It’s been a busy few months. I was invited to give a couple of talks about my Kombucha research work. Cleveland College of Art & Design (CCAD) and the Hutton Priory Patchers textile group from Preston were both lovely audiences, keen to know more. My Kombucha research was met with some disbelief that a fabric could be actually grown from microorganisms. So often this baffles people.
I took along sketchbooks full of Kombucha samples as well as larger pieces for the audience to touch and experience. It hadn’t occurred to me that once they knew that Kombucha was a bi-product of a healthy tea drink, some of my audience proceeded to taste it!
In all the time I’ve been working with Kombucha and despite its apparent health properties, I’ve not been able to bring myself to drink the tea or eat the harvested fabric. Maybe one day!
I was pleased also to be invited to contribute to the microbiology blog from the Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM)
This was again to disseminate the work I’ve been doing in growing Kombucha fabric exploring the crossover between art and science. I was delighted to be able to include so many images, from conception through the different stages of growth to the harvested fabric. Following on from this, I shared the article on the Growing Materials Google Community where other people grow materials from an array of different living organisms.
Doing these talks and writing the article has made me aware that I’ve still got much to learn and explore with Kombucha, yet it’s had to take a bit of a back seat due to other commitments and my present interest in printmaking and drawing work.
I continue to challenge myself with the notion of how to make time visible. Whether this is by capturing changes that happen over time or capturing a fleeting moment in time or by working with time itself.
I was invited to exhibit some of my prints alongside three other artists in an exhibition titled Elements of Landscape at Blackburn Museum Art Gallery. I was already exploring landscapes through monotypes and drypoint so it was the ideal opportunity to push this work further.
Still very much drawn to the sea and coast I wanted to try and capture a sense of place, atmosphere and change. So working with time in a different way, I immersed myself in the moment, creating one-off monotypes.
I like the quality and subtlety of the marks that can be achieved through printmaking, working quickly and spontaneously. I also like the sense of ambiguity of an image, not quite representational but with a hint of what might be. Monotypes are inherently unique with no two prints being the same. I like that.
I am drawn to wild, desolate places where weather and nature dominate. I often escape to the west coast of Scotland with its ever-changing weather conditions, driving rain, mist and turbulent seas. I love to be completely immersed in the landscape with large expanses of sea and sky and the isolation it brings. There is something quite satisfying being at one with the elements and feeling the wind in my face. I like to sit and watch the changing light and the endless motion of the tide, being in and part of the landscape.
Drawing and working outside, directly from the surroundings helps me capture what I’m sensing and feeling. My drawing work is always an investigation, trying to make sense of what I perceive and my physical engagement with the landscape. The connection between me, the landscape and the marks I create give the work spontaneity seldom achieved in the studio. As Norman Ackroyd once said It’s exciting painting in stormy weather…… What I hope for most when I’m painting is for all my rational thoughts to disappear: my eye, heart and hand become connected, and then I can distil the real essence of the landscape.
Since early December last year, running parallel with my own practice, I have been working for textile artist Alice Kettle on an ambitious nationwide project called ‘stitch a tree’. The project aims to connect communities and individuals to show support for displaced people around the world.
Individuals from all walks of life, all ages have been contributing to the project by stitching a tree and we’ve received between one and two thousand trees! Although we’ve come to the end of receiving stitched trees, the hard work has now started in hand sewing these to large panels of fabric to create a ‘forest’, which will be exhibited at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester late summer. You can find more information about this project at Alice’s website.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the work and project develops.