World War One – Embroidered Postcards

In 2013 I began a commission with Theatre Absolute The project is called 100 and is a cross arts project for the approaching World War One centenary. There are 4 elements to the project, a short film, two new plays and a textile response by myself. I looked at the embroidered postcards that were sent from the Front. Many were initally hand embriodered by French and Belgium women and sold to troops but gradually as the popularity of these increased they were made by machine in factories. There were millions made and I think the scale of production in making these cards that then held precious and personal messages to loved ones fascinated me. I have gradually purchased a few. I chose a couple of motifs from the cards and set about interpreting the designs, learning the flow of stitches and their patterning as I progressed. I stitched a motif 24 times onto 3 organdie screens. It was a way to reconnect back to the hand from the industrial machines. It takes incredible precision to try and stitch the same motif by hand again and again and I was struck by the psychological and physical changes within me as I stitched the work. I recorded the time it took me to stitch each one to see if I could get quicker as I repeated the design. My body began to tense and twist as I rushed to finish quicker against a previous recorded time. During the premiere in October of the initial commissions at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry, I displayed the completed screens. Viewers were...

Godiva Awoke!

Its been a hectic few weeks but the Godiva Awakes carnival and celebrations at the end of July in Coventry were amazing. We trundled the huge tailors dummy with the Coat down the streets into Coventry’s Broadgate and offered the coat to Godiva – it was a nervewracking experience but the crowds were fantastic and appreciated the coat and the work of all the tailors. We were part of the carnival procession around the city that afternoon and it was wonderful to sit back and enjoy the moment after all the hard work over the years. The following days Godiva battled through heavy winds and rain and gradually made her way down to London powered by a 100 cyclists finally ending up at Waltham Town Hall. It was a surreal experience seeing this huge puppet and her entourage coming through the gates of the town hall! During the first week of September the coat has been in exhibition at Westminster Hall as part of Arts in Parliament for London 2012. We sat and stitched tailors tacks on the first day and it was amazing to have visitors from all over the world add their stitch and talk about their sewing or non-sewing skills. As in Coventry, people were genuinely moved that they could participate and add a stitch – after all the very many new experiences making this coat, I think this has been one of the absolute highlights – a simple gesture of an invitation to stitch and people responding so postively. All images by Andrew Moore except Godiva by the clock – I have tried to find...

Work Update

Been neglecting my blog so chance to catch up and post a lot of photos (evidence of busy-ness). My current commissions for Godiva Awakes and ECB are really hotting up now hence the absence from my blog. Been busy meeting other members of the huge team of makers and engineers for Godiva including Nick and Frank and the fabulous people at Artem who are charged with making the huge 6 metre Godiva marionette – it was a real privilege spending time with them in their studios and workrooms – traditional crafts and new technologies working side by side and lovely people to boot. I have now screen printed all 36 mtrs of the top coat (silk dupion) with prints that feature images and text from the West Midlands industries both past and present – we had 17 screens in total and then I repeated the process in other colours for the lining fabric which I will be specifically working on – I actually just can’t wait to get sewing, BUT I have decided to be cautious and make a full size toile of the coat so will begin to cut the pattern and sew up the calico toile in next week or so. At the end of July we get chance to try the toile on Godiva – can’t wait (best take my bodger tool kit just in case of mishaps!) Thanks to Coat Team for help and inspiration: Rachel Grant, Julie Johannides, Debbie Squires, Maggie Dunne and Adam Hussain. ECB is my other commission – the new and fabulous Engineering and Computing Building for Coventry University – as...

ECB site update

Its a cold first morning of December on site, everything is frozen and flakes are beginning to fall. Still an amazing place to be when its a new experience. The structure is now to the upper ground floor and some areas are beginning to resemble the CAD drawings from ARUP. I learnt about the 'rubbing down man' today – he smoothes the exposed concrete with a hessian glove – true hand finishing! I couldn't help but look at his hands when I met him – I expected big Peter Shilton goalies hands out of proportion to the rest of his body…but they weren't…they were just normal size. I found a 'flupp' – its like a rubber thimble that is secreted upside down into bore holes to fill them and then they are subsequently filled with bitumen and this simple procedure keeps the rainwater out…the concrete can't be poured into the pillar shutters as it needs a temp of plus 4 (and its at least – 2 this morning) The pillars that have been poured are snug and warm in a 'frost blanket'…thanks to Andy for showing me around and Anton for letting us into his...

artist in residence work

Since May 2009 I have been working as artist in residence for Coventry University on their new Engineering and Computer building which is due for completion in 2012. The building is designed by ARUP and the construction company is VINCI. It’s been a fascinating few months, working closely with the archaeologists after the demolition of the Gulson Hospital and being able to witness their finds. The most poignant being a medieval button with a Pelican beating her breast with the latin words Crede Michi which is translated to ‘I believe’. The site was also a poor house and in the very early days a brick making site for Whitefriars nearby. It was amazing to touch a piece of pot or a clay pipe thinking that prior to myself and the archaeologist it was probably the original owner who had last touched or used the objects so many years ago. I am collating stories on the site and the construction team are saving their doodles and drawings for use in my installation. Its a unique experience and I hope to post a few photographs as the site progresses. Anyone with stories from the hospital or its previous uses do contact me...

godiva awakes

One of my current commissions is as the principal artist making the coat for Lady Godiva for the ‘Artist Taking The Lead’ project as part of the Cultural Olympiad for London 2012. I have completed my design and information about the surface and concept of the coat is detailed in this post. We have now also appointed 5 artists to assist in the realisation of the coat and will be working from November 2010 until January 2012. Here is some information about the project by Imagineer Productions and my design. The ‘Godiva Awakes’ project by Imagineer Productions will bring West Midlands icon Lady Godiva to life as a 10 metre high puppet that pushes the boundaries of carnival puppetry to new levels. Built from aluminium and carbon fibre, she will be a moving, breathing monument – a potent symbol of equality, fair play and justice. Godiva will be dressed for her journey into the 21st century in a coat crafted by local artists and communities, chronicling the West Midlands’ industrial and engineering heritage. A spectacular performance will mark the ‘awakening’ of Lady Godiva. Powered by 50 cyclists, she will join 2,000 dancers, actors, aerialists, musicians, pyrotechnicians and carnivalists in a processional performance. On the last day of Coventry’s Godiva Festival in July 2012, Godiva will leave the city and journey to London. She will seek sanctuary overnight at various towns along the route who will each welcome her in their own, distinct way. Finally she will arrive in London, her journey completed in time for the opening of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Coat Designed as a...