Friday, 28 September 2012

Friday Randomness - geometrics

Having returned to college and been given our first brief of the year I'm starting as I usually do by grazing books, websites, old photographs in fact any imagery to stimulate ideas and get my creativity flowing. Spotted an interesting image on jeanniejeannie's blog and was surprised to find it was made from chocolate.  There really is pattern everywhere.  Enjoy!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Friday Randomness - artisan printmaker

Just rediscovered the designs of textile designer Celia Birtwell one time muse of David Hockney. Drawing inspiration from the work of Picasso, Matisse and classical designs she developed her distinctive bold and romantic designs epitomising the  1960's and 70's

This is a joy!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Northern Print - Marta Lech artist in residence

Northern Print have just had the pleasure of hosting Marta Lech for three weeks as artist in residence. Sadly from my perspective she decided to use her time experimenting with screen printing - a new technique for her rather than working on her wonderful lino cut prints.
I really loved her work at last years International Print Biennale and initially thought she used etching to create her prints.

I would be so happy to live with this

Close up detail of her work, I imagined the cutting would be the most challenging part but she said the inking up proved to be a very difficult process. 

Friday, 3 August 2012


The last few posts have focused on other peoples work so I thought it about time I shared what I've been doing.  I'm still struggling to consolidate my style and approach to my work. Its good to be drawing but I feel I'm lacking focus at the moment. Much of what I do I find lacking in some way and I never seem satisfied  but I am generating quite a lot of images and experimental mark/pattern making which is good.

Lots of interesting ideas here I think it would be good to make some of them up into screens and do some experimental print work with them.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Kettles Yard

I've been wanting to visit Kettles Yard for some years but always seemed to choose to wrong day/time! However I've finally been and must say wasn't disappointed. It's a beautiful house full of amazing pieces of modern art. There are paintings and sculptures by Miro, Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Alfred Wallis to name but a few.

Nicholson and shells

Three collages by Italo Valenti

 These were interspersed with natural objects beautifully arranged in low oak tables and book cases.

The lovely thing about this gallery was the opportunity to examine all the work at close quarters without being asked to stand back.  Even better the lovely old armchairs perfectly placed to view the rooms or selected items.

One of the items I particularly fell in love with was this piece of block printed fabric by Ben Nicholson.
It was displayed simply in the bathroom on a curtain pole and was perfect.

Kettles Yard is a fantastic gallery, a space to sit and contemplate the work and life if you choose.
 A perfect exercise in modesty, an expression of one persons vision of what they wanted to be surrounded by whilst leaving a beautiful legacy for those who follow 

Friday, 6 July 2012

V&A British Design 1948 - 2012

Having not been to London for an age I had a list as long as my arm of things I wanted to do - however as with all great plans it changed and I only achieved a few of the to dos on my list! One of the exhibitions I wanted to see was at the V&A, British Design 1948-2012.  It was lovely to be greeted by these amazing columns in the entrance, great designs from the 50's which I love.

The exhibition was by its nature eclectic, ranging from textiles by Lucienne Day to chairs through the decades to Concord.  It worked its way through a wealth of political, social, technological  and scientific developments charting the progress of many key aspects of design.
It was fascinating seeing the development of products but somewhat alarming as I could remember many of them from the first time around!  It did however make me reflect on the pace at which design changes and the longevity of some design pieces.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

New Designers 2012

Finally made it down to London to visit New designers part one at the New design Centre where textile students get the chance to exhibit their final degree show to the world.  It was a very overwhelming event with a total assault on the senses.  There were hundreds of stands showing a wide range of styles, techniques and diversity. Unfortunately photographs were not allowed but this will give you an idea of the size of the event.

This was only the textile hall there were additional rooms for jewellery and ceramics. By the end of the day I had total visual overload but came away inspired by what I had seen and if I'm honest somewhat overwhelmed, it does make you question if there is space for all this talent and all the other aspiring textile and pattern designers out there?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Glasgow School of Art - Degree Show

Well I can only say what a proud mum I am - my daughter Meg Held has completed her degree with flying colours and displayed her work beautifully at her degree show. Her work is created through the use of hand made blocks which are individually printed to create unique fabrics. Meg has a passion for keeping the environmental impact of her print process as low as possible and goes to the lengths of sourcing reclaimed wood to create her printing blocks.

range of samples based on found objects

Chair upholstered by Meg in her own fabric

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

2nd Year Final Show

I can't believe how quickly this year has gone and how much I've learned although I feel a long way from know what my final direction may be.  As the year comes to an end the second years are still working frantically and gearing up to their end of course show.
I decided it would be a good experience to help with this and perhaps see first hand what was involved.  The answer is simple ... lots of work!
I helped Deb Bunn who works under the name of sweetmurmuration.
Debs main focus for her final show was a range of beautiful silk scarves developed from her love of the local area and its land marks.  We had lots of fun and a bit of stress but the final outcome was good!

Not the best images but they give a flavour. 

Other students whose work I enjoyed include Cheryl Jackson whose work has a great retro feel 

Dyane Brown who created a beautiful wedding dress using the tradition craft of felting - this has definitely  been brought into the 21st C

Melanie Kyles who uses found garments and settings and reworks them into contemporary adornments

Laura Gee who created a fun children's collection based on the ever popular dinosaur theme

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Wallpaper Project

After many hours of drawing and frustration with my lack of intuitive knowledge of Photoshop I've finally completed the project!
My initial intention was to challenge myself and design a children's wallpaper collection using strong colour rather than my preference for monotone. I think this was quite successful although some people questioned the collection in that it contained four very different designs that initially seemed quite disparate. I think my final designs were quite cohesive with theme - rock-pools/sea life providing the thread linking strongly with my original drawings. Below are images of my final presentation - room was limited and not the most inspiring of settings but I managed to give a flavour of the designs and further development ideas.

As this was a live brief and competition I had to give a presentation to Kate Usher who was to be the final judge.
Much to my surprise I was chosen as winner and was given a cash prize (the first money earned from a design) and more importantly a chance to work alongside Kate as she develops more of her designs - should be a great opportunity to learn lots!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Late Show - Northern Print

The Late Shows is a free cultural event based around Newcastle and Gateshead with many popular venues normally closed in the evenings opening their doors after hours on a Friday and Saturday night. It's a really popular event with free busses taking people between venues.

I volunteered at Northern Print where the theme was based on the Olympic Flame and visitors were encouraged to participate in a Flaming Print event and be part of a round the world printing challenge involving eight international print workshops. You can find a link to a video here

The studio was in full swing with printmakers demonstrating all the different print presses

Friday, 11 May 2012

happy friday - design randomness

here is an interesting insight into printed fabric production from one of my favourite companies Marimekko from Finland.  I like their simple dramatic designs and use of colour.

It's some time since I visited the Nora Fok exhibition at the Shipley Museum but her work is so beautiful that I've found this short clip where she talks about her inspiration. Good to revisit, especially when inspiration is lacking...
I really like the fact that while her work is important it is not complete without the wearer, something to bear in mind for the future.

creating a wallpaper for children has made me think about all things child related, here are some fantastic wooden toys - makes you wonder if they really are for children or whether adults are really the target as their design is so sophisticated!

Friday, 4 May 2012

happy friday - randomness

New goal - to try and post more regularly and perhaps try a weekly happy friday post of randomness 

Today I have found three short videos that just inspired me.

beautiful images of some highly skilled craftsmen

Huguette Caland is a Lebanese artist whose work is a fantastic combination of line and colour which is very suggestive of textile decoration. She has a great outlook on life and this this video is about how she sees enjoying life as an important part of her daily routine and how she approaches her work.

Olafur Arnalds Ljosio - lovely music with an interesting way to look at colour

Sunday, 29 April 2012


I have recently added a link to my Pinterest boards. For those of you who are unfamiliar with  it, it is a site that lets you organize and share all the inspirational things you find on the web. People use pinboards to collect images, make visual plans, and organize their favourite things.   As well developing your own collections you can browse pinboards created by other people discovering new things and getting inspiration from people who share your interests. 
If you want to join you need to make a request you can do that here.

Beware it can be addictive!!!!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

wallpaper brief

Our final brief has recently been set with the input of Kate Usher a wallpaper and surface designer based in the North East. She describes her designs as ageless, timeless and elegant with a playfully cool and quirky edge.

The basic brief is to design wall coverings for either boutique hotel or children.  To the surprise of many I've chosen to design for children.  As a challenge to myself I'm determined to branch out from my usual neutral and monochrome colour palettes and use colour!!!! 
With previous briefs I've usually had a fairly good idea where my designs would go from the outset however this one has proved more challenging , being so open the possibilities are endless so where to start....

When I'm not sure what to do I find returning to mark making very grounding and gives me time to think about how I could apply the marks.  I think the actual marks I make are just as important as the final image so I want to explore ways of combining the two, particularly if I am to use colour on a large scale.

Along side this I researched into trends for 2013 -14, these were more difficult to find as not many trend predictors are willing to give much away too for future seasons.  However I did find some information  on colour trends and created several inspiration boards as possible colour palettes.

Love the fresh zing of this colour combination, perhaps not immediately identified as a traditional choice of colour for children but I think would give a room a playful contemporary feel

This colour palette feels calm and light.  These colours remind me of time spent in scandinavia where water plays an important feature in the landscape complimented by houses painted in dark pinky red tones

I like the depth of this colour palette colours together the colours create a sense  of security and cosiness

The images used to create the mood boards are not directly related to my theme of rock pools, instead I decided to look at a wider range of images and object to expand my thinking. 

After looking at some of the work of children's book illustrators (see earlier post) I was inspired by the hand drawn qualities of many of their work and thought that this was something I wanted to retain in my work. I decided to begin teaching myself Illustrator in order to scan my drawn images in and convert them to vector images which would make them easier to manipulate at a large scale if I chose a digital route. Something I have become interested in is using my marks to create a range of papers for collage. It took a long time to get to begin to get to grips with Illustrator and many stopping and starting YouTube videos before I had much success. Here are the first results not perfect or the right colours yet but they will be useful for preliminary work. 

Looking back over this post, particularly the mark making, reminded me of a little video I captured a few weeks ago of sunlight shining through my rainy window so I thought I'd share it with you!  The patterns really intrigued me.

Having worked on my mark making images and beginning to make decisions about which ones I will use to create my collage papers I have begun to tackle the central theme of my design through the idea of childhood memories. Part of my research suggested that in times of economic restraint societies tend to look back to the past for reassurance and comfort. One of the trends coming through a variety of media, including film, was the notion of childhood and simpler times. I decided to use this as a starting point reflecting back on things I enjoyed myself and with my children when they were small and I settled on the idea of rock pools.  Having made this decision i began drawing a variety of sea creatures and artefacts from primary and secondary sources. here are a few examples.

Pencil drawings using fine hard pencils and graphite sticks

Colour work using negative space created in photoshop image, coloured using watercolours with lines drawn in masking fluid.  Pattern work developing from close detail found in crustacean shells

sea urchin sketches using pen and pencil in a variety of techniques.

Li Edelkoort

Whilst having my daily dose of blog and youtube browsing I came across this short video clip of Li Edlekoort a trend forecaster and publisher of Trend Tablet sharing her views on the future of textiles . I think what she has to say is really interesting and important to all fellow textile lovers.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Book Illustrators

For our new brief and the last one of this year ( I can't believe time has gone so quickly) I've been looking back at some book  illustrators for inspiration which I loved as a child and a teacher. There are so many amazing artists out there so I'll share my inspiration board highlighting a few that I particularly like and inspire me just now.

Oh I do like to be beside the sea....

Always find a walk along the coast a seriously good way to blow the cobwebs away and get back in touch with the world. Doesn't really matter what the weather it's often more beautiful when its a bit grey.  Like the brooding  dark skies - what an inspirational place it would be to have a studio!

Also had fun playing around with the Hipstamatic app on my phone. you can create some interesting effects, I like the vintage polaroid feel it creates.

Lots of lovely patterns in the sand too - you really don't have to look far to find inspiration

But for some really inspirational sand patterns look at the work of Andreas Amador.  His patterns and shapes are both geometric and organic, sometimes using the topical landscape to help him sculpt his art. While his landscape art is impressive and beautiful it is also fleeting and rarely does his work last more than a few hours before wind and tide erase his artwork and leave a blank canvas.