on producing some new work. I have a range of colourful landscapes for the Summer Exhibition at The M1 Gallery in Greenwich and also work in the Willow Gallery, Oswestry plus 4 pieces for an art exhibition in Bickerton, Cheshire. The studio is littered with work covered in colour coded post-it notes as I try and decide which pictures should go where! I try to give a mixture of price range and subject matter to each exhibition and just when I think I have worked it all out I realise I need to keep a certain picture with me as it illustrates a course I will be teaching soon!

Behind the scenes my website has had an overhaul,  it doesn’t look very different but it has some new buttons, sub menus and a general tidy up. Apparently a website is never finished it continues to evolve! I get a lot of positive feedback about mine, long may that continue, thank you Myk for all your hard work and technical knowhow.

My courses are filling rapidly for this year and next, always lovely to see students return for more and exciting to meet a few new ones too.

I am still optimistic we will get a summer but it needs to hurry up, I am seriously fed up with all this rain!

This month Border Welsh Life have written a great 3 page article about me being inspired by the local countryside. They have included lots of photographs of my work too. It is good to have some exposure in a local magazine.

My Week at the Chelsea Flower Show

This my 23rd year of exhibiting… hard to believe! It’s an experience that’s difficult to describe, stressfull, exhilarating, exciting, a privilege, hard work but always worth all the effort. It has become the main focus of my exhibiting year with months of planning leading up to a great week.

It is a welĺ rehearsed routine, finely tuned over the years but there are often a few surprises. Months of preparation ends with me packing the car with alĺ my framed pictures, cards, prints, books, the counter, lights, plants and flooring for the stand. Choosing my clothes for the week is always a challenge as we have had everything from a heat wave to torrential downpours over the years!

The Moss Beneath My Feet

The week begins on Sunday with an early start, driving down from Shropshire to Chelsea. We organise my display when we arrive, it is usually a 5 to 6 hour job which includes laying the floor, erecting the lights, hanging the pictures, assembling the counter and finally arranging the plants. The RHS judge our display so the pressure is on! 

Monday is Press day, we are knee deep in celebrities all morning and usually see the Queen and accompanying royals in the afternoon. Overall it is a day to look at the gardens up close, take lots of photographs, catch up with other exhibitors and enjoy the whole experience before the crowds arrive on Tuesday. In the evening it is the Gala with music, champagne and canapés, I admit…it’s not all work!

Richard E Grant!

Its a busy week with long days as the show is open 8am to 8pm. We meet established and new customers who chat and buy, adding to their collection or hopefully starting one!

There are highlights for me every year, something special resulting from exhibiting here. This year an invitation to the Chelsea Physic Garden to teach a course next year. I had a private tour of the garden, which was such a privilege and I took lots of photographs for inspiration. I am really looking forward to working with them next year.

Chelsea Physic Garden

I was also lucky enough to meet the Australian women who are responsible for the 5000 Poppies. They visited my stand and we enjoyed a mutual admiration moment or two. It was such an amazing project and I was so pleased to meet them.Well, as always the week slips by and then its time to go home, unpack and lie down in a dark room. I plan to do it all again next year!

Teaching and preparing for Chelsea

The months are flying by as they usually do when there is lots going on. I am trying to get all my embroideries ready to exhibit them at Chelsea in May as well as fit in my teaching. Always a balancing act, but for someone who thrives on variety it’s all good!

I find it interesting that the demand for me to devise new courses leads me to produce work which illustrates and supports them. I taught ‘Up Close and Personal’ for the first this year and in preparation I looked at some of the roses in my garden for inspiration. This is the painting of a climbing white rose I produced to inspire my students. Quite a departure for me, but something I really enjoyed exploring.The course was a great success and I was very pleased with how everyone tackled the subject matter. Here are the students in my studio at the end of the course…still smiling! 

I also had a great weekend at Plas Tan Y Bwlch this month with the North Wales Embroiderers Guild, a lovely group of students at a super venue. The wonderful work both sets of students produced is on my website

My own embroideries continue to develop, especially with exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show as motivation to create a body of work. I have produced a new large landscape for centre stage as I sold the piece from last years show. I have aimed for variety in the work but flowers, gardens and woodlands feature heavily. Here are a couple, the rest of the new work can be seen on the embroideries page and of course at Chelsea. I hope to see you there!

Teaching in my Garden Studio

I have been organising my studio with teaching in mind and recently took delivery of some very smart tables and chairs! All part of the preparation for the 2 courses I will be running in there in March.I will be teaching 2 courses in March. The first one is “Up Close and Personal” when we will be learning to stitch the fine detail in close ups of flowers and leaves. Learning how to blend in stitch to create a smooth transition through colour and tonal ranges, plus interesting stitch techniques for petals, stamens etc.

The second course is “Texture in Nature” celebrating and exploring the colours, texture and detail of trees, concentrating on stitch techniques for tree bark. Some smooth, others craggy and covered in lichen and moss.

I had an email this week from a picture researcher at Quarto Publishing in London to say they love my work and would like to publish it in a new edition of the Encyclopedia of Embroidery Techniques. They told me they plan to update the book with some more contemporary embroidery examples in the gallery section and are looking for beautiful finished embroideries in a range of styles and stitches that reflecting different themes including landscapes, flowers etc. They chose several from the website and I have sent 10 examples of my work so they can print as many as they like! I am looking forward to seeing it.

 

As busy as ever!

Finally the days are getting longer and I have snowdrops and hellebores flowering outside my studio door, with daffodils in hot pursuit! I am enjoying spending time in my studio teaching and creating, watching the seasons change and the garden wake up, it’s wonderful being so close to my garden but warm in my studio! Its a busy time, lots of organising for the year ahead going on, with lots of forms to fill in for various exhibitions and opportunities as the year falls into place.

I have been invited to exhibit in the Capability Brown Festival with the Embroiderers Guild and my piece is on its way to Guild Headquarters this week.

My embroidery “Amongst the Snowdrops” inspired by the snowdrop walk at Chirk Castle will be on display at 3 of the venues throughout the year. The Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch show at the NEC in March, then in the exhibition “Landscapes and Gardens” at  Chirk Castle and on to the Knitting and Stitching Show later in the year, more details here

Preparations for the Chelsea Flower Show are underway too with lots of embroideries planned and some already completed. I do enjoy the pressure of a deadline, it focuses the creative juices!

Following on from my week at Chelsea will be my Open Studios event in Oswestry, a chance to visit me, see my studio, garden and embroideries. We have 33 artists working and displaying their artwork in 16 studios in and around Oswestry. It will be a great event and we are expecting lots of visitors over the 2 weekends, June 11th,12th and 18th,19th.

My flights to Australia at the end of October are all booked, it will be 10 flights in total and a total of 5 weeks away! I will be teaching 6 courses in total. I am excited to visit Canberra this trip, as a new venue, then on to Melbourne to see some familiar faces, finally to Harrington, north of Sydney to run the last 2 courses of the trip, more details on this page

 

The beginning of the year

I do love the time over New Year, with new beginnings and a fresh start. After a busy year I look forward to the time off over Christmas and enjoy the family time enormously but my desire to get back to ‘normal’ leads me rapidly into the studio to get creative.

It’s a good time to plan new work, try out ideas that I have been mulling over for weeks. Time to experiment a little, take some risks, tackle a big project with no time restrictions. I wanted to make another sweeping vista style landscape and choosing the right image is so important. Last August, on my way from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to Manchester, driving along through the beautiful countryside of the Derbyshire Peak District, I took masses of photographs. I was captivated by the tracery of crumbling dry stone walls creating a network of fields, with distant sunlit hills covered in purple heather, visually stunning! I have often thought of that scene and was keen to make an embroidery that captured my feelings on that day. My aim was to find a composition that conveyed the enormous sense of scale and all the textures, details, colours.

A sketch of the composition on several sheets of A4 paper.

I based the composition on a series of photographs, I played around to get the perspective right, sketching out 2 or 3 versions until I was happy with it. I then draw it out on silk and paint a background wash adding extra detail to the sky.

I work within an 8 in embroidery hoop so I stitch one section at a time until its complete, moving the hoop as many as 8 or 9 times to access all the composition. I do like this way of working, I don’t get overwhelmed by the scale of the piece. It is 26 x 12 inches and focusing on one small area at a time seems to work well for me. Of course it could be because I have always done it this way. If it aint broke, don’t fix it!

There is a real momentum that builds on the success of each stage of the picture. As I progress from area to area working out the colours and stitch techniques I am spurred on to complete it. I call it being in the zone, it’s a great feeling!

Finally, the finished piece, and an enormous sense of achievement.

The first outing for my new work will be exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show in May, its a few months away but I have my centre piece ready!

A week in Prague

Old Town Square lit up with the Christmas tree and market

What a beautiful city. Being invited to exhibit and teach there was a great incentive to go to a city I had been meaning to visit for a long time. I was not disappointed, the architecture, food, sculptures, museums and the people combine to create a wonderful atmosphere. It was also the start of the Christmas markets so everywhere looked really festive.

The Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square

208 steps down from the Cathedral

I was exhibiting at Textile Prague held in the beautiful building Slovansky dum over the weekend. On the Saturday I held a Masterclass for students from Russia and the Czech Republic. I had an interpreter, Helene, who was wonderful. She had printed diagrams of a sewing machine with all the parts named in Russian and Czech, how organised is that! It was a new experience for me and the day went really well, due to enthusiastic students and a love of machine embroidery by all concerned!

My books in Russian!

Inside Slovansky dum exhibition space

Fellow exhibitors Elena Tkachenko and Galina Domakha from Russia

I had a few days to explore the city after the exhibition ended. I had researched a sort of sculpture trail and we set off each day to find 1 or 2 or more. Its such a great place to walk around, so much to see, lots of places for a coffee or lunch or a beer or 2!

It was a wonderful week in a city of great culture.

Entrance to Municipal House designed by Mucha

Heading Home

My Australian trip for 2015 is coming to a close. For those of us that like the stats, I have taken 11 flights, adjusted to 5 different time zones, held 6 courses, taught 87 students, visited 8 different locations over 42 days, enjoying every experience along the way.

The rose arch at the Voyager Estate winery, Margaret River

The delightful blue wren

The highlights have been many,  the wildlife and the stunning scenery that I have been fortunate to see include whales (a mother and calf ) and quokkas at Rottnest, blue wrens and wineries in Margaret River, devils in Tasmania and a helicopter ride over Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

I had an even bigger smile after the flight!

Uluru from the air

I have stayed with some great people who I can now consider friends, I have been wined and dined and generally spoilt. People at home are often suprised to hear I am planning to return for another trip, they only have to read this and see these photos to understand why it will be a great pleasure to come back!

Sunrise breakfast at Uluru

Up close to the rock

The biggest reason to return is the students I meet. To spend time with people who share my enthusiasm for textiles is a joy. To show them the techniques I have discovered, to watch them develop their artwork and often suprise themselves with what they achieve makes me very happy. Their work is on my students page, I am proud to display it on my website.

I will be home for a couple of weeks, taking a short break after all the traveling. My next adventure is Prague at the end of November for Textile Prague. I will be teaching and exhibiting there.

Teaching in Melbourne and Tasmania and Melbourne…

The trip continues and I have reached a busy spell. 3 x 2 day courses in 9 days, phew! Not a lot of downtime but that’s OK. First of all I ran a “Waterfalls” course in Melbourne for Sue and Carly. We learnt all about the texture and movement of fast moving water, a few mossy rocks and ferns, I was thrilled with the results and so were my students. They were such a talented group. The work is on the courses page of the website, please take a look. Here we all are at the end of the course.

I then moved on to Tasmania for 5 days to teach a “Reflections” course for Cindy at Elemental Artspace, in Deloraine. So lovely to go back to where my first Australian trip began! Cindy now has a great new gallery and studio space, where we held the course.

Elemental Artspace Gallery, Deloraine, Tasmanian

 

I had a free day at the beginning of the week to explore Tasmania a little. We went for a walk and then visited the wildlife park where they have a breeding programme for Tasmanian Devils. They are so different from anything else. They are marsupials but look like a cross between a tiny bear and hairy piglet! Apolgies to all devil fans but I did think they were amazing. Whilst walking in the wildlife park a mob of about 30 kangaroos thundered past us. Then they stopped a few feet away and just looked at us! What a fun experience!

A mob of kangaroos!

The course midweek was “Reflections”, which involves a lot of painted detail, they can all be seen on the students page on my website, it is really super work.

So on Friday I got back on a plane to Melbourne for another weekend course, for the Embroiderers Guild. The theme was “Seascapes” and we were in the beautiful Guild House. It was certainly a busy spell but I have a few days off next week to relax…before the next one!

 

Fibres West and beyond

I feel like I have been in Australia for ages, its actually only 14 days into my trip but I have packed in a lot so far!

After a couple of days to get over the journey I started my first teaching post for this trip at Fibres West, in Muresk, a 5 day residential course. It was an an amazing experience.

The Homestead, Muresk

I was 1 of 10 textile art tutors from all over Australia and further afield. It was an action packed week with classes, presentations, an artist in residence, wearable art show and pop up exhibitions. I had 13 students who were learning how to paint with stitches and I was thrilled with their results. They worked hard, learnt a lot and have the embroideries to prove it. Their work is on display on my Courses page on the Students Work page, please take a look.

Pretty countryside around Muresk

All good things come to an end and it was time to head back to Perth for a few days off. A lovely mixture of quiet days to relax and a bit of sight seeing. The highlight has been a trip to Rottnest Island with Jill and Diane, 2 of my students who have become good friends and have taken such great care of me.

Yes that is wine… it’s a day off!

The sun was shining and the sea flat calm for our crossing on the ferry. Halfway across the boat slowed down for us to see migrating whales, what a thrill to see them so close. First of all there was an adult with her calf clearly visible next to the boat and soon after a pair of adults repeatedly breaking the surface and then diving. It was a magical start to our day.

I will be moving on to Melbourne tomorrow for the next stage of the trip, I am looking forward to seeing friends and teaching enthusiastic students!

This is me meeting a quokka. They are like miniature kangaroos, very cute, really tame and are only found on Rottnest.

Home from Italy… off to Australia

I have just got back from a wonderful week in Italy with my family. We stayed in Reusa, near Fizziano, up in the mountains north of Pisa in a beautiful villa with views to die for. We visited Tellaro on the Italian Rivier and had a day in Florence and Lucca for a culture fix. I was trying to have restful time before my big trip to Australia and with good food, long leisurely lunches, great company and sunshine, I succeeded!

There are only a few days left until I fly to Perth so I am busy gathering everything together for my trip. I have a lot of courses to prepare for and a few clothes to pack too!

I have a few things to do before I go, deliver some pictures to the Willow Gallery in Oswestry and an article to finish for the Swedish Embroidery Magazine.

I am really looking forward to meeting all my students when I get to Australia.  I will be teaching at Fibres West for the first week, then on to Melbourne to teach another course over the weekend.

During my time in Australia I will be exhibiting my embroideries in Melbourne at the Firestation Print Studio Gallery with textile artist Carly Leech. Our work will be on display from October 14th to 24th. I first met Carly at the Tasmanian Craft Fair in 2013, she flew from Melbourne to visit me there. Carly and her friend Sue are the organisers of my course in Melbourne this year and we are planning one for 2016 too!

After teaching in Melbourne for the Embroiderers Guild and then in Deloraine, Tasmania at Elemental Artspace, I will head back to Perth for yet another course! Then down to Margaret River to complete my 6 courses in 6 weeks away. A very busy schedule,  meeting up with some very special friends from my last visit. I plan to post my travel progress on this blog so you can keep track of me!

A Busy Summer…

I like lots of variety to make life interesting and this summer has certainly given me that

I have been busy with a range of activities, such as placing new work into galleries, trips away teaching, a 3 day course in my new studio and even some time for some stitching!

After exhibiting at Chelsea I was approached by the M1 Gallery in London. they wanted me to put my embroideries into their Summer Show and likewise the Willow Gallery in Oswestry. Both ventures have resulted in sales which is lovely

It was great to finally welcome students for a new course ‘Texture in Nature’ held in my new studio. We had 3 days of painting and stitching the texture in tree bark and the woodland floor. The work can be seen here. We even had lunch in the garden between the showers!It is getting close to my next trip to Australia so I am knee deep in preparation, a work visa to apply for, course notes to complete and materials to organise. I will be away for 6 weeks and be traveling all over the country. I start by teaching at Fibres West, a 5 residential course in Muresk near Perth, then I visit Melbourne, Tasmania, Uluru, and Margaret River before I head home. I will be posting my progress here!

 

The Willow Gallery, Oswestry

I really appreciate the very good, long running relationship that I have with my local gallery in Oswestry. The Willow, is a wonderful space, cleverly converted from a former car show room, hence the large windows and fantastic light. Big comfortable sofas and a great coffee shop which serves really good food too.

I always have a selection of my work on display, often invited to put pieces in a current exhibition and my books, DVD and cards are always for sale in the shop.

For the Summer Exhibition I put in several large new pieces including ‘Under a Green Canopy’ which I am thrilled to say they have sold this week. There is something so satisfying to sell so close to home (5 minute walk). I sell my work all over the world but this felt really good!

Opening my new studio

My Open Studio event in June this year was the first opportunity for people to visit me in my new studio. Only a short time after coming home from my week at the Chelsea Flower Show it was a frantic ( more than usual! ) lead up to the first weekend. I enrolled the whole family to help, we were painting walls, making shelves, varnishing the floor, weeding the garden and hanging pictures on the walls, it was non stop activity!It was worth all the effort when we had lots of visitors over the 2 weekends and really good sales. Everyone enjoyed the new studio and with all the doors open it allowed people to stroll through to the garden and the summerhouse to see Myk’s photography display. Most of the time the weather was very kind and we had some sunshine!I am planning to have a quieter spell now, enjoying working in my new space, occasionally getting distracted by the garden and relishing the summer months ahead.

Between Wisley and Chelsea

The Wild Garden at Wisley

I have returned from my first show of the year at RHS Wisley, nr Guildford. It really was a top quality show in beautiful surroundings. We had 5 days to enjoy the gardens and meet new and valued customers, their response to my new embroideries was really wonderful. The event was also a great a practice run for Chelsea, after being in glorious isolation at home for months since my last exhibition it can be a shock to the system! I returned to see the progress on my new studio. Its a major project with a cloakroom, utility room and the studio room with its 2 sets of bi-fold glass doors. Its going to be ready for my Private View on June 12th…hopefully! I am thrilled with how it looks and can’t wait to get in there with my sewing machine and hang my embroideries on the walls.

Starting to lay the oak floorboards

Preparations for Chelsea are now high on my agenda, with a few more embroideries to frame and plants and pots to organise for the stand its a busy time. The mammoth task of fitting everything into the car is a challenge, we always manage somehow! There is so much to remember, hi-vis jackets, tickets, screwdriver, framing gun, clothes for all weather conditions, etc. etc. It is the major event of my year and demands my full attention before and during the week we are there. This will be my 22nd year as an exhibitor…I should know what I’m doing by now!

My centre piece for the stand at the Chelsea Flower Show ( 23 x 36 ins)

Teaching in Devon and Cornwall

I have just returned from a wonderful teaching trip around Devon and Cornwall, 5 different courses over 8 days! I enjoyed teaching a range of silk painting and stitching to lots of enthusiastic students, in some lovely locations. The weather was very kind too, its a very pretty part of the world but the sunshine really makes it sparkle

I enjoyed great hospitality from everyone who was kind enough to have me to stay. I was greeted with everything from glasses of wine, fresh flowers in my room, beautifully cooked evening meals and even a hot water bottle if required…and they call it work! Thank you everyone. I have posted a selection of the student work from each course on the website. I was so pleased with the results and so were they.

I eventually made the journey home to Shropshire to find great progress had been made on my studio build. The doors had been fitted, they fold back beautifully to give lots of light and access either end of the room, we also have freshly plastered walls ready to paint. It looks great, I just have to decide where to put my sewing machine for the best view!

It’s a busy time ahead for me now with my first show of the year in the RHS garden at Wisley at the end of the month, April 30th to May 4th over the Bank Holiday weekend. The bluebells will be out and the gardens will look wonderful as always. I am looking forward to exhibiting all my new embroideries there.

My New Studio

Work has begun on my new studio. We are converting the double garage behind the house into a teaching room and studio. There is a lot of work to do, the brick walls and ceiling need insulating, plastering, painting, and a wooden floor laid. The wall overlooking the garden and the garage door will be replaced by floor to ceiling bi-fold doors, so there will be lots of natural light.

Framework on the wall for the insulation and plaster

I currently work in a smaller studio the attic, (all jokes of artists starving in garrets have already been made, thank you!) so I am really looking forward to having more space to create in. On a sunny day it will be great being able to open up the doors and enjoy my garden. I will overlook the pond and my favourite tree, a corkscrew willow.

This wall will become glass bi-fold doors, my entrance to the garden

There it was …gone!

The view of the studio from my garden. Waiting for the glass doors to be fitted, bit draughty in there at the moment!

My regular students are looking forward to being in there too. It will be ready in time for my Open Studios event in June. I will be open 10am to 5pm on 13th, 14th and the following weekend, 20th, 21st

I will post more photographs as the work progresses. Exciting times!

Juggling everything!

Its an interesting time of year when the creative and the admin have to run parallel. There is little point in me creating new embroideries and courses if I don’t let people know about them and create opportunities to exhibit them!

So this month I have been getting my annual promotional postcard designed, (thank you Myk) printed and posted. It features 14 of my new embroideries. My printers have made it their postcard of the month on their website

I have also been busy filling in endless forms for this years exhibitions and shows, listing my new teaching venues and exhibitions on my website. I have designed a whole new set of greetings cards they will be available from my website and exhibitions. I have had 2 magazine articles to write too. One will be published in June in an Australian magazine, Textile Fibre Forum, the other is online on shopper lottie a new blog that has an interesting range of interviews.

I also had my new pieces professionally photographed (thank you Myk) and they are on the website gallery to view. Sourcing new picture molding and clarity glass (thank you Nel) was another job to tick off the list

I quite enjoy the range and variety of tasks but as shows and exhibitions appear to gallop towards me I feel I need to be in the studio making embroideries. There are not enough days in the week! Oh and booking flights and hotels too but who is going to complain about planning a trip to Australia or Prague…not me!

Invitation to Textile Prague 2015

Just when I thought my diary was complete for this year I have been invited to Textile Prague 2015 

A 3 day textile show held from November 27th to 29th in the beautiful building Slovansky dum in the centre of Prague. Its an exciting opportunity for me to exhibit my embroideries and I will be teaching a 1 day course there on Sunday 29th. The venue looks wonderful and I am looking forward to meeting the other exhibitors. There are more details on my exhibitions and courses page.

January’s racing by

Approaching Candy Woods

Its been a busy month so far, with wet and windy weather and even a bit of snow the best place to be is a warm studio! I have been thoroughly immersed in some new embroideries. This is a piece “Approaching Candy Woods” which I have just completed. Inspired by a series of photographs I took last autumn walking the dog near home. Working on the piece was bitter sweet, bringing lovely memories of that day but sadness too because our dog, Toby is no longer with us. There he was in nearly every photograph, he is missed by the whole family.

I have enjoyed working on my 2 new Australian influenced embroideries. I had to complete and photograph them in time for the magazine deadline in February. I have written my 1000 words for the article, as my youngest son said ” Easy, that’s not many words”. There speaks a boy in his final year at University with research projects and dissertations to write. It was plenty thank you!

I have some interesting offers of teaching and exhibiting in 2016 and 2017. I can hardly bear to think that far ahead but have to! I do love the fact an email out of the blue can be an amazing opportunity. The wonders of the internet, social media but just as importantly the sales of my book world wide all helps to spread the word about what I do. Long may the exciting new ventures come my way. Otherwise there is nothing to write about in my blog!

Out with the old…in with the new

This will be the last post of 2014, it has been a great year for me with lots of highlights. It is lovely to reflect on it all before moving forward to my plans for 2015. My forthcoming year has a familiar pattern to it, a creative time in my studio followed by lots of teaching, exhibition opportunities and another trip to Australia in the autumn. I will start the year with a commission, my client has waited patiently for several months. I am looking forward to working on it, always a pleasure to make an embroidery for someone. I have been approached by an Australian magazine Textile Fibre Forum, they are going to publish an article on me, featuring new embroideries inspired by my travels down under, it will be in the June issue. So I will be preparing some images and text in the next few weeks.

I have had confirmation of my main exhibiting opportunities. Starting in May, with the RHS, the first one at Wisley and later that month at the Chelsea Flower Show. So I will be planning new work with those shows in mind. I will open my studio in June for 2 weekends, I am looking forward to some warmer weather by then!

I am excited by the prospect of building a new studio here at Highfield. I have been in the attic for 14 years and have decided a larger ground floor space to work and teach in would be wonderful. I will post progress reports when the work starts.

Wishing everyone a Happy Creative New Year!

The final leg of the journey

What an amazing time this has been. I managed to see so much more of Tasmania this year. The Wall, an incredible 100 metre wood carving, Hobart and MONA. The Bass Forest and the Bay of Fires to mention a few of the highlights.

Saying goodbye until next year I moved back to Melbourne for the 7th and final course of the trip. 2 lovely days with Carly, Sue and an enthusiastic class, we learnt how to paint reflections. The results are on the students work page. I was so pleased with how well everyone did with challenging subject matter.

Then it was time for a few days break visiting friends made last year. It was great fun staying with Anna in Torquay and catching up with some of my lovely students from the Geelong Guild. Then on to Port Campbell along the Great Ocean Road. What an amazing place, one for the bucket list, as they say!

The final leg was a few days in Dubai on the way home to a very cold England and a very warm family!

Plans are already underway for my return to Australia in October 2015

Return to Tasmania

I had a wonderful time in Melbourne teaching for Sue and Carly. The first course was “Dancing in the Breeze” and the students impressive work is on my website courses page. The time with them seemed to fly by so quickly and then I was on my way to the next location, Tasmania

Leaving Melbourne

It was great to fly over to Tasmania and see the familiar green fields and Western Tiers. I have 12 days here in total, teaching 2 courses for Cindy in Deloraine at the Elemental Artspace Gallery. I have had some spare time to explore and see more of this beautiful state.

So soon it’s back to Melbourne for the last weekend in November for my final course of the trip!

Moving on to Melbourne

The first leg of my trip is coming to close. Its been a terrific time for me. A very busy 12 days, with 3 courses, all in different locations. The first course was in Perth at the Bernina Shop in Cannington then I broke up my stay in Perth with a midweek trip down to Margaret River.

Redgate Bay

 It is a beautiful part of WA and my hosts Helen and Maureen took great care of me, showing me some great places to get a flavour of the area. The coastline at Redgate Bay, Swallows Welcome Winery, where I had the pleasure of meeting watercolour artist Pat Negus and the Margaret River Silk Road, where they produce mulberry trees and therefore silk worms all year round.

I headed back to Perth, staying again with my host Jill, for the last weekend where I taught the WA Embroiderers Guild at their headquarters in the city. Its been a super time meeting all these enthusiastic students and sharing my passion for textiles with them. 

I saw the sun go down over the Indian Ocean and my last day was spent looking around Perth at the Jacaranda trees and black swans on the Swan River! Its a beautiful place. Thanks to Jill and Diane for a special day

Next stop Melbourne!

Let the adventure begin…in Perth!

Isn’t it wonderful when a plan comes together! Arrived in Perth on time, sailed through the airport to be met by Helen and Jill my hosts for this leg of the trip. We drove through Perth to Kings Park for the best view of the city. The botanical gardens were wonderful and afternoon tea finished a great first day in Australia.

Today we took a drive to Fremantle for some inspiration for my first course “Seascapes” which starts tomorrow at Burnells in Cannington. The colours here are so rich, blue skies and turquoise water, just wonderful

Fibres West Australia 2015

Before I can set off on my travels next week for my 2014 trip to Australia plans are revealed for next year!

I have been invited to be a tutor at Fibres West 2015, a national textile and fibre art conference in Western Australia taking place at Muresk Institute October 4-10, 2015

Sworn to secrecy until they officially launched the program in Australia this evening, when they revealed all 10 classes and the tutors. They received a lot of positive feedback about the calibre of the 2015 program, and enrollments have started to come in already!

My course will be

EXPLORING NATURE THROUGH PAINT AND STITCH | ALISON HOLT (UK)
In this intensive workshop students will explore landscapes in the broadest sense, with detailed, colourful, textured drawing on a sewing machine.


The new website Fibres West 2015 is ‘live’ and students can enroll on-line. Take a look at the amazing range of courses on offer and I hope to see you there!

ThreadLink

I have a new addition to my website called ThreadLink. It’s for people who are interested in knowing when I add anything new to my site.

It may be a new post on my blog, an addition to my courses list, a new exhibition or embroidery in the gallery.

It’s free and easy to sign up!

Members will get an email which takes them straight to the newest content on the website. If you are student who recently came on one of my courses it will let you know when your embroidery is on my website. If you follow me on my travels to Australia or like to keep up to date with my latest work ThreadLink is perfect for you!

A New Gallery

I have traveled home today after a busy weekend teaching the Blackmore Vale EG in Dorset. A  2 day course on Seascapes with a talented and enthusiastic group of ladies. I will post their work on my students work gallery very soon
 I called at a new gallery on my way back to Shropshire to delivery 8 of my embroideries to the TIMOTHY HAWKINS GALLERY in Bartestree, near Hereford

So from now on I have a selection of my work on display alongside Timothy Hawkins beautiful handmade furniture

Its a beautiful space filled with amazing furniture and a selection of hand picked pieces from a small group of artisans. I am very pleased to be in their company

Exhibition and Talk: The Making of the Sweater

The Willow Gallery in Oswestry have offered me the opportunity to exhibit the embroidered jumper I made last year. It was a collaboration with Steven Tai, a London based fashion designer and is quite a special piece of work. Also on display will be all the test samples I made for Steven, showing all the stitch and paint experiments before we settled on the final way to work the sweater.
To coincide with the exhibition I will give a talk in the Willow on Saturday 11th October at 11.30 am about the making of the sweater and my 30 year textile career, followed by a Q and A session

My travels here and away…

Recently home from a relaxing trip to Sorrento. An actual holiday…no teaching or exhibiting! Just a week enjoying some wonderful Italian food, wine, scenery and sunshine. A beautiful place, it was an opportunity to take a break from everything and recharge the batteries.

Its only 5 weeks until I travel to Australia. Its getting close now and I am getting excited! It will be wonderful to see old friends there and make some new ones. This time my trip takes me to Perth, Margaret River, Melbourne and Tasmania. I will be teaching 7 courses in total so it will be a a busy time.

I heard this week I have won second prize (visitors choice) at the Summer Exhibition at the Heritage Centre, Oswestry with my Hidden Depths embroidery. Thanks to everyone who voted for me!

I have some teaching lined up over the next few weeks. Looking forward to revisiting Stitchcraft in Grantham, The Cotswold EG in Gloucester and taking my first trip to the Blackmore Vale Embroiderers Guild in Dorset

 

The Lake District embroidery is finished!

I have finally finished this embroidery. Several weeks of work, a lot of moving the hoop from section to section and eventually it was complete. I am pleased with the end result and I plan to hide it away for a few weeks and then run a very critical eye over it before I stretch then frame it

I recorded each stage and I now have a page on my website where anyone interested in the whole process can see all the stages. The link is also on my home page.

Lots of lovely teaching…

I seem to have hit a rich seam of teaching…I shouldn’t be surprised, I did book it all into my diary! Sometimes when all the commitments come together I realise how many times I said yes, I would love to come and teach for you!

Derby, Melton Mowbray, Grantham, Leicester and Gloucester to mention a few, a tour of some lovely parts of the UK. I do enjoy meeting students and sharing my skills. Its great to spend time with like minded people.

I am also preparing for my trip ‘down under’ in the autumn. I am due in Australia at the end of October, visiting Perth, Margaret River, Melbourne and Tassie. I wont be able to throw something in the back of the car in case I need it when I go there! I had a practice run last year so should be able to manage. I am really looking forward to going again

I have put a selection of recent student work on my website here

 

Work in Progress

I am in the middle…no, not quite,  I am a quarter of the way through a large landscape embroidery!
It is a scene in the Lake District based on sketches and photographs from a trip 3 years ago, so I have been thinking about it for some time
The silk painted background is clearly visible with the white lines left from the gutta I used when drawing out the composition. I have started the stitching at the most distant point and will increase the richness of colour and amount of texture as I work through to the foreground
I am photographing it at each stage to make it part of my slide show lecture, so this is a sneak preview. I will post the finished piece in a few days time…just kidding… a few weeks time when I have completed it

It measures approximately 24 x 14 inches and will be my largest embroidery so far (excluding my sci fi sweater!)

Another a Day in the Spotlight!

The sci-fi inspired sweater I embroidered is off to Paris. Steven Tai, the fashion designer that I collaborated with, is one of 10 ANDAM finalists and will be taking the sweater, with other selected pieces he has designed to take part in the final next week

The ANDAM Fashion Prize, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, offers designers a 250,000 Euro prize, a yearlong business mentorship courtesy of Kering’s François-Henri Pinault, and 10,000 Euros of Swarovski crystals.

“I am very honored to be a part of this years final. The ANDAM Award is the most globally recognised support for designers over the last 25 years. I am incredibly excited (and a bit nervous too!) to present my work to the jury,” offered Steven Tai.

I am excited for Steven and wish him every success. On its return to the UK it will be on display for the first time in Shropshire at the Willow Gallery in Oswestry. I will post more information nearer to the date

Open Studios 2014

Its that time of year again and my Open Studios weekend is here. We have been busy getting the garden to look its best and the weather has been kind…for a change!Myk Briggs is exhibiting his photography in my summerhouse, the theme this year is ear trumpets in all their glory and variety. Beautifully photographed, its a visual treat and so informative too.I have displayed my embroideries in the garden room with lovely views of the rhododendrons. I have quite a selection for people to see and I will be working on several pieces during the 2 weekends. The working process is such an important part of Open Studios and my sketch books, sewing machine, boxes of threads and paints makes it more interesting for the visitors. I am looking forward to seeing familiar and hopefully some new faces!

My day at the Willow Gallery

 As part of this years Open Studios event several artists are holding free workshops or demonstrations in the Willow Gallery in Oswestry over the next 2 weeks. Today was my day!

I took embroideries, my sewing machine and lots of my work in progress for people to see. There was a steady stream of people through all day and lots of interest in how I work

It was a good practice run for my 2 Open Studio weekends on 14th 15th and 21st 22nd June

Did you notice the cheeky glass of wine next to my sewing machine…..?!

A Busy Week

I am enjoying an eventful time at Chelsea. My stand has new flooring and a new counter I designed and had made over the winter. I have had lots of positive feedback from the public and the RHS. I also brought lots of new embroideries to tempt people

I met up with Dave Myers on Monday which was great fun. We were friends at Goldsmiths and hadn’t been in touch for years. He was just the same with a better memory than me for all the people we knew!

Its been a fun week, sunshine and showers, hard work but record sales. Can’t ask for more than that!

Preparing for Chelsea Flower Show

On the telephone, framing pictures with one hand and ironing clothes with the another….not quite, but it feels that hectic in the lead up to Chelsea! The biggest and the best show of my year and only a couple of days to go. So much to think about in addition to all the embroideries, cards, books etc. I will be taking.

It will be an opportunity to show off some of my new work, such as the “As the Sun Goes Down” with its reflected autumn tints, inspired by my trip to Maine last year.

Today was the usual last minute panic buying of the ‘floral content’ for my exhibition stand. This year was supposed to be different but the bulbs my husband kindly planted with Chelsea in mind are long over their best due to the warm weather earlier in the year. The best laid plans…

I will be squashing it all into the car on Saturday and heading to London early Sunday morning. Its a wonderful feeling when I get to Sunday evening and everything is ready for the opening of the show. Then all we need is some sunshine!

Exhibiting at RHS Wisley

I am just home from a 6 day exhibition at RHS Wisley in Surrey. The weather was a little wet to start but by the weekend the sun came out and so did the crowds of visitors. It was really good to meet established and new customers at the show. It was organised by Craft in Focus, an organisation with a reputation for the best contemporary art and craft in the UK.

Its a great time of the year and the gardens were a joy to see. I have plenty of inspiration for some new embroideries but will have to wait until I return from exhibiting at Chelsea Flower Show at the end of the month to get into my studio!

Busy teaching my embroidery courses

Its that time of year again and springtime means lots of teaching for me. I have travelled to some beautiful areas around the UK. This year up to North Wales and the Wirral. Also down to Malmesbury, Bideford, Devon, Bridport, Dorset and of course at home at Highfield in Oswestry. A range of courses on various themes but the most popular has been “Dancing in the Breeze” inspired by my embroidery above.

If you want to see a selection of students work from the courses this year I have posted some on my courses page

My Postcard

My annual promotional jumbo postcard is ready for printing.This always showcases a selection of my new work produced over the winter months. My logic is, if I am exhibiting my new embroideries it makes sense to tell people when and where I will be throughout the year! I will be posting about 600 of them out in the next few weeks. Despite the rising postal costs I still think a large colourful postcard has more impact than an email.

Its rather good to know that people collect them each year and put them on the fridge door or somewhere they can see them.

Creating the embroideries is only the beginning, so a huge thanks to Myk who photographs my work so well and is a whiz on Photoshop, he always does a great job for me on the postcard design, patience of a saint!

Plans for 2014

I am working on new pieces and enjoying it enormously. I am revisiting an idea of using torn and layered paper collage then adding stitching for detail and definition. Its feels like an interesting diversion and I have an exhibition opportunity locally in Oswestry in mind for the work. I am also working on a series of embroideries based on my trip to Maine. The year is stretching out in front of me with exhibitions and teaching commitments to look forward to.

I will be at Chelsea Flower Show in May again this year and June will be Open Studios time at home in Oswestry but before then I am at a Craft in Focus show at RHS Wisley . So lots of my work needed to fill the walls. There is no better motivation!

I am busy planning another teaching trip to Australia in November. The dates and details are slowly coming together. So far it looks as if I will be starting in Perth and then moving on to Melbourne and Tasmania. I will put all the details on my courses page when the course content and dates are finalised

I do like this time of year (apart from cold, wet, windy weather!) with plenty of time in my studio to develop ideas and the prospect of lots of events and trips to look forward to

Back in my studio

This week was all about getting back into the creative process. Its the longest break I can remember away from my studio. With preparations for Australia, the 5 week trip followed by Christmas its nearly 3 months since I worked on my own embroideries! Will I remember how to do it? How can I get back into the process ?

The studio was a mess with my teaching folders and samples, empty frames, fabric and paperwork on every surface including the floor. It was impossible to work in there so yesterday I started to tidy up, it was a gentle reaquaintance with everything and it was lovely to be back in my familiar space with time to think about what to do next.

I found half finished embroideries, photographs, silk paintings and sketches of foaming waves and rocks I had planned to work from. I also had new photographs from my holiday in Maine with fabulous woodlands in autumn colours. I had gone to Australia before I could consider embroideries based on those images. I had ferns, moss covered trees and fast flowing streams in Tassie and the inspiring scenery along the Great Ocean Road. Too much choice and I didn’t know where to start!

Tidying up soon morphed into a bit of sketching, with lots of photos spread out before me. The tree ferns were my first choice and then I realised stitching was what I had really been missing.

So I dived into a picture I had started as a demonstration on a ‘Etched in Frost’ course a few months ago. I stretched up the silk, selected the thread colours, filled some bobbins and I was back in the zone! Bliss!

It probably won’t be the best piece of work I produce in 2014 but its a start and its great to be back. I shall revisit and tweak it into shape later. I need to find my rhythm and the familiar process will follow. Onwards now to new silk paintings and more stitching.

 

A long forgotten treasure

I was recently reunited with a piece of my work, an alphabet sampler. I was contacted by the owners who wondered if I was interested in seeing it again. Of course I was!

Its hand stitching, appliqué and quilting. It formed part of my portfolio of work that helped me get into Goldsmiths. I made it in 1975 and sold it soon after that.

It was wonderful to see it again. Lots of memories came flooding back as I looked at each section and saw what I had chosen to represent each letter. P for parquet, the flooring we had in our home. T for telephone with our red phone that my mother loved and our phone number clearly stitched. M for map, with our village of Llynclys nr Oswestry centre stage. S for sweets, my favourite, Liquorice Allsorts, all French knots and satin stitch

So much detail too, I worked on it for weeks, enjoying creating each letter, thinking about the subject and how to interpret it in stitch. It was great to see it again and record it as part of my early career on my website

Its been in the same family for 38 years, enjoyed by 3 generations, much loved and treasured by all the children as they have grown up with it. That makes me very happy!

Home again

Old Dubai and spice market

I am finally home again and I have had time to reflect on my trip to Australia and Dubai – what a wonderful time it was. There cannot be a better way to visit a country for the first time than to be treated so well by everyone.

I was made so welcome everywhere I went, hosted by kind, generous people and accommodated in lovely B&B’s, one with a personal chef! My 4 week trip was memorable for many reasons, the amazing range of wildlife I got to see in the wild, determined hosts made sure I saw wombats, kangaroos, whales, koalas and a duck billed platypus. Thanks to Maree, Laura, Joanne and Cindy I was shown the amazing scenery of Tasmania, empty white beaches, limestone caves and rain forests. When I was in Geelong, I had a fabulous day out along the Great Ocean Road with Gillian and Anna.

The people I met made it memorable, my course organisers, the Rotarians in Deloraine, the enthusiastic students on all my courses and fellow artists in Tassie, Geelong and Sydney.

In Tasmania I met Cindy Watkins a very talented textile artist, Ken Smith, a machine embroiderer of repute and Bill Flowers, a painter of snakes, just 3 artists out of a huge group at the Deloraine Craft Fair where the quality of craft and art was very high.
In Geelong I was very pleased to catch up with Dijanne Cevaal especially as she was so busy with organising the Geelong Patchworkers and Quilters Exhibition. On to Sydney, where I visited ( twice !) the Craft Gallery of NSW. Meeting Jude Skeers who was so helpful and informative about all things textiles in Australia. I had the pleasure of Julie Haddrick on my course, take a look at her website

I was away for a total of 38 days, I took 7 flights, stayed in 8 different locations, taught 6 courses and I met 76 students. A few of them came on 2 courses and many of them flew many miles to join me. I have made a lot of friends and look forward to seeing them all when I go back in 2014. Thank you everyone – it was amazing!

Teaching in Australia

I am having such an adventure. I have been looking forward to this trip for a long time and it has exceeded all my expectations! So far I have met students in Deloraine and Geelong. Between my teaching commitments I have been taken on some wonderful day trips. Whale watching, rain forests and amazing caves in Tassie followed by The Great Ocean Road when I was in Geelong. Inspirational photos have been taken at every opportunity. Thank you to all my tour guides!

With Cindy Watkins in Deloraine. Thanks for a great opportunity. Looking forward to next year!

I have taught 4 courses so far and the students have been great fun to teach and they have all shared my enthusiasm for machine embroidery. Who could ask for more.

 

Tasmania Craft Fair

The Meander River in Deloraine

After months of planning and anticipation I am finally here at the Tasmanian Craft Fair as the Feature International Artist. A fantastic event held over 4 days in Deloraine, a beautiful town in the Meander Valley. Over 220 artists and craftsmen in 7 venues in the town makes this a major event that I am thrilled to be part of. I have met enthusiastic visitors all day, been interviewed for the TV news channel and wined and dined by my excellent hosts. Its great experience and I am having a wonderful time!

A few red dots!

Inspiring Vacation

I am enjoying the delights of Boston and Maine. A well earned break between all the travelling, exhibiting and teaching this year. The scenery is inspiring. From the ocean outside the house to the autumn ( or should I say Fall ) colours up into the mountains. I am busy taking lots of photographs and can see what my winter projects will be based on!

Only 4 weeks until I set off for Australia. Still lots to organise but the intinary is set and the courses are full. I am looking forward to it all immensely

A New Home

The storyboard by Myk Briggs of my collaboration with fashion designer Steven Tai has a new home. It is up on the wall in a great studio/ workshop space at The Mid Wales Art Centre as part of the Food for Thought exhibition that is on until the 20th October. I also have 3 of my embroideries on display. Its a wonderful venue with a Gallery and Sculpture Park and an interesting range of workshops on offer

 

Wood carvings and more…….

I recently met up with my textile tutor from Shrewsbury Art School, Cameron Scott. He nurtured my love of textiles and set me on the road to Goldsmiths for which I am eternally grateful. I was invited to the Private View of his current exhibition at the Portico Gallery in Manchester. What amazing work, such skill and attention to detail. His exhibition features his collages, quirky insights to his personal world and my favourite, his wood carvings. A picture is worth a 1000 words so please go, look and marvel! The exhibition is on until Aug 31st. There is a good review of the exhibition in the Manchester Evening News

Stitch Magazine

My paper and stitch collage is featured in Stitch magazine this month. It shows the step by step stages, from the inspiration and materials through to the finished framed embroidery. Its a new project especially for Stitch. This is an idea I first explored in my Seascapes book where I tear and layer paper as a base for freehand stitching. Take a look, its a great project for beginners

The completed paper and stitch collage

If at first…..

I recently completed an embroidery, a sunlit mountain vista. During the process I had suspected the sky was too detailed and would fight with, not complement the landscape. When I had finished the stitching I realised I was right and something had to be done. So on a new piece of silk, I painted another sky and then took brave but necessary action! Here is the story…….

The landscape and the sky part company!

I hand stitched the embroidery to the new sky ( Yes, thats correct, me, hand stitching!)

Stretched in a hoop so I can freehand stitch the pieces together

The back of the work showing the lines of stitching blending in with the existing embroidery

Finished!

Its a view of Dinas Mawddwy, a beautiful part of Wales near Dolgellau.

Open Studios June 2013

Inside my summer house

My annual Open Studios event has brought lots of visitors. Some regulars and lots of new faces. It has been lovely to see so many people especially as the weather has been typically British ! I had a selection of my embroideries on display in my garden room and across the lawn in the summer house was Myk Briggs with his photographs documenting my collaboration with Steven Tai. So many peope have found the whole story amazing.

Sitting in a Chelsea Garden

This is me in the medal winning garden Un Garreg meaning one stone, designed and built by Harry and David Rich of Rich Landscapes, a family run business based in the Brecon Beacons. This is their first time at Chelsea and they have won a gold. They have commissioned me to embroider a picture of their show garden to celebrate their success

My Favourite Things

I was lucky enough to be asked to write for Stitch Magazine this month. My version of A Few of My Favourite Things is on the back page. It was a fun thing to do.Teaching (obviously !) and my garden get a mention along with my dog Toby.

Its a great magazine with all things textiles and embroidered featured. There will be a seascape embroidery of mine, which is a paper and stitch collage, coming soon in Stitch. More information on here when I have the issue date

Too Busy to Blog!

I started this blog to keep people up to date with all my activities but the last 3 weeks have been so hectic I haven’t had time to write anything!
I have been teaching an Etched in Frost course in Dorset with Dennie Rose and then in Devon for the West Country Embroiderers where we did a 2 day Seascapes course. Then 2 days at home before off to France for the Quilt Expo en Beaujoais . This was an amazing 4 day Art Textiles show Nr Lyon with some very talented textile artists and quilters there who I really enjoyed meeting. I am home again now and preparing for the show in Kent which starts next week at Penshurst Place nr Tonbridge. This is one of the new pieces I will being taking with me

Hidden Depths

Reflections in Water

Reflections Of Autumn by Alison Holt

Reflections Of Autumn by Alison Holt: A walk beside the lake in Ellesmere, Shropshire was the inspiration for this embroidery

I recently taught a course on Reflections at my house in Oswestry. We had a very productive 3 days and all the students produced lovely pieces on this theme. Its a course that has more emphasis on silk painting than some of the courses I teach. All the students were very happy with the results. Take a look on the courses page to see all the embroideries, some are complete and others work in progress

Steven Tai update

I have completed the embroidery for Steven and delivered it to his London studio. Safe to say he was delighted with the finished piece. It was made up into a jumper and taken to Paris with the rest of the collection for buyers and the press to see. Steven has now taken it to Toronto for a catwalk show, which is a great opportunity. This is the largest and most complex embroidery I have ever undertaken. It has been a brilliant opportunity to work with the fashion industry. Aurifil Threads in Italy sponsored the project with their cotton and wool threads in a range of weights in over 60 colours. A big thank you to them for their support

Etched in Frost

This is a new embroidery, I am enjoying exploring the limited palette and texture of winter.
I recently held a 3 day Etched in Frost course at my house in Oswestry, Shropshire. The students painted on silk and experimented with freehand machine stitching to create their pictures.

Along the Lane

I am really impressed with their results, if you would like to see my students work its here on my website

   

 

Quilt Expo Beaujolais April 18th – 21st

A new seascape embroidery Rolling Over The Rocks

I am busy creating new embroideries to exhibit in Lyon in France in April. The website for Quilt Expo en Beaujolais has all the information about the other exhibitors that will be at the event.There will be textile artists from all over the world. I am really looking forward to being part of it. Ferry is booked and the hotel, I just have to finish those embroideries…..


 

 

All Change at The Willow Gallery

I have been to The Willow Gallery in Oswestry today to hang some of my recently completed embroideries. I always have some of my  work in the gallery and try to change the display every month. Currently showing 2 new pieces Ebb and Flow a study of the sea in Madeira and Rushing By inspired by a walk in the woods in North Devon last year. I hope you can get there to see them.

Rushing By a Machine Embroidery by Alison Holt – £595

 

My collaboration with Steven Tai

I have recently been asked by fashion designer Steven Tai to collaborate with him on the signature piece for his AW 13 collection. Steven, a graduate from Central St Martins has worked with Stella McCartney and earlier this year was invited by Mercedes Benz and ELLE Germany to present a SS 13 collection at Berlin Fashion Week
The embroidered image we are working on together will be featured in the next Hyeres festival in April 2013. This is an exciting departure for me and a creative challenge, its really interesting to discuss threads, fabrics and stitch samples with someone as creative as Steven. I will post the final embroidery when we have completed it

My visit to the North Wales Embroiderers Guild

Talking about the Cliff Top Walk embroidery

I was fortunate to be invited to share the NW Embroiderers Guild Christmas Lunch near Abergele on Saturday. It was a super day, I was made to feel very welcome by such a friendly group of enthusiastic ladies. We all had a lovely time and very few fell asleep when I gave my slide talk after a lunch. After a large lunch, a glass or 2 of wine if someone puts the lights out its the most natural thing to want a little nap!

All things French

I have recently been invited to exhibition in Quilt Expo en Beaujolais which is held in Villefranche sur Saône near Lyon in France. It is a 4 day event held from April 18th to 21st 2013
www.quiltexpobeaujolais.com
So how amazing that today Search Press would send me my book Machine Embroidered Flowers, Woodlands and Landscapes: The Art of Alison Holt translated into French. Did they know something I didnt know……!

Author of the Month at Make and Craft magazine

I have been invited to be the “Behind the Scenes” Author on www.makeandcraft.com

This is a feature that changes each month and my interview will be live for the month of January 2013.

Take a look, its an interesting website featuring a wide range of artists and craftmen. Make & Craft magazine is an inspiring environment featuring contemporary tutorials and projects using a wide variety of supplies and techniques, as well as, reviving traditional crafts worth cherishing

Oswestry Library Show

Putting the finishing touches to the display case

Busy afternoon putting a collection of my work on display in Oswestry Library. I have lower priced pieces here aimed unashamedly at the Christmas market !
Sharing the space with me is Myk Briggs with his amazing photographs of sunsets. I hope you can get along to take a look. The work will be there until November 31st ( The Library is closed on Thursday and Sunday )

Wrekin Embroiderers Guild

I have just been to the Wrekin Embroiderers Guild to give a slide talk on the development of my work, 30 Years of Machine Embroidery and a one day workshop – Flowers and Foliage
Thanks to everyone for a great welcome and your enthusiasm on the day course
If you want to see the results look here

My trip to Australia

I am planning a trip to Australia in November 2013. I have been invited to exhibit at Australia’s premier arts and crafts event, the Tasmanian Craft Fair, Deloraine, Tasmania as the feature International Artist

Tasmainian Craft Fair

I am also planning to teach a range of courses during November,
in a variety of locations

I have 3 definite locations where I will be teaching, Adelaide, Deloraine,Tasmania and Brisbane. I will post more details as they are confirmed but meanwhile…..

more info here

This is my first trip to Australia
and I am looking forward to the experience