Craft Unbound

I just got this excellent book out the library- Craft Unbound: make the common precious by Kevin Murray. I'm adding it to my wish list right away (or rather i'm emailing my friend in Australia to see if she can lay her hands on a copy of it for me). I don't know much about contemporary art and craft in Australia and this book is a real eye opener to me, pretty much every page I turned to had something that made me coo.

It's made me realise the strangeness of Australia, I don't mean to offend you strange Australians, but I hadn't really thought much about what it must mean to be Australian- living in a country that is incredibly old and yet incredibly young at the same time. I have spent a bit of time getting my head round New Zealand, thanks to having several 'New Zealish' friends who have given me some insight into life in Aotearoa, but I have yet to be educated in Australian. My knowledge of Australia pretty much stops with Bush Tucker Man (which I was addicted to when I was younger) and Rolf Harris. 
This excellent book looks at 'poor craft' people making contemporary work with whatever is available to them.  It includes work from Kantjupayi Benson woven from grasses (above is her biplane).

Sally Marsland who makes work using resin and powdered pigments

Anna Phillips who makes work using solidified shampoo and bath water!

Whilst I can't seem to get hold of a copy of the book in the UK (outside the Uni library) I can access the fascinating website and suggest you take a look too: Craft Unbound

Pick'n Mix from Curating.info

I love the Pick'n'Mix emails from Michelle Kasprzak's Curating.info- well worth signing up for and this weeks seem particularly relevant to me. Curating.info is also great for hearing about new jobs in the world of curating- most of them feel too 'big' for me at the moment, but maybe one day...
Posted: 29 Nov 2010 03:42 PM PST
- Karen Love (Manager of Curatorial Affairs at Vancouver Art Gallery) has written this excellent primer for emerging curators, the Curatorial Toolkit. (PDF download). It's very interesting to look over the bones of our profession, see what the essential, common sense information that we should be imparting to younger generations is. Especially since, with the proliferation of curatorial studies in academia, there may be an emphasis on theory rather than what I would call craft.

- But, lest you think I am anti-theory, I recently was delighted to see (and blogged a quick announcement about) the launch of the Journal for Curatorial Studies, which will be edited by Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher. The first issue of this journal is forthcoming, but I am certain it is one to watch.

- Last but not least, a little personal note. I was recently being interviewed by some university students who wanted opinions from a curator for an imaginary smartphone app they were developing that would allow curators to "shop" for work, and much more. I daydreamed out loud with them about looking at artist profiles and work, and then being able to organise it like a mind-map, developing my own categories and tags. I have such a ragtag collection of notes (both digital and analogue) on art and artists that I want to file away for later, that some kind of application like this seemed like a wonderful dream. Quite suddenly in the middle of the conversation I realised this was a terrible idea -- if it was all public. "I wouldn't want to share that information," I said, to their mild dismay. I realised that if I added a tag such as "dark" or "poetic" or "layered" to an artist or work, (terms that might be a shorthand for so many other things in my own mind) to the artist, or to others, it might not seem merely simplistic, but actually offensive. It might ruin some of the mystery involved in curatorial choices as well (which was a lesser concern). I ended up blurting out to the students, "you wouldn't want to know how sausage is made, either", but that isn't quite what I meant. I meant something nicer, like you wouldn't want to know how much work it was to erect the Eiffel Tower, or something similar. Maybe that is food for thought for you. What would be your dream digital tool? How much sharing would be involved in this tool -- some, none, a little bit? Do you feel like you are making sausage, or building the Eiffel Tower? All I know is that I would love an app that would intelligently record my mind maps of art and artists as I see them or otherwise encounter them -- if it's totally private, and with a self-destruct button too, perhaps.


What excites me?
What I want?

This might be the last post of the evening- possibly. Sorry for the sudden rash of posts, i'd got a lot stored up and when I realised that my deadline for my log book was tomorrow I thought I should probably post some more of them! This post shows some of my thinking towards what my MA project might be- from out of the chaos comes...something? At the moment i'm very conflicted and confused still about  where i'm heading with this. My  curatorial  roots are in DIY and underground art, but I think I secretly yearn, not for the white cube, but for the clean gallery space.
I'm not sure I want to squat an empty building, make a gallery in a basement, not make any money any more. I think perhaps what I want is to be able to make a living doing this, rather than using my money to support other people. That was what I did before, and it's one (amongst many) reasons I have big debts now- I thought it was important to give people a voice and somewhere to show their work, without thinking that maybe it was important for me to be able to survive too.
It's all about longevity, legacy, sustainability- what good is a project if we all burn out after 3 weeks/3months/ 3 years? Is there a problem with a project that only runs for a short time? Is there a way to keep my punk rock credentials and make money? Do I want to sell out? To be honest I was never that punk rock anyway...

Textile Forum South West Conference

My friend Kirsty left a comment mentioning this conference that the Textiles Forum South West are holding next year- I knew she had attended their events in the past, turns out she's now speaking at them...

Maps Define The Future - Where are you now? Conference


More than just a conference, Textile Forum South West is hosting a whole day exploring textile territories - looking, listening and participating in mapping the future together.
We will survey ideas from traditional geographical and textile maps to virtual mapping now; view current personal textile practice using journey as both inspiration and process; demonstrate new routes to networking with like-minded makers and have the chance to participate in making fabric markers for mapping further textile journeys.

Speakers include, Peter Merrett, land surveyor,  Dr Hilary Turner, historian specialising in tapestry maps; Kirsty Hall, expert blogger and navigator of the internet; the key -note speaker is Dail Behennah, celebrated maker who is both a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts and the Royal Geographical Society.

Delegate Fee (including lunch and refreshments)
TFSW members: £50
Non members:    £60
Students:           £40
To book a ticket please email: contact@tfsw.org

Here's an idea

My friend tried to leave a comment on the blog, but it vanished into thin air. Here's what she wanted to say- it makes me realise that actually with the addition of a few small words I do have the ability to say what i'm thinking.

 I was impressed by your mind map, acknowledging that my own insatiable itch always to verbalise (hence why I'm unnecessarily verbose at times) does have a downside: It can draw me away dangerously far from my initial concept, especially if I get mired in wordiness. Also: That if you could turn each relationship between one pair of connected thoughts into a sentence (or more, if needed), that's your whole thing verbalised! I might mind map next time I want to describe a thought process. :)

I also discovered this group on Flickr: MindMapperz. 

I've struggled for years with note taking, I write copious notes, but what actually goes in- once I started to use these kind of maps and diagrams things start to make a lot more sense. I love maps and diagrams so that shouldn't be much of a surprise- maybe I can submit my entire MA in map form? Last year I joked that I would submit my essay on 2000 post it notes- and let my tutor compile it, didn't go through with that, but it's the thought that counts!

Visual Stress

A week or so ago I went and had some tests done for visual stress. I didn't know I was visually stressed, but when i'd been having my disabled student assessment it was suggested that I come back and have my eyes tested to see if there was a problem. I'm really short sighted and find it hard reading from a screen, and it's been a struggle reading all the texts for the MA- i'd put that down to the fact that doing an MA is bound to be hard and it wasn't surprising that reading big blocks of text was giving me headaches or sending me to sleep.

I  knew that some people with dyslexia find coloured lenses helpful, but I really had no idea that it would work on me too. I had a variety of tests done- starting off with just reading nonsense words to see what my words per minute rate was, then trying again with coloured films over the text. Once we'd worked out what colour worked best for me it turned out that my reading rate went up from 109words a minute to 160words a minute. I can't explain how it happened, it made no sense to me, but even as I was reading it I felt that it was less of a strain to take the words in, I read faster and easier, just with the addition of a sheet of orange plastic.

After some more tests in the magic machine the hue and saturation were narrowed down and I tried the reading again- this time with lenses in a frame- my reading speed went up to 190 words a minute! So simply by having a certain hue and saturation I was able to almost (sort of) double my reading speed. It was a really weird sensation and I can't wait to get the proper glasses back from the place in America where they are made- looks like i'm going to have to wait over 2 months for my orange lenses with purple frames (chosen on the basis that nothing will make orange look good, might as well look horrible)

And this ties in with my research how? Well it might go part way to explaining why I'm finding it so hard to take in the reading, and also it fits in nicely with my fascination for science and collections of things- I was very taken with the collection of lenses in a box, all neatly arranged by colour, just like crayons or felt pens.




Creative Clusters mapped by Nesta

Mapping of creative clusters by Nesta , not just pretty, but interesting too- here's the link for the South West 
and you can download the report here.

Exploding show

Exploding show
listening to others and drawing my show

And then there was this.
The top image shows the explosion of my mind, when i'd moved on to thinking about making my Hypothetical exhibition about outsider/insider artists working with textiles. I had already identified some groupings that I knew I wanted to include in the show, but using this exploding mind map helped me work out where different artists fitted in. For example before I did this I believed that one of the key areas was the use of text in work, but when I sat down and looked at it there were only a few artists working in this way. I definately think that there is an interesting case to be made for text in work, especially in embroidery etc, but this wasn't going to be the show for that.
The second image shows pages from my book where i'd been trying to rough out my ideas for how things would be displayed, and then went over that with some notes taken whilst other members of my group were giving their presentations.

The unravelling of my mind

Ideas for YARN

I thought i'd scan in and share some of my pages from my 'ideas book'. These pages were from back when I first started thinking of ideas for my Hypothetical show project- I was looking at ideas around knitting and the sea, and wanted to create a show called YARN that would feature yarnbombing, collective knitting, super sized knitting and links to fishing and story telling. That's a very condensed way of explaining things. Anyway- it seems like I really struggle with getting words down on paper, something that has meant keeping a log for this MA is really hard for me, but I do manage to make little drawings and mind maps that make things clearer for me, if not anyone else. Each point on this is something that kicks off a memory in my brain, that while I might not be able to verbalise it all yet, is still something I could make happen. I know I need to get much better at verbalising my thoughts and ideas, it's something i've struggled with a lot over the last few years making my own work. So much of what I do in my own art practice is about process and just making in order to find out what it is i'm doing, it's really hard for me now to be in a position where I can't just bumble along, I have to come up with fixed ideas and back them up with critical and theoretical writing.

The Subversive Stitch

I thought it might be a good time to revisit Rozsika Parker's The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the making of the feminine, in light of some of the ideas we've been discussing as a group for our Newlyn show. It also ties in with my own ideas for my MA project. I just picked up a copy from the library on Saturday, and got home to hear the news that Rozsika Parker had died earlier in the month. I'm not sure how that passed me by, but here's a link to an obituary from The Guardian.


A group of historians from Bath is planning to commemorate the work of suffragettes in the city by planting trees in local parks.

An arboretum dedicated to the political activists was created in Batheaston between 1909 and 1912 by the Blathwayt family at their home, Eagle House. Most of the trees were felled in the 1960s to make way for a housing estate. Now history researchers at Bath Spa University have launched a campaign to raise £4,500 to buy new trees.

"We think the suffragettes' links with Bath have been overlooked for too long," said senior history lecturer Dr Elaine Chalus. More than 60 suffragettes came to stay with the Blathwayt family after they were imprisoned for their political activism. During their stay, the women were encouraged to plant trees and bushes as a symbol of their hopes for political equality. The leader of the movement, Emmeline Pankhurst, was among those who added a sapling to the collection.A single tree remains at the original site: a large Australian pine, planted by Rose Lamartine Yates on 30 October 1909.
On 8 March 2011 - International Women's Day - three new trees will be planted to commemorate the arboretum and the women who created it.They will be situated in Bath's Victoria Park and in Alice Park, in  the grounds of the university's Newton Park campus. The ceremonies will be part of a week-long series of public events from 7-11 March, including a photographic exhibition of at Bath Central Library. "This celebration provides an excellent way to highlight the involvement of these women in the history of Bath and in the history of the suffragette movement," added Dr Chalus.
If you would like to donate towards the fund, which the university hopes to raise by 10 January 2010, you can send a cheque made out to Bath Spa University to:
The Suffragettes' Tree,
Dr Roberta Anderson,
School of Humanities and Cultural Industries,
Bath Spa University,
Newton Park,
Bath BA2 9BN
Any money raised over and above the cost of the week's commemoration activities will go towards a bursary for a female student to carry out research at the university's Centre for History and Culture.

Hand Made Tales: Women and Domestic Crafts

Open October 2010-April 2011, Free

Hand Made Tales, curated by Carol Tulloch, is a timely exhibition focusing on the role domestic crafts play in many women’s experiences. It draws on the connections between the current revival of domestic crafts such as sewing, gardening, and cooking and the historical roots of the domestic arts within the home. The exhibition will allow visitors to explore and learn the stories of crafts and the women involved in them through personal tales and fun interactive projects. Come and discover treasures that share the intimate bond between generations from the once mundane to the now treasured heirlooms of families past.

The Women's Library
London Metropolitan University
25 Old Castle Street
London E1 7NT
A visual art curator with a sweet tooth: http://www.contemporaryconfections.com/




"The Great Radish Famine"


I am surrounded with books at the moment, drowning in them actually. I have been trying to research a million different things all at the same time and my focus has drifted from one thing to another. However, there is a deadline looming and nothing focuses the mind like a deadline, so I shall be putting obsolete technology to one side, and my investigations into the internet, and instead I shall be focusing on the links I see between outsider artists working in textiles and contemporary artists using the same materials. I see the links in an almost intuitive way so it's hard to pull them apart and find out WHY I think that this is relevant and could make an interesting and exciting show. I don't have many days left to pin it down, but maybe i'll start here with sharing some images.

Angus McPhee
Blandine Clerc
Judith Scott
Hawkins Bolden



All hail Tom Bugs

Thanks to Tom archiving his old site, i've found some images from the Obsolete Technology show, including my Möbius Strip Sewing Machine Loop
Möbius strips were the order of the day- here's Tom and Mr_Hopkinson's offering
And two images from Tom's solo show

Starting to see a link

I'm starting to see a link between Large Hadron Colliders, the Newlyn observatory and other strange technology. I keep thinking of the 'Obsolete Technology' show that we held at 'here gallery' as part of Venn Festival, i'm also thinking about Tom Bugs 'Bugbrand all-enveloping sound show', also shown at here. Both were exhibitions that on the surface shouldn't have appealed to me, but both ended up being some of the best shows we ever put on there. Due to the fact that these were early shows in the galleries existence I don't seem to be able to find much by way of documentation. But enjoy a planning meeting (where I eat constantly), Mr_Hopkinson's Obsolete Technology music box being played and two of Chip-forks videos.

Tide Predicting Machine

In response to my post about the Newlyn observatory Simon sent me a link to the wikipedia article about Tide Predicting Machines. I like the fact that I know people who know about stuff like this. Yesterday Laura sent me a link to a zine about the Large Hadron Collider, and another Laura told me that she had seen the Cornish Guernsey knitting girls in a magazine- which she is kindly photocopying for me. Maybe there is some logic to all these random postings after all?


Large Hadron Collider


Ok so I really don't know what this has to do with curating, but I love the Large Hadron Collider in a way that only a woman with no real understanding of particle physics can. There was a mini big bang and we didn't all die- horray for hadron!

Here's some amazing images that I found whilst googling 'particle physics'

x-posted to Made by Milla

also Pulp reformed today, which is good news.

Re:collection at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre

Private view / Gwyliad Preifat, 12pm-2pm
Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre is investigating what compels makers to collect found objects and elevate them as works of art. This exhibition includes one off accessories, jewellery and found objects that have been reinterpreted and given new life and new meaning; providing a contradiction between manufactured objects that are transformed and revealed as unique works of art

Exhibition continues until / Arddangosfa yn parhau tan 24.12.10
Monday to Friday / Dydd Llun i Ddydd Gwener 9.30am-5pm
Saturday / Dydd Sadwrn 9.30am-4pm
Admission is free / Mynediad am ddim

Cornish Guernseys and Knit-Frocks by Mary Wright

Cornish Guernseys and Knit-frocks
Charles Joliffe, Charles Joliffe Jnr, and Jim Curtis with a young friend at Polperro in the 1860s.
The famous panel of 82 photographs in the Rowett Institute, Polperro. The photographs were taken in the late nineteenth century and are all named
Messers. Puckey, Marks and Joliffe of Polperro
Final stages of construction in these knit-frocks, show the skills of two young Polperro girls

Potential studio visits

I'm heading over to Krowji  in Redruth on Wednesday evening, to talk to some people there, so I was just checking out the website to see who has studios there that I might be able to go and visit. I've just missed an open studios event, but there's another one coming up in December. I'm going to try and get to visit some studios before then to see what's happening locally.

Elisa McLeod- paintings

 Ann Haycock-installation/fibre art

Sarah Ball

Sarah Ball- 'Portrait- man made series' at RWA
Sarah Ball detail
Sarah Ball 'Index II'  at RWA

Two paintings by Sarah Ball that were in the RWA Autumn show. My photos are pretty terrible, but there's more images on her website. These were my favourite pieces in the show- possibly because they have masking tape in them...painted masking tape that is.