About E.A.S.T

East Anglian Stitch Textiles (E.A.S.T) was formed in 1995 in response to a demand for a self-supporting framework for textile artists in East Anglia, UK.


The membership of this group commenced with ten artists and now has fifteen.


Since it's inception E.A.S.T has had a close relationship with Braintree District Museum where it meets monthly and held the first E.A.S.T exhibition in 1997.The group continues to be mentored by Anthea Godfrey, Artistic Director of the Embroiderer's Guild.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Changing Direction

Looking for a change of direction I have been visiting some exhibitions lately in the hope of finding inspiration.

A recent visit to the NCCD at Sleaford with Lorna where we met up with Mary Sleigh to see two exhibitions, the first of some wonderful weavings. Sadly no photography was allowed so no pictures here to show you. The second exhibition - 'Soft Engineering: Textiles Taking Shape' showed some wonderful skill and artistry, Alison Ellen's creative knitting, Ann Richard's wonderful woven Jewellery, although maybe better described as body sculpture. Ann uses a variety of mediums in her pieces metal, silk,linen and polyester to name but a few. She uses the different way each material reacts to wet finishing to create the twisted, pleated finish. Deidre Woods weavings, using a narrow loom to weave braid-like pieces which she then combines with folding to make complex forms.

My second outing was to attend Jane Callender's book launch at the Warner Textile Archive in Braintree. Jane is an acknowledged expert on Indigo and Shibori dyeing. I have been making some very inexpert attempts at Shibori recently, particularly attending a class with Jude Kingshott using stitched Shibori on previously Procion dyed fabric which is then overdyed with Indigo, and find myself fascinated by the technique. So maybe this is the way to go.



The final image here is pole wrapped Shibori on fabric pre-dyed with Pottasium Permanganate and then Indigo.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Strolling down the Silk Road


Today was another day when I had an appointment in London and just a short time to pop into an exhibition I had only recently heard about.  Embroidered Tales and Woven Dreams is a free exhibition at the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS), part of the London University and just off Russell Square, London WC1.  

It is a collection of some beautiful embroideries and weavings that are representative of lands along the ancient Silk Road.  The guest curator, Marian Bukhari apparently owns many of the pieces but there are also works from other collections.  I do not know if they have ever been displayed before but most can be looked at closely allowing the variety of stitching and weaving techniques to be examined.  

Some like this piece above, were displayed in such a way it was possible to see both sides of a piece of embroidery.


This particular pair of costumes were traditional Afghanistani pieces.

As well as textiles there are also some pieces of jewellery, books and art works.  In addition there are a series of public lecturers (again all free) and the exhibition continues until 25 March 2017.  The exhibition covers two floors.

The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 5pm (late nights on Thursdays until 8pm) but closed Sundays, Mondays and Bank Holidays.  It can be found in Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG.

I only spent a short time visiting today but I will definitely go back with my notebook and camera, and spend much longer.

Janette


Sunday, 29 January 2017

Bardfield Artists at Braintree Museum


The work above is by E.A.S.T artist, Susan Canfield, inspired by Edward Bawden, one of the Bardfield Artists and part of Threads of Time.    Now Bawden and the Bardfield Artists are the subject of a new exhibition at Braintree Museum, Essex, Life in an English Village.  

Susan and I were lucky enough to go along to the private view of this exhibition of prints and drawings.  Here I learnt how Edward Bawden RA and his friend Eric Ravilious had visited Great Bardfield as students, fell in love with the place and decided to move there.  Although the Bardfield Artists as they came to be known, along with John Aldridge RA, Kenneth Rowntree, Walter Hoyle, Sheila Robinson and Bernard Cheese, never saw themselves as a group or colony, they had a close connection which inspired ideas and techniques. 

I had really only learnt about the artists from seeing Susan's work and discussing them at our E.A.S.T meetings so it was really good to go together to see the exhibition.  Luckily as our meetings are held at Braintree Museum I will get to see the exhibition more than once - exhibitions are always more interesting when seen on several occasions.

The exhibition continues until 15 April 2017.  Braintree District Museum is in Manor Street, Braintree, CM7 3HW and open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm.  Their website (www.braintreemuseum.co.uk) gives details of admission charges and events related to the exhibition.  

Janette

Friday, 20 January 2017

You never know what to Expect!


January 2017

You never know what to Expect!

In recent years I have found it easier to face the “trauma” of aging by marking my birthday with an interesting arty experience. This year four generations – my mum, daughter, grandson and myself visited the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to view  Regarding Africa – Contemporary Art and Afro - Futurism.

The term Afro – futurism refers to music that grew during the 1960s among Afro – Americans as well as to the poetry, comics, cinema and art that developed later. Today it applies to a wide range of art that reflects an African version of futurism. The initial works were created during the post – colonial period: the 1960s-70s, called Africa’s “Decade of Independence”.

Today Israel has a growing community (known as Little Africa) of immigrant workers and asylum seekers from Africa. Some of the works presented in this exhibition were created by artists from within this Tel Aviv community and expressed various aspects of the Africa – Israel connection and of the way Africa has assimilated into the Israeli imagination, fantasy and reality.

I expected that this exhibition would have political overtones but was surprised to discover the work of artist  Adjani Okpu-Egbe, born 1979 Cameroon: lives and works in London. His piece titled “The Politics of Mary Seacole” grabbed my attention not only because of the bright vivid colours- red, green and black (colours of the pan-African flag) but because of the astonishing text in the painting “Michael Gove, hands off”. It appears that Mary Seacole was born 1805 in Jamaica to a Jamaican mother and Scottish father. When the Crimean War
broke out in 1853 Mary opened an independent hotel in England to treat battlefield wounded with the secrets of herbal medicine she had learned from her mother.  

Mary was forgotten for many years but more recently she has become the object of renewed attention though some have claimed that her importance is being exaggerated in the name of political correctness. It appears that Michael Gove, as former Secretary of State for Education wanted to remove Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum. This opened a renewed debate about the place and role of a black woman in British history.

I had never heard of Mary Seacole’s story and controversy. It was so unexpected to come across art work in Tel Aviv inspired, albeit in a negative light, by recent UK politics. As is so often the case when you visit a really good and interesting exhibition, I left this one with many questions, ideas and thoughts to explore.

Melinda Berkovitz




Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Sketching

In order to improve my drawing skills I have been going to watercolour classes(!) and while everyone else has battled with colour I have focused on light and shade with pencil, charcoal, pen and ink.  Some of my efforts have reached my Following a Thread sketch book whilst others, although I have kept them, really should be binned.

The skill on which I have tried to focus, is to look at how the light falls on the object.  It seems fairly obvious really but I haven't always found it easy to void areas and then work around them.  When I first began the City and Guilds course (quite a while ago) we did lots of mark making exercises using different media and I found it a lot easier when the marks didn't have to resemble anything.  Now I am expected to recreate nature's bounty in two dimensions.

As you can see from the pictures below, a rose and a shoe made it to the sketchbook as did a hollyhock and a dried poppy seed head.





                                                    

                                                                   
 
                                         This close-up of an acorn has yet to find a home.




                             

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Embroiderers' Guild at Harrogate

Last weekend I spent three days - well two and a half actually because I had to look around the Textile Gallery - on the Embroiderers' Guild stand at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show.
The Guild exhibited in the King's Suite, a gallery which was opened at the show for the first time and turned out to be a large, wonderful space.  Anyone visiting the Learning Curve had to pass by, and there was a lot to see: the Graduate Showcase, the Capability Brown project, items from the Collection, small pieces from old textiles and books and magazines to buy.  There was also the opportunity to join the Guild and several members of the public did so.

I spent most of the time encouraging the passers by to add to the longest embroidery which stands at six hundred and five metres in length and was begun in 2003.  Needless-to-say only about eight metres was on show at any one time but people were able to find plenty of space to add their stitches.  One fourteen year old girl reckoned she had never sewn before but she produced an immaculate line of straight stitching roughly twenty centimetres long which she wove through.  I managed to persuade a couple of husbands to add some stitches and the boyfriend of a stitch enthusiast added some marks in recognition of an earlier weekend with his girlfriend at a motor show.

I know that many of the EASTies are members of the Embroiderers' Guild attending different branches in the Eastern Region, and like me, I'm sure, would have been impressed by the display presented, due in no small way to the hard work and commitment of Anthea Godfrey, the Artistic Director of the Guild and, of course, our mentor.  However, she wasn't alone.  Pat Tempest, Annette Collinge, Alex Messenger, Amanda Smith and Liz Smith from the Guild also gave their time and enthusiasm to make it a very successful  weekend.

I had a brilliant time and I have posted three images - one of the White Walker who spent the weekend in Hall C and I helped to dismantle, and two from the Capability Brown Project - a detail from work by Sian Martin and Diana Springall.

The White Walker and

                                                    and a detail from Sian Martin's and

Diane Springall's work for the Capability Brown project.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Braintree Christmas Fair

Yesterday Carol, Libby and I ran a stall on behalf of EAST at the Braintree Museum's Christmas Fair.  The event was run to coincide with turning on the Christmas lights in the town but that wasn't going to happen until it became dark.  In the meantime there was a choir, two groups of Morris dancers, one male, one female, and some stalls in the centre of town.

There were eight tables in the Learning for Life room at the Museum of which we were one.  Several sold food and the remainder were displaying crafts.  One interesting stall was run by two newly qualified graduates who had set up a company called Boxford Candles and made scented candles in tins and chinaware which they had bought at auction.  Carol and I smelt their wares and Carol spent some money.

Unfortunately for us all, the weather was extremely cold and the town fairly quiet.  Towards the late afternoon the Museum filled up a little with young families because there was a children's workshop and a face painting event.  However, the clientele were not really interested in our beautiful, handmade decorations and present ideas.

We did sell a few items but only to ourselves, so we packed, up early and got home before it was too dark.

Every cloud has a silver lining.