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.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Alternative Arts Education

As a result of tuition fees and  the restrictions of current art education there is an increase in the emergence of alternative arts education.
I've been really lucky that an alternative MA has been set up in Southend.
TOMA is a postgraduate level course now in it's second year that is artists led, for a small monthly fee we have developed a course of critical theory, group crits,, visiting lectures exhibitions and practical workshops. that are suggested by all students making each year really bespoke to the members of that year.
It's been brilliant for my practise, the development of collaborative pieces within joint exhibition.
I've recently worked with Pottery Richard Baxter to respond to each others work I gave him a Co op bag full of burnt  beer cans while he gave me pots with holes and slashes for me to work into.

collaborative working and amazing guest speakers such as Grizelda Pollack, Richard Wentworth and Bruce Mclean  my work has developed and taken some surprising turns. I'm currently working on Sculptural pieces, the stitch is still maintained but in some cases deconstructed to a point where the mechanics of stitch are there but the term of stitch could be questioned.

TOMA has been lucky to receive Arts Council funding and the amazing Emma Edmonson who conceived The Other MA, will be taking up residency with the 17 TOMA artists in the Royals shopping centre in Southend where we will have studio space, a shop and exhibition space.

On Saturday we will be opening a drawing show, please come along if your in Southend.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Snow in Suffolk

Like the whole population who live in eastern England we have snow.  Not just one downfall which will disappear in a couple of hours - it has been snowing on and off, and mainly on, all morning.
For me, Wednesday is the one day of the week when I get all the boring household jobs done  with a weekly sortie into Bury St. Edmunds to shop but today the only sensible thing to do is raid the freezer and hunker down for twenty-four hours.
There’s no point in clearing the path to my workroom because the footsteps that Briar and I made when we went off for the morning walk are completely covered, so I thought I would write an EAST blog.
However, I’ve not done anything particularly noteworthy recently except continue with my design work for Power of Stitch and make the next square, or in my case, book for the Suffolk West Embroiderers’ Guild March meeting tomorrow which has just been cancelled.  The colour this month was indigo so my book contains some indigo patterns which can be achieved with dyeing. 

One of the members of SWEG discovered this proclamation and duly circulated it.  I thought it would be a good place here to remind ourselves of the correct sewing procedures which we all observe!  

Hope it gives you all a chuckle: it certainly did me.
                              Does anyone have any spare French chalk?

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Modigliani - more than just the nudes!

Modigliani – more than just the nudes!

Even though I am past counting candles on a birthday cake, I am not past “insisting” on an enjoyable day out to celebrate another year. I was sure the Modigliani exhibition would be an appropriate treat and I was not disappointed!

Modigliani is a complex character. Born in Italy to a Jewish family, he spent most of his working career in Paris, including the years of WW1. This and a prolonged childhood illness greatly influenced his art. At times during his life Modigliani’s art was scorned as unsophisticated and simplistic. Yet when you enter the first room of this exhibition, that opinion is completely overturned. The colour palette is both sensual and absorbing, the images distinctive and engaging.

Most people are familiar with the distinctive wide eyed, narrow - faced nudes that Modigliani perfected during his short turbulent lifetime, (he died aged 36).
However, like many artists, Modigliani went through various periods and changes. The work I was least expecting was a room of his hypnotic sculpture heads. Whilst living in Paris, Modigliani had an intense two-year period where he focused almost exclusively on sculpture (1911 – 1913). The figures are both beautiful and powerful, many resembling Caryatids (the classic female figure), which reputedly had a “religious” like meaning to Modigliani. African art played a huge influence on Modigliani and his fellow Paris contemporaries, such as Gaugin, Matisse and Picasso. Sculpture had been an early passion of his and it is unclear why he so abruptly abandoned this medium. Poor health is the most likely explanation plus a growing confidence in his 2D work.

By the time of his premature death, Modigliani was a confident portrait painter. However, like so many other renowned artists of the C20th he too is mostly preoccupied in capturing the “essence” of the person rather than tight representation or likeness of character. Modigliani sits securely in an extensive line of artists who have been interested in non-European sources, (e.g. African) that has inevitably extended and developed the western canon of art

At the end of this exhibition I felt privileged and grateful to have seen such an extended array of Modigliani’s work. It was both exciting and thought provoking particularly as Modigliani died so tragically. To leave such a legacy is awe inspiring and moving.

The exhibition continues until April 2nd, so you still have time to enjoy this “must see” exhibition at Tate Modern.

Melinda Berkovitz

Monday, 15 January 2018

New Year - new start

It was such a momentous occasion - all the EAST members, and Anthea,
 were all present at our January 2018 meeting - so we had to have a group photo.

(Back row) - Felicity, Lorna, Libby, Janette, Margaret, Julie, Jenny and newest member Kay
(Middle Row) - Ellen, Anthea, Carol and Melinda
(Front Row) - Liz, Susan and Tricia

We are also pleased to announce that we now have an Instagram account - so hopefully we will be able to share some of our work in progress.  You can also find us on Facebook - don't forget to "like" our page to keep up to date with exhibitions and events.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Rainbow Squares

A couple of years ago I joined the newly re-formed branch of the Suffolk West Embroiderers’ Guild.  During this year (2017-18) the branch is running a project where each member embroiders a square in a specified colour - “Rainbow Squares”.  The colours progress in the same sequence as the rainbow so the first square was red.

I wasn’t very excited by the prospect of decorating a square with red stitches but I soon realised that I could make an eight square centimetre, four page booklet and attach that to an appropriately coloured square.  

I made the cover from torn scraps of fabric bonded to some felt, then integrated them with machine embroidery.  I covered this with a piece of muslin which I had coloured several years ago when EAST had a weekend with Ruth Issett.  I folded the cover in half, then added four pages inside which had a love poem, “Echo” by Carol Ann Duffy, embroidered on them.

The next square, for November, was to be orange.  I made a list of orange things - a colour, a drink, a fruit, a principality, a butterfly etc. - and embroidered these onto scraps of orange silk which I applied to a zig-zag book.  This I put inside a cover which had been made as before except with scraps of orange fabric.


The December square was yellow.  I didn’t realise until I began to sew what a difficult colour yellow is to work with and how few fabrics and threads I owned in that colour.  Nevertheless, I had decided that the book was to have images of shells inside so I raided my supplies.

The square to make for January is green so, hopefully, I will have more items to play with and the book will probably contain leaves - unless I get any better ideas.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and productive 2018.


Friday, 8 December 2017

In May I posted pictures on our trip to Morocco and samples and ideas for a textile piece based on the wonderful Islamic tiles there. I was experimenting with natural pigments that can be found in the souks in Marrakesh.
So after 6 months I have finally finished two pieces of work block printed with natural pigments and then stitched in places... I wanted to suggest a gradual disintegrating of these ancient patterns.  The top piece is almost twice the size of the second.

This one is a detail.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A WW1 Christmas - 4th Dec 2017 to 6 January 2018

Producing work for an EAST exhibition is not just about research, trials and samples, making the item and putting it on display.  Sometimes the work can have a life after the last exhibition is packed away.  I find it particularly gratifying to hear that something EAST created has become the inspiration for someone else.  For the work made for Between the Lines it is particularly pleasing to hear that the research itself continues to be useful.

This has been the case with regard to the information sheet I produced on the Lady Smith-Dorrien's Hospital Bag Fund.  I had used this to make my work, shown above when the exhibition visited Landmark Arts Centre, Teddington.  Now the research is going to be part of a museum display.

From 4th December this year, and for six weeks only, Bath Medical Museum will be recreating a WWI war hospital - looking at how the inpatients (soldiers) were 'entertained' over the Christmas period.  Instead of focusing on the grimmer aspects of war the exhibition will use anecdotal stories on the themes of food, entertainment, gifts, decorations, celebrations, etc.  They will look at how local people provided plum puddings, knitted goods and filling crackers.

In addition, on the opening day (6.12.17) there will be a lecture by Dr Roger Rolls on the history of the Bath Mineral Hospital during the war.  The exhibition continues until 6 January 2018.

For more information visit the Bath Hospital Museum website.  Please note that the museum, which is run entirely by volunteers is open Mondays to Wednesdays (2pm to 4pm) and Fridays (10am to 12 noon).

More information about Lady Smith-Dorrien's Hospital Bag Fund can be found by following the link from my page - HERE.