Monday, August 29, 2016

Rita Summers - The Making of Mary Mordaunt

Trapped, constricted, tied down by societies rules of norm. It is a shared history for many, and depressingly a largely female one. Whilst many men had at least some room for manoeuvre within their lot, some could work their way into different fields, different positions, some could emigrate, start afresh, anew, women could only really change their circumstances under the shadow of another. 

The men in their life, whether father, brother, husband, son, often set the parameters of a womans life, and the opportunities, or lack of them. Women had few if any outlets for growth, and were expected to support and compliment the world of the men in their life, that role was rarely reciprocal.

I know from the stories in my own family history, as well as that of others, the staggering amount of women, generation after generation after generation, who lived in frustration, angry at the tiny world they were deemed to need. Many of them more sharply aware that they were more talented, more energetic, more dynamic than many of the men that surrounded them, yet, powerless to make a significant mark of their lives, to drive it in a direction that suited them, to have a purpose that didn't involve household and family.

Which inevitably leads us to Rita Summers and The Making of Mary Mordaunt. Rita Summers is a mixed media artist who produces work in a range of mediums from textiles to books, from fashion to art prints, and assemblages. She uses eco printing and dyeing, as well as mixed media techniques, and stitching and drawing.

The Making of Mary Mordaunt project was an important one for Rita, as a woman, and perhaps more specifically as a contemporary woman. Rita is fully aware that the contemporary world is in many ways a different place than it has been for so many countless generations of women, but she is also aware that in many ways it is still exactly the same. So in some respects, the Mary Mordant project reflects the past constriction in the role of a woman as individual, but can equally reflect the present constriction that many women still find themselves in within own present world.

I am going to allow Rita to give the detailed description and purpose of The Making of Mary Mordaunt, in her own words. There is little I would want to change or add, so it seems fitting.

Mary Mordaunt was a young woman in the early 1900's who, like everyone, had hopes and dreams that she put on hold for family and financial reasons.  She deeply wanted purpose in her life, beyond the usual daily routine activities.  Sometimes the frustration became almost more than she could bear, and she would feel herself unravelling.  Her dilemma is an age-old one, especially for women, even today.  The vintage clothing I've repurposed, the torn silk, the rust - all these express in visual form who she was and how she felt.  The vintage suitcase represents both her desire to travel and see the world, and her willingness to drop everything to be with those she loved, even if it meant putting her own wishes on hold.  The shredded paper symbolizes how she felt when she was torn between her responsibilities and her dreams.  Mary Mordaunt's story could be anyone's, including mine!

Just like to say a big thankyou to Rita for the opportunity to feature Mary Mordant, it was both a pleasure an an honour, and also to give credit where credit is due, Mary Mordant being a finalist in the national Bibliography Art Award 2016, in Port Fairie, Victoria, Australia. 

Rita has a website: She can also be found on social media sites: twitter, facebook

One final note, the imagery for this article was supplied by the artist, and you really do need to ask her permission before sharing any of the imagery. Thanks

I leave you with the final few words Rita penned regarding Mary Mordaunt:

a ticking clock
shreds time

my secret dreams

my patience ripped

can hope emerge

or is this all there is

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Inspirational Plus - man/body/fiber

Today sees the release of Inspirational Plus - man/body/fiber

6 artists/8 questions

The artists: Anthony Stevens, Cos Ahmet, James Fox, Joe Lewis, Luke Haynes, Stewart Kelly

The questions:
Why fiber/textiles and not another discipline?
What does it mean to you personally, being a man?
What does it mean to you being a man in the fiber/textiles field?
How do you think that your gender influences your work as an artist?
What do you think that you have brought with you to the fiber/textiles discipline, by being a man?
Do you express your gender through fiber/textiles in a general, or more personal level?
Would you encourage more men to enter the fiber/textiles world, and if so, why?
What next for Ant/Cos/James/Joe/Luke/Stewart?

Inspirational Plus comes in at 76 pages, with 49 full page, full colour photos of artists work. All imagery and all answers to questions are entirely the choice of each artist, nothing has been edited by me.

Inspirational Plus can be bought for $6.99, and instantly downloaded from the usual Inspirational page, top of the page, second tab in.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Love Thy Denim Exhibition

Ian Berry: Journey Home, 2013. Photo credit: courtesy of the artist

From workwear to haute couture, historical to contemporary, rebellion to endeavour, a new exhibition opening this August, Love Thy Denim, celebrates the many faces of our beloved denim.

This exciting and impressive fashion exhibition will explore the origins and versatility of denim, from its workwear heritage in the Wild West right through to its adoption into mainstream fashion and becoming the fabric of our everyday lives.

There will be many key pieces on display, including a jacket and trousers from Vivienne Westwood’s 1991 Cut, Slash and Pull collection, the first time that this ensemble has been out on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum (the V&A). Among the other exhibition highlights are a Jean Paul Gaultier men’s ensemble on loan from the Fashion Museum Bath, a piece from Maison Margiela’s SS2009 Artisanal Collection, exhibits from British denim revivalists Blackhorse Lane Ateliers and nineteenth century denim artefacts dug up from US silver mines.

Jean Paul Gaultier: Denim ensemble, c1990s. Photo credit: Fashion Museum, Bath

Also on display will be the ISKO Commission, a spectacular dress made from different shades of denim supplied by the exhibition’s partner ISKO™, global leader in denim manufacturing and textile innovation. Designed by Kylie Crompton-Malcolm of Monday I’m In Love and created in collaboration with pattern cutter Russell Wharton, the concept behind the ISKO Commission is to show the versatility and beauty of denim.

The emphasis is not just on fashion and clothing. Alongside will appear iconic denim advertising images, denim accessories including sunglasses and even denim art made from the world’s favourite cloth.

Maison Margiela Denim Ensemble, SS2009 Artisanal Collection. Photo credit: Jacques Habbah

“We are so excited to have such an extraordinary and eclectic variety of pieces to show at what promises to be a thrilling exhibition,” said Janet Owen, Chief Executive at Hampshire Cultural Trust, organiser of Love Thy Denim.

“To have pieces as varied as 19th century denim from US silver mines, to a jacket by Hannah Jinkins, winner of the 2016 H&M New Designer Award, is an incredible privilege, and a great celebration of this simple cloth which has made such a huge impact on our society.”

Love Thy Denim opens in The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre on Saturday 27 August, and runs until Sunday 23 October. It then opens at the Gallery @ Gosport Discovery Centre on Saturday 29 October. Admission to both venues is free of charge, donations are welcome.

Hannah Jinkins: Denim jacket, AW 2015. Photo credit: Prexa Shrestha

About Hampshire Cultural Trust
Hampshire Cultural Trust operates and funds Hampshire’s and Winchester’s council-owned museums, galleries and arts centres. The trust proudly champions world-class culture and exists to showcase, connect and empower Hampshire’s creative economy.

The independent charity works collaboratively to bring organisations, people and ideas together for greater impact, with customer focus at its core. To find out more and for a full list of attractions operated by Hampshire Cultural Trust visit

About Isko

ISKO™ is a company of SANKO holding and the world’s largest denim manufacturer under one roof: production capacity of 250 million metres of fabric each year in a 300,000 m² factory. With a wide range of innovative fabric technologies and products that meet the most diverse demands of the denim sector, ISKO™ is geared towards the market’s high end. ISKO™ operates in 60 international locations and has secured many patents and trademarks to protect the value of its innovations. Its environmentally-friendly approach is being certified by authoritative institutions and ISKO™ has also become the only denim mill globally to receive Nordic Swan Ecolabel with ISKO EARTH FIT™ platform.

To find out more about ISKO™, please visit

Hampshire Cultural Trust would like to thank the supporters of Love Thy Denim:

Hampshire County Council

Winchester City Council
Gosport Borough Council
Arts Council England

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Henry Hussey Reliquaries Exhibition

Henry Hussey: Betrayal
Henry Hussey: Solidarity

British textile artist Henry Hussey works with actress Maxine Peak to inspire Reliquaries 

Henry Hussey’s solo show Reliquaries opens at Gallery 8 in London on Monday 12 July 2016. 

Hussey’s work for Reliquaries is drawn from three key inspirations from the artist’s life. His relationship with his father, death and memory, and a growing political awareness. Within the overall works of Reliquaries, there are two other bodies of work, The Last Breath and Locking Horns.

Hussey describes the making of such artworks as cathartic in that they deal directly and honestly with the complexities of his familial relationships.  Hussey found out that his father had two families, neither of whom knew of each other, and the anger arising from this informed his work to date.  This inspired the body of work Locking Horns.
Henry Hussey: Expulsion

Now the artist has chosen to move on from the catalyst of this anger towards his father and the work in Reliquaries, also addresses the concept of memory and death, and the idea of a fractured, divided England.

Using actors to create live performances of the work Hussey envisions and feed his inspiration.  Most notably, the performances for The Last Breath were enacted by renowned actress Maxine Peake. The sessions with Peake allowed Hussey to capture genuine responses to emotion through drawing, photography and audio recording, paying careful attention to the responses of the face and body to specific emotional intensities. 

Hussey says of Peake “The pathos she can convey is incredible. Maxine not only embodies the spirit of the work, but working with her inspired me to develop new areas of work and inspiration. The growing political comment in some of the works arose directly from our partnership.”

Henry Hussey: Jerusalem

Death and memory play a large part in Hussey’s ‘Reliquaries’ series. Rooted in the artist’s personal history, the artworks explore the ways that memories of a person are fragmented and composite – pieces of a life that are assembled in hindsight. Materials are significant within everything Hussey makes but perhaps none more so than in ‘Reliquaries’, in their allusions to Victorian mourning clothing, jewellery and domestic interior preparation by way of respect and remembrance.

The series of work Locking Horns explores what Hussey describes as his anger toward his father. Using diary-like sections of stitched text that leave no room for misunderstanding in tandem with striking, sometimes quite violent images, pieces such as ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Betrayal’ are powerful and intimate slices of a relationship that speak of power, control and usurpation. 

Another series also titled ‘Reliquaries’, meanwhile, uncovers aspects of death and memory. Again rooted in the artist’s personal history, the artworks explore the ways that memories of a person are fragmented and composite – pieces of a life that are assembled in hindsight. 

Henry Hussey: The North

Working with a range of traditional and contemporary processes such as embroidery and digital printing, his textile-based artworks utilise these materials as emotionally expressive tools. Materials are significant within everything Hussey makes but perhaps none more so than in ‘Reliquaries’, in their allusions to Victorian mourning clothing, jewellery and domestic interior preparation by way of respect and remembrance.

Henry Hussey completed a BA (Hons) at Chelsea College of Art, 2011, followed by an MA in Textiles at the Royal College of Art, 2013. Hussey has exhibited in Hong Kong and nationally in the Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition, 2014, and the Royal Academy Summer Show, 2014. The artist is based in Surrey, UK. Henry Hussey is represented by Coates and Scarry, curators of internationally ground-breaking shows and exhibit at Art Context Miami and New York.

Reliquaries is presented by Coates and Scarry at Gallery 8, 8 Duke Street St James, London, 12-30 July 2016.

Text supplied by Damson Communications

More of Henry's work can be found at his website:

Henry Hussey

Monday, July 18, 2016

Textile Nature by Anne Kelly

Plants, flowers, gardens, insects and birds are a rich source of inspiration for artists and designers of all kinds. This beautiful guide demonstrates how to get the most out of your surroundings to create original and unique pieces in textiles.

Beginning with a chapter on drawing from nature, the book demonstrates how to use sketchbooks and create mood boards to explore your local environment and landscape. The author demonstrates how to make small pieces such as folding books based on observational drawing and stitch. Moving on to a section on floral inspiration, the author shows how to use plants and flowers in your work, from using stencilled flower motifs as embellishment to printing with plants onto fabric and making simple relief prints. Finally, the Taking Flight chapter demonstrates how to move into three-dimensions and sculptural work with birds and insects made from cloth.

Featuring step-by-step projects as well as work from contemporary artists, makers and collaborative groups throughout, this practical and beautiful guide shows how practitioners of all kinds can draw from the natural world for making and inspiration.

At 128 pages, and stacked with full colour photos of work by such artists as: Meredith Woolnough, Cas Holmes, Carol Naylor, Kim Thittichai, Alice Fox, Hillary Fayle, and many more, this is a great book for anyone who has an interest in connecting nature with textiles, and would be a great source book and constant reference guide for any textile artists library.

Textile Nature, along with Anne's previous book in collaboration with Cas Holmes Connected Cloth: Creating Collaborative Textile Projects, can both be bought on Amazon, as well as other reputable outlets. 

Anne Kelly is a textile artist and tutor. She trained in Canada and the UK and now teaches and speaks to guilds and groups. Her work is exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions, including private collections in the UK and abroad, the Vatican Collection in Rome and at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto. She was recently artist-in-residence at Sussex Prairies Garden in West Sussex and exhibited at the international World of Threads Festival and the Prague Patchwork Meeting. She is the co-author of Connected Cloth, also published by Batsford.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Sheree Dornan - Living Art

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) digital print cascade dress

It is always wonderful when art takes a broad stroke, when it transfers itself from one designation to another, one discipline to another, one world view to another. To connect art to a place that seems to others to be outside of itself, outside its natural remit, is to really understand art, to understand its central purpose in our lives.

Art is not there to be rarified, to be part of an ever accumulating collection, something to be passed on to future generations to maintain and then pass on again. Art is there to be lived, to be part of the now, it is there to be wrapped around the psyche, to be part of the everyday as much as it is of the special. Which is why art and design connections are particularly special.

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) digital print on silk

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) digital print on silk

From fine to design doesn't always work of course, there have been many disasters, many half attempts, many ill-considered ones as well. Often, art was stuck on top of a discipline, as if it were merely a form of signature from a particular artist, that it would somehow give cache to the discipline it was attempting to attach itself to. However, when it works well, when the connection is focused, sympathetic, and understood, then it works exceedingly well. 

The artist and designer Sheree Dornan has certainly succeeded in connecting and combining art and costume. Her beautiful works are so effortlessly interchangeable between fine art on a wall, and fine art on a body. This is no mere decoration of a garment, but is in fact an art piece draped upon a living person.

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) digital print, detail

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) digital print, detail

With minimal cutting and no waste Sheree is able to provide elegance and flow to her work. Garments appear to move as if the body that wears them is still part of the artwork, which in many ways they are. To wear a costume by Sheree is very much wearing a piece of artwork by Sheree, the two are connected so organically, that the space between one and the other cannot be seen.

Boro(d) is the name Sheree gives to her featured work. She cleverly uses the borrowed word  and technique of boro, and places it within the larger context of Boro(d), and although indeed borrowed, Sheree has made this technique and process her own.

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) digital print, detail

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) digital print, detail

Boro is derived from the Japanese term meaning something that is tattered and/or repaired. It is a word and definition that has many explanations, and many particular and conceptual meanings depending on who you are, and how you want to see it. But it is about the continuation of a piece of cloth, one that is maintained and added to over the years, allowing the integrity of the piece to remain even as it is modified and added to throughout its history, rather like maintaining a family quilt through constant repair.

Sheree produces her borrowed concept of the boro, her boro(d), using a working process that focuses on specialised digital printing techniques onto selected silk base cloths, producing limited edition runs of each print design. 

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) hand dyed, hand stitched panel

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) hand dyed, hand stitched panels

She uses mostly rectangular pieces that can be either made into fine art hangings, or suspended, or draped wall panels, or they can be formed into garments by draping them onto a mannequin with minimal cutting and no waste. Each garment becomes, but its very existence and making journey, an individual piece, with no other copy, no short or long runs, just the individual piece in its entirety.

Hand editing is done on each piece with embellishing techniques such as stitching and beading. The hand editing is applied to both the fine art wall panels as it is to the fine art garments, in many ways making it even more apparent that the creative techniques and process is the guiding line between fine art and costume, so that art becomes costume, and costume becomes art. 

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) installation fashion forms exhibition

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) mixed media on canvas

This is the defining point in Sheree's work, that combination of art and design, of wearing a garment that has been part of the process of fine art, because it is fine art. Being closely connected to an artwork is always a difficult process for many, but to be mesmerised by wearing a piece of fine art work, to be integral to the canvas, it couldn't get much better than that.

More of Sheree's work can be found at her website: and

Sheree can also be found on social media: twitter, facebook, instagram

She is also one of 35 artists featured in the book Textile Visionaries: Innovation and Sustainability in Textile Design by Bradley Quinn

Please be aware that all of the imagery provided for this article, was indeed provided by Sheree. If you want to reproduce any of the images of her work, please ask her first. Thanks!

Sheree Dornan: Boro(d) panel detail with digital print boro patches

Monday, June 20, 2016

Claire Louise Mather - Nature and Textiles

Claire Louise Mather: Springtime, detail

Textile artists and nature so often seem to go hand in hand. It is not always the case that textile artists have nature as their primary inspiration, but more often than not you will find the connection there, it is a connection of intent. 

There is something about the physicality of textile work that seems to draw artists time and again to the natural world as canvas. Sky, earth, ocean, and all the permutations between, have fascinated and continue to fascinate textile artists. 

There are so many interpretations and projections of the natural world, all of which are valid, intriguing, adding always to the burgeoning vocabulary that is contemporary textile art.

Claire Louise Mather

Claire Louise Mather: Memories of March

One of those contemporary textile artists who have the natural world as a central pillar to their creativity, is Claire Louise Mather. Claire uses a combination of photography, collage, and textiles in her work in order to reflect on her own observations of nature. 

She is intrigued by all aspects of the natural environment, from the slow cycle of seasons, the constantly changing weather patterns, the slow grinding down of surfaces, all are part of the environment that she wishes to be part of, and in taking part, to also project back through her work, and out into the world of the viewer.

Claire Louise Mather: April Dawn

Claire often visits and revisits familiar spots in the environment in order to record and enjoy the changes that so often go unnoticed in the natural world. It is these changes that in many respects show us that we are alive, show us that movements are always cyclical, that birth is part of decay, and decay is part of rebirth.

This is an artist that has photography as an integral part of her initial work. She uses the camera as an ongoing sketchbook, detailing experiences of surfaces, textures, landscapes both large and small, all of the details that go eventually to make up her compositions.

Claire herself says that her work is "an exploration of drawing with stitch," one of constant experiencing of surfaces and textures. Texture, colour, and pattern are always visible in the artists work, and it is a combination that has no real end as each new composition is a new exploration, a new discovery of an always changing landscape. And that of course has to be the most exciting in its appeal to the artist, a landscape that both unfolds and renews within a constant cycle, giving an endless scenario of change and familiarity. 

Claire Louise Mather

Claire Louise Mather: Yorkshire, detail

With that in mind, enjoy the work of Claire as she both works through her fascination with, and intrigue over, the natural environments that she so effortlessly makes her own.

More of Claire's work can be found at her comprehensive website:

All of the imagery of Claire's work shown in this article were generously supplied by the artist. If you want to use the imagery elsewhere please ask her before doing so. Thanks.

Claire Louise Mather: View From Long Lane

Monday, June 06, 2016

Tamar Branitzky - Artist and Designer

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. Textile art

There is a space in textiles, as in other disciplines, where art and design can play an interactive game. The singular subjectivity of fine art and the general practical requirements of design may seem to be poles apart, but anyone who has worked in both fields will know how the two share more than they sometimes wish to admit. 

Creative individuals who straddle art and design are actually relatively large in number, I myself have a design degree, as well as fine art training and sensibilities, and find it relatively easy to move between the two, understanding and empathising with the two different outlooks on creativity.

The artist and designer Tamar Branitzky is just that, an artist and a designer. Her work straddles the two worlds, with some of her output being aimed specifically at the fine art world, and some specifically at the design world. 

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. BO1 fabric

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. BO1 fabric

Interestingly, her work, both for art and design, are not instantaneously separated by look and feel. Tamar manages to a lot of crossing and weaving between the subjective and the practical, with elements of fine art coming out in her design work, and design principles being encased in her fine art work. To me that seems like the best of possible outcomes, to have an element of practicality within fine art, and a level of sensitivity within design work is what we definitely need more of!

Tamar's initial inspiration for both fine art and design, often comes from the natural environment around her. She is particularly interested in the stages of life as seen amongst flora, particularly flowers themselves, being intrigued at the processes to be found between blooming, decomposition, disintegration. She collects flowers and branches, readily combining them with free-hand drawing.

Illustration. Tamar Branitzky in her studio

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. Sketchbook

Tamar is keen to make representations in her work, to show contrast and to show passage, to detail the effect the travel of time can have over an object, such as the bloom of a flower. The detail of colour, tone, and texture that happens as part of the passage of flower from bloom to husk is an integral part of her work, and can readily be seen on many of the textile surfaces that she produces.

As far as her fine art work is concerned, she uses a range of materials, including fabrics, papers, old books, maps, stamps, watercolour drawings, and real organic materials. The combinations of the materials used give Tamar such a broad scope. The flexibility and delicacy between paper and fabric for example, inspires a near magical relationship that gives Tamar endless possibilities.

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky in the studio
Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. Textile Biennale, Eretz Israel Museum

Tamar has also processed and developed her own fabric techniques, which she has called BO1. BO1 fabrics are handmade artistic surfaces created using a unique chemical process. The fabrics are made up of a combination of chiffon, silk, and cotton, and can be used as a variety of fashion and interior accessories, from scarves and clothing, to lampshades, upholstery, and co.

Tamar produces textile work, whether for fine art or design, in such beautiful combinations, where colour, tone, and texture play with and against each other in ever differing compositions. All is unique, all is beautifully complex, and as with nature, Tamar's supreme inspiration, all is forever changing.

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. Wearable art scarf

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky, 2015

More of Tamar's work can be found at her comprehensive website:, as well as on etsy: She can also be seen and followed on pinterest:, and  instagram:

All photographs of Tamar's work were provided by: Roy Mizrachi, Gilad bar Shalev, Eretz Israel Museum.

Please also be aware that all imagery was kindly supplied by Tamar. If you wish to reproduce any of the photos please ask her for permission first. Thanks!

Illustration: Tamar Branitzky. Textile art