Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Visit to Totnes

Last Friday I went to Totnes in Devon to see the exhibition by South West Textile Group.
http://www.southwesttextilegroup.org.uk This is a group of professional textile artists living and practising in the west of England.  They represent a wide range of textile art including felt, embroidery, weaving and quilting.  The only person I knew with work in the exhibition was Alicia Merrett.  http://www.aliciamerrett.co.uk I particularly enjoyed seeing how she used fabric by Heidi Stoll Weber  http://www.farbstoff.com /which I know she buys rather than dyeing her own.

I had completely forgotten that now my sister lives in Totnes it is quite simple to jump on a train and go there for the day.  We will draw a veil over the return journey when the train ran very late, apart from saying that I was fine as I had a fiendishly difficult map jigsaw puzzle on my iPad that kept me totally absorbed.  It was mostly the Pacific Ocean with tiny islands and the coast of Chile but when I got to the end I found there was a piece missing so it did not give me a gold cup for completing it!  My husband thinks it is hilarious that an electronic jigsaw should have a piece missing but I did hunt everywhere for it and even went back the next day to see where it had left me.  It appeared to be telling me that I had finished it.

I did not dare take any photos at the exhibition because of copyright issues but I am sure it will soon appear on the group's website. The theme was Colours of the Rainbow so lots of bright colours but I was really inspired by some of the pieces.  It was also interesting to see people using different fabrics and textures.  A couple of people had dyed African braid.  I first saw this braid in an exhibition at the Festival of Quilts a couple of years ago and bought some which I am about to use.  I have had to hide it from the cats because it smells - I seem to remember that it was cured in urine.  Mine is in 'natural dye' colours but I think these artists had bought white and then dyed it.  I had a catalogue but can no longer find it.  I also liked the way in which some exhibits were made up of small pieces that were then grouped in different ways.  Lots of ideas there for those of us who prefer to work small.

Totnes is a great town with lots of things going on. We went up to Dartington Hall  http://www.dartington.org/  and had lunch in the bar.  Although I had been to the Dartington shopping village I had never been to the Hall.  It has wonderful gardens which we did not go round because it was a very gloomy day but I appreciated seeing the remains of the autumn colours.

I liked the white stems in this one - I think they would make good stitching lines.

We do not really get autumn down here because everything is so windblown.

I also  did not realise that there is a famous modernist house on the Dartington campus.  High Cross House  was built in the 1930s for the headmaster of Dartington Trust school and it has now been taken over by the National Trust.http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/high-cross-house.  For those of us who grew up with modernist architecture and furnishings it is wonderful.  My sister says they studied it when she was in architecture school..  In the house there was an exhibition of paintings by a Devon painter I had never heard of: Martin Procter http://www.martinprocter.co.uk/  The paintings really fitted into the architecture but they also were quite inspiring for textile people.  I came home and Googled him and found all the paintings were on his website.

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