Bridging Arts

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Bank Holiday weekend and Furzedown exhibition pieces

We wound up our classes at the Furzedown project last week - and embroiderers there have much to do this Bank Holiday weekend... We're planning an exhibition of the work created during these classes in late September. The 15th is the cut off date for embroidery being ready.
At Wednesday's class, people already had lots of ideas. And some extraordinary stories were told.
Mary, for example, brought a sketch of a heart.  She said she wanted to embroider all the names of all the people who are important to her.
She had written them down on a piece of paper because she said it was important to remember. Particularly those with the name Bruce. She showed us her signet ring with the family crest. This is the crest of  Robert the Bruce - and we all suddenly realise that Mary is descended from a great Scottish hero and King.  Robert 1, King of Scots from 1306 to 1329.
On the letterhead, with the list of names that she wants to embroider, is a spider. The spider - I remember from Primary School - is an important part of the legend surrounding Robert the Bruce. On the run, before being crowned, he hid in a cave. He watched a spider swinging from one wall to the next, attempting to fix its web. It failed again and again. But on the eighth attempt, it succeeded. Inspired, Robert the Bruce went on to inflict a series of defeats on the English which resulted - eventually - in him being crowned King.
Mary's letterhead ... with the spider.

It is another, extraordinary, example of how embroidery can make connections and reveal personal histories and stories that we would never have otherwise known about.
We've become friends during this course. Bushra has brought some chocolate biscuits in honour of the last session.
Over tea, other people show their work.
Ann has embroidered trailing roses.
This is a motif that she says she has embroidered again and again over the years. It comes from a leather-bound book she has owned since childhood, and which was given to her mother when she was a child in 1916 - Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. Ann has etched it on a belt buckle, painted it on silk...and now embroidered it. It's full of memories and associations with a cottage in the country, with roses around the door. A romantic ideal that we all perhaps share. Ann says that it's something that she always wanted to achieve but never did.
She has added her own personal touch to the rambling rose: a bullrush in the bottom right-hand corner, also inspired by an illustration in the poetry book. "I needed something extra to balance it out,"
Hyacinthe is embroidering Spanish needles, a plant that reminds her of her childhood in British Guyana.

Katherine, Bridging Arts intern for the summer and beyond, has brought her own work, as promised this week. As I expected, everyone is delighted to see it. She has two books, one which I will save for another blog post, as it deserves a space of its own and a spotlight. And a smaller one about her uncle.
She is an illustrator who has taken to the needle. Alongside the artistic excellence of much of this work, is true and heartfelt emotion. Everyone is captivated. More on her website.

A good day and the end of a good course.
Amtul's beautiful shawl with rainbow sequins is a perfect garment for the afternoon.