Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Powysland Exhibition

The Monty Canal banner, made in collaboration with stitchers and textile artists from Llanymynech and the surrounding areas, is now on show at Powysland Museum in Welshpool, up until the Christmas break.

With Liz, Joan and Diana, who, amongst others, contributed their stitch and textile art to the banner, I made an initial trip to admire it. We agreed that its trade union style suits the idea of rallying together towards the canal's restoration.

It is being exhibited alongside wonderful canal-inspired linocut prints by the artist Eric Gaskell. I highly recommend a visit. 

For opening times of the museum please follow this link...

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Banner To The Future

The banner reaches completion - we have achieved the successful integration of all the component parts!

The backing is now stitched on. All that is now required is for a few curtain weights to be stitched on to the back, and to find some kind of canal-related hanging device, such as a barge pole, from which it can hang during the exhibition. The names of all the stitchers who took part and the date will also be added to the back, for posterity.

Liz's canal bridge...

Joan's lock...

Mary's narrow boat inspired painted roses...

Diana's cogs...

Gillian's fish...

Claire's bulrushes...

The velvet lettering...

The central motif of Montgomery canal gearing...
The banner will be exhibited from 16th December 2016 until Christmas at Powysland Museum, Welshpool, alongside an exhibition of prints by Eric Gaskell. Please do come along and see it.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Taking Patterns in Hand

On my last visit to Ellesmere yard I spent some time looking at the patterns more closely. I like the fact that they are physical plans for a whole range of parts. A kit for the solid structures and moving parts required to move water around and keep it under control. 

The pattern shop is a repository of potential forms, kept out of use so that their cast counterparts can be replicated after years of service out in the world. They are made of wood, a material that is light (compared to metal), and can be carved and turned. The process of making the patterns, defining these exact dimensions, is so very different to that of making the parts themselves, pouring hot metal in to an impression in sand...

I started to experiment with placing the wooden patterns in still-life groupings, using the workshop adjacent to the pattern storeroom. The light coming through the slanted roof windows, hitting the dusty, painted wood, was beautiful. The workshop walls and floor seemed of a piece with the patterns, covered with scratches and dust but also beguiling. 

It was interesting taking them out of the storeroom into the light, giving them some space, but keeping their residue of long accumulated dust, only moving them a few steps away from where they are stored. 

But how to organise and arrange them? In the storeroom they are in a basic order: smaller parts resting in piles on shelves, larger volumes grouped in the centre and long, tall shapes leaning against the wall.

I tried a few haphazard and instinctual groupings, picking up shapes that intrigued me. I then took a selection of cylinders, variations on a theme. These had a more direct relationship to traditional still-life as they resembled bottles, domestic containers.

It felt like I'd made a start, begun a conversation, but there is more to explore, so I plan to go back again in May.


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Collaborative Labour


We had a banner meet up on the 24th March. Above are Liz and Joan's sections of the banner in progress. They are using the same palette of fabrics to compose different views of the canal. The colours are very beautiful and make me think of a spring evening on the Montgomery canal. Liz has been inspired by a book on machine embroidery and has added lots of fine stitches over the top of her fabric panels. Joan's composition (on the left) is very dynamic, giving the impression you are just about to go through the lock gates.

Yes, it's banner mock up Mark III! (see above). Liz and Joan's pieces are in position but not yet in their hexagonal border. The velvet text has been completed and now reads, 'Montgomery Canal, To The Future'. The golden fringing, just visible bottom right, will add the finishing touch. You can't have a banner without fringing!

Gillian continued with her fish design, and Diane's cog section was added to the top left of the banner. The next and final meet up will be in April or early May, when we will add Mary's section and finally stitch everything together.

Sunday, 28 February 2016


On Friday the 12th February we met up in Llanymynech to begin constructing the background and central image of the banner. I brought the pieces I had laser-cut out of recycled leather, and we did a mock-up of how it would look, discussing in more detail the individual designs everyone was going to contribute and how they would fit in to the whole.

We also did a mock-up of the text sections, using letters laser-cut from yellow velvet.

It was a chance for everyone to take away the swatches of dyed fabric they needed for their part of the design too.

We started to get a better idea of the final piece and talked about how we would hang it. Perhaps on a piece of wood or iron reminiscent of canal infrastructure, with fabric loops on the banner.

There was a sense of excitement that we had reached a much more tangible stage of the project. Now we are looking forward to next time when we'll see how all the different decorative stitched elements, such as needlefelting, applique and paper-piecing, will come together around the central motif.