Sharing ways of working, sharing inspiration

Guild-of-Silk-Painters-JournalLast weekend I was very pleased when the Summer 2015 edition of the International Journal of the Guild of Silk Painters arrived in the post. It’s a great little journal that allows a widely spread collective of artist/artisan silk painters to keep in touch, share their inspiration and publicise personal and group work.


I was especially pleased as it included my article about the inspirational medieval rood screens of East Anglia. It was interesting to see photographs of my work in print as opposed to on a backlit screen, and I must say the colour printing was excellent and very true to life. It made me wonder why so often colours in clothing catalogues are wildly wrong. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s down to the lighting.


The scarf pictured on the frame (above) has since been sold, but this one, Hilda mouse, is currently available and we took some time to get the shot and get those colours right!

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

18 thoughts on “Sharing ways of working, sharing inspiration”

  1. I thought you’d let slip another detail of your family life then and that for a fleeting second I thought Hilda mouse was your daughter’s name! My Dad’s auntie was a Hilda although I don’t think I’ve seen any young ones and I guess that name, unlike Grace, has yet to make a revival.

    I realised a while ago that we do actually have a piece of painted silk in the house (or so I was told it was silk) which we’d inherited from Hilda’s sister Doris. It’s hanging up in its frame and I had assumed it was an antique, as she was quite well off, until your 18th century post and now, looking at it closely, I’m not so sure.

    I presume it is Chinese, oriental I suppose I’m allowed to say, but I cannot read any of the info on it and whilst it does look beautiful some of the gold outlining on flowers looks really cheap, clunky, and modern.

    p.s. Well done on the article.

    1. I’m afraid I can’t divulge my daughter’s name, but it’s way more odd than Hilda. I was going through an early medieval phase and she was very nearly called Cuthberga! Not too many of them around. Perhaps Hilda will make a revival. I can imagine Wagner fans with a soft spot for Brunhilde might choose it. I did know a Hilda at secondary school, but it was already an extremely unfashionable name and the girl absolutely hated it. On our first day she corrected all the teachers and let them know in no uncertain terms that she was known as Ruth and never Hilda.

      Don’t diminish the painted silk too much. As you probably know since the 18th century Chinoiserie has been in and out of fashion with all kinds of ceramics and textiles imported from China with many British manufacturers also copying that Eastern aesthetic. And, the fact that you think the gold outlining looks cheap suggests to me that it’s more likely to actually come from the East than be made here. As now, in the 18th century there was a difference in what the Chinese made for their home market and for export. And, then English interpreters of Chinoiserie were even more conservative in their taste heading towards a Chinese/West European mash. Perhaps Doris had an admirer who was a merchant sailor that brought her treasured silk from his travels to China.

      1. Since writing that I have thought I could live with Hilda for a future child. There is the family meaning to it though. Although talking about an early medieval phase I have already claimed I’d use the traditional family name of Ulfchill! Ripe for a revival, surely. At 1195 its more “High Middle Ages” though.

        We got a couple of painted pictures from Doris as well (one of which I hold onto and cherish and like to imagine it’s old) but most of the stuff she had was extremely modern to the extent that the paint was still almost wet. So I don’t hold out much hope. Here’s a link (the only way I have of sharing images on here) to a picture off it. The gold on the peacock eyes is wonderful, like gold leaf, but the lines on the flower are naff. I’ve been told it’s silk, but it looks a bit grainy on the close up, whereas I’d imagine silk was all smooth, so maybe you’d know better than me.

      2. Sorry I’ve not replied earlier. Your comments and links are coming through just fine not going to spam/trash. I’ve had a good look at the pics of your Chinese silk painting and can’t say anything useful (in a properly informed art historical context) except a friend of mine who worked on Chinese art informs me that calligraphy was immensely more important so possibly this was produced for export. Calligraphy was traditionally valued far, far more that ‘paintings’. I think if you give this video a quick look you might be able to determine whether you think your silk has been painted in this manner or painted with dyes (dyes more modern less trad). You’ll also see that all silk is not smooth that it depends on the silk’s originally quality, thread thickness and finally the weave.

        Sorry I can’t be of more help.
        Ulfchill – great, I think we need more interesting names and less William and Georges.

      3. Sorry, I panicked. With someone else my comments kept disappearing and I eventually realised it was because I had a link in my text.

        I’ve watched the video and as you say there is some “coarseness” to silk which I’d not imagined. I’m not sure if I’ve ever come in contact with any but imagine it to be “silky” smooth. You can see where all the time goes in that painting. You must have a lot of patience.

        And as for the Royal Family I wish they’d get a bit more creative. Saying that Charlotte is a step in the right direction.

      4. I must let you know I don’t paint my silk in a traditional Chinese way – I’m not that patient! I think the way she builds up the layers is more similar to working in washes with watercolours.

  2. I do not boast a painted silk anything, but a dear friend did spoil me with a red and white silk scarf for my 60th. A Milana Large Flower Silk Habutai Scarf if that means anything to you. Now to learn how to wear it correctly. And I do have a beautiful Chinese embroidery of cranes, which I suspect is done on that heavier silk (or satin?) material they used for jacket sleeves. I came across it looking tired and abused in a second hand shop. When I had it re-framed, I was told the frame it came out of was at least seventy years old. Your scarves are beautiful Agnes and the magazine looks top class! You must be very proud.

    1. Sorry I’m be a bit behind in replying, Gwen, have got an ongoing root canal issue with tooth and dentist and it’s been making feel quite ill. It has rather surprised me how it’s affected my productivity – obviously I’m a wimp! Wear your silk scarf however you like – no rules in fashion these days unlike the hat and gloves times of the pre 1960s.
      Your book out tomorrow – how exciting, and all the best for the 12th July launch party.

      1. I had a stellar career as a dental nurse – all 12 months of it – so I appreciate the pain and distress you have experienced. Console yourself that you are doing a good thing by fighting to retain the tooth, in the old days you would have told to pull it out. Thanks for the advice about the scarf. I think they can look so smart in the right ensemble (there’s a word we haven’t seen since the 60s :-))

      2. Ensemble – oo I like it – sounds glamorous and a touch ‘posh’. Don’t know about this saving tooth business. Have been another hour and fifteen under the drill and it all feels worse, but the dentist seems so optimistic I feel very awkward about telling him it hasn’t worked. Got to give it 3 weeks to settle, but I think I’m going to lose it – all v annoying.

      3. Okay. First treatment? Might need another two or three to completion. What may look like failure to you might be if the visible part of the tooth has to go, but it’s like an iceberg. If he can save the root then you are good for a crown and it is still your tooth. Extraction, on the other hand, then you are up for an implant I guess. Not something available in my dental nursing days. Good luck. I know it is horrible having people dig around in your mouth. And God Forbid! They ask you questions at the same time. BTW friend of mine told me POSH originates from Port Out, Starboard Home. Apparently the preferred cabin request for English cruising the southern climes . . . ergo, if you were wealthy enough to afford a cabin with a window – goodness! maybe a balcony – then POSH has come to mean a certain standard of upper class . . . I aspire to be POSH one of these days . . .

      4. No, second treatment and I’ve already had another failed root canal where the dentist (another one) over drilled through the tooth. Shouldn’t really complain as I’ve had decades of good teeth unlike my poor mother who lost her front teeth aged 9 when pushed over by a boy in the playground. She had decades of crowns and bother when visiting the dentists was similar to a trip to the torture chamber!
        Posh, v English, and in that vein somewhat controversial over here as to its origins – jury’s out on the ships to India version. Still makes a good yarn 😉

      5. Yeah, my mum had dentures for the majority of her life. Over-drilled the tooth? Wow. Never heard of that one. Ohhh, so POSH has (reputedly) Anglo-Indian roots. Mmmm, maybe I can weave it in with a girl who is on the shelf in England, so Mum packs her off to India on a boat to go find herself a husband . . . oh, hang on . . . think that’s already been done in Passage to India. Never mind. I’ll stick with the English/Aussie story – still trying to get to the bottom of the Middle Class Female Emigration Society. I’ll turn something up.

  3. Just in case: I did reply above, with a picture, but it hasn’t appeared as usual although as there’s a link in it (the only way I can add pictures) I fear it may have ended up in your trash as that happened repeatedly with someone else I comment on. Overzealous spam action.

    1. All appears to be here! Your pictures are displayed just fine – and you never know somebody with some expertise in Chinese Art History may stumble across this one day and you’ll get a more informed opinion! 🙂

  4. Congratulations on the article – so nice to be recognized by your peers that way. I love the colours in the ‘Hilda mouse’ scarf and the sweater being worn by the model is a perfect frame!

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