I wanted to share a little of this awesome exhibition we saw at the South African National Gallery.

It successfully aimed to raise questions about what is ‘fine art’ and what is ‘craft’ and is there a difference and also what roles gender play in how we think about these.

Quebeka Fine Art Bead Studio

The C18th brought about the prestige surrounding the Fine Arts by the creation of Academies for study and these typically excluded women.

Quebeka Fine Art Bead Studio

Craft practices continued to be connected to everyday living due to their necessity but with no status or artistic value attached to them.

Usha Seejarim Sequence City

Usha Seejarim Sequence City

Over time both art movements and the feminist movement questioned fine arts usefulness and the position of craft as a woman’s practice and so craft and fine art began its journey of meeting in the middle.

Hendrik Stroebel

Hendrik Stroebel

Hendrik Stroebel

The artists in this exhibition continue that journey of thought by showing their typically perceived ‘fine art’ thinking as social commentators but through the mediums of crafts which we usually write off as ‘domestic’.

Tamlin Blake Taking Time

Tamlin Blake’s work is a great example of this: she dyes old newspapers and then weaves them into tapestry’s which she says are the oldest form of storytelling, to get us thinking about the stories we read and their impact on us.

Tamlin Blake Taking Time

Pierre Fouche has drawn on the traditional crafts of  sailors knots, macrame and lace making to create this art piece.

Pierre Fouche

All in all it was a visual feast, and both inspiring and thought-provoking. Hope you enjoyed a little peak too.

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When we stayed in Cape Town, South Africa we visited the The South African National Gallery where we discovered the exciting work of Lionel Davis.

Lionel is a self-taught artist having discovered his artistic creativity at the age of 41 through contact with a local community arts programme.

I think this exhibition was a retrospective of his life and work thus far.

It’s his experimentation with all kinds of media and the joy of his discoveries and makes his work appealing to me.

I don’t know about you but I often get stuck in my own groove of using certain techniques and mediums but it is refreshing to see a portfolio of work that plays with different approaches and methods.

It reminds me to keep trying new things.

But his work is not just attractive to the eye,  it plays a real part in channelling and expressing his social activism, his cultural views and in depicting life as he sees it in South Africa.

Two months since I last blogged…can’t believe how time flies. I’m determined to keep a record of my days here so lets fill that gap.

We went to South Africa  – a country with the most magnificent coastline, the biggest skies, abundant nature (even in their wintertime) whales to watch courting and beautiful national parks to discover.

I’ve tried to edit my 1000’s of photos down to just the four that sum up my experience – I loved the Bo Kaap district in Cape Town (I think you can guess why)

We drove a circular route from Cape Town to Knysna and back up through Franschhoek during which I began to see the contrasts in how people live and who and where those people are. Not comfortable and I’m still mulling over how the seeing of this might turn into a response and what that response may be.

The Egg Hillary Goodwin

I visited The Festival of Quilts – not sooo amazing as usual in my book but this one was awesome – that’s stitch work making those patterns people!

The show did inspire me to begin an English Paper Pieced hexagon thing – might be a quilt top, a curtain or a pin cushion! It’s early days.

Went to London with my lovely girl.

We braved the Natural History museum which made me glad to be in the company of a young adult and not a young (tired, crying, hot) child. It was sooooo noisy.

 

I also taught a tonne at the MAC which doesn’t look much in four small squares but has been a really wide and fun range of classes for all ages from Toddlers through to adult learners. It really is the best job I’ve ever had.

And the rest of the time in between all this has been spent contending with the biggest bit home renovation we’ve done since moving here 7 years ago. I’ll spare you the photos (v. boring to look at and it’s not finished yet) This however was a design I’d worked on for several hours….I was a little stuck mulling over colour choices and thought I’d go and walk the dog and come back fresh to it. Alas, I didn’t save a PS file (only this jpg) and while I was out the electrician cut the power forcing my computer to shut down. Game over.

That’s indicative of the last two months really – it has been hard to do any meaningful work this summer with people buzzing around, endless cups of tea to make and interruptions.

When I’ve not been out I’ve tried to hide in my studio doing quick bits of art to keep my sanity intact.

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And that about sums things up. Hope you’ve had a lovely summer where ever you are.

Yesterday we had such luck with the weather shining down on the Mixed Media Collage Canvas workshop at Winterbourne House and Gardens.

The Old Tool Shed where the workshop was held, is always a vintage cutie in whatever weather but the gardens looked magnificent in the blazing sunshine.

We were able to go around the grounds and draw and then use these drawings as reference in the students painting.

This is Dawn hard at work and the Beehive piece she finished.

Lots of fun was had painting and layering the collage base.

It always amazes me the breadth of artistic vision people have to create something unique given that they all had the same input.

Many chose not to reference birds but had other good ideas for their pieces.

And everyone took home a ready to hang piece of art.

 (*Shauna, you’d gone before the photo was taken – sorry)

 

This was one of my favorite places that we visited in Budapest – the Hungarian National Gallery

It’s up in the Castle district and you can  pay to ride up in this cute Funicular.

It was very quiet and cool (in a not hot way!) and has a broad range of beautiful art from way back when.

I think because it was all new to my eyes – not ‘famous’ works of art that had been widely published –  I was able to really see the details and workmanship.

I took lots of detail photos, particularly of how artists represented pattern.

Canzi_ Grape Harvest

I took a zillion photos but these are some of my stand-outs – I didn’t take the name down of this one above but when I got home and looked at the close-up shots on my computer, I was blown away by the expressions on these characters faces.

The expressions captured are incredible.

I just loved the colours in this one below – but I probably said that about most of them.

Szonyi Funeral ion Zebegeny

Also – little known fact but after you have feasted on all the beautiful art over three floors, you can go up another and out onto the balcony for free! Budapest is all about climbing up to look back and get a good view and this was by far the least painful way to do it. Enjoy!

We are just back from the beautiful Budapest.

 I always do a lot of internet research before I go any where and so I thought I’d return the favour and leave some recommendations here in amongst all the photos. Firstly it’s Buda’pesh (not pest)! and if you want the view you have to walk up to get it 😉

Matthias Church

The guide books and travel blogs will tell you the Top 10 of places to see but there is literally a beautiful old building on every street you walk down as Art Nouveau had a strong influence in the style of architecture.


Royal Postal Savings Bank

But don’t be deceived – going inside will often yield hidden treasures of beautiful plaster work, gold leaf and painted walls – case in point The Museum of Applied Arts up by the park.

It’s a walkable city on both sides of The Danube and there is loads to do and go and see.

Basilica

That said, taxis are slightly cheaper than here if your feet are failing you but you’re advised not to pick them up from the street even if they are all yellow.

We used Fo Taxis and were happy especially when we first arrived late at night – ignore being offered a cab at Arrivals and step outside to the Fo Taxi booth where they assign you a car and number and give you a receipt.

Szimpla Kert

 They also have a vibrant nightlife and food and drink culture – we happened upon lots of food festivals popped up in green spaces all over the city and they have the weather to enjoy these to the max.  We also loved the ‘ruin bar’ we went in – Szimpla Kert the grand-daddy of them all.

Cirkusz

 We ate and drank a lot! Some of our favourites were: Cirkusz for breakfast (well worth the 20 min queue) Vicky Cristina tapas and superb live music,

Tama for a fine dining experience – lovely staff and Doblo Wine Bar was very cool and did a super Hungarian wine tasting with finger food and a really good explanation of all the wines and regions in impeccable English.

We went to the Hungarian State Opera largely so we could see inside and it was worth it. you can walk all around during the interval so don’t worry if your seats don’t give you ‘the view’ but bear in mind once it’s over, they want you to leave quickly and don’t welcome photo shoots then.

The Parliament building is beautiful inside and out. Build on the Pest side to show the Buda side that the people’s voice was more important than the Royal Palace on the Buda side, it was also 2 m longer than our Houses of Parliament so it could be the biggest in the world.

Pre book a guided tour before you go – well worth it to snoop inside – it’s beautiful.

A river ride is good if you’re hot and tired – we went at night in order to get this view of Parliament.

fisherman’s Bastion

I didn’t expect it to be so hot so it’s good that they have a culture for  thermal bathing but research where and when you go.

Szechenyi Baths

We think we turned up at the wrong time and maybe at the wrong door and the outcome was a very expensive ‘swim’ in an outdoor public pool albeit one with nice architecture to look at and endless sunshine. Wish we’d gone to Gellert Baths.

As the Museum of Fine Art is shut for renovation we went to the zoo but left with very mixed feelings despite reviews saying it was a great day out and the zoo buildings alone were worth the trip – some animals were having fun, one building was beautifully tiled…

Last thing to mention as it might save you a wasted trip, is that the flea market in the park had been cancelled for sometime when we went so don’t get up early on your first day for it like we did!

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Back with some more Hungarian painty/textiley things soon.

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Hope some of this helps if you visit.

Jo Smith

These photos are from a recent exhibition by Prism on at the RBSA (which has sadly now ended) but I wanted to share them none-the-less.

Dorothy Tucker

Called ‘Another View’ it aimed to demonstrate just how broad Textiles can be and it delivered on that and some – it was both ingenious and thoughtful.

 

Claire Blackburn

Members of this Textile group are international but until now their exhibitions have been London-centric  – and it was so refreshing to see Textiles on at the RBSA and to see such a considered, well curated, quality exhibition.

Susie Vickery

The range of applications was very wide but I am always drawn to colour, pattern, stitch and print.

Prism felt

And the thought and development behind a lot of the pieces was very inspiring – lots of inspiration to be had.

Maria Boyle

MAC Birmingham also has two Textile exhibitions running atm so it’s a good time to be a proud Birmingham textile-lover!

Anita Bruce

Exciting news this week! A design of mine that I sold to Huggies through my agent in North America, has hit the shop shelves. It’s exciting because I don’t often get to see what becomes of my patterns once they are sold. They are each like my little babies so it’s fitting it’s on a baby wipe pack 😉

I’m finishing this week with a big painting under my belt.

I have been slowly working my way through my French countryside inspiration (that’s dating back to last summer; that’s how slowly!)

I’ve fairly recently discovered Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics and I. AM. IN. LOVE. I love the texture of them when painting with it and matt feel.

I love using acrylics for textural painting as you can layer up colours and textures with different mark making tools which frees up the painting process and allows for some unexpected bonuses (happy accidents!)

Although it is big and took some time (and many layers) I really enjoyed the process and love the finished piece – Patchwork Countryside.

Off for a G & T now – wishing you a great weekend.

Angela, this one is just for you 🙂 Thanks for asking 😉

Some more snippets from the pages of my Fish Sketchbook (see previous post) showing bits of pattern exploration, a little painting, rust dying, block printing, collage, string printing, applique and free motion embroidery.

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