Monday, 21 October 2013

Our fragile craft art exhibition

I have been involved in an exhibition at St. John's Mill called Our Fragile Craft involving 12 artists using different media. These included, photography, acrylics, oil painting and textiles. I produced 3 new pieces of work for it , one of them called cooperation was a sunflower using golden rod dyed lambswool with couched leaves and a plant dyed bee. I have taken great delight this year in watching the vast number of bumble bees of all types in my garden.  Below is a photo of this work. Another plant design was a sowthistle which seeded itself outside my back door which I did sketches of and took photographs of to produce this hand stitched design on hand made paper. I will deal with the final piece of work in another blog as it is complex and experimental.
 I am really enjoying hand stitching again, my first love, and have recently joined the Hand Embroidery Network which is a group of like minded people who are inspirational and very gifted.
I am going on holiday for two weeks so will not be blogging for a while. I am going to Slovenia for a week to a hotel in a National park with a view outside the window of the Julian Alps where I hope to do lots of sketching and photography to get ideas for my next major exhibition based on biological forms. I am then spending 5 days in London with my son, and my daughter is joining us for 2 days. I have been reading On Growth and Form by D'Arcy Thompson and  the beautiful book, The Hidden Geometry of Flowers by Keith Critchlow and will be doing research in the Natural History Museum in London.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Magical Fantastical Exhibition

I have work hanging in two exhibitions at present, one of them is the Magical Fantastical exhibition held at the Hodgson Loom Gallery with the wonderful work of Julia Ashby Smyth on display. I have three pieces on show, one of them is called Yggdrasil, based on Norse Mythology, where a dragon lives below Asgard and chews the roots of the mighty ash tree. The base of the work is made from plant dyed wool and cashmere which has been hand stitched. A detail of the dragon is shown below; it is stitched in stem stitch using stranded cotton. Other features in this myth are deer, a squirrel, a snake, an eagle and holy wells which are shown in a larger view of my work.

Thursday, 17 October 2013


Finally a new post after a very busy year in the garden. On the 12th June my U3A herb group met at Ballaghenny nature Reserve. Here we found a profusion of wild flowers but especially Burnet roses [rosa pimpinellifolia] of varying colours which spread by suckers to cover a wide area.   We studied various facts about roses and found several recipes using them. The rose is the national flower of the USA and the birth flower for June, in fact roses were Benjamin Disraeli's favourite flower.
Both the flowers and leaves of roses are edible, rose petals, once the bitter white portion is removed, along with lavender and violets add a sweet flavour to salads. Of course rose hips are widely used, those of rosa rugosa grow along one side of my pond. The outside flesh can be nibbled at as the hips are so large but be sure not to eat the internal irritant hairs. I also make rose hip syrup by adding two parts sugar or honey to the strained liquid of boiled hips. This keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge. A tea can also be made from  the hips by pouring boiling water and letting them infuse for 10 minutes They are a wonderful source of vitamin C. Burnet Roses photographs from Ballaghenny are seen below.

Roses are also used in perfumery Attar of Roses is the essential oil extracted from various rose petals and rose water is a by product from the production of rose based perfumes.