How can you fail to be inspired when you take a course set in scenery as beautiful and serene as this?
West Dean College is part of the Edward James Foundation, and is set in the midst of this beautiful countryside. I have taken several courses here, but this week I was able to attend one that I have wanted to do for a number of years.
I was first introduced to Cas Holmes several years ago when she gave a day workshop to my exhibiting group, 'Mixed Media Group'. She introduced a new way of looking at textiles, and when I had the opportunity and the free time to attend a longer course I was delighted. West Dean College is full of beautiful artefacts etc, and is a delight to attend. (Yes, the food is good too!)
We began by taking a piece of fabric and stitching into it. This is actually quite scary when you don't know what you will be doing! After that we produced interesting surfaces by monoprinting, overpriniting, painting and tinting. We used fabrics and papers, often being presented with little 'gifts' by the tutor which we had to incorporate, and searched out leaves, twigs and branches from the grounds to use as prinitng tools. Carving our own stamps was also part of the course, but I have done this before and had some of my own with me. Everyone had produced a vast selection of prints and patterns. Some had been overprinted, and distorted in a number of ways, all were interesting and many a total surprise.
Next we pieced and patched (not traditionally). Somehow that previously stitched piece fitted in exactly! Later each piece was looked at again, partly taken apart, reformed, repieced, unpatched....!!!! It was great fun, and everyone produced exciting surfaces. The first full day sped by, and at 10pm we left the workshop tired but happy!
Stitching began in earnest after breakfast. It was exciting to see the surfaces change again. The truly exciting thing about Cas's technique is that it is very easy to deconstruct the surface. This means that you can constantly add and take away as you feel the need. This first one I completed was slashed into three, and now I know an easy way to find out if it will work before actually taking the scissors to it, but as that is the tutor's technique I don't think it would be fair to describe it here.
The printed background fabric was one of the pieces given to me by the tutor, and I have to admit that I had no idea how I was going to use it as it didn't seem to be in the same vein as my printed surfaces, however, it was perfect for this piece, and the lines of monoprinting fitted exactly to the curves of the constructed landscape.
The second finished piece went through several different stages. It incorporates that piece of stitching that was done first! It was also partly deconstructed and added to another pre-formed section. This is the result.
I have one more piece on which I am still working, but you will have to wait to see that! Finally, and just for good measure, here is the view from my bedroom window.
I even found the rooftops inspiring!