Thursday 31 March 2011


Last Thursday I went to Luton to attend a four day workshop with Ricky Otis and Deanna Tyson (two other artist also selected from Cambridge) as part of the Carnival Crossroads project. It was absolutely fabulous all of our expenses were paid for. The people I met there were very warm, interesting and friendly and everyone willing to share their knowledge. The hotel was excellent and provided a fabulous breakfast every morning with gym, sauna and swimming pool available for our use.

The cafe at the Carnival center provided us with two, hot, tasty meals full of Caribbean flavours every day prepared by a chef with Trinidadian roots. This tasty food meant that I ate way too much and along with the tea and cake breaks, I am sure I gained a few pounds over the weekend. I enjoyed every minute and really am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this.

On Friday night we danced away to a live band of African music and stumbled back to our hotel rooms in the early morning to prepare for another full day of working.

I really enjoyed being pampered and am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this and along the way to have also met such wonderful, fun loving people.

The Vat Former

The workshops covered a range of techniques and many new materials and equipment were introduced.
Vat forming was a new technique where special sheets of foam were heated to make moulds

shapes glued onto plywood (mould)

Shapes to be moulded were placed on the bed of the machine, the table was lowered and a large sheet of foam placed above it in a special frame. The foam was carefully heated and then in quick succession the table raised, the sheet moulded and air removed. The result was a clean crisp shape in plastic

Two designs created

There is so much more to learn about Carnival Costume making process and four days was no time at all to even get the basics but my eyes have certainly been opened and I am eager and excited to learn more. I was not sure what to expect before I attended the workshop and I somehow thought I might have done the making of the actual costumes but instead it was more of an insight into the processes behind the scenes. I am sure I will have more to blog about Carnival in the future, in the meantime I have made many new friends and look forward to meeting them again soon.

Monday 7 March 2011

Developing my ideas

As you can imagine I have become completely immersed in this work, it is all I can think of. I guess I want to create my best work yet which is putting a lot of pressure on myself. It is important on many levels and is really my therapy. I have done quite a lot already and as I work the more inspired I become, maybe it is actually looking at the image of mum that is helping me because often when I think of her it is not as an old frail woman. My first step was to create a board with my initial ideas and thoughts.

These were my first experiments and I liked the idea of mask like patterns on her face which not only mask her face but disguise her as well. I experimented with heat soluble fabrics

painting the image,

Using pastels and then distressing the image, this gave an interesting result and the image felt quite dark and angry.

Then I have also been looking at layering patterns which could be used in face painting rituals.

I am really excited by my results so far and I am looking forward to the next bit.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

My Mum and My Art

Textiles in Focus went well, my workshop was a rewarding one for me and the ladies who took part seemed to have also had a good time. The Picture Perfect females were excellent and each one was unique.
I did not spend as much as I would have normally and that was good, although I did stock up on a few painting materials. It is always great to be with like minded individuals and I left really inspired. Sharon Osbourne's demonstration was, as always a great inpiration and the exhibitions were exceptional.

Since then I have been preparing for my next quilt which I am hoping to enter into the Festival of Quilts 2011. My inspiration for this piece is my mother. She is now 72 years old and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's when she was in her late 50's. I am hoping to create something which will be symbolic of her decline and be for me an expression of my sadness and loss. She is not who I remember and it is so sad to be so far away but, on the other hand, it makes dealing with what I can only express as my loss a bit easier.
In doing my research for this body of work I have discovered a painter who was an Alzheimer's sufferer, his work shows the gradual changes in his work as the illness progressed.
It has given me a different perspective and insight into her emotional turmoil at the beginning stages of her decline.

As you can imagine it is and will be an emotional roller coaster for me but it has to be done as I have been putting it off for too long now. I am using her image but it will probably be as unrecognisable as she is to me now. I am also going to use my interest in body painting and masks to help me express my ideas. I am hoping to share my initial design development in my next blog (tears included).