Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Maps Series 1 'Could This Be The Velveteen Rabbit?'

So here is my next completed embroidery and I have to say I really love this one. It speaks of the beauty, the magic, the power of books.

The book is bigger than me. I can step inside it and go on a journey, become a part of it, connect with the words another person has woven into a narrative which, in turn, becomes a part of my narrative.

Anyone who has grown up with books in their life will have experienced the overwhelming feeling of seeing a well loved title from childhood and being transported right back there; connecting with the younger self that resides within us all...it's almost like time travel.

This piece tells another little piece of my story, of the books that are my constant companions, able to inspire, impart knowledge, offer reassurance, or just provide a place to escape, as they accompany me along the map of my life.

Amanda xxx

Friday, 21 July 2017

Musings and Nature

I sometimes find it very hard to post my art work on my blog as it's so close to my heart, but many of the artists that I admire lay themselves open in their work and I'm so grateful that they did. When I look at it that way, then the fear I have of sending it out into the public domain is balanced out by the fact that it may make a genuine connection; if nothing else this is a space that provides me with a record, a diary of sorts.

I think one of the main things that pushes me to blog is that it helps to move me along, ever forward, and yet in writing my posts I also have space to reflect. I also know how much I get from other blogs that I follow; it's both reassuring and comforting to have a glimpse into the lives of like-minded people and to know that when you struggle, that struggle is universal.

So, anyway...on the domestic front I am getting a huge amount of pleasure from my 'tiny urban garden' at the moment. I had a little bare patch in one of my borders so I decided to fill the space with a few new purchases - a Geum, 2 Phlox and 2 Dahlia.



This shot of vibrant colour at the side of the path has been bringing a smile to my face every time I walk past, and with the right care and attention I think these plants will continue to deliver right throughout Summer.

Just a few years ago when I made my first tentative steps into gardening, I bought these two trees:-

A Cherry Blossom and a small Willow; and they are now rewarding me with a profusion of green.I started out with a small square patch of weed-covered ground, masquerading as lawn, but now from my desk as I turn toward the window I see the spreading branches swaying gently in the breeze, steadily growing and marking the seasons, ever changing.

As for the artistic side of things, there will definitely be a finished embroidery in my next post.

If I had to pick a quote of the week, it would be this classic one from Patti Smith:-

Words of a Woman

Amanda xxx

Monday, 26 June 2017

'Maps Series 1' Embroidery No.8

This next embroidery speaks of my huge love of books and the power and magic contained between their covers. Books have always been a part of my life and so I couldn't really map my life without featuring them, although the inspiration for this piece came out of my subconscious rather than starting off from a fixed idea.

I am constantly collecting images and snippets of text and my own thoughts that I keep in journals. One such image was of a toy rabbit that had been used in a fashion shoot... he caught my eye, so I cut him out, stuck him in my journal, and wrote next to him "could he be the Velveteen Rabbit?".

For anyone who doesn't know, 'The Velveteen Rabbit' is a classic children's picture book by Margery Williams.

So he then found his way into my embroidery. I am stitching him into a book, a book much larger than the figure stood to the side, because books are immense and contain all of life; and the rabbit, for me, symbolises dreams. In the story a little boy believed enough in his rabbit and loved him enough that he became real - and so if I believe in my dreams as much as that boy did, will they become real?

'Could This Be The Velveteen Rabbit?' Work in progress

As you can see the embroidery is well under way here so I should be posting an image of the finished piece very soon.

Sweet dreams
Amanda xxx

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Tiny Urban Garden Update

All of a sudden we find ourselves slap bang in the middle of Summer with soaring temperatures and a glorious clear blue sky. It felt so luxurious this morning to be able to eat a leisurely breakfast outside with the sound of buzzing bees and birdsong ...pure bliss.

Mother Nature has once again performed her magic and my garden has been transformed from this:-

to this:-

I did a little tidying up earlier in the week and even though my garden is very small I still managed to fill four bags of rubbish. I am planning to plant trees along my back fence before the end of the year as, sadly, it's looking like there may be building taking place in the field behind me so trees will provide screening. I'd also like to make a trip to the garden centre this week for some nice colourful plants to go in pots.

In other news I have been working on a new art project which has taken me away from my embroidery but is still very connected thematically...more about that in future posts; and I am planning to post later on this week about the next piece in my 'Maps' series.

But I'm now going to enjoy some of this sunny weather. Just look at that sky!

Amanda xxx

Thursday, 11 May 2017

A Fairy Tale Ending

The next piece in 'Maps. Series 1' is complete - it was so enjoyable to do and I have to say I feel really pleased with how it's turned out. It looks beautiful, and yet a little off-kilter. I worked it predominantly in split stitch and chain stitch, using a silk remnant for the bodice and interlinings for the skirt and veil.

'Fairytale Gown. Fairytale Ending'
Life these days is so fast-paced, everyone rushing around, time just speeding by. Even as I'm typing this I'm aware that the washing machine has just stopped, is now beeping insistently at me that the washing is done, and it's niggling in my head - there's always something that needs doing - I'm going to have to take a pause to peg-out!!

Sewing is the complete opposite... I hand stitch all my work which immediately slows everything right down. Also, apart from the actual initial sketch on paper, I have no clear plan as to how the work will look when done. This means I have to push everything else out of my mind and absorb myself in the colours and stitches and fabric and seeing where my creativity will take me.

It's good to disengage from the hustle and bustle and take up my needle and thread even if it's only for a short period of time; although it's not all complete harmony -  if I'm not happy with how it's looking stitches have to be unpicked, different techniques tried, but this particular one has gone fairly smoothly.

Amanda xxx

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Maps Series 1 - "A Fairytale Gown. A Fairytale Ending"

I now have the beginning of my next embroidery. The fairy-tale gown of the title is based on a design by John Galliano, who as a designer always created magical stories that would weave through the clothing and elevate it to the place of dreams. When I was at art college he was the designer we all revered.

As for the fairy-tale ending...well, I grew up reading the classics such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Princess and the Pea, and then when I was older I graduated onto Danielle Steel novels. The woman always got her fairy-tale ending in the form of a prince or 'tall, dark, handsome stranger'.

So for the image I looked at 'Theatre de la Mode' for inspiration. (A 1940's touring exhibit of fashion mannequins created to revive the French fashion industry in the aftermath of the second world war). She's just a doll, a puppet, and can be put in whatever position you choose. She's not real...just like a fairy-tale ending isn't real - There are no endings - Just a continuous, amazing, cycle of life with ups and downs, tears and smiles, heartbreak and contentment.

I hope to post the finished image very soon.

One of my biggest pleasures is to see the cycle of life in my very own "Tiny Urban Garden". This morning it was warm enough for me to sit outside for breakfast at my little bistro set. Leafs are unfurling a little more each day. My scarlet red tulips opened up to the sun's rays. You can feel the very earth coming back to life.

The blue sky has clouded over now. It might be cold and raining again tomorrow. But each and every day has its very own precious moments.

Amanda xxx

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Maps Series 1 - 'Just One More Thing'

"Just one more thing" is well recognised as television detective Columbo's catchphrase, and this was a programme I loved as a child (I love it just as much as an adult). When they were first shown in the 70's I was very young and so they have always formed a comforting childhood memory; but with re-runs it's something I can watch even now, and so when I cosy up in front of the tv to watch an episode, it's a link back to those younger days, a part of childhood I can still take refuge in.

In my opinion, Columbo has always been the best detective going and I think it must be partly down to him that being a detective/secret agent was high up on my list of what to be when I grew up. This theme also occupied a lot of my childhood play when I formed the C.I.D.S.A. (Criminal Investigation Department and Secret Agents). I'm actually reluctant to call it play because, even though I was a child, I took it incredibly seriously, compiling files, studying books on being a secret agent, and undertaking my own investigations

This latest image in my embroidery series, with its cosy armchair and the soft glow of the lamps, signifies comfort, home and safety; an embodiment of the feeling that Columbo induces. On a cold, grey, rainy afternoon there is nothing nicer than snuggling up with a warm drink and an episode of Columbo.

"Just one more thing"

A little corner to curl up and dream in, a reading nook, a staircase curving away out of sight. Before I moved into my house this was the kind of image I held in my mind for my own little place, my own little home. The staircase is inspired by the one in fashion designer Jessica Ogden's home; I was enchanted with the sculptural way it swept around, like something from a fairy-tale.

Home is something I am very pre-occupied with - what makes a home? How do peoples idea of home differ? I'm sure I will pursue this in a future project. I'm already making notes and plans.

Amanda xxx