Monday, June 27, 2016

Inspirational 11 - Word & Symbol

Sorry for no news until now regarding Inspirational 11, I have been like an octopus with a tentacle in so many different projects, from writing articles, to promoting artists, to figuring out how new projects are going to work practically. Involved in a really exciting and large-scale one that is slowly coming along, pretty breathless about that, but keeping quiet about it for a little while longer.

Anyway, it is time to release the first article about the coming Inspirational 11. This Inspirational is going to take the same route as Inspirational 10, as in a portfolio of artists that run on a theme. The last issue had the theme of eight years of The Textile Blog, and starred all of the contemporary artists that have been featured over that period. Inspirational 11 has the theme of Word & Symbol and stars the work of contemporary artists that use words and symbols as an integral, or significant part of their work. 

I have been so lucky to be able to get such a rich cross section of contemporary artists for this issue. There are fine art painters, textile artists, mixed media artists, all of the highest caliber. the full list of artists that have agreed to be featured is as follows:

Alicia Eaton Lewis, Anatol Knotek, Brian Kenny, Chazalon Respress, China Marks, Dana Frankfort, Emmanuel Signorino, Emma Parker, Gregory Siff, Henry Hussey, Ines Seidel, Laurie Doctor, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Maria Wigley, Mark Hopper, Meg Hitchcock, Peg Grady, Peyton Freiman, Pokras Lampas, Sara Impey, Sergio Albiac.

The release date for Inspirational 11 is set for July 11. Information regarding Inspirational 11, as well as all the other issues of Inspirational, can of course be found at The Textile Blog site, as well as on social media, links to which can be found to the right of this article.

That is all for now. I hope you enjoy your week ahead, and thanks for your patience.

john x

Monday, June 20, 2016

Claire Louise Mather - Nature and Textiles

Claire Louise Mather: Springtime, detail

Textile artists and nature so often seem to go hand in hand. It is not always the case that textile artists have nature as their primary inspiration, but more often than not you will find the connection there, it is a connection of intent. 

There is something about the physicality of textile work that seems to draw artists time and again to the natural world as canvas. Sky, earth, ocean, and all the permutations between, have fascinated and continue to fascinate textile artists. 

There are so many interpretations and projections of the natural world, all of which are valid, intriguing, adding always to the burgeoning vocabulary that is contemporary textile art.

Claire Louise Mather

Claire Louise Mather: Memories of March

One of those contemporary textile artists who have the natural world as a central pillar to their creativity, is Claire Louise Mather. Claire uses a combination of photography, collage, and textiles in her work in order to reflect on her own observations of nature. 

She is intrigued by all aspects of the natural environment, from the slow cycle of seasons, the constantly changing weather patterns, the slow grinding down of surfaces, all are part of the environment that she wishes to be part of, and in taking part, to also project back through her work, and out into the world of the viewer.

Claire Louise Mather: April Dawn

Claire often visits and revisits familiar spots in the environment in order to record and enjoy the changes that so often go unnoticed in the natural world. It is these changes that in many respects show us that we are alive, show us that movements are always cyclical, that birth is part of decay, and decay is part of rebirth.

This is an artist that has photography as an integral part of her initial work. She uses the camera as an ongoing sketchbook, detailing experiences of surfaces, textures, landscapes both large and small, all of the details that go eventually to make up her compositions.

Claire herself says that her work is "an exploration of drawing with stitch," one of constant experiencing of surfaces and textures. Texture, colour, and pattern are always visible in the artists work, and it is a combination that has no real end as each new composition is a new exploration, a new discovery of an always changing landscape. And that of course has to be the most exciting in its appeal to the artist, a landscape that both unfolds and renews within a constant cycle, giving an endless scenario of change and familiarity. 

Claire Louise Mather

Claire Louise Mather: Yorkshire, detail

With that in mind, enjoy the work of Claire as she both works through her fascination with, and intrigue over, the natural environments that she so effortlessly makes her own.

More of Claire's work can be found at her comprehensive website:

All of the imagery of Claire's work shown in this article were generously supplied by the artist. If you want to use the imagery elsewhere please ask her before doing so. Thanks.

Claire Louise Mather: View From Long Lane

Monday, June 06, 2016

Tamar Branitzky - Artist and Designer

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. Textile art

There is a space in textiles, as in other disciplines, where art and design can play an interactive game. The singular subjectivity of fine art and the general practical requirements of design may seem to be poles apart, but anyone who has worked in both fields will know how the two share more than they sometimes wish to admit. 

Creative individuals who straddle art and design are actually relatively large in number, I myself have a design degree, as well as fine art training and sensibilities, and find it relatively easy to move between the two, understanding and empathising with the two different outlooks on creativity.

The artist and designer Tamar Branitzky is just that, an artist and a designer. Her work straddles the two worlds, with some of her output being aimed specifically at the fine art world, and some specifically at the design world. 

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. BO1 fabric

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. BO1 fabric

Interestingly, her work, both for art and design, are not instantaneously separated by look and feel. Tamar manages to a lot of crossing and weaving between the subjective and the practical, with elements of fine art coming out in her design work, and design principles being encased in her fine art work. To me that seems like the best of possible outcomes, to have an element of practicality within fine art, and a level of sensitivity within design work is what we definitely need more of!

Tamar's initial inspiration for both fine art and design, often comes from the natural environment around her. She is particularly interested in the stages of life as seen amongst flora, particularly flowers themselves, being intrigued at the processes to be found between blooming, decomposition, disintegration. She collects flowers and branches, readily combining them with free-hand drawing.

Illustration. Tamar Branitzky in her studio

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. Sketchbook

Tamar is keen to make representations in her work, to show contrast and to show passage, to detail the effect the travel of time can have over an object, such as the bloom of a flower. The detail of colour, tone, and texture that happens as part of the passage of flower from bloom to husk is an integral part of her work, and can readily be seen on many of the textile surfaces that she produces.

As far as her fine art work is concerned, she uses a range of materials, including fabrics, papers, old books, maps, stamps, watercolour drawings, and real organic materials. The combinations of the materials used give Tamar such a broad scope. The flexibility and delicacy between paper and fabric for example, inspires a near magical relationship that gives Tamar endless possibilities.

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky in the studio
Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. Textile Biennale, Eretz Israel Museum

Tamar has also processed and developed her own fabric techniques, which she has called BO1. BO1 fabrics are handmade artistic surfaces created using a unique chemical process. The fabrics are made up of a combination of chiffon, silk, and cotton, and can be used as a variety of fashion and interior accessories, from scarves and clothing, to lampshades, upholstery, and co.

Tamar produces textile work, whether for fine art or design, in such beautiful combinations, where colour, tone, and texture play with and against each other in ever differing compositions. All is unique, all is beautifully complex, and as with nature, Tamar's supreme inspiration, all is forever changing.

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. Wearable art scarf

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky, 2015

More of Tamar's work can be found at her comprehensive website:, as well as on etsy: She can also be seen and followed on pinterest:, and  instagram:

All photographs of Tamar's work were provided by: Roy Mizrachi, Gilad bar Shalev, Eretz Israel Museum.

Please also be aware that all imagery was kindly supplied by Tamar. If you wish to reproduce any of the photos please ask her for permission first. Thanks!

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. Textile art

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Inspirational 10 is now on sale

Just to let you know that Inspirational 10 is now on sale. This issue is a little different from the other Inspirationals as I have taken the opportunity of celebrating 8 years of The Textile Blog. In that 8 years I have been able to feature a whole range of contemporary artists, and I thought that it would be a great idea to be able to revisit them through the context of Inspirational. Therefore, 45 artists have been brought together for Inspirational 10, all showing a selection of new work, as well as a summary of where they are presently on their creative path. Not much writing from me in this issue, apart from an introductory, I have left the artists and their work to speak for themselves.

All of the artists featured in order of appearance are: Deb Lacativa, Lisa Hochstein, Valerie Goodwin, Cathy Kleeman, Peggy Brown, Nelda Warkentin, Cynthia Corbin, Carol Taylor, Altoon Sultan, Gerrie Congdon, Pat Dolan, Denise Linet, Helene Davis, Pat Pauly, Deborah Gregory, Ellin Larimer, Wen Redmond, Terry Jarrard-Dimond, Brenda Smith, Domine Nash, Linda McCurry, Erin Wilson, Nancy Clearwater Herman, Diane Savona, India Flint, Rayna Gillman, Jette Clover, Marlene Cohen, Judith Plotner, Karen Stiehl Osborn, Jeanne Raffer Beck, Clare Plug, Andrea Vail, Mitchell Manuel, Stanley Bulbach, Martin Ebrey, Kirsty Wallace, Anthony Stevens, Dennis Potter, Barbara Tomecak, Mary Mazziotti, David Lasry, Roxanne Lasky, Giulia Gazza, Jennifer Gaye.

Inspirational 10 can be purchased, along with all other issues of Inspirational on the Inspirational page above. 

I hope that you enjoy this special and help me celebrate 8 years of The Textile Blog.

Have yourself a wonderful day.

john x

Monday, April 25, 2016

Inspirational 10 - a Textile Blog Celebration

There has been some great progress as far as linking Inspirational 10 with the celebration of eight years of The Textile Blog. After some thought, I came up with the idea of using the next issue of Inspirational as a portfolio of all the contemporary artists that I have featured over the eight years of The Textile Blog, featuring work that they are producing now, and getting them to say a little something about where their perspective as an artist is currently. In a way it is perhaps a fitting celebration of what The Textile Blog has become, a vehicle in which to feature and highlight the work of contemporary creativity.

So, I have contacted all of the artists that have been featured on The Textile Blog, from way back in 2009, to a month or so ago in 2016. Bit of a daunting task, contacting and recontacting fifty artists from all corners of the planet, but I have done it and I am heartened by the enthusiasm and generous support from all those corners of the planet, aren't creative individuals the best!

Anyway, in no order of appearance, these are the artists that have agreed to be part of the next issue of Inspirational: Altoon Sultan, Andrea Vail, Anthony Stevens, Barbara Tomecak, Brenda H Smith, Carol Taylor, Catherine Kleeman, Clare Plug, Cynthia Corbin, David Lasry, Deborah Gregory, Deborah Lacativa, Denise Linet, Dennis Potter, Diane Savona, Dominie Nash, Ellin Larimer, Erin Wilson, Gerrie Congdon, Giulia Gazza, India Flint, Jennifer Gaye, Judith Plotner, Karen Stiehl Osborn, Kirsty Wallace, Linda McCurry, Lisa Hochstein, Marlene Cohen, Martin Ebrey, Mary Mazziotti, Mitch Manuel, Nancy Clearwater Herman, Nelda Warkentin, Pat Dolan, Pat Pauly, Peggy Brown, Rayna Gillman, Roxanne Lasky, Stanley Bulbach, Terry Jarrard-Dimond, Valerie Goodwin, Wen Redmond.

There are still a handful of artists that I am waiting to hear from, but the majority are on board with this project. Many of the artists are sending in new, never before shown work, which is wonderful.

This special issue of Inspirational now has a fixed release date of May 9, which I am really looking forward to. 

Thanks again for all of your support over these last eight years. All support, whether major or minor, is always warmly appreciated, and it makes a difference.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Inspirational 10 - A Celebration of Textile/Fiber Art

Here we are again with another start to an Inspirational issue. This one is going to be different than that of the others that have gone before it. It is a celebration of sorts, as this issue will also coincide with the eighth anniversary of The Textile Blog, and I wanted to do something special for that, eight years being a near lifetime for a blog.

Therefore, I have decided to make issue 10 of Inspirational, a portfolio issue dedicated entirely to the best of contemporary textile/fiber artists. I have a number of artists that I would like to include in this issue, but would love to hear from you with suggestions on who you think might be good to include in this special. I am open to any suggestions, as long as they are within the textile/fiber world.

It seems like a good idea to me to do this special. The Textile Blog has been good to me, it has introduced me to many online friends and connections that I would never have had without it, and although it has been hard work, it has been worth it.

Inspirational 10 will be a bumper issue, as I want to get as many and as varied a group of artists as possible. It will be coming out on May 2, but more details can always be found at The Textile Blog.

Thanks for your support and patience over the first nine issues of Inspirational, and thank you all for your continued support of The Textile Blog. I hope that in some way Inspirational 10 will be my personal thanks for that support.

john x

Monday, March 28, 2016

Textile Artist and Designer Jennifer Gaye

Illustration: Jennifer Gaye. Ocean Current Series 1

Textiles as a medium, is broad and complex. It has a history that is domestic, as well as aesthetic, practical, as well as decorative, singularly one dimensional, as well as infinitely multi-dimensional. It is this dichotomy between textile as functional fabric, and textile as expressive artform, that helps to give broad expression to the textile world, but it can also, at the same time, make it difficult to understand what textile as art really is, and where it fits into the great complexity that is the creative arts.

Where textiles as art finds its eventual place, is still an ongoing one. That more and more artists and designers are turning towards the broadening of the scope of textile art as an expression of themselves and the world they both see and interact with, has changed the surface of textiles as art, literally.

Illustration: Jennifer Gaye. Ocean Hollow Series 1

Illustration: Jennifer Gaye. Ocean Hollow Series 2

The textile artist and designer Jennifer Gaye has a deep relationship with the discipline, in both her incarnations as artist and designer. It would be fair to say that Jennifer's work in both the art and design worlds helps to influence all aspects of her work. The line between art and design is often a thin and perforated one, much more so than is often imagined, it helps to make each aspect of her attention, whether art or design, the stronger for the understanding from the different aspect.

The  inspiration for her artwork often comes from the natural world, often from the wide scapes of ocean and sky. She is keen to represent the many tones and layers that help to make up these two scapes, ones that dominate not only our vistas, but the planet as a whole. Interestingly, Jennifer sees both scapes being intimately involved in our created urban landscapes, folding into the urbanity, blending and toning down the aggressiveness, the dysfunction that is so often found there. It is the calmness and innocence of ocean and sky, of their layers, levels, breezes and currents, that so often help to temper our artificial landscapes, but more importantly, help temper ourselves within those landscapes.

Illustration: Jennifer Gaye. Cool Breeze series 1

Illustration: Jennifer Gaye. Naturalised Urbanity Series

Jennifer creates the most beautiful of organic surfaces, each piece seeming to show the effortless drift of elements of sky and ocean. Currents of both realms are represented as careful layers of work, through layers of fabric and stitch. Almost ethereal in tone and feeling, her work shows no sharp edges and angles, no pressing urgency of direction, just the soft and gentle flowing of movement, seeming to both guide and glide along predetermined pathways, but pathways with only the gentlest hint of predetermination.

These beautiful surfaces show us that textile art is above all, one of feeling, of empathy, and of understanding. It is no coincidence that so many textile artists look to the natural world for inspiration. Nature has an affinity with the textile medium, as textiles have an affinity with nature. The two are so wrapt up with each other that it seems perfectly normal and expected when a textile artist projects an aspect of the natural world through their work. The textile art form has a sophistication of medium that is exemplified by the sensitivity of the artists that use the medium. Both are partners in their shared empathy with nature, and it is credit to Jennifer as a textile artist, that she exemplifies such a high standard of that shared empathy.

Illustration: Jennifer Gaye. Naturalised Urbanity Series

Illustration: Jennifer Gaye. Naturalised Urbanity Series

The work of Jennifer Gaye can be found at her comprehensive website:, as well as at facebook, and instagram.

Please be aware that the illustrations for this article were supplied by Jennifer herself. Please do not share any of these images without permission from the artist. Thanks!

Illustration: Jennifer Gaye. Bringing Home the Tartan

Monday, March 14, 2016

Inspirational 9 Released Today

Just to let you know that Inspirational 9 has been released, and is available for instant download.

The artists, in order of appearance, are:

Bruno Varatojo - painter and mixed media artist
Cos Ahmet - textile and mixed media artist
Daniel Shiel - photography and digital artist
Dinah Sargeant - textile artist
Jessica Drenk - mixed media and 3D sculpture artist
Miroslava Rakovic - painter and mixed media artist
Nancy Cohen - textile and mixed media artist

Inspirational 9 comes in at 179 pages, with 167 full colour photos, and at the perfectly reasonable price of $7.99. Not bad, if I say so myself.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoy this issue of Inspirational, and know that all issues are available for instant download at the top of the page, just press the inspirational tab.

Thank you for your time and your support, it is always warmly welcome and appreciated.

Any problems, help, queries, or praise, please feel free to email me at:

john x

Monday, March 07, 2016

China Marks at the Owen James Gallery

Illustration: Flower Boy, 2015 (fabric, thread, screen-printing ink, fusible adhesive)

China Marks is an artist that was originally a sculptor, but over the years the artist has moved into textiles, and now produces a range of individualistic fabric-based compositions.

China is best known for her large format drawings, which take the form of fabric collages. Source materials for these collages often include an eclectic range, such as old commercial tapestry reproductions of historical paintings, pieces of found fabrics, various embroidery pieces, and general ephemera. 

Over long periods these eclectic raw materials are cut up by China, then formed, added to, removed from, and reformed, the process being repeated over and over, until both materials and process produce the desired effect that she wants to see within a composition. 

Illustration: All Kinds of Lost, 2015 (fabric, thread, fusible adhesive)

Illustration: Better Living Through Chemistry, 2013 (fabric, tea-dyed lace, thread, screen-printing ink, fusible adhesive)

The result of China's ongoing creative manipulation, eventually produces a range of surreal characters and creatures that inhabit equally surreal landscapes. With the addition of humorous and mocking text, which she also sews into the work, the resulting fabric drawings become a strange combination of collage, traditional needlework craft, surreal fantasy, and an almost Monty Python-like humour.

China's work, which has been brought together for her current exhibition, which runs at the Owen James Gallery, Brooklyn, New York from February 27 till March 27 2016, is a selection of the artist's work that has been chosen from both her “Broadsides” and “Short Subjects” series, ongoing projects which the artist has developed over the last three years. Although smaller in format than her larger pieces, these present drawings are not merely smaller versions, they differ considerably from the dense construction of her larger works. 

Illustration: God's Breath, 2014 (fabric, thread, fusible adhesive)

Illustration: So What!, 2015 (fabric, thread, screen-printing ink, old painty sweatpants, fusible adhesive, brass trim)

The "Short Subjects" are constructed on a clear plain white or off-white background. Initially intended by the artist as thought-pieces, or visual proverbs, they have developed into their own visual style. China begins each Short Subject with a scanned line drawing, the resulting digital file is then processed through CAD software.  A computerized embroidery machine sews out a rough guide of the drawing in running stitch onto fabric. The artist then builds on that guide, adding additional fabric pieces and embroidery. Sometimes parts of the original drawing will be covered over, sometimes it will be enhanced or transformed into a new character all together. 

As the artist forms and reforms the images, a story or situation develops in her mind, and phrases and conversations that arise from that development are also digitized through the computerized embroidery machine. These are then in turn sewn into the work, sometimes with the addition of found objects or trinkets, and the composition is then set. 

Illustration: Time Traveler, 2013, (fabric, thread, screen-printing ink, fusible adhesive)

Illustration: Winter Comet, 2016 (fabric, thread, lace, screen-printing ink, fusible adhesive)

China's text additions to her work, are integral and vital to the story, they can also be witty, ironic, and playful. Examples include: “I am going to Hell at a local motel. And I’ve packed accordingly” and “Heard about the psychotic squirrel who thought he was a washing machine?”

The title for each of China's compositions is purposely different from the text you read within it, the titles adding an interesting poetic dimension, so that titles such as “All Kinds of Lost”, “Winter Comet” and “Better Living Through Chemistry” give pause for thought when looking at the differing work.

In combination with the "Short Subjects" are a number of pieces from the "Broadsides" series. These are similar in scale to the other series, although the Broadsides differ in the respect that they are more streamlined and are primarily text-based with occasional illustrations.

Illustration: Clown Pants, 2014 (fabric, lace, thread, fusible adhesive)

Illustration: Wings for Arms, 2013 (fabric, thread, fusible adhesive)

Although the narrative image doesn't play as big a role in this second series, the effect of the compositions are equally witty, focused, and often poignantly observational. In one composition, a man wears clown pants and 4-inch heels to his mother’s funeral. In another, a woman has wings for arms but chooses to walk everywhere instead.

A third part of the exhibition derives from China's series of fabric-based artist books. These beautifully sculptural books contain much the same image density as the artist's larger tapestry-based drawings. In "A Book of Horses", there is a highly decorative landscape of traditional English fox hunting, which includes riders that have duck heads and horses that have tiger legs. Larger figures and insects hover over the landscape, producing a highly original metamorphic scene. 

This fascinating and entertaining exhibition is on at the Owen Jones Gallery from February 27 - March 27 2016.

Please be aware that all imagery of China's work, was supplied with kind permission by the gallery, and should not be reproduced without permission. Thanks.

Illustration: A Book of Horses, 2008 (fabric, thread, lace, screen-printing ink, latex, paint, industrial felt, fusible adhesive)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Giulia Gazza - Point in Space and Time

Looking anew at the simple and seemingly obvious parts of our lives, is and should always be a fascinating one. Some may scoff at the seemingly pointless nature of introspection, of re-examining what we all take for granted, but if you are not willing to look at aspects of your life, to re-examine what you have been told, and what you have taken for granted, what is the point of you living your life from your own unique perspective? If you are to live life through another, then that is a judgement to be made by that individual, personally it is not mine, nor ever will be.

So I am more than happy to feature the work of the artist Giulia Gazza. Giulia has taken the motion and the notion of the single point, as a fascinating project of intent. What is a point? Is it a physical mark of intent by one entity upon the state of another, is it a symbolic projection of existence, a transitory moment in space and time, or is it something in between these thoughts, or even something entirely outside of these definitions?

Giulia physically creates points, and non-points in her work. The physical creation of points are made by her in a number of creative ways. She maps points individually by pen, by needle, by brush. Points can be separate, focused, and alone, but they are also accumulative, so that groupings and grids of belonging, of identity begin to form seemingly outside the constraints of the artist and the process, as if they have a life and function of their own.

An interesting point, as we have to ask ourselves whether Giulia as an artist is creating the points of reference, or are the points already in place and she has the task of identifying them? By revealing defined moments in space and time that exist and continue to exist irrespective of the limited three dimensional world we experience as humans, what does the focused point engender?

Interestingly, her idea of non-points are just as fascinating as the fixed points, if not more so than her points of reference made by pen, needle, brush, for is not the lack of a point potentially more charged than the physical point itself. By fixing the coordinates in space and time, creating a seeming non-focus, does not that coordinated space, even though it lacks a physical point, become its own point in its own right, a point of non-fixed space.

Giulia's is a fascinating perspective, as it allows us to question our assumptions on so many levels, levels that she has identified, and levels that we as viewers get to question of ourselves. We get to see an insight into the complexity of both ourselves, our world, and perhaps the way we see and interpret that world, something we don't always appreciate, and something we are often not encouraged to ponder.  

We are all separate points of reference. Each of us has coordinates of uniqueness, we are moments in space and time that are brought together once, and only once. However, we are not fixed points, we are indeed points in motion, we have a path to navigate and along that path there are shifts and focuses. We are part of a greater grid of humanity and beyond, but we are also isolated in our points of reference. It is perhaps poignant that we live in a contemporary world of ever more intimate connection between points of belonging and connection, yet seem ever more isolated in that connected world.

It is a reference that can be picked up from Giulia's work. Many of the single images shown in this article belong to larger compositions, some of the physical points that she produces are randomised, some formalised, some separated by frames, some not. All of her work contains focused points, but they range from small ink dots, buttons, embroidered squares, and frames of nothing, yet they all in their own way relate to the same focused points, just expressed in a different format.

We are of course, as is the job of the artist, left with many questions. Giulia does not answer them for us, it is her job to reveal more questions, rather than answers. Life is in fact a series of questions, or at least it should be. Who, why, where, when, what, and more besides.

If we are part of a greater grouping, a greater grid, is it one of our own making, or are we part of a bigger plan? Do we, by focusing on ourselves, become a coordinate in the moment of time and space, or are we a reference beyond our knowing. It is an endless puzzle, a conundrum that may never have a speedy and logical answer, but then that is part of the fun of being alive in the first place. If all of this was answered, then life would never have the intrigue it does, and artists like Giulia would never get the chance to get herself and us to question where we are, who we are, and what we are, and I for one am more than happy for her to continue.

More of Giulia's intriguing work can be found at her website:

All imagery used in this article was generously supplied by the artist, and is copyrighted to her. Please ask her for permission before reusing. Thanks.