Friday, 25 June 2010

Scuplture by the river

In my last post on a walk along the river in Durham, I mentioned a couple of strange stone structures near Prebends Bridge, and said I was going to try and find out a bit more about them.

Here's the first, this time from the front:

This is Kathedra, by Colin Wilbourn, at the time artist in residence at Durham Cathedral.  This was installed in 1988, and makes reference to the bishop's throne, or cathedra.  What the connection between the grotesque carved faces and the bishop may be is open to conjecture.

The second work, from a slightly different angle:

This is Reveal, by Richard Cole, and installed in 1997.  Interestingly, it's made from reclaimed centuries-old sandstone, from one of the Cathedral's turrets, and still has a very architectural look.

I do like public art, especially when come upon unexpectedly, like these.  I wonder what else there is to find there?

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Durham riverside

I've got a couple of days off work, so I had a trip through to Durham today, for no reason other than that I love it there.  I walked along the banks of the river, which were beautiful in the early summer light.  If you haven't been to Durham, then should you ever be in the North of England, then I really recommend that you pay it a visit.  To tempt you there, here's the great Norman Cathedral from the opposite side of the river:

The building below the Cathedral, right on the weir, is now the Museum of Archaeology, but was originally a fulling mill, so there is a tenuous textile connection in this post somewhere!

Further along the river is the lovely 18th century stone Prebends Bridge:

After finding a path back up (and a word of warning, if you're planning to visit Durham: everything is uphill), I crossed over the bridge.  Looking over the parapet, there were some very pretty flowers growing.  It'd probably be better for the stonework if they were removed, but for now, they look so nice against the stone:

In close up, and being very careful not to drop my camera in the river:

My botany is terrible so I have no idea what they are, but I loved the way the rain had collected in the leaves and made them sparkle.

On either side of the river, there were a couple of rather odd stone structures.  The first seen from the other side is a large seat, but it's the back that's the most striking:

Roughly opposite, is an enigmatic stone tower:

I have no idea what they are, though my guess would be Art.  They look to me as though old stone has been used to create them, though whether the grotesque faces were carved especially or are also old I don't know. I need to find out!

At about this point, the battery on my camera ran out.  Never mind, I'm sure I'll be back soon.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Spirograph III - starting the final spiral

Just the very large spiral to do, then Spirograph III is finished.  The trouble is, it's going to be as much work as all the others added together!  This final spiral is 44cm (17.5") in diameter, which is pretty big, and only just fits on my frame with all of it visible.  To give you an idea of the scale, I've taken a photo of it with a 30cm (12") ruler:

See?  It's big!

I've now stitched over all the design lines, to tranfer the design to the front, which you should be able to see if you peer at it.  This took quite some time in itself; for the other spirals, I've done them a bit at a time: stitching a section on the back then couching on the front, then repeat.  This time, as it's much bigger and therefore less fiddly, I've decided to do the whole lot in one go.  That's the theory, anyway; at least this means I won't get myself in a knot over which way round I'm going!

Here's a close-up of the running stitches marking out part of the design:

I mentioned in an earlier post that the transfer didn't come out as well as I'd hoped in places, and I think you can see here that in some places around the centre in particular that is's quite smudged, and as the transfer must have shifted slightly as I was ironing it on, some lines are actually double.  I went over some of the dodgy bits with a pencil, but in others I just guessed, stitching where I felt the line should go.  As all of this is on the back, when the piece is completed, none of this will ever be seen.

Here it is from the front, though it's not that easy to make out the lines, I'm afraid:

It's a lot clearer in real life, happily.

Couching over the lines with with gold thread is a simple enough process, but as there's quite a lot of it, it's likely to take a little time.  I'll keep you up to date with progress.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Spirograph III - update

In between work and the World Cup, I haven't been doing all that much sewing, but I have done some, and I have proof!

To recap, I'd repositioned the fabric on the frame to get the rest of the design visible, with two smaller spirals and the very big one to do:

I've now completed the two smaller spirals:

To give you an idea of the scale, the larger of the two is actually 16cm (just under 6.5") in diameter, so still fairly large.  The very big spiral is VERY big, but more on that later.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Four Elements: Water

Firstly, I need to say that you may not hear that much from me for the next few weeks: the World Cup's started. I know a lot of readers are in the US and so may not be hearing that much about it, but for us football fans, it's a big thing.  I intend watching as many matches as I can!

To return to my Four Elements series, here's Water:

This is a more traditional Celtic design, with both the linked triskel outer circle and the inner triple spiral echoing patterns used in illuminated texts and metalwork, and suggesting the swirls and eddies in a flowing stream.

In close up:

As with Fire, the outlines are in chain stitch in a metallic thread, filled in with split stitch, for a smooth, even finish.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Four Elements: Fire

It had honestly never occurred to me until now just how many of my designs are circular.  Not all of them, of course, but quite a number.  I wonder why?  While I ponder that, and plod along with Spirograph III, I'll show you a series of four embroideries I did a few years ago, all of them, you guessed it, circular.

They're on the theme of the classical four elements: fire, water, earth and air.  Two of them, Water and Earth, use traditional Celtic design ideas, while Fire and Air are original contemporary designs, but hopefully with a Celtic feel to them.

The first, and my favourite, is Fire:

This is worked in gold chain stitch for the outline, filled in with split stitch in four colours, shading from a fairly pale yellow to a strong red.  It isn't one continuous line, but four identical looped crosses overlaid at an angle to each other.  Where they overlap in the centre, I tried to keep to the strict under-over-under-over of Celtic knotwork.  You can see better in a close-up (and with apologies for the more than usually poor photo):

I like this design a lot.  I've never used it again for anything else, but I think maybe I should.