Artists Interview – Lois Blackburn

We are just over  half way through our artists interviews, with another 11  artists to be profiled.  This week we are in conversation with Lois Blackburn.

Lois Blackburn

During this project have you looked at a new way of working? 
Like so much of my work, ‘Blood Sweat and Tears’, was about finding new ways to give voice to difficult or unexplored subjects.  It was also a first for me, blurring the boundaries between my personal work and the work I do with arthur+martha, bringing together my love of quilt making, text and silk painting in one piece.   

 I’ve created a double bed size quilt, covered with paintings of objects I associate with the menopause. It might be a Spanish fan carried with me, prepared for hot flushes, or handfuls of chocolate to counter the drops in Magnesium. Written onto the objects is information garnered from the internet, research and personal accounts. 

 The writing for the project was a big challenge for me, but the thinking, planning, making of the quilt I found a wonderful process. A confidence boaster, a stimulus for new work. I’m a peri-menopausal women, in a household with a hormonal teenager – a recipe for disaster. One way I manage the increased levels of anxiety, stress and unhappiness is through the artwork. For many years, through the work of arthur+martha

I have seen the positive effects of creativity on other people, on their health and wellbeing. But I have often taken it for granted for myself. This project has helped me benefit from what I share with others through my collaborative practice.

 During the project I wrote a couple of diary accounts, reflecting on my way of working practice, here’s an example from 1st Feb 2019.
It’s been a hard few weeks, there are things that help- getting out for a walk, Pilates, creativity and chocolate.
I’ve created enough paintings on fabric now to give me a good idea of what it might look like as a double quilt size piece. Right now it’s looking a bit messy. It’s when I have to hold my nerve. I’m at the point when the lack of designing, might bite me on the bum. If I had sat down and worked out a composition on paper I might be better prepared… But right or wrong this way of working continually keeps it fresh for me. My current challenges- creating a composition that works. This is just an eye thing- (one of these days perhaps I should revisit the classic composition devises- maybe my next project) I am lucky enough to recently have room for a design wall. The bits of fabric get moved around, pinned and re-pinned.
I’ve started to cut up the pieces of painting that didn’t work so well- and am thinking about collaging these on other bits that didn’t work, or in gaps, this technique of cutting up and playing a lot- it suits me in its looseness.
The other thing I’m thinking about is how to quilt it. I’m dipping in and out of Pinterest, seeing how other artists are doing it. I’ve done one quilting sample- but rushed in and it went a bit lumpy. Next sample I will properly tack together. I’m trying to not get distracted by emails or the time ticking until the school run. 

What is your favourite part of the creative process?
One of my favourite parts of the creative process is responding to life’s challenges, to tell stories. Using art as a way to release tension, share delight in the world, and to see the positive benefits of health and wellbeing.

In these challenging times of Covid 19, I feel very lucky to have creativity as part of my everyday life and find joy in being able to share some of my work practices with others. I’ve just started a new project, ‘Here Comes the Sun’. I am inviting people from across the globe to make embroidery for a new quilt. Whoever you are, where ever you live, whether you regularly stitch, make art, or haven’t picked up a needle and thread since school, everyone’s welcome. I’m delighted by the response so far, it’s full of potential, full of un-knowns, a bit scary. Being able to quickly turn an idea into a reality, it’s got to be the best part of the creative process for me. If you are interested in joining in, or know of someone else who might, take a look at our website:  .

Lois in her studio

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