Monday, 25 April 2016

My Dear Life

Secret Life of Ely Cathedral:  our exhibition is entering it's final week.  Come along and have a look if you are in the area.  It's been really popular- we've had some great feedback.  This is not specifically a textiles show - it's a mix of paintings, sculpture, book arts, installation, photography and of course some textiles.

Here is one of my other printed pieces in the show.  It's based on a  love letter that was found in the ceiling of the Almonary from a young clockmaker's apprentice to a Miss Peacock of Ely. A handpainted playing card with 2 hearts was found with the letter. It is beautifully written, both in it's language and in the handwriting. It begins: 

" My Dear Life,.........."

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Secret Life of Ely Cathedral

I think I have hinted that I've been making some work for an exhibition  but I didn't want to give anything away until the work went up.  Well it's finally happened- I'm exhibiting as part of "The Secret Life of Ely Cathedral"  

There are 19 artists from Ouse Life  and the show has now been up for a week.  If you are anywhere in or near Ely, come and see it- it's really worth while.  There are sculptures, paintings, prints, hand made books and of course textiles exhibited throughout the Cathedral. My fellow artists have done some amazing work and we've had some great comments.

For me, one of the the most exciting 'secrets' of the cathedral is the archive which is held by Cambridge University. When I first started to look at the documents I was attracted by the beauty and patterning of the scripts themselves and I started to use these in the textiles. But as I progressed to looking at more recent documents I found the content really fascinating.  When I say 'recent', I am talking about documents from about 1630 onwards.  About that time, everyday texts begin to be written in English rather than Latin and the writing becomes more legible to the modern eye. 

The audit books and accounts were really fascinating - bills paid to workmen, grocery shopping, taxes and charity payments were all itemised and receipts signed on scraps of paper. 

I chose St Catherine's chapel for the siting of the work - a beautiful peaceful place which is accessible to anyone  for silent prayer and meditation at any time.

And I printed 18 banners - one for each of the archways which curve round the chapel. I wanted the banners to read as a single artwork.
Each banner is different. The designs are a combination of sketches I did of architectural elements and the archive texts. 

It felt like I was 'dressing' the chapel

So here's a detail across 3 of the banners showing texts from an audit book - payments for  labour and workmanship. The music is written instructions for the choir.

The altar cloth started as a print of the choir music texts.  But I wanted to add more to this central fabric. So I decided to overprint using texts that related to the giving of charity.  I thought this might be pertinent to the altar being a place of high holiness and an example of  charity to strangers that is still relevant today. "For a poor soldier come from the sea"  "Given to Widow (name not legible) for Michaelmas to Midsummer" and "Given to Christian poor travaillors (ie workers not travelers) on making  their vows at Michaelmas".  The symbol used for the Christian Poor is a central motif and some of the texts caused me to wonder  how much charity was conditional on being a Christian and making your vows in1640.