This weekend at Blackthorpe Barn

Angels-for-bannerI shall be joining a host of other crafters selling their work at Blackthorpe Barn on the weekend of the 24th & 25th November 2018. My most recent pieces inspired by the medieval art adorning St Edmund’s Parish Church, Southwold will be available.

If you are within striking distance of Bury St Edmunds turn off the A14 and come and see all the great work on display .  .  .  . And, say hello!

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One month to go – Blackthorpe Barn

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Even though some of the High Street shops and supermarkets have had a sprinkling of their Christmas stock on the shelves for a wee while it’s not feeling wintry quite yet. And, as I put back the hour on our clocks this coming weekend for the end of British Summertime, I will remark as usual that it is only a couple of months to Christmas.

The thought always comes as a surprise to me. All of a sudden it’s family arrangements, stir-up Sunday and last posting dates.

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I am not sure why I am surprised as Christmas does come round ever year on the 25th December! And, as soon as Halloween is behind us it is the main event on the calendar. This year I will be at Blackthorpe Barn again just outside Bury St Edmund’s, Suffolk, for their British Crafts 2018 weekends.

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I shall be there Week Three, the 24th and 25th November. Here is the full List of makers who will be attending and selling their work in the handsome sixteenth-century barn during the course of the six weekends.

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Old hands and newbies

BB-OneLast weekend and again this coming weekend I will be selling my work at ‘British Crafts at Blackthorpe Barn’. The venue is a fantastic, timber-framed Suffolk barn dating from about 1550. Over its long history the Barn was used for threshing and storing grain. Indeed, the Barn was still used as a grain store up until 1985. It is a beautiful airy space with the massive timbers supporting a 30 metre long, thatched roof.silk-scarves.jpgDuring the course of the weekend it was a pleasure to meet so many people, especially some very talented crafting folk not least my neighbours, Karen, of Karen Risby Ceramics, and, Kerry, Kerry Richardson Designer Jeweller.Karen-and-KerryA big thank you to these experienced and accomplished designer makers for their warm welcome to this newbie to ‘British Crafts at Blackthorpe Barn’.

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British Crafts at Blackthorpe Barn, Suffolk

Blackthorpe-Barn-bannerIt is now the season of Christmas Fairs and the ‘British Crafts at Blackthorpe Barn’ weekends are already in full swing.

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I shall be joining a host of other crafters selling their work at Blackthorpe Barn on the weekend of the 25th & 26th November and the following weekend of the 2nd & 3rd December. If you are within striking distance of Bury St Edmunds turn of the A14 and come and see all the great work on display .  .  .  . And, say hello!

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Architectural palimpsests – reusing ruins

Architectural-palimpsest-roof-detailHow amusing that I’ve come to write and post about change and the reuse of the original to find that the WordPress interim editor has morphed into the new all singing all dancing mobile friendly editor. As I get to grips with the new which is amended and overwritten (I’m presuming this as I’m not really familiar with what’s going on underneath the bonnet of this ‘editor machine’), I know I’m working in a long and well-trodden tradition.

Ever since they started scraping and reusing vellum the possibility of a palimpsest has existed. Glimpsing patches of an earlier image or some older text beneath more recent writing has been a boon to scholars working with ancient manuscripts.  Obviously, in less comfortable times humans have reused all kinds of scarce resources as a matter of course. Often when buildings were damaged by fire and not rebuilt surviving quality materials such as expensive stone and brick were speedily carted off to be used elsewhere. However, sometimes prestigious ruins were simply incorporated into a new different building.

There is a fine example of an architectural palimpsest in Bury St Edmunds incorporating parts of the surviving structures of the old Benedictine Monastery into a newer building.

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Architectural palimpsest – the old monastery wall is reused to form part of a house.

Not much of the monastery’s Abbey Church survives today, but the freestanding ruins provide an intriguing reminder of how magnificent the original St Edmunds Abbey must have been. Interestingly, it was the place where a group of English Barons held a significant secret meeting over 800 years ago. At this rendezvous, probably around the 20 November 1214, they swore an oath to compel King John to accept The Charter of Liberties. The following year at Runnymede this charter would be assented to by the king and is known as Magna Carta.

Nowadays, at the entrance to the Abbey Gardens there stands a mid-14th century gatehouse which would have been the secular entrance to the monastery. Whilst further down the road, still formidable in all its imposing magnificence, is the Norman Tower which was the original clerical entrance for the Benedictine monks.

I’m always looking for inspiration from architectural details and there was plenty to photograph in Bury St Edmunds. I like the process of considering the Norman Tower, then the medieval Abbey Gatehouse and then, finally, the very recently finished (2000-2005) gothic revival tower of the Victorian St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

 

Hetty blue, green and peach

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Hetty green. Hand painted silk scarf.

Earlier this year I visited Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where some of my work had been displayed as part of an exhibition at Smiths Row. Whilst there I took the opportunity to photograph some of the outstanding stained glass that fills the windows of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. It was the Tudor bows detail decorating part of the ‘Susannah and the Elders’ window that caught my eye.

Tudor bows – a blue version, Hetty blue.

A green and pink version.

And, the double steamed blue and peach – which I think in the end has turned out the best.

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Creativity, inspiration and mining the past

Sometimes it’s colour combinations, sometimes it’s motifs and sometimes it’s just the overall essence of an image that provides a creative spur when searching for inspiration. We all do it and the Victorians’ passion for mining their past is proudly visible in their cultural output.

Most of the stained glass windows that decorate St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, are the work of three leading stained glass firms of the nineteenth century. Stained glass by Clayton and Bell, Hardman & Co and C E Kempe fill the cathedral windows with their work inspired by long-gone and unnamed medieval craftsmen. There is, however, one window whose lights are not Victorian, but date from the late medieval period. At first glance maybe they all look the same, but one has a different ‘feel’! (I’ve labelled it).

A creative process – medieval art, craft and artisans (part 3)

Agnes-Ashe-Hilda-Rose-paintingThe beauty of working with liquid dyes directly on cloth is that the colours flow. It is possible to apply dye with a paint brush, sponge or even balls of dye-soaked cotton wool. Colours flow into each other in a similar manner as watercolour does on a dampened page, but often more definition is required to make an interesting piece that has both depth and movement in the design. Controlling the flow of dye can be achieved by making the surface of the silk temporarily ‘resistant’ by applying a wash of anti-diffusant over an area or by containing the dye flow within an area by drawing resist lines. I like to draw out and contain the flow using water based gutta (the resist agent) which I colour with dye.

Once I have settled on the rough design for a silk scarf I make a few templates of the main shapes so that I can place them across the stretched silk and map out the piece. I ‘draw’ out with coloured gutta (image 1 above) or paint larger shapes with a brush dipped in the coloured gutta (circles on image 2 above).

Once the gutta has dried it’s time to begin painting the silk and as you can see the colour pulls the work together.

Then, two or three days later depending on the size and complexity of the design all the colour has been applied and the scarf is ready to be rolled in paper and steamed for a couple of hours. Once the dyes are fixed it is time to wash out the gutta, dry and press. Now, on to the next colour combination in this collection.

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Hilda Rose, Ranworth collection.
Smiths Row at Christmas Exhibition, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.