It’s nearly June and this is only my second post of the year (after saying I planned on blogging more). So much has happened so far in 2018 I don’t know where to begin. My dad passed away, I failed my driving test 3 times, once by driving up the wrong side of the road (!) but I have worked and worked and worked. In the freelance game that is awesome news of course. I love that every project I have worked on this year has come through word of mouth, being asked back, through conversations, some through me upping my instagram presence. It’s all been brilliant, I love working, I love what I do. I forget that ten years ago I yearned to be in the position I’m in now so every now and again I think it’s really great to acknowledge that.
But… I am also feeling frustrated that I’m not making new work. I’m doing so much workshop/community/participatory work it’s so easy to let your own practice slide. I ask myself what do I want to achieve? How can I get an equal balance between the community focussed / project management work and the thinking/ making/ practice work. How can I bring the two together more? Is that even possible? The ideal project for me would give myself breathing space for reflection, making, development, collaboration, idea sharing, delivering, making, responding, making, exhibiting. When you deliver a participatory project it’s like you’re providing a service to a client, you think about their needs, what their outcomes are and you prioritise those over your own. As an artist I want there to be more of a two way relationship. So often the things that really attract me to a project are the things that get valued the least, artistic development, time and space to make your own work, exhibiting opportunities. How can the culture of participation in the arts adapt better to providing artists that thinking and making space where it isn’t compromised over numbers of participants, or funders figures? I’m managing a project at the moment which doesn’t allow for this either, not for me as the artist but for me as project manager. It’s all completely down to the budget of course – there simply aren’t the funds to include this development space for the artist and I find it really frustrating. Well I don’t have the answers right now but moving forward, the simple acknowledgement for myself, is that this is what I would like to move towards in the next 12 months, more balance and a better understanding of an artists value.
Today I was working on my residency in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea working with families responding to the sea and beach. It was cold but dry – all the families and their kids had a great time. There is all this sea coal which was a great material to work with. I have really enjoyed this project, it’s extended my own knowledge of natural dyeing which is now my main focus for the rest of the residency and fuelled ideas for some other natural dye projects coming up later this year. There are definitely ways to be creative with your planning time and go through a process of discovery which contributes to your own development, which is how I’ve approached this project. The next event is at Miners Picnic at Woodhorn Museum where I’ll be doing a large scale printed quilt with residency artists Judith Davies and Stevie Ronnie. It should be a really good day.
It’s a New Year but I’m still in the fog of the old one thanks to a nasty bout of tonsillitis, coupled with a very excited toddler who won’t sleep and some horrible news of terminal illness in the family, I’m pretty glad 2017 is over. Tomorrow I’m hoping to get back to work as I have a busy January plus the dreaded tax return.
This year I’m planning on writing more on this blog, i’ve got very lazy with it and it’s a crucial part of my work, to think and make and write it all down. I’d also like to get back into making a daily sketchbook. I think as the next six months will be spent on a community residency and project managing an arts in health project, there might not be much room for making my own work so here are two ways where I can keep in touch with that. I will write a bit more about the two projects I’m working on too, they are both really exciting and I can’t wait to share them.
The third thing I have been thinking a lot about is what I want to focus my year on. The last two years since I returned to work after maternity have focussed on revisiting my training in textiles. I’ve learned how silk is made from cocoon to cone, how to create Bojagi textiles, shibori and slow stitching and made my own wrapping cloths. I’ve spent over a year learning natural dyeing processes which I’ve used in my exhibiting practice and have set up a simple process in the studio to accommodate hot and cold dyes. At last November’s Open Studio I made a large batch of indigo resist wrapping cloths and I think now is the time to develop a full collection. This year I want to learn some new skills particularly around paper stencil making for paste resist dyeing as well as Japanese wood block printing and Chine Colle so I hope to take some classes at Northern Print later in the year. I will also be running my own workshops throughout the year in a few different locations across Newcastle and Gateshead. It’s actually so refreshing to be hitting the ground running in New year, it can be a very depressing time and for me being busy and having the opportunity to be making is the best way to get through it.
h a p p y n e w y e a r
9 Sept – 12 Nov 2017
Mirror Gallery, South Hill Park, Ringmead, RG12 7PA
Shifting Boundaries is a collaboration between visual artists Yvette Hawkins and Judith Davies. Working together over a one year period, Hawkins and Davies have developed a visual dialogue pushing the boundaries of materials by adopting an experimental approach to making. This has resulted in the realisation of a body of new work exploring the material processes of their individual textiles, ceramics and drawing practice.
Using raw materials collected from South Hill Park grounds, Berwick upon Tweed and North East England, where the artists are based, the work brings to light the use of boundary on a physical and geographical scale as well as exploring the boundaries between Hawkins textile and Davies ceramic practice. Working across scale, touch and colour the work finds a meeting point where both materials co-exist. This is reflected through a new site specific commission made in collaboration alongside drawings, ceramics, textiles and artist books.
Both artists have used soils, clay, wood and plant material to create pigment and dyes collected from the natural environment to determine the colour throughout the exhibition.
In progress currently in the studio for my Borderlands series; several architectural Bojagi textiles made with calico and cotton from the UK representing the five directional colours of South Korea; blue, white, black, red and yellow.
Borderlands is a body of work which provides a meeting point of my South Korean and U.K history. The Bojagi panels laid, pinned, stitched into geometric shapes form borders and territories similar to those found on maps and in the physical landscape. These fabric maps chart an intuitive remembered history of real and imagined journeys I have taken across and between both countries.
I’m a bit late to the game with the ‘what I did in 2016’. I realise some people find these sorts of posts tedious. Not me. I’m afraid I’m one of those annoying list ticky people and I’m also quite a forgetful person so above all else I need this as a reminder of what I did so I can work out what to do next.
So 2016… I really only had one main goal and that was to find a good balance between my new motherhood situation and returning to my practice. I thought because I had spent nine months out of work that everyone would forget me. I had also read some horror stories about maternity and working rights which I discovered was more commonplace than most.
Well I was pleasantly surprised that I hadn’t been forgotten about and after firing off some emails to past colleagues found myself working straight away. Here are a few things that I did:
- Found a new studio sharing with a ceramic artist
- Pleasantly discovered my new Studio mate was a perfect fit and has been a true inspiration to getting back into my work
- Reignited my passion for Book Apothecary an artist book museum I set up in 2011 – possibly due to sharing a studio floor with two of the artists
- Made lots of artist book plans
- Ran a series of workshops with an artist I mentored just before baby came along
- Set up a weekly sewing group
- Proposed and got a new solo exhibition in Macclesfield
- Gained an artist residency at A garden in Gateshead working with asylum seekers and refugees
- Learned how to make Korean Bojagi textiles
- Received A grant from Arts Council to deliver my solo exhibition and residency
- Received a grant from arts council to travel to South Korea
- Went to South Korea and visited the last silk producing town, delivered workshops and collaborated on new work with Korean and British artists
- Met my Korean family after 31 years
- Cried a lot
- Ate a lot of Korean food
- Found a great nursery for my daughter
- Watched her take her first steps
- Got ill a lot because my daughter was now going to nursery
- Went on a train without her and felt like I’d left something at home
- Made some brilliant mum friends who helped me get through all the changes
- Took part in my first open studio
- Reopened my etsy shop and sold some work
- Got given a really massive table for my studio
- Ran my first workshop from massive table
- Received a commission from New Writing North for Durham Book Festival
And of course there were a few things that didn’t go to plan like applying for opportunities that I didn’t get or an entire batch of 2000 silk worms dying (argh) and that when you have a baby things change – including friendships.
Friends who don’t have children stop calling you or asking how you’re doing when actually what you’re doing is going through the biggest moment of your life and that as well as it being amazing it’s bloody tough and that even though you are now plus one, you’re still you and more than ever you need your friends around you. Now I am with baby I have made new friends who I believe will be my life friends and perhaps they have been replacing my older friends. It’s not ideal but right now that’s what I need.
This is fast turning into a post about motherhood – but that’s what I am now. A Mother. An Artist. A mother artist.
Let’s see what 2017 brings…
I reopened my etsy shop over the holidays after a three year hiatus. I’ve forgotten how nice it is to send things in the post and how really lovely it is to make a thing with your hands and have someone buy it. That connection to someone else which is only joined through this object just fascinates me. Thinking about how I want to develop small objects and how I might sell them has been my Christmas obsession. Still have a long way to go but it’s a nice project to think about in between exhibition making.
I’ve been working on a new workshop programme for my Book Apothecary project which will launch next year. The idea is to provide workshops in traditional and also not so traditional book making.
I love books but I especially love making them. I learned how to make books at The Lit and Phil Library – they have a bookbinding group there which is hugely popular. Then I picked up other skills alongside projects I was doing. I often incorporate some sort of bookmaking into most of the projects I do.
So I’m kickstarting January with a simple Introductory course where we’ll make different book structures with covers. If you are on my mailing list you can get a discount on the course price. If you’re not you can sign up to it here. I’ll be sending out the email tomorrow.
Sign up to the course here and set a reminder via the facebook event here.
At open studios I wanted to trial the idea of making some wrapping cloths as an alternative to Christmas gift wrap. I had some fat quarters of Japanese fabric so made some up and they were a hit! In fact they sold out hurrah!
Wrapping cloths are historically used in Asia. Japan and Korea both have an established culture of giving gifts wrapped in cloth. It goes further in that giving gifts in certain colours is crucial at certain events. I find this ritualistic giving really interesting and I definitely think the idea of a recycled wrapping cloth that can be reused is brilliant!
The fabric I used was cotton Katazome – which is a type of dyeing using rice paste resist and paper cut stencils. I was really excited to learn this was how kimonos were originally printed. I’m now obsessed with this technique which sadly is quite ancient and isn’t used much anymore… actually that’s what’s made it more exciting. So after much research I have gathered the materials to experiment with dyeing my own Katazome fabric.
In the meantime I made some new wrapping cloths which will go on sale in my shop later this week!
Have a look at my new shop, I’m slowly adding items to it. Let me know what you think?
I’m pleased to announce that I am running workshops from my studio now after I have upgraded my table set up.
First up, is this Festive Paper Ornament Workshop. There are only 8 places, which I think is a lovely intimate number for us all.
Join me in my studio in the heart of Ouseburn Valley for a festive workshop making paper ornaments for your tree or to give as a gift.
In this workshop we will look at the sculptural possibilities of paper to create small hand crafted ornaments inspired by the festive season.
Participants are invited to create six individual paper ornaments using origami and Paper sculpture techniques. Your finished pieces will be packaged into a beautiful gift box ready to give to your loved one (or keep for yourself).
Lead by visual artist Yvette Hawkins who works across installation and sculpture using traditional craft techniques including Paper folding, bookbinding and textiles. Yvette is lead artist and founder of BookApothecary.
TICKETS £25 (plus eventbrite booking fee)
Buy here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/festive-paper-ornament-workshop-tickets-8992164807
All materials included. Refreshments provided
Please note that my studio is located on the 5th floor. Street level is at level 2.5 with only stair access to the studio.
Adult workshop 18+
Looking forward to welcoming you into my studio.