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…….

 

 

“Aww, Go On!”

People often comment on how slow January can be but quite frankly I blinked and missed it this year! So here’s a little catch up on arty things a foot in my life at the moment. Remember my last post about the Textile Challenge for Canine Partners? Well, not content with creating one piece for this worthy cause I was compelled to do another. This time I left the paints in their pots and worked solely with the fabrics provided in all their mismatched pattern and colour glory, and used hand stitch as my method of unifying them. The result is a reproduction of an expression I see up close (Weimaraners are renowned for their inability to recognise the concept of personal space) countless times a day and the title was a toss up between “And me!” and “Aww, Go On!”, both of which would represent the sentiment behind this face equally well.

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“Aww, Go On!” by Nicky Barfoot.

The result is possibly my favourite piece of textile work to date and I felt a little reluctant to hand it over this morning when I dropped it and “Clown’s Crown” off to the lovely lady who has organised the challenge.

Both of these pieces will be for sale at the exhibition of work created for the Textile Challenge running from 18th to 21st February. Already it has raised enough money to buy a puppy and hopefully with sale proceeds from the exhibition more canine partners can be purchased and trained to provide independence and companionship to people living with disabilities.

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Textile Challenge Exhibition

So, one exhibition deadline met and two more to plan for in February, whilst also participating on a fantastic drawing course that I have started with Este Macleod called Creative Leap where we are being set a challenge for each day of February linked to the letters of the alphabet. No doubt I shall be showing you some outputs from that over the next few weeks or so. But for now I need to get back to making a fishy collage. Until next time folks ……..

Canine Partners Textile Art Challenge

At the back end of last year I found out about a textile challenge that was being put together to raise funds for Canine Partners, a charity which trains and provides (free of charge) assistance dogs to people living with disabilities in the UK.  These amazing dogs help their human partner with everyday tasks such as opening and closing doors, taking the washing out of the machine, picking things up from the floor, pressing switches and fetching help when needed.

Dogs and textiles for a good cause, well it would have been rude not to don’t you think? So the challenge is to buy a pack of 25 fabric squares from the Textile Challenge facebook page and create a piece of textile art or an object using at least part of every piece.

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My original pack of fabrics. 

Sounded easy until I had a good look at the fabrics supplied and realised just what a variety of weights, colours, materials and patterns there were (I should have realised by the word “challenge” in the title, huh?). So two days of standing at the ironing board rearranging, I came up with this.

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Trying to respond to the fabrics and coming up with this, mmm………

As you can see a few of the squares had foliage of some sort as a pattern so I thought I should use these in the final design and had some kind of stitchy flowering thing in mind. And then purely by chance I read an interview with the fabulous Grayson Perry who urged me to respect my muses and my techniques (my interpretation of his advice, not his words as such) and “what were you thinking?” came to mind. At the same time I decided that I couldn’t cope with all of those colours, textures and patterns (way too busy for me) and a bit of unifying was required so the paints came out.

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Now I’m getting excited but let’s move those leaves

So the leaves were replaced with, yes you guessed it, a dog! A free machine embroidered sketch of my usual Weimie muse followed by more paint and a few words hand embroidered on the top and this is the final piece.

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“Clown’s Crown” machine and hand embroidery on painted fabrics

All of the entries to the challenge will be exhibited at the Angel Inn in Midhurst (South Downs National Park) from 18 February for four days. The work will be for sale to raise further funds for the charity. Do check out the Textile Challenge facebook page to see what other people are making and there is still a bit of time left if you fancy having some textile fun yourself for a good cause.

Harrogate Knit and Stitch Show 2015 (Yikes! What was I thinking?!)

I’m back! And what a fabulous week I’ve just had exhibiting at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show sharing stand TG623 with the lovely Becca Tansley of Alterknitive.  It may have been wet and windy but I still enjoyed my third visit to this picturesque spa town in North Yorkshire, possibly helped by the warm welcome and award winning breakfasts provided by Andy and Tracey at Wynnstay House, and according to Mr Barfoot, THE best coffee shop in the UK (and anyone who knows my better half realises that this is a well researched accolade) Hoxton North, which conveniently turns into a champagne bar in the evenings!

Anyway I digress, so back to the show.  After a 4am start last Wednesday morning (Mr B still hasn’t forgiven me for that!) and only a 1 hour delay sitting stationary on the M1 whilst a broken down lorry took up two out of the three lanes (rude!) at rush hour, we arrived at Harrogate International Centre to this.

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Photo credit Becca Tansley.

You can imagine what went through my head at this point? Yep you got it. Yikes! What was I thinking!?  But by the time we left at 6pm, thanks to the expert help and advice of Julia Neal of Velvet Beacon Ltd we had transformed to this.

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This was me

And this.

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Becca’s half of the stand (photo credit Becca Tansley)

Looking at my 2m by 1m share of our cubby hole now it is hard to believe the amount of effort that goes into putting something like this together. However, it is also difficult to describe what a buzz I got from seeing nine month’s worth of preparation (and panic) displayed professionally like this.  As a maker the opportunity to see a series of work in all its glory doesn’t happen that often and standing back it is extremely gratifying to be able to say to oneself, “Blimey, did I do that?”  And even better than that was the overwhelming appreciation both myself and Becca got from the thousands of lovely visitors who came by and came in.

So enough about us.  One of my favourite things about these shows is the other exhibitors.  We hadn’t been there five minutes on set up day before Kevin Powell came by for a catch up. I spent the previous two Harrogate Knit and Stitch shows as part of the UK Knitted Textile Awards on a stand next to the Spellbound Bead Company and had many an entertaining chat with Kev, mild mannered bead shop owner by day and Punk Rock star with the band Skimmer by night, usually about music or sharing anecdotes about our furry kids.  He also gave me a copy of Skimmer’s latest album, Baby Dinosaur, which if anything like their previous output will no doubt become my new favourite driving album.  After his comments that it is probably their best to date (and they’ve been around a while!) I’m looking forward to getting in the car later and having a listen.

Situated opposite us in the Textile Gallery was the Nicola Jarvis Studio, The Art of Embroidery. The stand was huge and when we got there they were busy putting up wallpaper and furnishing it with the most amazing wooden furniture.  The end result was a haven of calm in the midst of the show frenzy not unlike being in the drawing room of a large country house.  This impression was further enhanced by the wonderful Brian Hunt, a past student of Nicola’s who, despite the bustle and chaos of a show set up, sat tranquil in front of an embroidery loom engrossed in his technically superb stitching for much of the day.

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Brian Hunt stitching in the Nicola Jarvis Studio

I found out later in the week that Brian isn’t the only expert stitcher in his family.  That fabulous sweater he is wearing in the picture is one of his wife Helen Hunt’s creations. I saw the inside of that sweater folks, that lady knows her fairisle!

In another part of the Textile Gallery I discovered the work of talented felt maker Michala Gyetvai.  Not one usually attracted to landscapes in art, this has got to be one of my favourite pieces in the show. The title of the stand was Enchanted Landscapes and this one summed that up for me, invoking all sorts of fairytale esque narratives as I was drawn into its depths.

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“After India” by Michala Gyetvai 2015

Another piece of work that stopped me in my tracks to have a better look and more in line with my usual tastes was this winner of the Art Quilts category at the 2015 Festival of Quilts by Susan Orchin.

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See how these quirky quilted characters, winners of the 3d festival of quilts category, are also mesmerised by this piece.

And no trip to the Knitting and Stitching show would be complete without a little bit of retail therapy.  I didn’t have to venture out from the stand for some of my Christmas present purchases, but obviously I can’t say any more about those as the recipients may guess who they are after reading this and it would ruin the surprise.  I have had a couple of orders for the dog blanket in recent weeks so I also had the pleasure of sourcing some yarn.

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My new favourite yarn

And look what I found (and yes it feels even better than it looks!) The lovely ladies from the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop guessed I might be a repeat offender as I came past most mornings for another look and a squidge, and gave me a shade card.  Good move ladies!

Right, that’s enough putting off the unpacking.  I also have a dog to pick up and all of those jobs I postponed until December to plan for.  Not to mention the other business to run.  But then I also have some lovely new yarn to play with.  Mmm, maybe there’s time for just one more coffee and a quick cast on before I get back to the real world.  Until next time……..

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“Do we really have to get the other dog back Mum? I quite like being the centre of attention”.

Dog Blanket (but definitely not for muddy paws!)

Over the past month I have been a bit remiss in posting here due to the frantic production that has been required ahead of the Open Weekend at the Janice Barfoot Sugarcraft Centre 14 and 15 November (see previous post) and Harrogate Knit and Stitch show at the end of the month (what was I thinking!?)  However, I had to take some time away from stitching this morning as I am excited to share with you one of the things I have been beavering away making.  Remember my ongoing obsession with double knitting? Here is the latest product of this, my Dog Blanket (if either of my dogs goes any where near it there will be trouble!).

"dog portrait blanket by Nicky Barfoot"

“Dog Blanket” hand knitted in Rowan Creative Focus Worsted and Kid Classic

Featured in this collection (and working horizontally from left to right in the picture) are portraits of a Doberman, Boxer, Labrador, Weimaraner, Bull Terrier, Retriever, Spaniel, Husky and Greyhound. I’ve knitted my blanket (definitely NOT FOR DOGS) in a wonderful warm and soft combination of Rowan Creative Focus Worsted (the black) and Rowan Kid Classic (grey) and am now looking forward to relaxing in my chair this Christmas in front of a few films snuggled under my luxurious lap warmer perhaps with a cheeky little glass of port on the side table and a bit of stilton.

I have had the charts for each of the dog breeds in the blanket printed into A5 flyers so if you fancy having a go (they will work equally well for intarsia and double knitting) I will be selling them at Harrogate so do come visit stand TG623. I’m also happy to post leaflets out to any of you who won’t be able to buy in person but would still like to purchase so do drop me an e mail or PM me on Nicky Barfoot facebook page if you are interested.

Right, more caffeine required then back to manic stitching.  Hope to see some of you at the Sugarcraft Centre on 14 and 15 November for an open weekend of art and sugarcraft demonstrations, and at the Harrogate International Centre 26 to 29 November for the textile feast that is the Knitting and Stitching Show.

Stitched at Romsey Abbey

Just back from hanging a new piece of work in the beautiful setting of Romsey Abbey, Hampshire.  I was delighted to be invited by Susan Chapman to take part in a collaboration with Rum’s Eg gallery to fill this wonderful example of Norman architecture with stitch.

My piece, “Piggy in the Middle” was inspired by the weird and quirky corbels which adorn the outside of the abbey, combined with my allocated space of St Nicholas chapel.

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“Piggy in the Middle” hand knitted double sided wall hanging in 100% wool by Nicky Barfoot

When I left this morning many wonderful examples of stitched art were still being hung. I can’t wait to see it when they are all up.

“Stitched” will be open from 30 September until 1 November and more information on exhibitors and their work can be found on the Rum’s Eg website. Hope you can make it.

Life in Layers

Firstly apologies for the prolonged silence here this month. Lots going on in the background both in life generally and on the art making front resulting in time running away with me somewhat and before I knew it July was looming and no posts had materialised. Anyway, to make up for it here are three pictures of a new series I have been working on inspired by the techniques and generous teachings of talented artist Emily Jo Gibbs at a recent West Dean College short course.

"hand stitched life drawing on silk organza"

“Catherine” layered silk organza and hand stitch

"hand stitched life drawing on layered silk organza"

“Georgie (2)” layered silk organza and hand stitch

"hand stitched life drawing on layered silk organza"

“Chris” hand stitch on layered silk organza

I will be dropping Georgie off at Eastleigh College later this week where she will be on display at the end of year show as work of past graduates.  Inviting back past students is a new thing for this annual event and I am really looking forward to seeing how the work of the three years worth of Stitched Textile Degree graduates has progressed since their degree shows.  Do have a look if you are in the area.

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Eastleigh College end of year show

So, lots of stuff going on here, mainly involving stitched life drawings of which I have more planned (there is a bit of a stick and prop theme coming through!). But for now it is back to the knitting needles and a commissioned fairisle sweater (“sweat” being the operative word in this summer weather).  Back soon……….

“Carnevale di Venezia”

My hands are aching from a weekend of Extreme Knitting, finishing a piece of work for the Jersey Textile Showcase at the same time as submitting seven pieces of work for the upcoming “Out of the Blue” exhibition at Rum’s Eg Gallery.  Fingers crossed that “Carnevale di Venezia” makes it to Jersey before the submission deadline tomorrow.

"knitted picture of a Venetian mask"

hand knitted picture

 

Hanger Farm Artist’s Reception 2 April 2013

Great artist’s reception yesterday evening at Hanger Farm where I am exhibiting with my textile group, neuf.  It truly is a wonderful building, full of character, and the technician’s were so helpful and good natured that the hanging process was a breeze!  We are there until 27 April so if you are in the Hampshire area do go along and sample the atmosphere of this lovely listed barn, while enjoying a coffee in front of some unique textile art.  An example of what to expect is shown below.

"textile art exhibition at Hanger Farm"

work shown is by Sue Fish, Lynette Long and Nicky Barfoot

Hanger Farm exhibition 3 to 27 April 2013

It’s been a manic week, but framing and labels are now all done and I can breathe a sigh of relief ahead of the grand hanging tomorrow at Hanger Farm, Totton, in Hampshire.  As a member of Textile Art group, neuf, I am excited to be exhibiting throughout April at Totton College’s performing arts facility and professional community arts venue set within a Grade II listed 18th century converted barn.  If you are in the area please come along and view what is sure to be a diverse and entertaining exhibition entitled “moving on” to mark our first independent exhibition as a group since graduating last summer.

"textile art exhibition at Hanger Farm"

Please come if you can.