Research Point 1.1 and 1.2 (Highlights)

You may think it is odd that I have grouped both research points together.  However I realised quickly that because of coming from a drawing background, I automatically connect drawing into my research and how this affects prints and how it helps artists develop their ideas.  Thus I felt it would be pointless to separate the research points, when they merge naturally.  I will look in depth as time allows, at all the ideas and my own ideas, listed in both research points and from my own personal thought and knowledge.

I visited a great exhibition in 2015 at The Textiles and Fashion Museum; it really opened up my eyes to print making and its affect on Printed Textiles:


The exhibition made me aware of new artists I could really relate too, as well as some contrasts.
Through the exhibition wording I learned that: In the 1910s, led by painter Wyndham Lewis and the artists of Bloomsbury’s Omega Workshops, artists begun to reconsider the distinction between fine and applied art. Raoul Dufy was the first 20th-century artist to become successfully involved in producing textile designs. After the war the movement to create ‘a masterpiece in every home’ flowered with the involvement of leading contemporary artists: John Piper, Salvador Dalí, Ben Nicholson and Steinberg. Eventually, these art textiles were turned into commercial clothing: a Joan Miró dress, a Salvador Dalí tie. By the 1960s, Picasso was allowing his pictures to be printed on almost any fabric, save upholstery. The sofa was a line he wouldn’t cross, as the curators note: ‘Picassos may be leaned against, not sat on.

Marcel Vertis worked on paper as well as fabric printing.  His designs fill the space well and look like they should be there.  I realise that as I progress with this course, I may have to think about how to “fill” the space well too.

Artists such as Picasso and Dali were always “painters” as far as I was concerned.  I never thought about them being anything to do with fabric or the fashion industry, this really opened my eyes.  This comprehensive and lively exhibition demonstrated the role artist-designed textiles have played in fashioning national and individual identities. By making artists’ textiles available on the mass market, ordinary people could engage with art on a more personal level and embrace the artistic and unconventional dimensions of their personality through dress. Acknowledging the power and influence of artists’ textiles in the days before social media leaves one with a new sense of the creative possibilities for engagement between artists and the public.  We rely so much now on self-promotion through the internet.  Yet these artists and designers did it without all of that.

The image above far top right was ‘Parade’ (1957), by John Rombola for Patterson Fabrics, was also printed as a wallpaper by Piazza Prints, the rest Marcel’s work.

Initially what can I take from this exhibition?

–          Original means of technique.  I.E.  Lino cut and Screen Printing were well illustrated throughout.

–          Style of printing, half drop, repeat, angles….all the ways the fabrics patterns were designed.

–          Material choices, a lot of silk and cotton used.

–          Fabric choice when creating a piece such as a dress….not all fabrics would work.

–          Education to myself that artists such as Picasso and Dali had their work printed onto fabric.  This was new to myself at the time and I can see this topic being of real interest throughout this course, the idea of “artists” merging their work into textiles.


Further research:

A few artists who I have looked at and taken notes on:

          Orla Keily

          Henri Matisse

          Salvador Dali

          Pablo Picasso

          Barbara Hepworth

          Ben Nicolson

          Grayson Perry

          Sarah Waterhouse

          Teresa Green

          Raoul Duffy

          Ruth Reeves

One artist I would like to blog about is Grayson Perry:

One website said of his work:

‘Grayson Perry uses the seductive qualities of ceramics and other art forms to make stealthy comments about societal injustices and hypocrisies, and to explore a variety of historical and contemporary themes. The beauty of his work is what draws us close. Covered with sgraffito drawings, handwritten and stencilled texts, photographic transfers and rich glazes, Perry’s detailed pots are deeply alluring. Only when we are up close do we start to absorb narratives that might allude to dark subjects such as environmental disaster or child abuse, and even then the narrative flow can be hard to discern. The disparity between form and content and the relationship between the pots and the images that decorate them is perhaps the most challenging incongruity of Perry’s work. Yet, beyond the initial shock of an apparently benign or conservative medium carrying challenging ideas, what keeps us drawn to the work is its variety.’

This artist struck my interest, as he has collaborated with Liberty fabrics in the past:

kkk.jpg 2010

He deals with underlying issues through his work, such as class and distinction.

 This may be because he often dresses as a Transvestite, thus has an interest in the weight of dress fabrics over furnishings.


He also enjoys dressing up to become part of the art work itself.

What is amazing about his art, is it’s variance in size.  Take this piece above.  So much “one off” pattern fills this large room.  It is not repeat, but rather a one off piece, like Alice Kettle’s tapestries.


Working in a variety of mediums is a key part of this artist.  I really like this piece. Often we see writing printed onto fabric, but seeing it in a ceramic way, really shows it off.  An ornament in words.  Letters we treasure could be captured in this way.

Obviously I am not intending to work onto ceramic.  However the basic theory is good.  The way he had under painted the piece (like I could on fabric) then printed a design on top. I could do something similar to this with the fine lines which a technique like dry point allows.

Having seen his work, with all its colour and at times tattoo style pattern and form, I was very much interested in the drawing and design work behind the art itself.  Did he plan?  What were his sketches like?  These are things I need to think about when designing my own hand printed textiles in the future.

I found some interesting research.  This is what the artist himself said about his way of working:

‘My sketchbooks do not make up a smooth, continuous series, as at different times in my career the sketchbook has played different roles. I think my attitude towards the sketchbook originates from when my grandmother gave me a little stack of very cheap notebooks. I treasured them and filled them with diagrams of fantasy aircraft and plans of racing cars, adventure comics and war scenes. What I enjoyed was the density of the little tomes, the way I could fill each page with detail. My dedication made them precious, and this feeling has never left me.’ – Taken from the Independent Online 2013.

I myself have gone through art college etc and remember what it was like to create sketchbooks quickly under pressure from a tutor, rather than something from the heart.  His comments agree with me:  ‘At art college we were indoctrinated with the notion that sketchbooks were a central plank of being an artist. Tutors would pore over students’ sketchbooks, checking that there was no mismatch in imagination and energy between the scrawled doodles, taped-in scraps and drunken cartoons compared with more outward-facing work. They understood that students would often choke when laying out their ideas in a larger, more finished form. They used to call it “degree show-itis” – whereby a student would make art full of careless abandon and rough-hewn poetry, only for their creative sphincter to nip up when asked to present a group of resolved artworks on which to be judged.

A sketchbook is a place where I can discuss ideas with myself, a place I work through and refine an idea for a good while before I will let it run around the studio, and then the world. A sketchbook is an airlock for visual thoughts. I have to feel I have developed an idea enough before committing to the labour-intensive version – beginning with postage stamp-size doodles, through to double page full-colour layouts that may take several hours. It is the place to make mistakes – they are cheap in time and materials; those initial marks often tell me in a few strokes whether an idea is a goer or a dud.

A sketchbook for me is a sacred artefact, more so than many of my finished works. The density of thought, the love of art and the sheer number of man-hours in each one load them with huge meaning and memory for me. I know I could never sell them. Consequently, the drawings inside are financially worthless. Curiously, this is one of the reasons sketchbooks have become so vital to me today. As I have become more successful and my prices have risen, drawings have become like currency, sometimes worth thousands of pounds. If I put pen to paper it can feel like I have a version of the Midas touch – each mark becomes a pound sign. This makes me feel self-conscious, and I find it difficult to truly let go. I call this feeling “Picasso Napkin Syndrome” – it refers to the fact that Picasso could pay for a meal in a restaurant with a sketch on the table linen. Nowadays, pretty much the only time I draw on loose paper is for charity. Luckily for me, sketchbooks are different. Between the covers I feel safe – the drawings need never be seen by anyone but me – and thus I can play.’

I don’t normally cut and paste large comments, I prefer to research and write in my own words.  However I felt that the comments above were very relevant to my practice and I wanted to remember them.  As I go into more work surrounding hand printed textiles and my own versions of this, I wanted to glean as much as possible from artists about the work they do prior to the final pieces.  Online I found a lot of images of his sketchbook, which was a real insight into his artistic creativity.


Above:  This one was for a large tapestry.  I like the gap at the bottom of the sketch, to allow for added writing about the piece above.  Possibly notes as reminders.


I just love this doll, based on his alter ego.  The face and shoes have that beautiful hand draw or painted look.  Obviously moving away from his sketchbook here, this doll was made for Liberties.  There are sketches for it online, however these are hard to access with copyright. But it shows again his ability to change medium, texture, form etc.

What can I learn from this artist?

–          Be mouldable.  As an artist trying to make a living, I may need to move through different mediums.  In this artist’s case, he has experimented with:  Tapestries, Fine Art, Ceramics, Dolls……….the list goes on.

–          Don’t be “careful” of our sketchbooks.  They should be like diaries with lots of personal doodles etc.

–          Think outside the box; a collaboration with Liberty Fabrics?  Yes please!

–          A few repeat patterns can be done on one piece of fabric, they may be similar or not.

–          Actual hand drawn areas can make lovely areas printed onto fabric.  See the dolls face above.

          The idea of painting the fabric or ceramic in colours desired first, then overlaying a print on top.

          Putting personal ideas and opinions into our art work.  This is something I have done previously but can take this artist as an a reminder to continue.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s