Sunday, 4 December 2016

Small peony


This small peony painting was painted for a friend, but I have decided to post it as I'm quite pleased with the red background I've chosen as I managed to achieve a 'lacquered' look. I will be featuring this style of background for future Oriental inspired works.

Lengha Bodice : painting stage

After a few months to complete the drying stage, when the sections were rock hard, I painted the inner surfaces in acrylic paint to further seal them. Using a rich pallet of my favourite Alarazine Crimson and scarlet, with touches of French Ultramarine, the inside was soon glowing like fire…The eyelet holes had survived the process of plastering and painting and so far seem a good solution to joining the whole thing together. Velvet ribbon will add a contrasting textural element to the final work.
The inner surface painted in acrylic paint and varnished

Initial painting in oil paint with beginnings of
the decorative theme.
 My inspiration for the decorative element of the piece was 17th Century silk velvet Mughal hanging which I saw in the V&A's 'The Fabric of India' exhibition. The colour combination is a vibrant lime green contrasted with crimson and with my addition of lighter pink add gold accents.
The back section
 The textile inspiration for the back section came from a piece of contemporary brocaded Indian textile, bought from the V&A. The 'paisley' shape is a well recognised motif that recurs throughout the centuries, but is more correctly termed a 'buta'  or botcha droplet-shaped vegetable motif of Persian (i.e. Iranian) origin, or a stylised floral spray and cypress tree, bent over at the top to create the motif we recognise now.
To create further rigidity and a luscious gleam to the outer surface, I resined both sections in two stages. The resin assisted by gravity will rapidly flow down and over the edge of any surface, so it had to be poured, coaxed and manipulated to just cover the surface and not dry in great blobs at the edges. I had several failed attempts at resining curved surfaces before I embarked on this project, so glad to say it worked!
For the final view you will need to come to the exhibition!

side detail of the back section with its resin coat
The original working sketches for the piece, showing details from the
17th century hanging

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Construction of the Lengha Bodice

The original sketch below indicates some of the inspiration for the decorative work and an idea for the structure of the skirt
Inner front section with plaster covering
This project started about 6 months ago, although the idea has been in my head for at least 3 years! Initially I couldn't think of a means to construct the base for the 3-d Indian Lengha style  'dress', but once I hit on the idea of constructing a paper pattern and adhering the hand made paper to it, I could begin. I had tried my hand at pattern cutting and construction when I finished my art degree, and made wedding dresses and garments designed for odd shapes, so this was just another pattern cutting challenge! I decided to create the piece in 4 sections, front and back bodice and front and back skirt. The sections would be laced together by means of ribbon through eyelet holes running along the side and upper and lower edges of the pieces. 
The back section showing the inner surface with the
start of the Modroc strips for strengthening.
The plastic straws were to keep the holes I created for eyelet threading
The basic pattern was constructed in sturdy brown paper, darted and folded to create a 'bodice 'form. The inside was strengthened with Modroc, a plaster infused cotton 'scrim' which is lightweight and a lot less expensive than using resin on both inner and outer surfaces to create the rigidity I was after.

Keeping the front and back together as they dried to ensure they would still fit
once the paper covering and the plaster dried.

The front bodice section with its covering of hand made paper
mainly made from domestic shredded waste paper. It has been moulded
whilst wet.

This took a few weeks of construction. The inner plaster surface was sealed with PVA glue and painted with several coats of white water based paint.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Exquisite Heritage Exhibition 28 January to 12 February 2017


I'm really looking forward to my next exhibition in Stamford Arts Centre, along with friends Liz Hunt and Lynne Collins. This is a culmination of at least 5 years worth of research and work, and is an ongoing area of delight for me!
I will be showing works inspired by heritage textiles from Ham HAll and Oxborough Hall, both National Trust properties plus works inspired by the Va& A collections. I have added Chinese influences lately and works for the future will include Japanese textile inspired works.
A new area of work which really excites me, mainly because I have successfully managed to resin a 3-D object at last, is sculptural dress forms. I will be showing the bodice section in January, of a larger life size piece which I hope to have finished in the next 6 months. Always a long process!
I will be posting photos of the early stages of construction on my blog.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Life sized Ophelia

My Ophelia will be on show in Peterborough Cathedral Square PAOS pre-Exhibition today 4 June 2016. A labour of love but well worth it in the end, and there will be more like her eventually……This piece is structured to hang on a wall, as a picture would, or can be displayed flat, reminiscent of the original Millais painting.
Life sized Ophelia: 'A splendid Ancient Dress'
£1,250

Friday, 3 June 2016

Ophelia Exhibition: PAOS in Cathedral Square 4 June 2016

Finally, my piece is finished and resined and the Exhibition gets a kick start in Peterborough's Cathedral Square, as part of the larger PAOS pre-exhibition. Several of the Ophelia project pieces will be on view, so it's a sneak peak of the larger group of stunning works by 26 artists…..
Detail of the bust area of the dress
OPHELIA: A SPLENDID...ANCIENT DRESS

I took my inspiration from a quote from J.E.Millais, describing the dress he used in his painting 'Ophelia'.

  Millais wrote to Thomas Combe in March 1852: 'Today I have purchased a really splendid lady's ancient dress - all flowered over in silver embroidery - and I am going to paint it for "Ophelia". You may imagine it is something rather good when I tell you it cost me, old and dirty as it is, four pounds' (J.G. Millais I, p.162).

So, with the image of 'a really splendid lady's ancient dress' in mind I set to work in January of this year to create a life sized 'splendid dress'; not dirty in the least, but strewn with many of the blossoms from Shakespeare's account of his doomed heroine's flowery demise. The main structural component of the dress is my own handmade paper, painted in oils and enamels, with the addition of about 50 hand painted flowers, also constructed from my hand made paper, which are painted in waterbased paint and then resined and attached to the body of the dress. The complete work was then resined. Only after finishing it did I realise there was not even a hint of the tragic about my 'dress'. It's just a creation typifying what I always strive for : beauty, intense attention to detail and the enjoyment of stretching the boundaries of my technical skills to achieve a work that responsive to a well loved theme but stands alone, intrinsically, as an totally new creation. 


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Ophelia Project: PAOS

I am not hosting my own individual PAOS (Peterborough Artist's Open Studios) exhibition this year, but am joining 30 other artists as part of the Art in the Heart Gallery's Summer Exhibition show 'Ophelia : Pure Inspiration'.
I took my inspiration from a quote from J. Millais, whose painting 'Ophelia' we are basing our works on.  Millais wrote to Thomas Combe in March 1852: 'Today I have purchased a really splendid lady's ancient dress - all flowered over in silver embroidery - and I am going to paint it for "Ophelia". You may imagine it is something rather good when I tell you it cost me, old and dirty as it is, four pounds' (J.G. Millais I, p.162).
So, with the image of 'a really splendid lady's ancient dress' in mind I set to work in January of this year to create a life sized 'splendid dress'; not dirty in the least, but strewn with many of the blossoms from Shakespeare's account of his doomed heroine's flowery demise. Only after finishing it did I realise there was not even a hint of the tragic about my 'dress', it's just a creation typifying what I always strive for: beauty, intense attention to detail and the enjoyment of stretching my technical skills to achieve something completely new. I hope you enjoy the exhibition!

Another section of the life sized piece…...