2021 Summer School – Seeing Through Layers

After a period of uncertainty, the annual residential Summer School was able to take place at Hillscourt in Birmingham. The opportunity to meet old friends, make new friends was enjoyed by all. It felt a bit surreal for some who had not met up or been in contact with anyone for nearly two years. Yet everyone soon settled in and it felt like old times. There were a few changes to how Hillscourt managed the weekend, but nothing that got in the way of having a thoroughly wonderful time. With the bonus of the warm weather, people were able to enjoy the beautiful grounds. The excitement and buzz in each of the studios created an inspiring and creative atmosphere.

We will also share details about next year’s summer school at the end of this post, so make sure you read to the end.

Tutors on this year’s summer school were Sarah Burgess, Sheila Mortlock and Amarjeet Nandhra, who developed three exciting new courses around the theme of layers. There was such a wonderful selection of work produced during the four days, below we have shared a few images of the work in progress. Enjoy!

Sarah Burgess – Shadows and Reflections

Sarah’s group explored fleeting images, reflections and constantly shifting shadows are their starting points. Working with the student’s imagery; such as plant and tree forms, reflections and shadows on water or man-made structures. These explorations created a range of wonderfully evocative paper and fabric experiments.

Sheila Mortlock – Building Layers

Sheila’s group conquered the intimidating blank pages of a new sketchbook. The workshop encouraged students to develop ideas using their starting points. Through various exercises the group changed the surface quality of a pristine page, adding layers, colour and marks. Each student producing wonderfully exciting sketchbooks brimming with ideas for future work.

Amarjeet Nandhra – Imperfect Layers

Amarjeet’s group developed ideas from close up detailed observations. Drawing inspiration from the immediate environment, students explored marks, textures and patterns. Techniques involved cutting, obscuring, ghost images and overprinting to build up layers and depth in the prints. Reworking the paper and fabric using collage, creating colourful and exciting collages

Next year’s Summer School

Title: Making A Point

Dates: 18 – 21 July 2022.

Tutors: Bobby Britnell, Mary Sleigh and Jan Miller. Please note we reserve the right to change tutors.

Bookings: will go live on 10th September 2021

INSIGHTS Exhibition at the Festival of Quilts

It was such a joy to see the INSIGHTS project on display at the Festival of Quilts. Initially, to be shown in 2020, but as with many events the show was cancelled. The idea behind the exhibition and book was for each member to create new work and record their processes. The book documents each artist’s creative process, from the starting point to the completion of the work. All members represented in the book, share their varied approaches to artistic practice: where ideas come from; how they develop and make work; where they work. The exhibition displayed the related work, either finished pieces or samples. The variety of responses featured reflect the rich diversity of textile art practice within the group.

Unsure when the work would be displayed, we endeavoured to keep the interest alive by sharing on various social media platforms. Yet to finally have the opportunity to display the work and interact with everyone face to face was an amazing feeling.

The FoQ and the NEC organisers made the visit as safe as possible, with enhanced safety measures in place. There was a steady stream of visitors to our gallery for most of each day, tailing off in the late afternoons. It never felt too busy and mask-wearing was the norm. The show had a reduced number of exhibits but spread out over a larger space and with fewer visitors. People generally said they felt very comfortable.

The exhibition was well received. We had some lovely feedback from visitors and many very positive comments about how well the exhibition hung together, flowed and worked, considering the number of artists work on display. We are very grateful for June Hill’s careful planning and thoughtful placing of works in the gallery, creating a cohesive and strong exhibition.

Comments from visitors :

”Stimulating, thought-provoking – very enjoyable”

“Brilliant exhibition of inspiring work – I loved it and found it exceptional”

“Best part of the show!”

“Absolute highlight of the show! Ideas, inspiration, thought-provoking and so much more. Thank you.”

In 2020, we were going to launch our INSIGHT publication at the Festival of Quilts, sadly that did not happen. We did, however, have the book available for sale this time, generating lots of interest and sales. If you haven’t managed to secure your copy yet, click the link, it will take you to our shop. https://textilestudygroup.co.uk/publication

A big thank you to all those involved in this project. The exhibition was curated by June Hill, the accompanying publication was edited by June Hill and Dr Melanie Miller, with essay contributions from Jane McKeating, Polly Binns and Claire Barber. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you that came to visit the show and for your continued support. Not forgetting the mammoth effort from the Textile Study Group members who organised this whole project, those who came to help hang the exhibition, steward and takedown. It is an honour to belong to such a strong and professional contemporary textile group.

We will be showing INSIGHTS Exhibition at Festival of Quilts

We are very pleased that the INSIGHTS exhibition will be on show at the Festival of Quilts, and the accompanying book will also be on sale. It has been a very strange time and the thought of going to see an exhibition is definitely something to look forward to, most of us have really missed those opportunities. TSG hope that you will be able to join us.

INSIGHTS is a reflection on creative practice in textile art. Through the publication and accompanying exhibition , the members of the Textile Study Group share their varied approaches to artistic practice: where ideas come from; how they develop and make work; where they work. All approaches are relevant, and differences are celebrated. INSIGHTS is edited by June Hill and Dr Melanie Miller, with additional essay contributions from Jane McKeating, Polly Binns, Claire Barber, Kay Greenlees and Lois Blackburn. The exhibition is curated by June Hill.

The Textile Study Group members’ work is varied in the themes addressed and techniques employed. Methods of work include hand stitch, machine stitch, quilting, constructed textiles, pieced textiles, lace-making, mixed-media, print, dye, sketchbooks and drawing, in both two and three dimensions. INSIGHTS includes work in progress and elements of process, as well as ‘finished’ work.

Artist interview – Polly Pollock

This week we are excited to have one of our newest members Polly Pollock talk about her fascinating practice.

Polly Pollock – Nests Group (detail )

I’ve been looking at several ongoing themes in my work over the past few years around homemaking and nurture, protection, damage and repair.  I combine basketry and stitched textile techniques and work mainly with dyed paper yarns – I often use gentle ‘eco’ dyes which give soft and muted colour palettes.  I like to add in scraps of other materials eg thread, string and yarns, raffia etc. often using up scraps of left-over materials from other pieces of work.  I try to ensure in small ways to avoid contributing to the mounting levels of waste in the world today.

“Nests” are rounded basketry forms with subtle changes in colour, texture and form. Like a family, or community of weaver birds, these intimate, protective nest forms cluster together relating to each other, yet have individual strength to stand independently.

Recent ‘Nests’ are more complex and densely layered. The inclusion of knotted strands (referencing Quipus, ancient Andean accounting devices made from knotted yarns) represent recording and holding onto many positive moments within what at times are the seemingly impossible complexities of family relationships. These knotted strands also suggest the beautiful accents of colour and textures of lichens found on twigs birds collect to build their nests.

“Once in a While” is another ongoing project, which began from thinking about damage and repair. I include many paper yarns left over from making ‘Nests’ to make these pieces, forming threads of connectivity between these two distinct yet closely linked projects.

Seemingly random, each small piece explores weave and stitch, tensions and textures within a defined space. In addition the irregular ‘warp’ structures, and sometimes fragmented yet intricate weaving, suggests damage and wounds, but also becomes darning and repair. As well as symbolising the sometimes fragile internal functionings of home and family, within a chaotic external world, the individual pieces can stand alone; equally, when these pieces are displayed in a regular grid-like structure a sense of order and calm can be created.  

It was very exciting to have “Once in a While” selected for the Vlieseline Fine Art Textiles Award.

I continue to explore these themes, and am beginning to investigate other basketry and textile techniques, but still making small “hand’ size forms which stand alone, or cluster together groups

Polly Pollock – Once in a While