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Monday, 9 January 2017

Shapwick Heath, habitats, and migrant wildlife

On Boxing Day we went for a family walk to Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve, in the Avalon Marshes, Somerset Levels.  I have been there at other times, but I never had experienced the light and the colours in the Reserve as I did in that sunny, cold, winter day.

A quilt inspired by those colours unfolded in my mind. The next day I put some fabric colours together and started working on it.

The point of the nature reserve is to create habitats that provide shelter and food for the many animals, birds, butterflies, insects, etc. that need it.  Some species are residents, others are winter or summer migrants.  The most noticeable of them all are the starlings, and in January up to nine million migrant birds join the residents and form the most extraordinary 'murmurations', flying in changing organised shapes all over the area.

The reeds and open water are home to many birds and waterfowl, and there are other visitor attractions, such as bird hides.  See more in the captions to the photos.




So full of colour! I can see greens, yellows, reds, blues, and all shades in-between. 


The fern colour changes according to whether the leaves are in the sun or the shade, illuminated from above or from behind.


Amazing colours on the autumn leaves underfoot.


Downy birch wooded areas next to meadows.





The reconstructed Sweet Track - as it says in the photo above. Not very easy to walk on! Just as well that if you miss your step you just fall into a path covered in autumn leaves, and not onto swampy waters, as it would have happened 3,000 years ago.



The reed beds and open water, home to many waterfowl. And a view of Glastonbury Tor.


More reed beds shining in the sun.


My first attempt to a colour palette for my new quilt in the Habitats : Species series, focusing particularly on migrant wildlife.  

The quilt is nearly ready, but not quite.  See next blog post for details of construction and finished product.

Alicia

Sunday, 1 January 2017

New year, revamped blog


One of my New Year resolutions is to re-start writing regularly in my blog; and of course displaying photographs. So here I am.

First, a Review of last year:

It was a very successful year for me. I had work on show in Germany (solo gallery at Nadelwelt Karlsruhe), Spain (gallery display at Interquilt Girona), and individual quilts in many juried and invitational exhibitions - in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. I won't list them all in detail, but I am especially proud of being juried into the Wayne Centre's Art Quilt Elements, SAQA's Concrete and Grassland, and Australia's a matter of time

Other proud moments were winning an award at Art Quilt Elements at the Wayne Centre, Philadelphia, especially as I was there to receive it personally! And being invited to show at the Korea Bojagi Forum, and at a quilt exhibition in Shanghai, China.  With my group Viewpoints 9,  I exhibited at the Taiwan International Quilt Exhibition (TIQE), the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, and several venues in Australia and NewZealand - still ongoing. I couldn't attend those, but in April 2016 I did go to my first SAQA Conference, in Philadelphia, which was a great experience, and a wonderful opportunity to meet internet-based friends.


Port at Dusk Diptych is so far my most successful and popular quilt. It is the one that received the award at Art Quilt Elements, and before then, in 2015, it was on show at Through Our Hands's The Liberated Quilt at the Bilston Gallery in Wolverhampton, and then at Fine Art Quilt Masters at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. In 2016 it travelled to Philadelphia and to South Korea.

And in 2017 Port at Dusk Diptych will be on show at the New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! in New Bedford, Massachusetts, from 25th January to 19th March, as part of the 50 textile pieces selected for Excellence in Fibers, organised by Fiber Art Now magazine.

Moving onto 2017, I have been invited to participate in New Quilting, an exhibition organised by the  Rheged Centre in Penrith, Cumbria, from 3rd March to 23rd April.

There are more exciting things in the pipeline, including teaching abroad, but I will mention those as appropriate in future posts.

 Happy New Year to everybody!

Alicia




Friday, 8 May 2015

Return of the prodigal daughter


Hello friends!  Here I am again.  I hadn't realised how long is it since I wrote on my blog. I've been concentrating more on communicating via Facebook - it is quicker and more immediate.

I will try to update this blog a bit more often!

The main news at the moment is my participation in the forthcoming exhibition The Liberated Quilt: New Work from Through Our Hands - at the Bilston Craft Gallery,  Mount Pleasant, Bilston, West Midlands, WV14 7LU, www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/bilston - Tel 01902 552507.  Check hours of opening before going, they are different on various weekdays; closed on Sundays and Mondays; admission free.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 16th May, with an informal opening from 1pm to  3pm, with presentations by some of the artists, and tea and cake.  Do come if you are in the area! If that is not possible, the exhibition will be open until 25th July.

Artists participating are: Annabel Rainbow, Alicia Merrett, Sandra Meech, Linda Colsh, Bethan Ash, Els van Baarle, Olga Prins-Lukowski, Bente Vold Klausen, Bobbie Britnell, Deidre Adams, Sue Benner, Jette Clover, Eszter Bornemisza, Claire Smith, Dijanne Cevaal, Elizabeth Barton, Linda Barlow, Mirjam Pet-Jacobs, Michala Gyetvai, Jeanne Williamson, Sara Impey, Susan Lenz, Laura Kemshall, Linda Kemshall.




More information on Through Our Hands can be found in the website, www.throughourhands.co.uk

Good night!

Alicia


Monday, 24 November 2014

Balloons over Wells


Today was a beautiful sunny, clear day, and this afternoon when I went out of the house, there were balloons flying over the city.  They come from Bristol, where there is a park which is used for ballooning, and often land in big fields near Wells.

There were two balloons, and they looked as if they were musical notes on the pentagram formed by the electric cables.

Alicia







Sunday, 23 November 2014

Designer Showcase in Popular Patchwork magazine


Popular Patchwork magazine now has a "Designer Showcase" in each issue of the magazine, starting with the current Christmas issue, where my work is featured.

Here are views of the relevant pages:





They are also reviewing my book, "Mapping the Imagination", in their Bookshelf pages.



I'm very pleased with the article!  Extremely well arranged by the editors, Bridget and Barnaby Neale.  Thank you both!

Alicia

Monday, 10 November 2014

Around the World Blog Hop


I have been invited to participate in this Around the World Blog Hop by my friend Martha Wolfe.  We have not had the opportunity to meet in person yet, but we have developed a strong friendship via the web.  What a wonder modern technology is!  We hope to meet next year.




Martha is a wonderful fiber artist and she is a printmaker as well as an art quilter.  She is in the Board of Directors of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates - www.saqa.com) where she does fantastic work on behalf of the art of quilting. Her work is featured in many publications and she exhibits widely.  Her work is very varied, and you can see it in her website, www.marthawolfe.com.  Martha is the leading force in the international web-based group Viewpoints 9 - http://viewpoints9-2.blogspot.co.uk - which I am honoured to belong to as well.  The group is starting to exhibit in real places as well as in virtual galleries - this year at the Mancuso shows in USA. Hopefully there will also be an exhibition in Europe in the next year or two; and we have been invited to exhibit in 2016 at TIQE (Taiwan International Quilt Exhibition) by organiser, V9 member and also World Blog Hopper, Lin Hsin Chen - http://www.linhsinchen.idv.tw

This is one of my favourite pieces of work by Martha Wolfe:



Participants in the Blog Hop are asked to include answers to four questions in their post.  So I will do my best to answer those questions.

What am I working on?

A lot of things and not much at all - both together.  After having spent about nine months working non-stop on making new work for my exhibition "Mapping the Imagination" at the Festival of Quilts, Birmingham, this August, and producing a book/catalogue of the exhibition - while during the same period being a juror for SAQA's exhibition "Redirecting the Ordinary", and the curator for SAQA's Wide Horizons IV (which opened at the European Patchwork Meeting this September) - then followed by more weeks working to finish my quilt for EPM'S 20th Anniversary exhibition - and various other things such as writing magazine articles and projects, being part of other exhibitions, etc - I ended up feeling quite exhausted and drained of creative energy.  So I haven't made much in the last couple of months.  However, after taking a couple of weeks off just to rest and think, I very soon started to plan my next moves and work pieces.  However I haven't made much progress on them!

To try and coax myself back into working creatively, I decided to start small, and developed a new short series of my 10" x 10" "Map Fragments", using a slightly different colour palette from the previous ones.  They are available for sale at exhibitions, galleries, and online at the Shop of Through Our Hands website.  Here is one of them - Map Fragment # 112, 'Good Earth' series:



I also made a small piece, 25 x 25 cm, for the 25th Anniversary exhibition of Designer Crafts at the Mall - the annual show of the Society of Designer Craftsmen, to which I have belonged ever since I started being involved in crafts professionally - probably nearly 30 years ago.  The Society itself is well over 100 years old, and it was founded by a group of artists which included William Morris. They have been continuously exhibiting at The Mall Galleries in London for 25 years, and that's what is being celebrated in 2015. The show will be on from 9th to 18th January, and it always is a real feast for the eyes - textiles shown in the context of contemporary furniture, jewellery, and work in ceramics, glass, metal, and other materials.  So if you are in London at the time, do not miss it!

I won't post my new piece here because I believe it should not be shown before the exhibition.  Instead, below is another of my small square pieces mounted on stretched canvas, of a similar size.  This one is called Devon Fields and was sold some time ago, at an exhibition.




I should really be working on a piece for Viewpoints 9, but although that has been started, it is going rather slowly.  Instead I have got quite enthusiastic about other different themes, moving sideways from making the map quilts I've been working on now for several years, and have been researching and developing new designs. One theme is working with text on fabric, using a variety of techniques, and the other is doing preparation work for an exhibition next year with South West Textiles, at the Museum of Somerset, in Taunton, UK - an ancient castle refurbished into a wonderful modern museum and gallery. Each artist has to choose an artefact from the museum as a starting point, and I have chosen Cauldrons and Skillets - of which the museum has the largest collection in the UK.  I'm enjoying working in a very graphic design style - here is a snippet of my first, far from finished, 'draft' piece:



My current and earlier work can be seen in my website, www.aliciamerrett.co.uk

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Colour is the first thing that comes to mind - I have a passion for colour, and my work is recognisable from the way I use colour. Regarding my map quilts, there are a number of other artists which work on maps - it is a much loved theme - but I don't really know if there is anybody else that makes their maps mostly with piecing techniques, like I do.  It's good to look at other people's work and soak in the work of other artists, but when it comes to making your own, you have to look inwards and find what you want to do, to please and satisfy yourself in the first instance.

Here is a section of one of my favourite quilts - Login Shakespeare - which I see every day, as it is hanging at the top of the stairs in my house - from the Shakespeare series which I worked on in the mid-noughties - and which I have revisited occasionally.  Most of the pieces in that series incorporate lettering, here printed with Thermofax screens.




And here is another of my big map quilts - a very recent one, and a great favourite at the moment - Blue Harbour - an imaginary quilt based on studying the layout and details of a number of real harbours and marinas.



Why do I write/create what I do?

I create because I must. There is no other way of putting it.  I cannot see myself doing anything else, or ever 'retiring'.  Creating is the centre of my life, and I have always done it, although fields of work might have changed over time.

I have also written, mostly craft books and articles, but it is a side line - not my primary passion. I prefer visual books - that's how I designed my latest book, Mapping the Imagination, which is partly catalogue of the exhibition of the same name at the Festival of Quilts in August 2014, partly a review of my previous map quilts, and has a last section which is a mini-workshop, introducing readers to the basic techniques I use in my map-making.  As I mentioned above, it can be bought online, with PayPal, from Through Our Hands online shop.




Howe does my creating process work?

I play with ideas in my head, and look for images that help what I want to do.  Colour usually come first;  I get my fabrics out and pile them up to see how the colours interact, and select the ones I want to use.  But as my work progresses, colours may change - some fabrics may go, some new ones may come in.

With maps, I often study a map or several as guidelines, not fixed indicators of how the map will finish up.  Sometimes I make maps based on real places, in which case I interpret the source map as closely as possible, although it is never an exact copy.  I use a variety of methods, which may include enlarging, drawing, tracing, etc.  It depends on the piece; some need one method, some others. 

But I prefer to make imaginary maps, catching the spirit of the place or the style I want to portray.  The technique would be improvisational. For example, one of my latest map, "Coming Into Land" intends to convey images of dark and light areas glanced from an airplane landing. Here is a section:




Technique-wise, I do a lot of piecing - the map quilt above is completely pieced.  Some times I use fused appliqué, and a few map quilts are completely made using a fused collage technique.  But piecing remains my first love.
----

Now I will introduce the two international quilt artists and bloggers to whom I will pass the baton to, and who will be blogging next week, on November 17th.

The first one is Alison Schwabe, an Australian living mostly in Montevideo, Uruguay (across the River Plate from my birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina).  Her husband, a geologist, works there.  The subject is familiar to Alison as she studied geography and geomorphology at university, and her artistic subjects are the forces of nature and landscapes, as a metaphor for life.

I met Alison first online, and then in London when she came to teach in the UK. Alison's work is very well known internationally, and it can be seen in her website, here.  She is a prolific blogger, talking about all sorts of fascinating things, and you can read her blog here.



The second one is Dijanne Cevaal, also Australian, who spends a lot of time in Europe. We originally met in London many years ago in one of her many trips to the Old World, and we saw each other again this year at the European Patchwork Meeting in France.

You can read her blog, her adventures, and her Musings of a Textile Itinerant, here.  She is currently very busy working on her new book, Musings in Textiles: France - happily financed via crowdfunding. She is an expert in dyeing textiles and in producing linocuts for printing, as demonstrated in her Sentinelles series.

Please look at Alison and Dijanne's blogs, as well as Martha's - you will find them very rewarding. And do keep hopping around the world via these wonderful blogs - you can go backwards and forwards as much as you like - and get to know more fabulous artists and their work!

 Enjoy!  Alicia

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A visit to Hauser and Wirth Somerset


Last Saturday was a very sunny day so I decided it was time to visit the new art exhibition space of Hauser and Wirth Somerset.  This is a new departure for an art gallery which has bases in Zurich, New York and London.  This new site is already a very popular destination - the large car parking area was practically full when we arrived, and there were large numbers of visitors.

The new Somerset gallery is sited on a farm on the edge of Bruton.  It has gardens, galleries, classroom space and a restaurant.  The artworks are inside and outside the galleries.  You are not allowed to take photographs inside the galleries, but you are free to take photos outside.



I don't know whether the giant clock in the garden is an piece of art or a permanent feature, but it's gorgeous!



I never found out who made the giant spider!  No labels anywhere…



The main exhibition was by Phyllida Barlow.  This is a view through one of the windows of a room full of giant pompoms made from all sorts of fabrics - recycled I assume - in gorgeous colours.  It was like a forest, with the pompoms and thick cords attached to them, hanging from the ceiling.  You were supposed to walk through that 'forest' without touching the artworks!  In the middle of the room was some sort of staircase made from giant slabs, spiralling right up to the high ceiling.  Not allowed to go up at all, of course!  It's not meant to be interactive art.



This is a relatively clear view of one of the pompoms - notice the coils of rope attached to it - and a bit of a view of the staircase.


This view shows the pompom less clearly because of the reflections of the garden on the window.



I loved the long narrow window, fortress style, in one of the stone walls - this is a section of it.


This enormous bucket, as tall as a three-storey building, was one of the outdoor art pieces.



The restaurant and bars were also full of art pieces - I liked their original design - I had a look, but did not stay to eat.  The prices are pretty reasonable. The above is a view of the edge of the restaurant taken through one of the windows.  The reflections are very interesting.

Well, it's quite a place, worth a visit, especially on a nice sunny day, and maybe stay for lunch or tea.  Whether you like the very modern art is a very personal opinion - my husband's comment was "Give me Rembrandt any day"!!!

However, I shall be back at some point - will keep an eye on their programme…

Alicia








Friday, 17 October 2014

Remembering September


This September we had what is called an "Indian Summer" - warm, sunny, clear air, enchanting feeling.  Among other things I walked on the Bishop's Gardens and took lots of photos.  Yesterday I posted about the Angel Wing sculptures - today I will remember the beautiful effects of sun, water and plants.



Bee on red flower


Reflections of red flowers



 Brown duck in the pond



Droplets from early dew



Falling water from the wells



Beautiful large leaves


But now it is October and it is cool and rainy! 

Good night!  

Alicia



Angel Wings

This summer there was an exhibition of 'angel wings' in the grounds of the Bishop's Palace in Wells.  They looked gorgeous in the sun.  You could take a photograph in front or behind them and look like an angel... but unfortunately you could never fly off, as the wings are made of very heavy glass and metal, giving them a stained glass look.



Large wings



White wings



Butterfly wings



I'm an angel!

Good night and sweet dreams! Wish the angels sprinkle gold fairy dust over your eyelids!

Alicia

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Through Our Hands magazine, Issue 2


I woke up this morning to find the Through Our Hands magazine, Issue 2, in my Inbox.  I made myself a cup of tea and spent the next hour in bed reading the magazine on my iPad.  It is superb!

This is the link: TOH Magazine, Issue 2

Enjoy reading it!

Alicia

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Through Our Hands
Issue 2
Out Now!