More studio postings

If I have learned anything since starting these blog interviews it is that TSG members are incredibly varied in their areas of interests. This interview with Bobby Britnell, well known teacher and author, proves my point. Bobby is the current Chair of the group but has been an active member for many years and is fully involved with the organisation of the DIS/rupt exhibition. However it was with her artist hat firmly on I asked about her current work.

My first question was to ask Bobby about her piece for DIS/rupt.

I am exploring the DIS/ruption of traditions. Ugandan bark cloth, the world’s oldest non-woven fabric from the Mutuba Tree has seen a demise for many years now, due to Arab traders and colonists causing the bark cloth production and trade to deteriorate. Extensive deforestation and the demonization of bark cloth by Christianity and Islam also has had a profound effect on production. The fact that it not only has a history but is so enshrined in both cultural and spiritual beliefs makes it an extraordinary cloth with a story to tell.

Can you tell us something about the piece you are working on for DIS/rupt?

I am exploring through the life of the tree how we need to reinvent new ways for its existence by using words such as REINVENT, REIMAGINE, REDISCOVER, REVALUE, RECREATE, REAPPRECIATE to path the way. I am making a symbolic tree incorporating these words, with a few other twists and turns. But people will need to come and see what these are for themselves!

bobby-britnell-disrupt-7

What are the materials and processes that you are working with?

I am currently just using the bark cloth and hand stitching with raffia which I have brought over from Uganda.

bobby-britnell-disrupt-1

Are you able to give us an idea of the scale of your piece?

It is over 2 metres in height, so as you can imagine, it will not be easy to photograph!!!

Is the finished piece to be free standing or wall mounted?

It will be free-standing. I may also have another exhibit ~ a screen showing images of its production.

bobby-britnell-disrupt-5

What message do you hope the viewers of your work will take away from the exhibition?

Bark cloth needs to find its place once again not only in the Uganda marketplace but on the global market. I would like to inspire visitors to explore the history of the material, its status in Uganda and how different markets are beginning to see a way forward with what I feel is a remarkable cloth. I really just want to develop an awareness of bark cloth, its versatility and wide variety of uses.

You are one of the TSG tutors running workshops during the DIS/rupt exhibition, briefly, what can your students expect from the class?

I will be introducing students to a few of the ways in which bark cloth can be used creatively as a material like other more mainstream materials. Bark cloth is in fact one of the world’s oldest non-woven materials from Uganda. It is not commonly used in this country and this workshop will ‘disrupt’ peoples’ normal working methods by introducing students to this unique cloth. We will employ traditional techniques from Uganda alongside more conventional techniques. A fun course for beginners and more advanced students

Bobby has been working with textiles since leaving school. She currently runs workshops from her studio in South Shropshire as well teaching and exhibiting countrywide and abroad.

I am offering two half day courses

Workshop Title ‘Barking up the Right Tree’

Tutor:  Bobby Britnell
Date   Fri May 19 2017
Time. 1.30 – 4.00.
Venue Centre for Science & Arts, 13 Lansdown, Stroud GL5 1BB

Workshop Title ‘Barking up the Right Tree’    

Tutor:  Bobby Britnell
Date: Thursday May 18 2017
Time. 10.00 – 12.30.
Venue Centre for Science & Arts, 13 Lansdown, Stroud GL5 1BB

All materials and equipment will be provided for this course at a small charge of £5 per pack
FEE: £35 SIT select members £30

That all sounds wonderful Bobby and I am really looking forward to seeing the work. I think the versatility of the bark cloth is quite amazing and I’m sure will be of enormous interest to visitors to the exhibition. Anyone interested to know more about Bobby’s work can check out a recent blog post by Textile Artist.org here TextileArtist.org

All information and booking details at SIT select 2017

More information about the Textile Study Group and its members and details about DIS/rupt can be found at the group website. TSG

@SITselect, #selectfestival2017 @textile_study #DISrupt

 

Studio postings

In our series of interviews with TSG members I took the chance to call on Alison King recently to see what she was working on for DIS/rupt, the group’s forthcoming exhibition that opens in Stroud in May. Alison, who studied Fine Art/Painting at Edinburgh College of Art, discovered her love of textiles while teaching art and found that the qualities of working with fabric and thread could enhance her painterly style.

As with the other interviewees I first of all asked Alison which area of the DIS/rupt project she was investigating or exploring?

In my work for the Dis/rupt project I decided to look at the plight of migrants. I think everyone is hugely conscious of the terrible situation with refugees in the world, particularly those from Syria. However, with “Food Chain”, I have focused on the plight of the Chinese who came during the 1960’s to Britain to escape the abject poverty of the Northern Territories of Hong Kong. Nothing could be more disruptive than leaving all your family and your very special cultural traditions. By no means always welcome, these immigrants struggled to find success and very many achieved this through their restaurants and takeaways. Chained to a life of incredibly hard work, unsociable hours and even racial abuse, these migrants went on to reach extraordinary goals. Chinese Restaurants and Take Aways are in every town and village in the UK – an amazing achievement.

Some early sketchbook ideas for Food Chain.

Can you tell us something about the piece you are working on for DIS/rupt?

In the installation “Food Chain” a long table is draped with an embroidered cloth. At one end are images of a past left behind, lost friends, family, traditions and at the other those of the new life with all the brash colours of the Chinese fast food industry.  Between lies a symbolic painted  sea. The table is set for a meal served initially in porcelain bowls but then in the cardboard boxes of the takeaway.

Traditional meal
Traditional meal
Take away meal
Take away meal

What are the materials and processes that you are working with?

The table cloth has a patchwork quality. Some sections have traditional Chinese embroidery, others reverse appliqué that recreates ancient designs . These are alongside images of the past and packaging from today’s fast food supermarkets. Machine and hand stitch, embellishment, paint and paper are all included. I am particularly pleased with the central area where I used sheets of Chinese recipes, painted and bordered with traditional wave patterns.

Incorporated into the cloth are two images of my Chinese daughter in law, whose knowledge and advice made this project so worthwhile.

Are you able to give us an idea of the scale of your piece?

The table itself is 2 metres long and I am hoping the spectator will perhaps be able to imagine sitting down at it to eat a banquet of two parts. A short film will also accompany the installation that shows the heat and intensity found in the Chinese kitchen .

Wave patterns
Wave patterns

What message do you hope the viewers of your work will take away from the exhibition?

Although “Food Chain” appears decorative, even sumptuous in places, it is a serious reflection on the problems of migration. Do we really appreciate how immigrants need to work so hard, particularly in the food industry? Do we always welcome these outsiders with the necessary compassion.?

Chinese bowl
Chinese bowl

You are one of the TSG tutors running workshops during the DIS/rupt exhibition, briefly, what can your students expect from the class?

This should hopefully prove an entertaining workshop. We will be experimenting with letter shapes that spell out the words of life’s contradictions. This is a class aimed at both the beginner and the more experienced. A lot of colour, glue, thread, fabric and mess will probably be involved!

Thank you Alison, I can’t wait to see the finished piece and how interesting to have such a personal connection to your subject. People interested to participate in Alison’s Stroud workshop can find information and booking details here SIT select 2017 

There are also links for booking on the TSG website here TSG

Further information about Alison’s work and a link to last year’s TextileArtists.org interview can be found here TextileArtist.org