On the 15th and 16th of August, Skipton cattle market will be turned over to 150 + selected artists who will each transform their cattle pen into a pop-up gallery. Art in the Pen is a great event and although I have visited many times, and nearly exhibited there last year, I am finally getting to do it this time round.
With Found Drowned finished a fortnight ago, it was time to focus on getting ready. First up, making sure I had enough work. Obviously I have Found Drowned, but I’ll also need lots of smaller pieces. Anyone who is a regular reader will know I do struggle with small format tapestries, I can’t always see their point. I’ve had many a late night ‘Eureka! moment’ over the last few months, but my hopes that I’d finally found a way to make something small that I liked, usually turned to dust in the cold light of day.
I was beginning to despair until I flicked through my notebooks and samples and refound a couple of pieces I had made some months back. A Pinterest Spiral of Doom when recuperating after the Arts Trail brought me to the work of Helena Hernmarck, a prolific and long-established tapestry weaver who produces very large-scale photo-realistic tapestries. Rather than the standard weft faced weave of most tapestries, her work utilises exposed warps and floating wefts. I’ve always sought to create some element of texture in my work, but the surfaces she creates are very vibrant and organic; her technique also provides unending opportunities to explore and experiment with colour. I had a go using her technique, having in mind a large-scale tapestry I had long wanted to weave but couldn’t work out how to do it with any ‘pop’. Although I thought this might be a way, I knew it wasn’t the time and Found Drowned had to be my focus and the samples were put away. I began to wonder if they could be the answer to my small format problem – they did look rather spiffy when I put them in a simple chunky frame, and behind glass they arn’t pretending to be a tapestry, but are something else in their own right.
Over the last ten days I’ve woven fourteen pieces and used up the left over warp on the loom. I haven’t seen much of the world except for my workroom, but these fourteen as well as some other samples I had done previously means I have nearly two dozen pieces to show alongside Found Drowned. I did take some time out though, to meet up with friends and fellow AIP exhibitors for a few hours over coffee, cake, lunch, more cake and more coffee, to discuss our ideas for our pens and to get advice from those who have done it before. I came out very inspired and encouraged, and with a clear vision of what my pen will look like, playing to natural and traditional materials and trying to build some structure into the space. I realised too that perhaps I needed some sort of explanation about Found Drowned,; there’s a very specific story behind it and I guess I knew I would only be able to reiterate it a few times before being overcome by an urge to bash in my frontal bone on the metal sides of the pen. You can take a girl out of academia, but not academia out of the girl, and one night I designed a poster which is at the printers now, and which will hopefully answer most questions folk may have about her.
The printers are also making me some leaflets in case anyone is particularly interested in my work. I’ve also ordered some business cards, moving away from the more handmade style that I used for my handloom weaving.
I took Found Downed off the loom this afternoon and still have to hem and line her. Once I’ve done that and all the other things I have to do (I have a Gantt chart which has to stay in my eye line at all times), if I’ve got time I’d quite like to make some more small format pieces, and I really hadn’t thought those were words that would ever be tapped out by my fingertips.
I am really looking forward to Art in the Pen, almost like a child before Christmas. This is my first big juried event outside of Saltaire, and the first one as a tapestry weaver amongst other artists, so I guess it is quite a big deal for me. I know there is still a lot to be done, but I am feeling relatively calm and that is in no small way thanks to the support and encouragement of friends and fellow exhibitors, especially Jo at Glassprimitif, Tracy at Ruby Spirit Designs, Liz at Inkylinky and Paula at Wychbury Designs. If you want to see who else will be there, do check out the brochure of exhibitors here.
Ta ta for now x