Paint The Day

Paint The Day

Paint the Day

This June I joined lots of local artists for the paint the day competition in Wolverhampton. The Newhampton Arts Centre set a challenge to capture a piece of Wolverhampton in some Art form. You had to work outside, and you had 9 hours to do it.   The plan was to take different elements of the town and bring them together in a pattern for a print. It was such a brilliant day; however I seriously mismanaged my time! I don’t really regret it as I spent such a lovely morning in the sun wandering around the town looking for inspiration.

I revisited the spot where I first met my husband, at the university steps on a blind date 18 years ago.  I went up to Molineux House, where the city archives are, somewhere I’ve never been and found such a pretty garden. The buildings in Wolverhampton are lovely once you start looking and I found too much inspiration! So with just 3 hours left of the challenge I settled in West Park under a tree and started to put together a design,  only the wind had picked up and my bits and bobs were blowing everywhere. So I moved to the back of the park’s tea room pulled together the design and carved the block. With about 40 mins to go I made it back to the centre, set up a makeshift studio in the corner and printed my design.  The final design included the door handle of the Art Gallery, the railings outside Banks’s Brewery and details from the mosaic in the garden of the city Archives at Molineux House. I wanted to include lots more but ran out of time.

A silent auction for all of the artwork ran for a week after the competition and unexpectedly my piece sold! A lovey local event that was a real treat to be part of.

Enid Marx, A Passion for Patterns

Enid Marx, A Passion for Patterns

The London transport museum proved a huge hit with both my children and me. They enjoyed the freedom of playing on and exploring busses and trams and I was reminded of the work of the very brilliant textile designer Enid Marx. I’d heard of Enid, I knew she had worked with Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher in their Hampstead studio, but I was unfamiliar with her own work, particularly the work she did for the London Passenger Transport Board in the 1940’s. At the time she was known for unusual geometric and abstract designs. The Transport Board asked her to produce a hard wearing, cotton velvet seating fabric, known as a Moquette. The Moquette was to be used on the seats of buses and tube trains. Her timeless designs in her palette of spicy colours are still in use today and are reported to be the work she is most proud of.

Reading about Enid Marx’s career spanning the war years and beyond is truly fascinating, she designed pattern paper for Curwen press, designed book jackets for many authors and publishers. She wrote and illustrated her own books, painted notable buildings that were under threat from German bombings. There were highly prestigious commissions, for printed upholstery fabrics. Collaborations with furniture makers and other designers. She was well known for involvement in the Utility Furniture Scheme, a scheme set up to help people who had suffered bombings during the war. She was a master of many printing techniques including but not limited to woodcuts, engravings and linocuts. She designed the stamps to mark the queen’s coronation and later again a set of stamps in the 1970’s. She worked her pattern magic on packaging, greeting cards, posters, book jackets and calendars for London Transport and other companies such as Shell Oil. She was one of the first ever women to be named a Royal Designer for Industry and instead of retiring in her mid-60’s, she took a lead position at Croydon College of Art. The London House of Illustration, held a landmark exhibition in 2018 celebrating Enid’s work, sad to have missed that one! I have read that there is a collection of her work at Compton Verney, near Stratford-Up-Avon, which is on my hit list this summer and the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft have some of Enid’s work in their Women’s Work Exhibition (4 May 2019 – 13 October 2019)

Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth

 were lucky enough to holiday in St Ives this Easter. The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Garden was just around the corner from where we were staying and  were a real treat. Barbara was born in Wakefield in 1903 and came to settle in St Ives with her second husband and artist Ben Nicholson after the outbreak of the second world war.

Famously in 1931 she pierced a hole in one of her abstract sculptures, the first artist ever to do so.  She once said, “When I first pierced a shape, I thought it was a miracle.” The hole became her signature style and from then on nearly all her abstract work featured a hole. She often painted the inside of the hole or surrounded the hole in a cat’s cradle of strings or wires.

It was in 1949 she bought the Trewyn Studio (now the Museum), she wrote ‘Finding Trewyn Studio was a sort of magic, here was a studio, a yard and garden where I could work in open air and space’.  Her studio and garden are really beautiful. I particularly loved seeing her work studio, the light and the colours in the space alone were so inspiring.

There are lots of her pierced large-scale marble and bronze works in the garden, nestled in amongst beautiful trees and plants.

A Life In Pattern, Orla Kiely

A Life In Pattern, Orla Kiely

A chance to see the Orla Kiely exhibition at the London Textile Museum was too good to miss. I’d never been to the textile museum and I also really wanted to see the portrait of Zandra Rhodes; that was painted by the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 winner Samira Addo. Sadly, I was too early, and the portrait hadn’t yet made it to the museum when I visited but the Oral Kiely exhibition did not disappoint. The queen of pattern! A master class in colour palette, scale, proportion, balance and pattern repeat at every glance. There was a room with nine or so enormous scaled up coats and dresses, in some of the most iconic designs. Wall after wall of pattern libraries were a real feast to get stuck into. Lots of amazing archival footage of the early days and press cuttings. At the time I had no idea that the fashion side of the Orla Kiley brand was about to go into administration. I did see at a recent furniture show that the designs have now been made into upholstery fabrics, I do hope this iconic brand will stride on.
The ladies swimming is one of my favourite Orla Kiely patterns and I couldn’t help but take a photo of the ever so cool museum floor with its sparkles and stars.

The Fabric Collective

The Fabric Collective

9 Langton Street, London, is where you’ll find the Fabric Collective. They represent the very best hand printed wallpaper and fabric makers. Here you will find the likes of Rapture and Wright, Anna Spiro, Lake August, Penny Morrison and many more artisan designers. What I love about the fabric collective showroom, is that all the fabrics were presented in individual squares. No traditional unwieldy pattern books, making it easy to see the designs, and feel the weight and handle of the fabric. Downstairs, they have a glorious selection of lamp bases and lampshades and at the back of the showroom they have the most beautiful rugs. On the day I visited they were expecting some press photographers and they had a gorgeous selection of Anna Spiro fabrics laid out on their display table. I also remember they were burning a candle by SOH Melbourne, it was the most beautiful candle fragrance I’ve come across in a long time.