One of the main tenets of the Textile Study Group is continuing to develop our individual professional practice and therefore the twice-yearly weekends when we meet up to work together, are opportunities to explore the professional practice of other practicing artists as well as talk amongst ourselves. There is an ongoing programme for these weekends but recent weekends have been with the painter David Tress, textile artist Debbie Lyddon, Georges Wenger, Melanie Miller, Michael Brennand Wood, Matthew Harris, Eleanor White, Sue Lawty, Sumi Perera, Stewart Kelly, Sue Brown and Julia Griffiths Jones
JULIA GRIFFITHS JONES Artist
Julia Griffith Jones work translates Textile techniques such as stitching, embroidery, quilting, into wire and metal form; thus changing its original nature and function, but retaining the meaning and decoration.
In September 2023, we spent the weekend drawing from her collection of Eastern European embroideries. Starting on paper, we then translated our drawings into wire, inspired by a series of wire techniques originating from Slovakia.
SUE BROWN Artist
Sue Brown is an artist who uses printmaking as her practice. She specialises in collagraph printmaking to tell stories, often about the natural world. She lives and works in Cheltenham, Gloucester.
We have had two weekends workshops with Sue, the first exploring a couple of Collagraph plate making and inking techniques and we experimented with printing on a selection of textiles. Collagraph plates can be made in many different ways using easily obtained materials and can be printed on a variety of substrates. The second weekend we explored paper and fabric lithography using photocopies and gum arabic.
SUMI PERERA Interdisciplinary Artist
Sumi Perera draws upon her background as a doctor, scientist and artist, working in the East (Sri Lanka, her native country), and the West (the United Kingdom, her adoptive country).
She combines traditional printmaking methods with contemporary techniques; laser cutting/engraving, sandblasting often harnessing stitch to form mixed-media assemblages. For her, the process and evolution of the work is as important as the finished product and often contain selected elements of each stage to form the next in the series to create variations on the theme. Among her many impressive achievements, Sumi has undertaken several residencies, won numerous international awards and has been chosen to exhibit at many of the world’s major galleries.
Our weekend was spent investigating paper and textile manipulation and exploring various artist book structures. We were encouraged to develop our own pathways, playing and making using materials that we had a personal connection to. The fascinating art of paper folding became quite addictive. With so many possibilities shared over the weekend, there will plenty of ideas to keep us going
SUE LAWTY Artist, Designer
Sue Lawty is a highly experienced artist, designer and teacher, whose work is in collections worldwide including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London where she held a year-long residency. Prestigious Artist Research Fellowships include Smithsonian Museums USA and University of Leeds.
Tactile Sensibilities: In Celebration of Touch
Technical support: Christine Morrison
Sue opened the workshop with a presentation of inspirational images which focused on the structures and material qualities she records in rock formations and expansive landscapes, written text and textiles. Through examples of her work, some completed as Artist in Residence/Associate Artist at the V&A between 2005 – 2010, she illustrated how she constructs textiles from thread and lead and makes large assemblages from thousands of minute stones. In both, she emphasises the single unique mark within the context of repetition. The scale and precision of these pieces is impressive.
We were asked to bring in two significant collections of different found materials each comprising a large quantity of exactly the same thing. On Saturday we worked through strategies led by Sue Lawty towards reconstructing a new material from multiple units. In a playful way on Sunday, we were each given a three-dimensional object – a book, neckpiece, cutlery, plater, tool – to construct from the second collection with finesse and tactile sensibility.
Christine Morrison provided technical support throughout the workshop. This enabled us to see each other’s work and listen into two in-depth feedback sessions online. The practical sessions were on ‘open mic’ which meant that we could choose to hear and share conversations, as we would have done in a live workshop.
ELEANOR K WHITE Artist, Tutor
Lives & works in Ullapool, Ross-shire, Scotland
In 1994 after having taught at Leith School of Art for 6 years she moved to Ullapool to establish the independent art school, Bridge House Art, where she is the course director and principal tutor. She is highly regarded as an inspiring and motivating educator.
When she is not teaching at Ullapool, she travels to deliver art workshops to small groups and art societies both in the UK and abroad. Eleanor also works with Rufus Reade Tours as the invited tutor on painting holidays in Europe and Far East and also in Spain with Arbuthnot holidays. Her own practice is mixed media drawing and painting. Her year is split between teaching and painting, both are deeply enjoyable and challenging practices and one feeds seamlessly into the other.
CILLA EISNER – artist, maker
Lives and works in a village near Grantham, Lincolnshire.
Attracted to textures, colours and sounds, Cilla responds to possibilities presented in the environment, in the local and the immediate. Associations spring to mind, providing links and connections with past experience and to the works of others. Through practice, she is sensitised to the interplay of difference, of simultaneity and the sequential, of order and the chaotic, in how things become structured and arranged.
She has a broad experience of teaching and education, spanning secondary, further and higher education, providing value-added learning experience, she enjoys a successful track record of student achievement.
Cilla believes that thinking through art is about making connections between ideas and materials, linking thinking with doing by creating an association. Her collagegrids research is based on the idea that visual arts are thought of as a field of knowledge and that artwork is, first and foremost, a thinking process.
Thinking it through: conversations
This workshop asked what kind of thinking your particular art and textile processes and practice give rise to. What insights could we draw from conversations and discussions to articulate and extend our understanding of the way we think as artists?
The development of individual members’ work for the forthcoming Insights publication formed the basis of discussion.
MATTHEW HARRIS Textile Artist – Works on paper and cloth
Before graduating from Goldsmiths College where he completed a textile course with Audrey Walker, Matthew Harris was making and exhibiting his drawings and works on paper.
His current thinking still begins its journey as works and designs on paper which once again can be viewed as finished pieces in themselves. The textiles follow similar routes and processes but with their own outcomes. He will employ dyeing, cutting and stitching and is primarily concerned with abstract imagery and the translation of his drawn marks onto the cloth.
“By making work that is pieced, patched and assembled, he aims to create pieces that explore repetition, pattern and the disrupted or dissonant journey of line and image across and through the surface of cloth.”
He has shown in a number of group and solo exhibitions throughout the U.K, Ireland, Philadelphia U.S.A, Germany and Japan. He lives and works from his studio in Stroud and is a regular contributor to the Stroud International Textile Festival.
MICHAEL BRENNAND WOOD Visual artist, teacher and curator
Internationally regarded as one of the most innovative and inspiring artists, Michael’s work has always reflected his belief that the most innovative contemporary textiles emanate from an understanding of both textile technique and history. Throughout his career Michael has continually explored new and imaginative techniques, integrating textiles with non traditional materials. Examples of Michael’s work can be found in corporate and private collections around the world including the Victoria & Albert Museum, and he has been the recipient of prizes both at home and abroad. Michael has curated many exhibitions and until 1989 was a senior lecturer in the department of visual art at Goldsmith’s College. He has taught extensively in colleges and universities in the UK and overseas and undertaken residencies in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Belgium. He was appointed Visiting Professor at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2005 and a Research Fellow at the University of Ulster.
DEBBIE LYDDON Artist and maker using mixed media, sculpture, installations, drawings
Debbie Lyddon is well known as a textile artist who as a member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists has exhibited widely in the UK most recently participating in Ctrl/Shift at Birmingham’s MAC. Debbie is based in Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, UK and her creative practice explores landscape and place and includes mixed media cloths, sculpture, installation and drawing. Her inspiration comes from experiencing and paying attention to her surroundings.
Debbie’s workshop with the group took us on a ‘sound walk’ where the audible notes as well as visual stimuli were developed into drawings and then fabric through a series of mark making exercises and drawing. Her early career as a professional musician explained her interest in all things sonic and gave the group a unique view of their surroundings.
DAVID TRESS Painting, drawing, landscape artist
David Tress is a British artist noted particularly for his deeply personal interpretations of landscapes in and around his home in Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales. He is undoubtedly one of Britain’s most inventive landscape painters, moving beyond a landscape’s immediate appearance and evokes a state of mind and sense of presence.
The workshop ‘BUILDING IMAGES: Observation and Expression’ that David presented to the Textile Study Group had us painting very immediately with acrylic. The weekend was based on the essentials of his own work, which is working with a’ gut response’ to things seen, and balances this with a consideration of the structures used to build paintings ~ space, light and composition. Demonstrations focussed on contrasting elements of emotional response and of ways of constructing paintings and showed how these come together in his own work.
GEORGES WENGER Calligraphy, painting, photography, sculpture
Georges is a well established artist and highly experienced teacher who lives and works in Switzerland. He has taught and participated in major exhibition all over the world including, USA, Tokyo, India and Germany.
“Raw, splotchy, untidy! ‘Scrawl’ is contemporary design, created usually with brushes but also with pens, markers, crayons and grease pencils, and are as much graphic conceit as philosophical statements. In the digital era, when perfection is only a keystroke away, to scrawl is the logical alternative – a slap in the (type) face – to official typography. Yet you need to be very conscientious to scrawl. First it is in the presence of the artist’s hand, as in the great advertising posters of the late-nineteenth century. Second is in the deliberate rejection of official type to convey emotion and expression in often dispassionate media. Anything is possible with scrawl. If it were prescribed, it would not be scrawl. One thing is common to all scrawl: resolute awkwardness. Nothing aligns and little is balanced, so, as purposeful as scrawl may be, it is the marriage of gawky and awkward, combined with rowdy and rough, that makes scrawl so compelling!”
It was indeed all that George set out to do and more.
MELANIE MILLER Maker, teacher, curator, writer, editor of textiles and embroidery
Melanie skills are vast. She participates in and organises conferences as well as providing mentoring to individuals and has extensive external examining and research supervision experience. She has a degree in History from the London School of Economics, a degree in Textiles/Fashion from Manchester Polytechnic, and a PhD from Manchester Metropolitan University. As well as working for an editor at Dorling Kindersley book publishing company, she taught for over twenty years at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU)/Manchester School of Art.
For the Textile Study Group, Melanie presented a lecture around the theme of disruption, followed by discussion. This was in preparation for our exhibition DIS/rupt. She then ran small group tutorials with all the TSG members, discussing their work in progress for the DIS/rupt project. This proved to be a most informative workshop, which drew on Melanie’s immense skills as a mentor and curator.