It’s been a while since my last post, but life has been busy…

After a delayed Christmas, the New Year began with assessments for my masters degree.  Happily, I did ok and got a merit and a distinction in the second stage.  Now the bar has been set and I am going to do my damnedest to get better marks in the final stage!  A lot of effort in reading, assimilating, writing, and weaving to come, I think.  I do like a challenge, which is just as well!!

With winter well underway, it’s always lovely to get out and visit an exhibition or two.  Both of those we visited this month were on the verge of closing, for which I can only apologise as now you won’t get the chance to see them! :^((  The first was calledTheFirst Cut and was on at the Manchester City Gallery and Platt Hall Museum of Costume.  Artists were from America, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK and all working with paper in unique ways.  It was a fascinating insight into the many different and varied ways of working with paper, and the exhibition was based around five thematic concepts: i) Imaginary Worlds, ii) Drawing with a Knife, iii) Mapping New Territories, iv) Papering the Body and v) Off the Page.

My favourite works seemed to congregate mostly in the Off the Page category which features works derived from books, whether cut, deformed, twisted together or shredded publications.  An artist I love who wasn’t in this exhibition is Guy Laramee, and his geologically inspired work just blows me away!  In the same mould, Noriko Ambe’s work  is based on topology and contour cuts which are absolutely magical and in a much smaller scale than I had imagined from seeing her work online.  She also applies the same techniques by cutting into artists’ monographs and using her knowledge and understanding of their work to create strangely disturbing work reminiscent of the technique of reverse applique.

In the Mapping New Territories section, my attention was drawn to Georgia Russell’s cut map of England where she removed the shape of the UK from a page of an atlas only to discover that on the reverse was a map of Iraq.  So what?  Well, some could say she was prescient as just 3 weeks later, Iraq was invaded by coalition Western forces.

Papering the Body was located in the Platt Hall Gallery of Costume, about 1 1/2 miles away from the Art Gallery.  Susan Cutts made a gorgeous ballet dress and pumps which were shown against a window on the half-landing of the C18th stairs while Violese Lunn’s delicate and ethereal dresses revealed the traces of a spine or organs against the light.  These garments looked so delicious that you could imagine wearing them and becoming a fairy princess!  The only problem was that they were all unwearable!! Still, one can dream….

In the cut work, I loved Andrew Singleton’s work inspired by the Eagle Nebula which hung suspended against two walls in a corner of the main exhibition hall.  The shadows were exquisite and the swirling patterns had an energy which threatened to burst out from their corner position.  Negative space is just as important as positive space in cut pieces and all the exhibits in this section were entrancing and engaging at all their different scales.

There was so much to see and absorb in this exhibition.  My companion was back for a return visit whilst I only had the opportunity to see the work just once, but the catalogue helps to remind me of each of the artists’ contributions.  Photography was allowed but unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me as this usually isn’t the case.  You can, however, get the catalogue for a reasonably-priced £12.99 from the Manchester Art Gallery.

The second exhibition, again just as it was about to close, was Light, in Derby’s Quad.  The poster had an image of a close-up of the sun broiling its atmosphere, so I just had to go and see what it was all about.  In fact, the video, Brilliant Noise, by Semiconductor, was a black-and-white rendition of various shots of the sun’s activity.  It lasted for just over 9 mins and was so mesmerising I had to watch it again.  I found it firing off all sorts of ideas related to my current work on geology and the natural world, and had to scribble down thoughts whilst sitting in the darkness!

Another piece called RINK – a skating drawing floor, by David Ward, was a long piece of over 21 minutes.  It was a projected cyle of light drawings and was fascinating to watch illuminated lines taking themselves for a walk!  I stayed in the exhibit for around 10 minutes, but I would have liked to have stayed for the full 21.  I wonder if anyone did?

One static exhibit, of 3 silver gelatine prints by Tristan Hessing, was just exquisite.  Small linear prints like a topographical rendering of a scanning microscope on a piece of stone, silver etched against the black background, almost engulfed by the surrounding darkness of the black, they almost hovered above the surface of the paper.  I was half-expecting them to do the 3-dimensional 360 degree turn!  Being small images against the much larger black background, they drew you in really closely, so that you found yourself almost nose-to-glass to trace their delicate lines.

The MA is encouraging me to see more exhibitions, read so much more widely than ever before (and I’ve never been a narrow reader!), and to think about things in a much deeper and considered way.  It’s certainly expanded my world!

But now it’s back down to weaving – a lot to do and an ever-decreasing time in which to do it!!

Happy Weaving!