Linked to the forthcoming Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios 2017 ( www.nnopenstudios.org.uk ) and in an effort to promote textile-related activity in this lovely north-west corner of Norfolk, we’re holding a Textiles in Action event at Thornham Village Hall in Thornham on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th May, 10-4. There will demonstrations of textile skills and work by local craftspeople, plus an exhibition by TOPstitch of Norwich. Entry is free and everyone is welcome!

Also in Thornham on that weekend, and the two following weekends of Open Studios, I encourage you to visit the Open Studio at Greenwoods, High Street, Thornham PE36 6LY to see the work of hand-weaver Melanie Venes ( www.twill-knot.co.uk ) with a beautiful range of fabric and accessories all handwoven in luxurious natural fibres, for both fashion and interiors, plus the contemporary hand-felted textile art of Sarah Burt (www.sarahburtdesign.com ) with seascapes and landscapes inspired by the East Anglia coast and countryside.

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Thornham Village Hall is right next-door to Thornham Deli and they share the same entrance off the A149, with plenty of parking. Turn right from the Hall/Deli to get to Greenwoods Open Studio, which is about half a mile further along the A149 towards Brancaster, on the left hand side. Off-road parking available. Look for the Open Studios signs!

If you live in this area, or are a regular visitor, and are also passionate about textiles, do please have a chat with any of us and perhaps you’ll find some kindred spirits! We look forward to seeing you.

I am now well under way with an ongoing open-ended series of woven pieces inspired by a favourite walk to a specific section of beach on The Wash coast. The walk is 7 km out and back, and passes through mixed woodland, open fields, water meadows and fresh-water lagoons, and low dunes before arriving at the beach. The Wash is renowned for its wonderful bird life, not least the thousands of pink-footed geese that overwinter here. I also regularly see hares, deer and stoats as well as a variety of woodland birds and the ubiquitous rabbits.

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I wanted to find a way to express the essence of the amazing diversity in this landscape, which occurs within a relatively short distance, as well as evoking the “feel” of a path. So, each piece is just 4” wide, but 14 feet long – I divided the walk into 14 sections, 11 of which are path, followed by the beach, sea and sky.

I do this walk whenever I need inspiration and information for the next piece and immediately proceed to develop the work, based purely on my primary sources on that day.

The main ground cloth is a fine linen, with painted warps (using fibre reactive dyes) and ready-dyed wefts, and the central blocks are in a variety of hand dyed and purchased yarns, evoking elements of what I see along the way. I use plain weave throughout.

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I’ve worked out a way to hang them, but it’s difficult to show such long thin pieces well in a photo, so here are some sections of #1, walked at the end of November 2016, from the sky downwards.

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Five of these pieces will be on show at a coastal-inspired exhibition in Thornham, North Norfolk, in July – details coming nearer the time!

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I am very fortunate to have some work included in a forthcoming exhibition of new work by my friends Deb Capes, Ann Cooke, Claire Gordon and Angie Hill. Together they form the stitched textile group Q2, and they have an exhibition at Wisbech Museum from Saturday 6th May. The exhibition is entitled Versatile and will showcase new textile artwork inspired by Tiles.

The stitched pieces above and in the flyer below are based on tiles held by the museum, but there will be a wide range of work on show – both in inspiration sources and techniques – something for everyone! There is free parking close by and museum entry is also free. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Just in case the information is difficult to read :

Wisbech Museum is open Tuesday- Saturday 10am- 4pm

Postcode PE13 1ES

Phone : 01945-583817

The exhibitions runs from 6th to 27th May

If you’re able to be in Norfolk for the next Bank Holiday weekend at the end of April, and appreciate high quality items made by mainly local artisans and craftsmen, then head to Thornham Village Hall for the Maker’s Mark event which showcases and offers for sale a wide range of unique and beautiful handmade items – textiles, glass, ceramics, jewellery, print, and much more. Entry is free and I can recommend the cakes and coffee! Here is the information for this event :

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The Maker’s Mark

Sale of Original Work by Craftsmen & Artisans

Thornham Village Hall

High Street,

Thornham, PE36 6LX

29th & 30th April 2017

10am – 4pm  Free Entry – Café

info@makersmarkthornham.co.uk

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Thornham Village Hall & Playing Field Ltd

Registered Charity number 1141442

After a long gap, and much reflection and deliberation, I’ve finally managed to come to a conclusion about how I would like to use this blog from now on. My journey, in terms of both creative and spiritual development, is an intensely personal one but I would like to share the completed pieces of work which arise from this ongoing developmental process, and also to announce creative events that I have some involvement with.

In recent months, I’ve made a shift in focus from stitched work to weaving, and in the longer run will be looking for ways of integrating these two together. My work is based on two main sources of inspiration – a favourite walk and my garden; more on both of these as I complete pieces of work. In both cases, I’m trying to move towards a more abstract and spontaneous expression of essences within these primary sources, and in an effort to maintain presence, am working mainly with whatever inspiration is available at the time, so no work on roses in December or winter landscapes in June! Overall, it’s a question of how to find a way to outwardly express an inner journey.

My Islamic courtyard garden is called the Garden of Heart’s Delight, or Bagh-i-Dilkhusha in Persian/Farsi, and here are the Heart’s Delight tulips that are out in the garden at the moment.

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The beautiful striped leaves are an added bonus!

I wonder if I’m the only one to be disappointed to discover, perhaps belatedly, that the Procion Pearl Grey dye is no longer available. I’m told that it was withdrawn because it was unstable but that was exactly why I liked it. Having dyed my Terracotta Tiles piece with it (see previous blog) and been very pleased with the result, I then had to find another way to mount the piece as the replacement Neutral Grey is a “real” grey, which didn’t work at all with the rest of the piece.

On the positive side, I’m having great fun with the Turquoise, Cerulean and Medium Blue Procion to dye natural fabrics and yarns for my Central Asian Tiles series, entitled Koshi/Samarkand. Here are some photos of these beautiful tiles :

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These photos are all from

Soustiel, Jean and Porter, Yves (2003)

Tombs of Paradise : The Shah-e-Zende in Samarkand and architectural ceramics of Central Asia

Chateau de Saint Remy-en-l’Eau, France : Editions Monelle Hayot

(pages 89, 143 and 194 respectively)

I’d love to go to Samarkand again one day.

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I’ve also been experimenting with linen yarn on the loom and am very excited by the possibilities, including for dyeing and colouring before weaving, and afterwards. This are a couple of sections from one of the samples :

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It’s led me to decide that the first Tiles piece will be hand woven in mainly in linen, with the addition of some simple hand stitch.

Here’s the flyer for the forthcoming exhibition of the King’s Lynn and Peterborough branches of the Embroiderers’ Guild, to be held at Oxburgh Hall during September. I do hope you can get to see it if you’re in the area! My exhibit is Terracotta Tiles.

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In case it’s hard to read the details :

National Trust Oxburgh Hall, near Swaffham, Norfolk PE33 9PS

2nd-28th September 2016

“As part of the 300th anniversary celebrations of the birth of “Capability” Brown, the Embroiderers’ Guild is holding the largest exhibition it has ever produced, across the country. Using the landscapes and architecture of Oxburgh as their inspiration,members have produced unique pieces of work which will be on display in the Chapel.”

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oxburgh-hall

www.embroiderersguild.com/capabilitybrown

I’ve now got two clear strands to my creative endeavours – the development of a series based on the blue and turquoise tiles of Central Asia, and an ongoing exploration of double weave with a particular focus on colour. Will post some examples next time of the Central Asian tiles, but for now I’ve been concentrating on my piece for the Embroiderers’ Guild King’s Lynn branch exhibition entitled The Spirit of Oxburgh, to be held in the family chapel at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk during the month of September – more detail on the exhibition to come in due course, but I have now completed the piece which is called Terracotta Tiles.

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Details : Stitched area 9” x 6.5”; hand dyed silk fabrics on hand dyed cotton muslin ground; layering of silk fibres and cotton scrim; free machine zigzag stitch and French knots with hand dyed and purchased threads

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The work still needs to be mounted and framed

On the weaving side, I’ve recently completed a couple of two-block, eight-shaft double cloth samples, in four colours of a lovely 10/2 mercerised cotton yarn; sample 8” wide. This is my first work on eight shafts and my first experimentation with these beautiful colours – there is already a tile effect and I can see how I could achieve a staggered-brick appearance with rectangles to evoke the monochrome Central Asian tiles and glazed bricks, most of which are rectangular rather than square. I think this exploration alone could last for years because of the infinite possibilities with both the weave structure and the colour combinations!

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With the Oxburgh piece completed, I will now be starting for real on my Tiles series which will be called Koshi/Samarkand. Koshi is Farsi for tiles, and my main inspiration source will be the tiles on various historic buildings in Samarkand, as well as flowers and motifs from Central Asian suzanis. I’m planning to include both weave and stitch in these pieces, and need at least six items for our Quintessential exhibition next May – a challenge in itself as I like to work slowly and intensively. More details on our exhibition to follow soon.