30 June 2013

"Stitched Offices" by Sally Buchanan

Last week marked the closing of Electric House, the temporary venue for BAR (Brent Artists Resource, northwest London). Months ago the local council ousted BAR - and the borough's largest library - from a perfectly functional building, which is now to be razed and rebuilt as council offices. In a further crazy decision, the council will be demolishing this 1930s structure too, further demeaning the struggle for community and amenity in Willesden Green.

These are troubled times - stringent times - and that's likely to lead, among all the power struggles, to strange decisions. It's kinda like the 60s, which of course had a different financial climate, when everything "old" was being torn down, to be replaced by Brave New Concrete. (And look at it now...)

But a rant isn't the reason for this post, it's to show you the installation by Sally Buchanan in a suite of offices at the rear of the building - the vacant offices of the CEO, his secretary, and the Managing Director, now with bricked-up windows and missing doors.

Sally has interconnected - with "lines of power" - these offices. Over several weeks, she's used linen thread in various configurations, and in the half hour during the closing party that people were allowed to access this floor of the building, they made the most of it.

This is where the Managing Director's desk was
... leading towards the secretary's office
The secretary's office
A corner of the CEO's office

Role play in the CEO's office
See Sally's "Gladstone Meadow Cut", made with a domestic lawnmower and maintained since 2010, here.

29 June 2013

RCA degree show at Battersea site

Painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass, architecture - in four buildings. Was it the anticipation, was it the time of day - I wasn't so much disappointed as bemused - and bewildered. Not many photos, not much to remember. Boredom? Burn out? Even so, some items of interest and strange beauty -
"When she walked, her tears made the roads turn red" by Ester Svensson
Cast glass by Livvy Fink (see better photos on her website)
"Gold House" by Lucy Joyce (video stills here)

Hyde Park rose garden

28 June 2013

Back to bookwraps

While preparing for the open studio event, I came across lots of unfinished work - and lots of finished work (journal quilts etc) that no longer pleased me, or seemed to have no purpose.

So for the next few weeks, I'll be spending my studio time "spinning straw into gold" - making more bookwraps for the CQ tombola at Festival of Quilts, to raise funds for the Quilters' Guild. (This is a follow-up to the very successful Little Gems tombola a few years back.)

The Bookwrap Gems team has set up a website - http://bookwrapgems.wordpress.com/ - with patterns etc. It's now populated with photos of the hundreds of bookwraps that have been submitted already. Go and have a look, and have a go - you can take it along to the tombola stand at FOQ.

Now that I've made a few bookwraps, I've settled on one method and they seem to make themselves. Here's a summary of what I'm doing. 

I'm making two sizes, to fit an A6 and an A5 hardback sketchbook, and have a couple of pieces of paper cut to the right size, which I lay on the quilted fabric and cut around. The A6 template measures 10" x 6 3/4", the A5 template measures 13 1/4" x 9 1/8" - they include the seam area, ie the area that gets covered by binding round the edge. I thought my seams were 1/4", using the marker on the presser foot, but it seems they're a bit narrower, so if you're planning to make several bookwraps, first do one and check your seam width to make sure the book cover actually fits in.
Template was used to cut a rectangle from the quilted fabric
Pockets added at either side
Narrow binding sewn round
(my tutorial on narrow binding is here)
Binding is pin-basted and sewn "in the ditch" by machine
The finished bookwrap
Some more measurements: the pockets are the height of the template and about half the width of the book - finished size about 2 1/2" for A6, 3 1/2" for A5. I've been using organza, cutting it double the width and folding it. With cotton, simply make a 1" hem on the open side.

The narrow binding ends up at 1/4" (or so...) - and if you cut a strip 1 7/8" wide, and fold it double, that will wrap round to the back and leave a nice overlap so that your machine stitching catches the binding and holds it down. But "your mileage may vary" -- you may want to adjust the width of the strip to fit in with your preferred seam width, ie the marking on your presser foot.

The interior view of another finished bookwrap (for A5 book) and another quilted piece ready to be transformed -
This week's production line -
Encased in layers of quilted fabric, a notebook/sketchbook is a wonderful thing to hold - very satisfying in the hand.

Shoes of one sort and another

Ah, the delights of sale shopping! Having liberated about £90 by not buying these very comfortable (but unnecessarily fashionable) shoes (original price £150), I drifted in and out of the charity shops in Muswell Hill and found, for a total of £15, a hooded sweatshirt-type jacket, a partly-wound skein of red wool ("fingering"), Stephen Jay Gould's "Welcoming the Millennium", Richard Sennet's "The Craftsman" - and - tap shoes!
Unfortunately the beginners tap class at City Lit in July is full, so I signed up for one in April next year.

27 June 2013

Poetry Thursday - Woodland Burial by Pam Ayres

(image from here)
Pam Ayres recited this impromptu on a tv book programme. Listen here - 57 seconds of the poet's unique voice. The poem is shown on her website -

Woodland Burial
Don’t lay me in some gloomy churchyard shaded by a wall
Where the dust of ancient bones has spread a dryness over all,
Lay me in some leafy loam where, sheltered from the cold
Little seeds investigate and tender leaves unfold.
There kindly and affectionately, plant a native tree
To grow resplendent before God and hold some part of me.
The roots will not disturb me as they wend their peaceful way
To build the fine and bountiful, from closure and decay.
To seek their small requirements so that when their work is done
I’ll be tall and standing strongly in the beauty of the sun.

After a short stint in the civil service and then the WRAF, Pam Ayres set out to become an entertainer, appearing on Radio Oxford in 1974 and Opportunity Knocks in 1975 - after that there was no stopping her, and she has sold millions of books, record albums, CDs, DVDs. She appears regularly on radio and tv.

Her memoir of her early years is called "The Necessary Aptitude" - something she apparently lacked in her early clerical jobs.

26 June 2013

At the Royal College of Art degree show

I was surprised to encounter a quilt in the "visual communication" section of the building -
"The Hole" by Yeni  Kim
The elements are (digitally?) printed onto fabric, and machine quilted; the writing around the middle is hand embroidered and says something like "the hole that I have inside me is growing bigger - I tried to fill it with books, poetry, music, [etc etc] but now I'm not going to worry about it any more - I'll use it to swim in"
 She's got a nice idea for a "business card" too - given that people would take a photo of it on their phones -
 Have a look at her other projects on the RCA Show website, where you can see the work of students from various courses.

The work of Becky Allen, hung on a landing, was impressive in its diligence and visual simplicity -
"Penelope" by Becky Allen - ink on Japanese paper
A couple of "design solutions" to unrecognised "problems" -
Marc Miralda Besa's clothes basket, filled, hooks onto wall above radiator,
then unfolds to become a drying rack;
the waste bin hangs on wall, allows sweeping underneath
- and is opened by a foot lifting the yellow bit;
please someone, manufacture these!
Santiago Guerro Font says: "The unconscious beauty of a jig
tells the storyof the object it helps to make"
In the textiles section, rich textures in these accessories by Nina Born - the green that looks like beetle's wings is a narrow tape, crocheted tightly and in large loops -
and the amazing 'uncanny' footwear (a giant could wear it??) by Matthias Winkler -
What really impressed me, tucked away into a corner, were these pieces by Ye Seung Lee, part of a PhD, "The ambiguity of seamlessness: the poetic function of making".
Seamless garments - by Ye Seung Lee
A video showed how they were made - using pliers to pull the needle through the fabric...
Some details of the interweaving possibilities -

Such work - simply beautiful!