Ponto Sombra: Connecting Threads

Images from my current exhibition at Recordatorio Rainha Santa Isabel/AfredoBastos, Rua Antonio Augusto Goncalves, 11-13 (junto ao Portugal dos Pequenitos) Santa Clara-Coimbra, Portugal

A mix of mostly new works from 2017/2018 and some older pieces that connect across the years I have practiced as a textile artist and more latterly a print maker.

The exhibition runs until end of February 2019. Open weekdays 10- 12.30 and 14 – 17.30pm. The museum is closed at the weekends.

The Recordatorio holds memories of Rainha Santa Isabel and the city of Coimbra where it is based. Recordatorio roughly translates into memories. A space with a real sense of history which felt totally right as a setting for my work, and where I could explore further the fragile, organic forms I make, thinking with my hands as the work progresses. What has always sustained my work is the balancing act between how ideas evolve through the close relationship between materials, manual construction techniques, concepts and creative thinking.

Ponto Smbra: Connecting Threads aims to create a narrative through the language of textiles and printmaking: transmitting ideas without telling the whole story adding a sense of intrigue and even loss of clear memory, tempting, always questioning and leading the viewer to fill in the gaps and to create their own story line which may or may not be the artist’s initial intention. Works with layers of meaning seemingly obscured by the ravages of time somewhat like an archaeological dig. Fleeting shadowy, images deliberately in and out of focus, faded colours, elongated and stretched as the light changes.

View of gallery showcases.
 “Spirit Dresses have left the Room” 2018 
  “
Most Holes Can be Dealt with by Darning” 2007
Installation “Spirit Dresses have left the Room” 2018 Hand made silk papers, hand stitching, laser cut Zeelon.
Detail “Spirit Dresses have left the Room” 2018
Laser cut Zeelon

Detail “Spirit Dresses have left the Room” 2018
Laser cut Zeelon hand made silk papers, hand stitching

Detail “Spirit Dresses have left the Room” 2018
Laser cut Zeelon hand made silk papers, hand stitching

Detail “Spirit Dresses have left the Room” 2018
Laser cut Zeelon hand made silk papers, hand stitching

Detail “Spirit Dresses have left the Room” 2018
Laser cut Zeelon hand made silk papers, hand stitching
Gallery view, showcase and framed prints.

Detail “
Spirit Dresses have left the Room” 2018
Laser cut Zeelon hand made silk papers, hand stitching

Detail “Spirit Dresses have left the Room” 2018
Laser cut Zeelon hand made silk papers, hand stitching
Detail hand made silk papers, Cocoon strippings with CMC paste.
Gallery view, showcase, white shoe installation, framed prints.
Gloves for a Queen (Relics)” 2018
Handmade silk papers, relief prints, hand stitched, shellac varnish

Gloves for a Queen (Relics)” 2018
Handmade silk papers, relief prints, hand stitched, shellac varnish

Roses in January” 2018
Block printed, screen printed papers and Tyvek



Roses in January” 2018
Block printed, screen printed papers and Tyvek

Shadow Play” framed drawings 2018

Museum Statue: Rainha Santa isobel

Roses in January” 2018
Detail: Block printed, screen printed papers and Tyvek


View of gallery showcases. 
 “Spirit Dresses have left the Room” 2018 
  “
Most Holes Can be Dealt with by Darning” 2007

The following images are of older works from across the years making connections with my new pieces shown above.

“Glove Story” 2013/14
Sample gloves, showing a progression of ideas for book chapter.
Tissutex papers, hand stitching, dyed, painted and perforated.

“Glove Story” 2013/14
Sample glove, showing a progression of ideas for book chapter.
Tissutex papers, hand stitching, dyed, painted and perforated.
Keeper of the Secrets” 2007
Series of scrolls, hand made papers with inlaid threads, screen printed texts metallic ink, various threads, waxed hand made cordage, shellac varnish.
“55 perforated Cylinders”  Dimensions each cylinder 6cm x 3cm. Artists log book.  2007
Screen printed, bonded, varnished, perforated papers, bound together with wax cordage.
“White Shoe Installation” 2004
Assembled from cut, stitched and bonded papers layered with distressed machine knitting in mercerised cotton.

Opening night of Ponto Sombra: Connetcing Threads November 2018 Coimbra, Portugal

Textile Talks Contextile 2018

INORGANIC

Connecting Threads

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Responding to the challenging title of (IN)Organic, drawing and mark making as a thinking process focused my mind as to the many possibilities this concept offered.   January 2018 turned into an intense period of  visual research.

Where to start to unravel the brief?    I chose to work with water (inorganic) and cellular leaf structures (organic): opposites which through photosynthesis, thrive.

Visions of drought-stricken landscape with plant forms struggling to survive resonated with me as both an artist and a gardener.  Water as a life giver and life starved of water.  Without water, plants become shadowy forms, parched by drought.

Originally conceived as drawing for print, these new drawing have been put on one side to be developed at a later stage on a grand scale.  Working on this scale freed up my thinking and more than any thing else suggested many directions for further development into printmaking onto paper, cloth and other surfaces.

To do justice to the former I wanted to work on a grand scale.   Lacking in the facilities to produce traditional screen prints on this scale or the timescale to create digital prints with screen printed interventions I chose the constructed option.

This initial  period of intense drawing helped to make sense of the concept of InOrganic, informing the direction of the finished art work Parchment 2018 but not the main visual content. Indicative of my organic making process, where one thing leads to another, there are several strand to my practice which connect on many different levels BUT not all in the same piece of work.

It is knowing which elements to develop to solve a particular visual problem, and at the same time having enough self discipline to dispense for the time being with other elements. I am thinking here of the large scale visuals shown above which I will return to at a later date.  This presentation focuses on the process of adding, eliminating. combining, simplifying so that ever element of the work is necessary for the pieces of work in question.

 

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Rain washed inks on textured papers individual images 30cm x 40cm   “Food grows where water flows”.  Created when the rains finally arrived after a summer of drought and fires here in Portugal in 2017

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Watery backgrounds. inks allowed to run, pool and drip.  Mixed media visuals  referencing cellar structures in leaf forms.  Pen and brushed inks, water based pencils. A timely reminder of the principles of photosynthesis and the process of water coursing through plants and that every living thing needs food and energy to survive.  Visually these cellular structures were suggestive of nets and knitting, but the drawing style felt very precious, too literal and diagrammatic.  Each piece measures 30cm x 40cm approx.

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Noting that dried and parched plant form on my studio window ledge were casting strong shadows and a pile of watery  backgrounds remained unused, this set of visuals were made quickly, standing up to draw and trying not to be too precious about the mark making.  The previous drawings lacking in energy and vigor.  Each piece 30 x 40 cm.

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Moving back to more tight, uninspired mark making, these pieces embodied everything I had been trying to get away from.  This  Stop Look and Listen moment paid off eventually.  Graphite and water based coloured pencils aiming to combine elements of previous works.

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Shadow play …First a less is more moment with various types of graphite pencils but still working on too small a scale.

 

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Chasing Shadows 1.  Working in monochrome, paper size 100cm x 70cm using a range of dense black graphite pencils, water colour sticks and pure graphite these pieces were worked quickly and with confidence.  Chasing the shadows as they moved and elongated, noting changes in the way the edges of the shadowy forms became softer or harder, smudging the soft graphite, working the tones dark to light, turning the paper to create composite, layered images. Reinvigorated and energised I was reminded that I enjoy the challenge of the hands on visual research process.

 

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Chasing Shadows 2 Graphite sticks and pencils with water colour pencil on paper. 100cm x 70cm

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Chasing Shadows 3  Graphite sticks and pencil on paper. 100cm x 70cm

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Chasing Shadows 4  Graphite sticks and pencil on paper.  100cm x 70cm

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Chasing Shadows 5.  Graphite sticks and pencil on paper.  100cm x 70cm

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Chasing Shadows 6.  Parched, dried up plant matter, coloured pencil and graphite on off white paper.  58cm x 84cm

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Chasing Shadows 7. One of a pair of less is more, fade-in fade out drawings in graphite.  Shadows cast from netted textile structures. On the edge of being something tangible but not always sure of what.  Cell like structures, part of an organic development process seeing where the drawing go.

 

Visuals as a thinking process.  Working on this scale freed up my thinking and more than any thing else suggested many directions for further development into printmaking onto paper, cloth and other surfaces. A decision needed to be made quickly as to whether to develop the shadowy drawings into print onto cloth or construct surfaces around the idea of parched landscapes.

To do justice to the former I wanted to work on a grand scale. Lacking in the facilities to produce traditional screen prints on this scale or the timescale to create digital prints with screen printed interventions I chose the constructed option for the finished piece of textile artwork.

The initial  period of intense drawing helped to make sense of the concept of InOrganic, informing the direction of Parchment 2018 but not the main visual content.

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Standing back from ongoing, practical textile work, time spent making the new drawing gave a space to process what had gone before in the practical work and to consider how these exploratory sampling could be further developed. For example digitally stitched networks as shown above.

 

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Experimental sampling.  Handmade silk papers, parchment like to the touch, suggestive of scars and tracks on ancient/dried up landscapes.

 

 

 

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Resolved sampling.  Layered silk papers, digitally stitched  inlaid with grids of linen thread.image-17-web

Three dimensional layers of  stiffened grid structures  and molded silk papers.

The final part of the process in the making of Parchment 2018, focused on adding, subtracting, combining, simplifying so that every element of the work is necessary for the piece as a whole.

 

Parchment 2018

 

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 Parchment 2018  constructed from hand made silk papers (mulberry silk fibres) inlaid with linen thread formed using CMC paste between synthetic mesh. Layered collage techniques. Hand and machine stitching. Relief forms internal structure formed over Lutrador. Three layers: silk paper structure, under layer of scrim, mounted onto either off white upholstery vilene or thick handmade or water colour paper.hand made silk paper surfaces, digital and hand stitching.  Dimensions 170cm x 62cm

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Details Parchment 2018

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Details Parchment 2018

 

 

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One Thing leads back to another.  Chasing Shadows 1.  Selected areas reworked and developed into printmaking.  Initially small scale to perfect new techniques in etching.  Ultimate aim to make larger scale plates.  Etching plate shown at bottom RHS.

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Parched. Drawing development experimenting with a range of tonal effects and textures within a single etching plate. See  bottom right showing partially etched zinc plate. Plate size is 16.5 cm x 25 cm.

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First stage test print of Parched.  Colour story and workshop notes detailing all aspects of the work in progress.  Layered tracings to establish composition and tonal balances.

 

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Parched.  Etching on zinc plate. printed with Charbonel Agua wash inks. Deeply etched areas of varying depths, with surface textures. For those familiar with etching to bring out the textures my inking up technique involved the use of a flexible plastic card, toothbrush and a brush used for applying henna to the hair, and scrim. Wiping the plate was equally challenging…yellow pages plus hand wiping! Plate size 16.5cm x 25cm.

 

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New color stories for print.  Faded, greyed, roses and much more: colours  for follow up project.

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Experimental textured silk papers with print and coloured inks.  Surfaces for print for follow up project.

 

Recordatorio

An added bonus in the one thing leads to another method of working is the image bank ripe for translation into new works on large and small scales.  A starting point for an exhibition of small works (as yet untitled) November 2018  Coimbra, Central Portugal.

An ideal and evocative venue, the Recordatorio Rainha Santa Isabel/Alfredo Bastos also incorporates the Posto de Turismo.  Recordatorio loosely translates as memories.  My immediate thoughtswere memories are like fleeting shadows, coming in and out of focus as the light changes, fading colours, shadowy forms and fragile organic matter.  Add to the mix roses, which makes a link with the story of Rainha Santa Isabel and the city of Coimbra.

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Enter a caption

Photo Gallery Archives

Reading Between the Lines

 

 

Let No loop Down

 

 

Spirit Dresses (have left the room).

My most iconic and signature style works…now sadly gone missing in Portugal.

 

 

Large Scale Knitted Installations

 

 

 

Made From Memory

 

Wild Knitting in St Ives and Bristol

 

 

Post Graduate Exhibition Birmingham Polytechnic 1972 

Painted  textiles (acid dyes dyes on wool)

Liverpool Polytechnic Degree work.  Painted dress.  Acid dyes on Wool

liverpool-painted-dress

Photo Gallery Archives

Reading Between the Lines

 

 

Let No loop Down

 

 

Spirit Dresses (have left the room).

My most iconic and signature style works…now sadly gone missing in Portugal.

 

 

Large Scale Knitted Installations

 

 

 

Made From Memory

 

Wild Knitting in St Ives and Bristol

 

 

Post Graduate Exhibition Birmingham Polytechnic 1972 

Painted  textiles (acid dyes dyes on wool)

Liverpool Polytechnic Degree work.  Painted dress.  Acid dyes on Wool

liverpool-painted-dress

Work in Progress 2017

This is the part of my site where I share my current work in progress as a series of posts and visuals.  For me I love to see the journey an artist takes to arrive at finished works.  Here you can share in my journey of connecting the threads, telling my story whether its about exploring concepts, learning new techniques, creating visual research, experimental and more resolved sampling, critical analysis of where to next.

RUTH_02

My first blog post for a while.  I have been busy sampling and refining techniques in print and stitch: in particular re-learning  the Bernina embroidery software and the workings of my digital sewing machine now that it is finally up and running again.

Layers, print and stitch

Experimental samples learning how far I can push my Bernina…not counting the broken needles!  Stitching through layers of block printed scrim on the one hand and finding ways of stabalising the new generation of  lightweight fibres such as Lutrador or adding patches of hand made silk papers or fibrous surfaces originally intended for papermaking!  galaxy-templategalaxy-4galaxy-2

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2016 I made three small pieces of work almost as an after thought for the Imagined Landscapes exhibition.  It was here that all the elements of my work seemed to work one with each other…layers of hand made silk papers,  hand printed from laser etched wood blocks enhanced with handstitching…stitch as drawing.  Here the concept of hand made digitally-digitally handmade began to make sense…something I had been working on for a while.

The small samples shown here challenged not only me but the machine, in particular how to stitch through layers of hand made surfaces without creating havoc with the fine tuning of a digital sewing computer.  Something my older, work horse non digital  bernina wouldnt have batted an eyelid at.

string-1-silk-papertracks-silk-paper-1tracks-print-stitchstitch-sketch-bookParchment 1

Stitched marks and digital sketch books.

Boundaries, pathways, grids in my imaginery landscapes.  Developed from street maps.  Stitching onto interfacing and other non wovens.   Checking the stitching sequences.  Visually needs fine tuning, in particular the weight of the stitching is too uniform and mechanical in appearance.

Digital Sketch books.  Looking at samples through the lense of a camera is a great way to review work, isolating the images in question for a dispassionate assessment of the work thus far.  My camera is an invaluable tool in the development process.

grids-1grids-2grid-detailtracks-detailstracks-3tracks-4

Silk papers: painted, printed and layered

Continueing with thoughts about Imagined Landscapes I have been making a series of small, experimental silk paper samples experimenting with various weights of silk papers, painting and printing onto the surfaces. The print is taken from a small, laser etched wood block (20cms square) and handprinted with a Japanese baren.layer-1-sample-1

To make the top layer I wanted to experiment with silk cocoon strippings combined with silk waste from the spinning process to create a wispy, delicate and ultra lightweight  surface with varying degrees of transparency and open spaces. I was interested in how the print would react to this mixture of opaque and semi trasnparent areas, and how the gaps in the surface would interrupt the flow of the image.

I wasn’t sure whether this surface would take to being block printed without falling apart.  A fine balance between damping the surface so that the printing inks would take and the surface disingrating involved several test prints and some sideways thinking. Eventually I found using a damped sheet of paper on top of the surface to be printed worked well.

The images below show how I arrived at the finished sample which by accident took on a look of rock strata.  The previous week I had been in southern Portugal taking copious amounts of photos of rather beautifully coloured cliffs and rocks which I think will be great for inspiration.

sample-1-in-progresslayers-1+3-sample-1sample-1-detail-1sample-1-detail

sample-1-detailsilk-paper-sample-1

As a postscript I love the contrast of the shadows in the background with the pale colours. For me the sampling process always seems to reveal another potential direction to explore.  One of the things I love about living here in Portugal is the quality of the light.  Today the clear blue sky and the low autumn sun, which is still really strong here brought out the best in the pale coloured buildings of Coimbra and the interplay of crisp shadows.

sample-1-layers-1+2

Silk papers: painted, printed and layered

Continueing with thoughts about Imagined Landscapes I have been making a series of small, experimental silk paper samples experimenting with various weights of silk papers, painting and printing onto the surfaces. The print is taken from a small, laser etched wood block (20cms square) and handprinted with a Japanese baren.layer-1-sample-1

To make the top layer I wanted to experiment with silk cocoon strippings combined with silk waste from the spinning process to create a wispy, delicate and ultra lightweight  surface with varying degrees of transparency and open spaces. I was interested in how the print would react to this mixture of opaque and semi trasnparent areas, and how the gaps in the surface would interrupt the flow of the image.

I wasn’t sure whether this surface would take to being block printed without falling apart.  A fine balance between damping the surface so that the printing inks would take and the surface disingrating involved several test prints and some sideways thinking. Eventually I found using a damped sheet of paper on top of the surface to be printed worked well.

The images below show how I arrived at the finished sample which by accident took on a look of rock strata.  The previous week I had been in southern Portugal taking copious amounts of photos of rather beautifully coloured cliffs and rocks which I think will be great for inspiration.

sample-1-layers-1+2sample-1-in-progresslayers-1+3-sample-1sample-1-detail-1sample-1-detailsilk-paper-sample-1

As a postscript I love the contrast of the shadows in the background with the pale colours. For me the sampling process always seems to reveal another potential direction to explore.  One of the things I love about living here in Portugal is the quality of the light.  Today the clear blue sky and the low autumn sun, which is still really strong here brought out the best in the pale coloured buildings of Coimbra and the interplay of crisp shadows.

 

RUTH’S BLOG

This is the part of my site where I share my current work in progress as a series of posts and visuals.  For me I love to see the journey an artist takes to arrive at finished works.  Here you can share in my journey of connecting the threads, telling my story whether its about exploring concepts, learning new techniques, creating visual research, experimental and more resolved sampling, critical analysis of where to next.

 

RUTH_02

Stitched marks and digital sketch books.

Boundaries, pathways, grids in my imaginery landscapes.  Developed from street maps.  Stitching onto interfacing and other non wovens.   Checking the stitching sequences.  Visually needs fine tuning, in particular the weight of the stitching is too uniform and mechanical in appearance.

Digital Sketch books.  Looking at samples through the lense of a camera is a great way to review work, isolating the images in question for a dispassionate assessment of the work thus far.  My camera is an invaluable tool in the development process.

grids-1grids-2grid-detailtracks-detailstracks-3tracks-4