Meet the Artist

During the course of DIS/rupt exhibition, members of TSG will be on hand to give gallery talks in the Museum in the Park, Stroud. Members will also be stewarding at the Landsdown Gallery and will be on hand to talk to visitors about DIS/rupt. See the full schedule here Meet The Artist


Studio postings

In just over two weeks the team who are charged with the task of hanging the DIS/rupt work will be starting to assemble in Stroud and the enormous job of making the exhibition come together after all the months of planning and the production of the work, will commence. So it seemed timely to ask another member about her work and I cornered Kay Greenlees one day to tell me what she has been working on. Kay is well known as a teacher and author of Creating Sketchbooks for Embroiderers and Textile Artists. I asked her first of all what area of the project she was exploring.

“What fresh hell is this?”

Much to my surprise I’m working within the ‘ecology’ category. This came about largely by accident as I explored the brief and looked at DIS/rupting my work pattern by using the idea of ‘chance’ happenings. These happenings also cause disruption to our countryside and ecology by threatening landscape and the survival of species; a sort of double DIS/rupt! I selected the topic because I was appalled when I heard that we had already lost six species of Moths since the turn of this century. I then chose to use ecological news items that I heard via the Radio 4 Today programme, therefore I have no idea how many issues there will be before the exhibition; it’s a chance that the items occur at all, and a chance that it is featured on the programme. I started recording these in March 2016 and for the Stroud exhibition I will stop at the end of this month.

Sketchbook page

That sounds really interesting, can you tell us something about the piece or pieces you are working on for DIS/rupt?

All the ecological news items have a focus that is to do with the British landscape and species, nothing ‘global’ such as warming. I hoped that this emphasis would provide several issues, each of which is the focus of a small ‘book unit’ which in turn builds into a ‘Library of Lost Causes’. Currently there are twelve with three new ones being added today – that’s three issues, not three of my book units! I have made eight so far but I may not use all of them. The ‘books’ are displayed ‘open’ and in fact do not actually close. Some individual units have taken a month to work on. The units are all the same size and on a small scale that has been selected so that the pages can be kept open, if you lay an ordinary book open on the table it will just ‘flop’ open, I’m hoping that my pages stand up. This technical problem of how to keep the pages open has been part of the vehicle for exploring the topic. I initially hoped to make this an abstract response but alas it’s had to be more representational than I hoped otherwise, the issue isn’t successfully communicated to the viewer. I have had to try to avoid a too obvious inclusion as this just leads to a really trite or clichéd response. I also kept the scale small so that I would have the chance to address as many issues as possible across the timescale I selected.

Sketchbook page

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

I always try to use whatever I need to get my idea across. The book units are made in paper and include threads, stitch, objects trouve, or whatever allows me to focus on the idea, it’s not necessary (for me) that the piece is embroidered, although there may be a bit of that! I’m just hunting for my soluble fabric and fear I may have given it away.

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

I am hoping there will be between eight and twelve book units in the piece for Stroud, for subsequent exhibitions there may be more – or less if someone buys some!

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

Initially I envisaged that the piece would be displayed on a plinth but after several experiments with this I have decided to have it hanging on the wall. At the moment I am hoping that each unit will have a small Perspex shelf, but that is still to be finalised.

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

I could have chosen some very positive environmental messages. There are instances where we have been able to reintroduce species and to rescue some landscapes but ‘Library of Lost Causes’ speaks for itself, although it could have ended with a question mark. It’s the cloud rather than the silver lining. Each page of the units is hand written and it is overwritten so that original sense is lost. The writing represents the rules/laws, research, scientific papers, news items, blogs and other debates that surround each issue. The book form, which traditionally contains writing, also provides a way of containing each disparate cause, and helps makes a link between them. My opening title ‘What fresh hell is this?’ both misquotes Dorothy Parker (who said this when answering her doorbell) and also makes a nuanced reference to my wrestling with the problems in making the work, my problems in dealing with the lack of control in using ‘chance’ as a response to DIS/rupt and the ‘bad news’ represented in each little book. On second thoughts it could make a good title for the piece! Back to work now, some winkles need polishing.

Thank you Kay. I know visitors to the exhibition will be fascinated to see how you have expressed these ideas through the books. The idea of the Library of Lost Causes is intriguing but so relevant to many aspects of contemporary environmental causes.

Information about the exhibition can be found here TSG

Information about the SIT select festival 2017 and booking details about the full range of workshops being run by TSG members during the exhibition can be found here SIT select 2017


Studio postings……

Another TSG member needing no introduction is Sian Martin who is very well known to textile enthusiasts world wide through her Distant Stitch textile courses with students as far away as Australia and New Zealand as well as closer to home. Sian is also one of the TSG tutors running workshops at Stroud while the exhibition is running, so what, I asked her, was she working on for DIS/rupt?

I have been moved by the desperate plight of refugees as they flee their homes due to war and hunger. I have long been interested in movement and journeys whether of birds, people, tides, clouds and the visual repetitive rhythms that these can suggest. A few years ago, I delighted in recording my own journeys by placing a pen on a sketchbook page and letting the pen record the vibrations of the journey, whether by bus or train.

I was also intrigued by the photographs by Eduard Muybridge and the paintings by Duchamp of figures in movement.

My piece for DIS/rupt aims to tell the story of a different journey – the long flight of one young refugee I met last year. I was so moved by his individual story. Like thousands of others, Ahmed experienced the horrors of displacement from his home when he was 15 years old. His father was a nomadic farmer in Afghanistan and the family lived in peace until Isis came and stole his two sisters. They returned to take him away and shot and killed his father when he tried to stop them. His mother told him to run as she kissed him on the cheek.

He escaped and made his way alone through Europe, meeting up with others on the same long journey to safety. Ahmed arrived in the UK after several years in the ‘Jungle’ at Calais. He is currently cared for by the Medical Foundation as part of ‘Freedom from Torture’ (Amnesty International). Ahmed was recently given a few days retreat in Somerset and I was pleased to meet him briefly. He shared his story to his host, my friend, and told her ‘I can still feel her kiss on my cheek’. Ahmed has no way of discovering what has happened to his mother.

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

Fragments of fabric, some symbolic of the clothing worn by this young teenager such as denim, some with imagery, some with text, have been threaded into long narrow converging bands on fine stainless steel thread using a pleater.

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

My textile is a long, narrow textile that I hope suggests Ahmed’s long journey and will be over 4 metres.

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

It will be wall-hung so you can ‘read’ the story – a long strip, reading from left to right.

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

I would like viewers to be moved by the plight of this individual boy to raise awareness of this huge tragedy that is happening to multitudes of others. I hope I have been able to use a visual language to tell this story, starting on the left as the story develops along the length to the right. I’ve used the language of colour as it changes – draining from the strong bright colours of a happy life to bleached and subdued; the language of texture as it changes to fabrics that become worn and frayed; the language of spacing as it changes from closely grouped to spaced, separated and scattered. Occasional elements of imagery to suggest figures and stitched text introduces portions of Ahmed’s words – ‘I can still feel her kiss on my cheek’.

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

My workshop is called ‘Zen Stitch’. I hope this will intrigue students as it did me when I first experienced this approach. How often have you been confused by all the choices you have available – what method do you use, what colour do you choose, what shapes do you make and where do you start? See what happens when you don’t need to make those decisions and can just enjoy ‘doing’. See how it feels to be spontaneous in the middle of your busy day and experience a brief time of calm and creativity. I’m not giving any more away, but you won’t find out unless you try it.

The workshop sounds really intriguing Sian and will be of enormous interest to those who will be joining you. And what an amazing story about your piece but how wonderful to be able to put into fabric and stitch the story of this young man. I wonder if  he will be able to see how his story inspired you.

If you would like to see Sian’s work and all the other pieces for DIS/rupt and if you are interested in Sian’s or any of the TSG workshops on while the exhibition is open then look on our website at TSG

Booking for the TSG workshops and further details about the Symposium DIS/rupting Tradition:New Textile Languages: New Textile Languages featuring contributions from Alice Kettle, June Hill, Melanie Miller and Michelle Stephens can be found at SIT select 2017

Studio postings…

Penny Burnfield always produces thought provoking work and her pieces for DIS/rupt are  no exception. With this in mind I was interested to find out a little more about the work she has produced for the exhibition so asked her the area of the DIS/rupt project she was investigating or exploring.

My subject is, perhaps, the ultimate disruption: War, and in particular the disruption of the lives of young people who are manipulated or drafted into the Forces to “defend their country”

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

I am making two pieces that have their starting points in a couple of well-known war poems and a first world war recruiting song. One -The Old Lie- will be a ‘coffin’ draped in a ‘flag’ that bears the inscription “Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori”. This saying – which dates back to ancient Rome – means “It is sweet and honourable to die for your country”.

The second piece – His Work is Done – consists of some ‘found’ military objects from various countries and eras on which I am embroidering phrases from the 1914 song “Your King and Country Want You”, which will be on a CD player for the viewer to listen to on headphones.

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

Textiles play their part in war – not just as flags and uniforms, but as containers for all sorts of equipment from collapsible spades to hand grenades. I have collected some American WW2 gaiters, a water-bottle and its cover, probably Dutch, and a Soviet-era Gas Mask and its bag. All are made of military canvas in various shades of Khaki. I have also used some old sheets that belonged to my parents that I have dyed in various shades of grey to make my flag. I am working with bonded appliqué and hand-stitching: the gaiters are very tough to stitch on!

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

The ‘coffin’ is life size. It would fit me rather well!

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

The ‘coffin’ is free standing and the collection of military objects will be wall hung. I hope that, together, they will form a coherent installation.

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

I hope people will reflect on consequences of war, and when, if ever, war can be justified.

Thank you, Penny. In these uncertain and unsettling times it is something for all of us to consider. I know your work will resonate with the visitors to the exhibition.

Full information about the exhibition can be found here TSG and booking details and information about the workshops being run by TSG members can be found here SIT select 2017

It’s becoming more and more exciting as we near the opening of DIS/rupt and for anyone thinking of attending the symposium Disrupting Tradition: New Textile Languages  information can be found at Symposium. Speakers at this event include Alice Kettle, June Hill, Michelle Stephens and our curator for DIS/rupt, Melanie Miller. Sounds really exciting and will be stimulating.

Studio postings….eight weeks and counting

Our studio posting this week is with Ann Wheeler who as a tutor and TSG member will be well known to many people. During a quiet moment over coffee I asked Ann about her work for DIS/rupt.

Ann, can you tell me which area of the DIS/rupt project you are investigating or exploring?

Disruption to people’s lives has happened in the past in many ways. As a practising lacemaker with an ancestor listed in the 1851 census as a lacemaker, I was interested in exploring how the industrial evolution had affected their lives.

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

The early lace-makers, many of whom lived in rural areas, worked 9 to 10 hours in order to supplement the family income. Children, both boys and girls were sent to lace schools at an early age to be instructed in the skills. I am focussing on trying to illustrate this in my piece.

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

Antique lace, contemporary bobbin lace worked in paper yarn and stitched lettering.

Are you able to give us an idea of the scale of your piece and will it be free standing or wall mounted?

130cms x 70cms approx. and will be wall mounted

Thank you Ann for this fascinating insight. In our age of manufactured lace, produced on an industrial scale, it is all too easy to forget the hours necessary, not to say the amazing skill, in the production of lace. I think even a look at the ‘tools of the trade’, the complexity of working with bobbins and the fine needles, are testament to the place in our heritage these women deserve.

All information about DIS/rupt can be found at the group’s website TSG

Further information and booking details about the workshops running concurrently can be found at the link here SIT select 2017

Also information about the Symposium can be found on the SIT select 2017 website at Symposium

Looking forward to seeing you all in Stroud.

Studio postings

Organising an exhibition of this scale requires team work and to take the germ of an idea through to the hanging and opening involves hours of work for many people. However our Exhibition Convenor for DIS/rupt is Sarah Burgess, well known as an artist and tutor and it has been her role, amongst many others, to maintain an overview of all the details and keep the project moving forward. As well as the organisation Sarah has also found time to produce work for the exhibition. At our recent weekend meeting Sarah spent a lot of time discussing with various members different aspects of the work needing to be done to have the exhibition open as planned. So I was really pleased that despite her busy schedule Sarah was able to sit and tell me about her piece for DIS/rupt. I started by asking her which area of the DIS/rupt project she was investigating or exploring?

I am working with ideas about global warming and the disruption that will result due to rising sea levels.

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

I am making two pieces of work to reflect the likely effect of a 2 degree and a 4 degree rise in global temperatures and the resulting increase in sea levels on ten world cities.

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

I am using the differing properties of fibres in a range of hand stitch threads to wick dye up into a piece of stitched cotton organdie so that it gradually turns blue drowning in dye and picking out the white stitching so that the words and statistics become more visible before they disappear into the cloth. The results are unpredictable it all depends on the temperature and the dampness of the fabric. But this reflects the risk and uncertainty of global warming and the unpredictable nature of the flooding.

One piece of cloth is being dyed now but the other will be dyed during the course of the exhibition, changing its appearance during the exhibition.

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

I expect there to be two pieces about 140 long by 54 wide – but we will see!

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

Mounted away from the wall on brackets – I think

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

I hope the work will bring a difficult scientific statistical subject to life and demonstrate the literal flooding process. I cannot be sure what will happen with the dye, it is risky and full of uncertainty – as is the risk of burning of fossil fuels and ignoring the danger of global warming.

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

I am running two half day workshops entitled Lost and Found – disrupted which will give students a chance to build a collection of mono-printed papers and fabrics. We will cut and piece the papers, disrupting and overlaying cut-outs on cloth to build a collaged piece of work and beginning to stitch into the piece to secure and develop the design. Students can either bring their own found objects to work from or use the items I provide.

Students will be able to complete the piece in their own time.

That sounds very exciting Sarah and I am sure visitors will be fascinated to see how your piece changes during the course of the exhibition. Thank you for taking time out of your weekend to talk to me.

For details about all the workshops being run during the exhibition then please click this link to the SIT select 2017 website. More information about DIS/rupt can be found here TSG

More interviews will be published  in the coming weeks as we enter the final countdown to the opening of the exhibition. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter at these links.

Another studio posting

Last weekend TSG members met for the first of our twice yearly get-togethers and because DIS/rupt is coming ever closer, I took the opportunity in between the workshop sessions with Georges Wenger, to find time with members and ask them about the work they have been developing for the exhibition. Over the coming weeks I will post more of these interviews but today I thought you would like to hear about the work that has been created by Julia Triston. Living in the North East of England, Julia is well known to many through her teaching and books. This is what she had to say. As always, I asked Julia about the specific area of the DIS/rupt project she was investigating or exploring.

My pieces for the DIS/rupt exhibition investigate personal conflict and the trauma and issues surrounding divorce. A breakdown of a relationship can have a lasting effect physically, mentally, emotionally and financially; this disruption can impact the whole family. I have drawn on my own experiences for this exhibition, which has been both painful and liberating.

Sketchbook and detail

Julia, can you tell us something about the piece you are working on for DIS/rupt?

I am working on two pieces for DIS/rupt. The first, ‘To Know A Veil’, concerns my writings and personal responses to my feelings, over a four year period, whilst going through a lengthy divorce. Reflections of the disruption caused to my life are translated directly from my journals.

Detail, in progress

My second piece is interactive. ‘Divorce Discourse’ explores communication; there are many times in life when we wish we had or hadn’t said something that could have made a difference to ourselves, our relationships or the paths we have taken in life. I have started some sentences and I invite viewers to disrupt my work by completing them in their own words.


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

‘To Know A Veil’ is worked on a full length vintage veil (from 1938) and contemporary bridal netting with free machine embroidery. ‘Divorce Discourse’ is presented in three A3 frames and also worked with free machine embroidery on contemporary bridal netting. Both pieces will be wall mounted.

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

My aim is to give viewers an insight into the fragility of relationships and to consider the impact of communication in our daily lives, especially with our loved ones. I hope my pieces will resonate with others in a positive way and inspire viewers to express themselves in their own relationships as well as through my exhibition work.


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

My ‘Text in Textiles’ workshop will involve stitching letters and/or words onto collaged backgrounds using upcycled materials. The content of the pieces will be personal – a special memory, an important poem, a specific word or name – and the texts may include imagery to support the sentiment expressed. Techniques will include layering, collaging, appliqué and hand embroidery. The workshop will be busy, messy and fun!

The workshop sounds fun, Julia, and your work very thought provoking, I’m sure it will resonate with many people. Thank you for taking the time away from the workshop to speak to me about your piece. I’m really looking forward to seeing the pieces in the Gallery.

As always, full details about DIS/rupt can be found on the group’s website at this link  TSG  and booking and details about the workshops including Julia’s can be found at this link. SIT select 2017