Ally Pally 2016 roundup (or the stuff I liked this year, shop ’til you drop, and why do Mum’s carry mobile phones?)

I took a cheeky day off on Wednesday of last week to spend some quality time with Mum at the first day of this year’s London Knit and Stitch show, and what a blinder it was.  I may be considerably poorer (totes ran out of dosh by lunchtime) but I came away wishing that I had another day to go back and visit all over again.  So, as is my usual practice, here are a few highlights for me this year.

First highlight was actually achieving a meet up with Mum despite her habit of leaving her mobile in the bottom of her handbag, usually switched off to save the battery life (“I turn it on if I want to make a call”).  We used the old fashioned method of arranging a meeting place and time in advance and sticking to it and amazingly it all worked to plan.  So, partner in crime at my side, we began our shopping spree.  In my defence, Mum is a bad influence, tending to make a bee line for the back hall and the goodies on sale whereas if I visit on my own I start with the galleries in the front hall and run out of time before I get to do any shopping.  Two hours in with empty purse and rucksack full of yarn, needles, buttons and a book, we made it back into the relative calm of the gallery space and began a tour of the wonderful work on display.

First stop was the Embroiderer’s Guild graduate showcase which was full of  young, talented and enthusiastic artists exhibiting a diverse range of work in textile and stitch.  I was particularly taken with the vibrant work of Sam Hussain Designs.

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Sam Hussain Designs hand painted and hand embroidered cotton jersey vest

Next on the agenda was the more calming art of Debbie Lyddon in her Moments of Being gallery.

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Debbie Lyddon, Sluice Creek Cloth: Marsh Shadows (linen and wire)

For any Game of Thrones fans amongst you, the Embroiderer’s Guild had this chap striking a pose in the entrance hall. More info on the Guild’s involvement (and better photos although I do think he looks good against the Ally Pally brickwork!) with this popular dramatisation of George R R Martin’s epic fantasy adventure can be found here.

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White Walker from Game of Thrones

At this stage I saw Mum off the premises to catch her train (and get home before her highly energetic Poodledoodle started climbing the walls and destroying the house) and I reentered the show to enjoy Dionne Swift’s landscapes.  Unfortunately this photo just doesn’t do her work justice so I recommend a visit to her website to enjoy a better look.

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Dionne Swift

I loved the weirdness of Cos Ahmet’s “Thread is a Thought” exhibition comprising sculptures made with woven tapestry and other materials representing his idea of the body as a container.  After all it makes some kind of sense to me to depict the various fibres that make up the human body with the more commonly seen and experienced fibres of woven textiles.

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Cos Ahmet

And the Manchester School of Art’s “Significance” exhibition inspired by the historic collections of the Gawthorpe Textile Collection (over 30,o00 artefacts related to stitch production) was a diverse and inspiring display from both tutors and students.  I particularly liked the vibrancy of Jane McKeating’s work, the simplicity of Lisa Baraona’s fabric stitched line drawings, and in direct contrast, Alice Kettle’s complex and heavily stitched contribution to the exhibition.

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Jane McKeating, print and stitch on cotton.

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Lisa Baraona “Race to Progress” 

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Alice Kettle

And last, but definitely not least, a word of congratulations to Marks and Stitch for their impressive “Impressions” exhibition. A big fan of Alison Hulme’s hand printed pinnies (I own a couple) I was drooling over her latest work featuring prints inspired by graffiti. I was also enamoured by the effective simplicity of Janet Steer’s woven silhouettes, and entertained by the intriguingly composed and colourful free machining of Catherine Fox.

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Janet Steer’s woven tapestries and Alison Hulme’s hand printed pinnies

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Catherine Fox’s free machining: “Pyramus and Thisbe”

There was just so much to see in the four hours I had to play with that I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed out a few gems. However, I came away thoroughly inspired from this year’s show so if you get a chance to visit Dublin or Harrogate I can highly recommend it.

Until next time…….