Embroidery ~ free form landscape

Winter textile work

When I create a post I write, add photos, edit and then press ‘publish’. Most of the writing has happened in my head, so I am usually happy with what I write. This post has been different; this is the third or fourth go. The post is about ‘where to next’ with my fabric art work, and as I wrote I learnt more about where I am going. Let me be more concrete…..

This is how I began, and I am satisfied with it as it is mostly straight forward.

In my last newsletter I was musing about the textile work I do in Winter. I try to keep that story telling part of the newsletter shortish, so I want to use this blog to work through some of the things I am thinking about.

I have always loved hand sewing. My early creative career as a bag maker was begun as a way to use the embroidery I was creating. Embroidery has run parallel to my painting, but since my return a couple of years ago from my artist in residency at Mountain Seas Resort on Flinders Island I have been more conscious about creating. Slowly I have been thinking more about where I want this to go. I will return to this in a moment, but let me show you what I am talking about.

There are two sorts of embroidery I am doing. One is on tapestry canvas. I have found beautiful merino wool from Fibreworks; it is the right weight for the work I am doing and Gill dyes the wool to create colours of the Australian bush. Perfect weight, perfect variegated colours. I use my photos for inspiration, set up some compositional guidelines and then sit on the couch, in the warmth and sew. You can read a tapestry post  here.

This is the sort of work I have been creating, works inspired by Flinders Island

and this from last year’s trip to Menindee

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This is my current work-in-progress, again inspired by the arid, salt-bush environment of Menindee. I think is much better than the earlier one.

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Then came this section, which is a second or third draft. What I wrote made me consider the options I had.

Which brings me to my deeper musings…..what am I going to do with these?  I have written a few drafts about this, and that process has helped resolve the question. I was going to ask “Should I do this [put them in my Etsy shop] or should I do that [exhibit them]”. Thinking it through has made me realise that I want to exhibit them.

Using the E-word (Exhibit) in public is a big one for me. I find it difficult to approach someone to say “My work is so good that you should exhibit it”. There is the risk of rejection, and there is fear of Pride. There is the inner voice telling me I am not ready yet, that I don’t have time, to wait until I have done bigger pieces. You know the reasons, as I am sure we all have that voice which tells similar excuses.

However, there is a council-run gallery that has applications to exhibit in one of their spaces, and that must be the Universe telling me to stop procrastinating and just do it. That universe is made up of everyone I know yelling out to me “Do It Anne!!!!”. I can hear you from here! So, yes, I will.

Which is where I stopped. Something wasn’t right. Then the Universe came up with a weekly newsletter from Sara Genn. This week she was responding to a query about being ready for exhibiting. Her advice shows that you can’t rely on the Universe for any meaningful guide to the way forward, as it was this section that resonated:

Have you got a few hundred paintings?
Select from this year’s production your best 20. If you haven’t got an embarrassment of riches to choose from, go back to your room and paint. Your shortlist should be thematic but varied in ideation and show an evolution of imagination, technique and skill.

That’s what is missing, my body of work. It’s not my inner critic saying “You’re not ready”, it is this true statement ~ I am not ready.

So, now to create those few hundred works…… Realistically that number is not going to happen. However I do need to have a body of work that I can show a gallery, rather than an idea backed up by one or two pieces.

I am (almost) ready to press ‘publish’ for this post and then go back to my creating. But just before I do…..I mentioned above that I am creating two sorts of fabric work, and I only showed you the tapestry-style ones. The others use stitching, organza and other fabric to make trees (no surprise there!). You can see them on my Instagram feed.

Have you had any experience with exhibiting, or preparing a folio? I’d love other from you.

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Would you like to keep up-to-date with my art work ~ textile work or watercolour works on paper? Let me send you my fortnightly newsletter.