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: jennifergaye.com, 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: d.johnhopper@gmail.com

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: www.giuliagazzaartist.wix.com

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.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Roxanne Lasky and the Tide of Movement

Illustration: Roxanne Lasky. Migration. Hireath

So many creative individuals come to work with textiles, some briefly integrating the discipline within their larger mixed media work, others looking for some significance that they feel that textiles can bring them. Artists can drift into textiles through seeming coincidence, others with a more defined purpose. 

Fine artists in particular often seem drawn to textiles as a medium in which they feel comfortable. It seems to give them a means in which to express themselves more clearly, more empathically, it gives them a subtlety of colour and texture, and perhaps more importantly, it gives them a means to express themselves emotionally.

Illustration: Roxanne Lasky. Tidal 1

Illustration: Roxanne Lasky. Tidal 1 (detail)

The artist Roxanne Lasky came to textile art through fine art painting, she originally expressed herself through watercolour and oils. It is not hard to see elements of that fine art discipline in Roxanne's work, she has a light painterly touch to her compositions. However, it would be a mistake to see this artist as doing nothing more than replicating the early work she produced in paint, within textiles.

Roxanne has grown as a creative artist, as all artists must. She has learnt to understand and to appreciate both the limitations, as well as the freedoms that textiles can give to her as an artist. It is a discipline that can be complex, as well as simplistic. It has many layers of process, often literally, and these layers of process guide the exploration of the artist, they create parameters for work, narrative, and composition.

Illustration: Roxanne Lasky. Tidal 3

Illustration: Roxanne Lasky. Tidal 3 (detail)

Parameters are always useful to an artist. We talk a lot about the intellectual and creative freedom of an artist, and of course that is of paramount importance, but disciplines have their own rules, understandings, and limitations, and as an artist you can either fight against those seeming constraints, or you can flow with them, allowing them to cushion and guide your creative pathway.

Personal narrative is a driving force in Roxanne's work. Personal experience influences, colours, and reflects within her compositions, they emerge if you like, from the life of the artist. Roxanne is very much involved with the themes of place, cycles, movement, transformation, and migration. 

Illustration: Roxanne Lasky. Tidal 4

Illustration: Roxanne Lasky. Tidal 4 (detail)

Her work runs on major titled themes such as Tidal, Migration, Memory. These themes can easily be seen as belonging to the larger external world, the world of environment, and our place within it, and to an extent they are. However, Roxanne equally deals with these subject titles as an internal exploration and expression, and this is perhaps the most interesting aspect of her work, as it is where we all sit, internally looking out at the external.

Externally, we seem caught up in the web of life, trapped in the constraints of movement and cycles that are not necessarily of our choosing. However, internally our lives seem governed by our own sense of place, cycle, migration. We travel along the paths of our own purpose, often repeating elements of ourselves, travelling in circles and cycles of meaning that suit us. We are part of a tide of movement, not through the physical world, but through the world of our own meaning, our own perception. 

Illustration: Roxanne Lasky. 27 Stages (detail)

Illustration: Roxanne Lasky. 12 Moons (detail)

Perception is our tool of individuality, and individual perception is the most significant work tool of the artist. Roxanne's creative themes are her personal themes, they are her personal perspective. Her compositions are the product of her practical working process, as well as her deep internal process. Both drive the other along their twin paths towards completion, both are of equal significance, both are needed to complete the creative work, and both give us the continuing expression of the artist Roxanne Lasky.

More of Roxanne's work can be found at her website: www.roxannelasky.com, as well as at the social media sites of: twitter, facebook, instagram, pinterest.

All of the imagery used for this article was kindly supplied by the artist herself, and is therefore copyrighted to her. Please do not reuse the imagery unless you have permission from Roxanne herself.

Illustration: Roxanne Lasky. Tidal 2

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Profanity Embroidery Group

Illustration: Annie Taylor. Fucketyfucketyfuckfuckfuck

Most textile disciplines have been around for countless generations. They have a long history of relevance and tradition, they also have a long history of being connectors of individuals, groups and communities, very often using innovation, and subversion.

Embroidery is a textile discipline in particular that has had more than its fair share of relevance, continually reinventing itself within different contemporary eras, with each successive generation finding the means to reinvent, or at least add towards, the strong tradition that it has as part of its history.

Illustration: Alison Fizgerald Lucas. Beaver

There is always a risk that if a discipline does not reflect the contemporary generation that uses it, at least in part, then its fate could well be to become fossilised within its own history, within its own tradition. This is not to say that all practitioners have to reflect the society that they find themselves in, but as long as an element does, the discipline moves forward, and a new expression has been added to the mix.

The Profanity Embroidery Group is one of those elements that is adding a contemporary flavour to the discipline of embroidery. It has only been formed recently, but is full of vigour, fun, and creative energy.

Illustration: Allie Lee. Can't be Arsed

The story of the group is best told by one of its founders the embroiderer Annie Taylor:

About 25 years ago, I sent a Rina Piccolo cartoon to my mother.  18 months or so ago, it fell out of one of her embroidery books, and she returned it to me.  It made me laugh so hard when I saw it, that I promptly shared it to my Facebook page.  It struck a chord with so many friends that within a matter of hours, our first Profanity Embroidery Group meeting. 

The cartoon is of a sweet old lady embroidering hearts and flowers and 'fuck the world': the title was 'Mrs Winchester finds a positive outlet for frustrated negative energy'. 

The Profanity Embroidery Group is made up of around twenty practitioners of varying skills, some had never sewn before, some were self-taught, and some had studied textiles before. The group is based in kent, England, and they meet up every other week at the Duke of Cumberland pub in Whitstable.

Illustration: Bridget Carpenter. Silly Bitch

Their first group project is the Quilt of Profanity which will be unveiled at their first exhibition to be held at the Fishslab Gallery, Whitstable, from February 10-16. Also on show will be a range of Valentine inspired pieces of embroidery work.

If you are going to the exhibition, and I highly recommend it, please be aware that the embroidery work does contain a liberal supply of rude words, so is perhaps not suitable for the young, and the easily offended.

The Profanity Embroidery Group facebook page can be found here, and the Profanity Embroidery Group exhibition facebook page can be found here.

Please be aware that all the imagery used in this article belong to the artists, so please don't reproduce them without permission from the individual artists named.

Illustration: Sarah Jesset. Wanker

Monday, January 18, 2016

Inspirational 8 is released today

Just to let you know that Inspirational 8 is released today. It is available for instant download from the Inspirational tab at the top of the page. 

The artists in order of appearance are:

Stewart Kelly - textile fine artist
Ingress Vortices - fine art painters
Adrian Smith - textile artist
Shane Drinkwater - fine art painter
Diane Savona - textile and mixed media artist
Timo Ahjotuli - mixed media artist
Bea Last - fine art painter
Danae Falliers - fine art photographer

Inspirational 8 comes in at a substantial 203 pages, with 195 full colour photos, but as this is a celebrational portfolio of artists and their work, it seems perfectly acceptable for Inspirational to be the size it is.

I hope that you enjoy the latest number from the Inspirational project, Inspirational 9 will be released on March 14.

If you would like to sign up for the Inspirational project mailing list, in order to keep updated as to development and release dates of each new issue of Inspirational, please feel free to join the Inspirational mailing list