Salford Open Exhibition

I had some really good news today; a piece of my work has been selected for the Salford Open Exhibition at Cow Lane Studios  and I’m really excited about it. It is the same piece that was selected for the West Lancashire Open at the Chapel Gallery in  Ormskirk last year. I also submitted “Searching for Clarity”, the quilt I wrote about in my post on 7th April, but this didn’t get through, so, even though I love it, I’ve got to assess whether it is a suitable piece for exhibition.

The piece that has been selected “Why Would Anyone Keep a Broken Gravy Jug?” really is a special piece for me, and I think there is something about it that resonates with other people too.  It has a story to tell and I think that shows through.

After my Aunt died, my sister and I had the horrible job of clearing out her house. Going through a private person’s private stuff is very emotional, and she kept a lot of stuff! At the end of a long and tiring day we decided to clear one more cupboard before we left. Amongst her extensively collected Lavender Rose dinner service there was a broken gravy jug. My sister just groaned “Why would anyone keep a broken gravy jug?” which sparked an interesting conversation about the things people would find in our cupboards, and how we tend to keep things for sentimental reasons to remind us of people and events in the past.

This conversation made me realise how much I keep in order to hold on to the past. I have got my dad’s bow ties from the 1960s that he wore when I was little. I keep them in a plastic bag, and when I take them out I can still faintly smell his wardrobe after 19 years!  I decided this gravy jug must have been special or why would she have kept it? So I made it a little rippled comfort blanket to keep it safe and put all the pieces back together.

Nana Knitwit’s Origins

I got my photos from the photographer at the weekend and I am really pleased with them. He has captured the texture and sparkle in my work, which I struggled to photograph myself. My website is really beginning to take shape (thank you Michael),  and now that I have the photos, we can get on with the gallery page.

In my last post I mentioned my festival character, Nana Knitwit. Now I have photos of her I can get on with creating her page on the website.  In the meantime (and because I have done no work whatsoever on my white velvet designs) I thought I would tell you a little bit about her origins.

In July 2010, some of my work was exhibited at Eccles Community Art Gallery. While I was setting up, the manager of the shopping centre came in to talk to Karen (the founder of the gallery), asking if she knew any artists who might be interested in doing an activity in one of the empty shops during the Eccles Festival.  I volunteered to run a Knit and Natter.  Straightforward, I thought to myself.

The weekend before the festival I spoke to Karen again, and in passing she just happened to ask if I was going dressed as a zombie.  I have to be honest; this is not a question I get asked often, so I was taken a little by surprise!

Apparently, during the festival, the shopping precinct was to be the venue for the Zombie Games, a film and multi-media project run by Let’s Go Global. Youngsters from all over Salford were participating and professional makeup artists would be available to make us up.

I thought about it for a while and decided that with an emergency supply of anti-histamines (I react badly to some make up) I would join in the fun. I created the persona of an artist who had been zombiefied in the late 1970s / early 1980s. The makeup took ages but was great. I sat in the shop window with my giant knitting needles as a kind of installation, until people joined the Knit and Natter. Have a look at the photos on Facebook and the film on You Tube.  I make a brief appearance early on.

Nana Zombie "Art Installation!"

I had plenty of visitors including Gail, a contact from Ordsall Community Arts, who I knew from a while back.  She was also disguised as a Zombie so we didn’t recognise each other at first.  Gail had two young people with her who enjoyed the knitting so much they asked if “Nana Zombie” could come to their local festival the following week. As Nana Zombie would not really fit in at a festival where there were no other zombies, Nana Knitwit was born.

Taking Pictures

I had an unexpectedly busy week last week, doing all sorts of different activities that have nothing to do with being practically creative, so I don’t have any photos! Ironically I spent last Saturday afternoon at a studio with a professional photographer having photos taken of my work. I didn’t expect it to be so much fun.

I have been trying for a while to take photos myself and even roped in a friend with a much better camera but still couldn’t capture the detail, texture and sparkle in my work. On the recommendation of Joanne Bowles, a metalworker I met recently, I contacted David Burrows. What a difference proper lighting and a professional photographer makes. I didn’t know that you could get radio controlled lighting for a start! He suggested different ways to view my work and had one piece suspended on fishing line so we could light it from behind, as well as standing on tall ladders to get above stuff and lying on the floor to get the textural detail. The scariest part was having portraits of me and my alter-ego and festival character Nana Knitwit taken to put on the site.

Like most people I don’t like having my photo taken, but he managed to put me at my ease and we had a good laugh. As Nana I was much less self conscious. It must be the pink beret and pompom scarf that does it. We got some great pictures of her juggling balls of wool and doing her brightly coloured knitting on giant broom handle knitting needles. To liven up this post I have put up an image of the knitting!

I should get the pictures next week and hope to get them on the website in the next couple of weeks or so.

Although it wasn’t a creative week, there were a couple of seeds sown for creative stuff in the near future. I was offered a commission to make a wall hung piece to celebrate a little boy’s first birthday, which I am looking forward to making and already have some ideas for, and later in the week I accepted some more facilitation work for Imagine, Act and Succeed (IAS) , a local charity  that supports people with learning disabilities in the community.