Last night was the first of two programmes about what really goes on in the fashion industry and the hidden cost of fashion clothing. Dispatches on Channel 4 'Undercover: Britain's Cheap Clothes' went behind the scenes to report on the shocking reality of poor working conditions, low pay, and hazardous environments.
Shamefully, this is nothing new, it has been investigated and reported many times over the years and scandalously the situation is still continuing. Remember how outraged we all were at the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh resulting in the death of 1100 workers?
How about when in Cambodia workers were shot for protesting about low pay, 100 hours a week for poverty level wages! Fires, chemical poisoning, oppressive management style .... oh yes, it's all still happening out there.
I spent some time researching the rise of fast fashion and the consequences of mass production when studying for my textiles degree. For those that are interested here is a link to a copy of my essay written back in 2015
..... sadly it is clear that nothing much has changed.
As always, your comments are welcome.
Oor Wullie is a cartoon character published in Scotland by D C Thomson in The Sunday Post. The Dundee Oor Wullie Bucket Trail was a public art event running from 27 June to 27 August. Over 50 5ft tall sculptures of Oor Wullie sitting on his bucket were individually decorated by artists/designers, and then located all round the city for the public to view.
Kalamkari Textile Art Group (of which I'm a member) applied to take part and submitted a design called 'A Pocketful O Pieces'. We were very pleased to be accepted and excited to take delivery of a huge plain white molded statue all ready for our unique designs.
As we are textile artists we made up Wullie's dungarees from lots of pockets, buttons and zips from different coloured recycled denim jeans. His shirt was made from sweetie wrappers and crisp bags, and he has a scarf made in both Dundee Football teams colours as we're sure he'd be a fan of both!
His pockets are filled with all the bits and pieces a boy might need - including a catapult, a jammy piece (jam sandwich), a pie, and Wee Jeemy (his pet mouse). We gave him a black eye too as he's always getting into scrapes!
Overall he was a lot of work, quite a big challenge, but all of us who worked on him had a fabulous time!
Last night, 13th September, all the Oor Wullies were up for auction at a very well attended event in Dundee to raise funds for the ARCHIE Foundation who support sick children in Scotland. Watching the auction online with bated breath we saw our boy sell for an amazing £9,000! So very pleased!
The overall auction saw 70 'Wullies' sold with a fantastic grand total of £883k raised. What a grand success!
I'm going to miss seeing the statues but I'm sure many of them will remain in Dundee in new locations through being purchased by local businesses.
A Pocketful O Pieces was bought by The Sands Restaurant at The Glass Pavilion in Broughty Ferry. So we can all pop by and say hello whilst enjoying a lovely lunch or a cake and a cuppa.
I've not been at all good at updating my blog or my Facebook pages this last few months .... well 7 seemingly! I have been busy though ....
In March I participated in the local Glenfarg Art Show which was a two day event showcasing the work of a surprisingly high number of very talented artists in many disciplines given the small size of our community. It was a super weekend with lots to see and buy and the refreshments were all provided by our local expert bakers. There was a very busy table for little ones to paint and draw and then learn how to make folded books from their efforts. Noisy, fun and messy!
I've run a few happy and successful workshops with all participants feeding back saying they've had a good time, learnt loads and had lots of fun. Just how I like it to be.
Two of the workshops were the 'Introduction to Book Making', where the mornings were spent painting, printing, stamping and texturing various papers. After lunch and drying time these were made into folded, stitched and glued books, each participant was able to take home 6 to 8 finished books.
The other workshops were on 'Vintage Lace, Linen and Memories'. This is all about making fabric collage pieces with photos and hand stitch detail. I had planned that participants would be working with the materials suggested in the title and I dusted off my Victorian lace and linens suitcase for everyone to dip into, thinking sepia tones and vintage style like this:
Most people loved the theme but of course everyone is different (that's what makes these workshops so inspiring) and I was able to get out my (very) big box of hand dyed fabrics for those that wanted to work in bold and bright colours. The end results were all so very different but every piece of work was totally unique and very beautiful.
As mentioned in my previous post I have some news!
Kalamkari are a group of Textile & Mixed Media Artists based in Central Scotland who meet regularly to share skills and techniques and work towards regular exhibitions of artworks. Standards are high and I've always admired the high quality of work they produce. Well I'm delighted to announce that I've been invited to join their group! It's always good to work with other creative people and that is one of the things I miss since leaving college. I'm very much looking forward to meeting up with the group in a few weeks time to discuss the next planned project. I've even had a sneaky preview of what the topic will be and am really pleased to find that it's something I've long held a big interest in!
Kalamkari are currently holding an exhibition of their work at Waterston House in Aberlady, East Lothian.
Obviously I'm not participating in this one but I was invited to the preview event and was really impressed with the sheer variety of pieces on display as well as the creativity and craftsmanship. It's a fabulous venue with lovely outside views and the work just looks so good on the walls and tables. Fabulous exhibition! And it's on until 17th February so I recommend a visit if you are able to get there.
Aberlady is a coastal village about 15 miles east of Edinburgh. I've always loved this coastline - from Longniddry through Aberlady and on to Gullane. The sand, the calm sea, the wildlife and the beaches, beautiful walks and there's always something to look at or to seek out.
While I was there I discovered a bit of a shell mountain. Nearly all were clam shells and most of them were covered in barnacles. Some of the markings and colourings were quite inspiring so I couldn't resist choosing a few for photographs.
And now to find my sketching implements, I feel a drawing exercise coming on. Mark making, patterns, texture and see where it leads!
And a big welcome to 2016. Last year I achieved many of my long term goals and was pleased to see that my creative work was going into new directions as I focused on some interesting research topics. My (many) sketchbooks are stuffed with drawings, word maps and design ideas some of which I hope to progress further.
I've developed a real interest in working with recycled materials, vintage textiles and found objects. I enjoy creating something new out of something old, discarded and abandoned. The bric-a-brac of life made into new artworks, the preservation of a previous 'life' and the creation of a new memory.
I've returned to making Artists' Books and this is something I really want to continue to explore more. For me the design and layout, the choice of materials, and the final construction methods are all important and I enjoy making the structure of my books as interesting as the content.
I've realised that I don't have to confine myself to just one type of artwork or style. In the past I worried that I hadn't developed a well defined 'brand' like many artists do, instead I continued to go off into all directions. Well, I think that's OK. I can be many things, as I am in life. Sometimes I may want to work in vibrant colour and other times all in white - white on white, oh yes! ..... after all Rothko was rather successful with his black graphite on black paint canvases!
I may make bold collages, perhaps a tiny book or even a large tome. Fabrics, paper, threads are all there for me, and I know from time to time I'll return to my 'Sepia Moods' alter ego and work with vintage lace, silks and hand stitch. How do I know? Well, because I already have a couple of works in progress .....
No, I did not spill my coffee on them, that vintage lace is complete with the old original tea stains! I like to see signs of previous use and wear and tear. I'll probably add more hand stitch to these pieces and then decide what to do with them, I think they would work well as book covers, any other suggestions?
That's all for now, but I'll be posting another update soon ...... and I will have some news, watch this space! As always I'd love to hear any comments
This September I participated in the Perthshire Open Studios annual event after a two year break. In previous years I have always opened up my home studio for visitors but this year for the first time I decided to join up with other artists in a High Street pop-up venue.
The Property Shop in Kinross was transformed into an art and craft gallery providing a showcase opportunity for participating local artists. We had paintings, printmaking, digital art, photography, jewellery, drawings, textiles, artists books and more.
Photos were taken by fellow participant Sylvia Breslin of Sylvan Photographics
I had intended to continue my blog over the last year with updates on how my degree course has been progressing. But after a long year of 9-5, 5 days a week, working on creative projects, writing essays, and keeping sketchbooks and log books I found I just did not have the time!
Anyway, I really enjoyed it despite all the hard work and I'm very pleased to report that I have now achieved a BA in Creativity & Design, with Distinction, from Gray's School of Art/Robert Gordon University. I won't try and catch you up with everything I've been doing, I'll just share some photos of my final portfolio of work and the end of year exhibition which was in June 2015.
The concept I chose as an overall theme for the final body of work was 'Fragments Reconceived' and I interpreted this through using recycled textiles and found objects. 'Make do and mend', playing with haberdashery items and darning patterns, and creating something new out of something discarded and abandoned. The bric-a-brac of life made into new artworks.
My corner at the exhibition was designed as a room environment, complete with an old manual sewing machine, and a writing bureau to display the BookArt work. Professionally printed fabrics are from my own digitally manipulated photographs of elderberry and beetroot dyeing experiments.
The pages are made from an old shirt that I bundle dyed with beetroot and found objects. It is stitched and embroidered with tiny machinery parts and the small pages are made from printed organza. I designed the supports in the shape of an old treadle sewing machine and they are laser cut from thick card.
Artists' Book 'Beetroot and Rust'.
I loved the shadow play I achieved in staging the photos. I have a high quality hardback photo book for sale which contains 2 single page photos and 16 double spread pages - it's a beautiful coffee table book or a fabulous gift. Please email me for more details.
Artists' Book 'Gifts from the Gutter'
Found objects are captured within a cut out folded book and the design is inspired by drain cover patterns. It's constructed from a single sheet of paper folded into a 16 page book. The objects in it were all found in the street by me and are typical of what makes me curious about the stories behind these fragments of people's lives. It's surprising what can be found when you look!
'From Cradle to Kalashnikov'
The old duffle coat fasteners reminded me of bullets. The toggles go up in size from baby, through childhood, to teenager. I have placed spent bullets at the top. The piece is symbolic of how some children barely reach their teens before a gun is put into their hands to fight a war they never asked for.
Observational Drawing unit was fun, instead of just drawing with the expected implements we were encouraged to draw with stitch. This is a seed pod, drawn freehand with the sewing machine, silks and threads added, and then painted and distressed
Stitched Textiles and Mixed Media Art from The Rose Cottage Studio in beautiful rural Perthshire