A year ago, how time flies

It was a year ago yesterday that myself, Polly, Joy and Donna had a meeting at ACEarts to discuss the FIFTY BEES exhibition. We sat on the sofas, measured walls, talked and talked and decided that these three wonderful women would be called the beekeepers.

Why?

Well, with fifty artists to coordinate, it made sense to share out some of the work. Now, I look back at this picture with amazement.

We had no idea how it was going to work, whether the story of the bees would translate into an exhibition, whether anyone would be interested.

But, wow! It was wonderful. The fifty artists made such a wide variety of art, amazing responses to these incredible creatures.

But it wouldn’t have worked without the enthusiasm and keenness of them all as well as Nina and the team at the gallery.

Now, we’re gearing up for the next leg of the journey at Richard Jefferies Museum – can’t wait. Thanks everyone.

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#vintagecontainer #bees #fiftybees #artists #somersetartist #opencall #interconnectedness

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‘If I’m Not Back I’m There’

Poor photographers, wonderful exhibition.I’m not usually short for words but I am for this one.

’If I’m Not Back I’m There’ by Edwina Bridgman at ACEarts just had me spellbound, transfixed, enlightened and happy. 

So much to see on one central display, get down and look at it as a child would see it.

Papier-mâché, found materials, card, clay. 

2 and 3-dimensional work exploring found objects and unexpected materials to create a body of work around people and their animals.

I so admire Edwina’s deft handling of her materials – quite jealous of her confidence.

Go, see, enjoy.

reason 1 to buy blackdogandgingercat needlefelt kits

So, to celebrate the upcoming blackdogandgingercat birthday, here’s the REASON TO BUY blackdogandgingercat Kits countdown….NUMBER 1

1.jpgOur appreciation, love and support of important charities such as SANE, as seen here in our #blackdog kit.

IMG_5378.jpgAnd in turn, the sales of all of the other kits help to support my other work alongside charities such as ACEarts, MIND, and Somerset Wildlife Trust, as seen in the ongoing FIFTY BEES project.

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So, thank you everyone who’s ever bought one of my kits – you are wonderful.

Hero

The last day of #SeptTextileLove – where did September go to? So, this is for hero.

And I’m sharing with you the work of Jenni Dutton, an artist who uses many different media but for the dementia darnings used textiles.

The exhibition, which took place at ACEarts earlier in 2017, just took my breath away. If you ever get a chance to see this work, do.

They are at the same time moving, complex, confusing, uplifting and sorrowful. 

When looking at the pieces, one gets lost in ideas of technique and subject, by the subtlety of the colours, the looseness of the stitch, the person making the work and the person in the picture – and of course, ideas of family and our own mortality. 

Incredible work and I can honestly say it’s one of the best exhibitions I’ve ever seen.

And Jenni? Well, she’s rather lovely too 😊😊😊 as if that’s any surprise!

Thanks Jenni for your inspirational work.

OPENING TODAY – Bees: the interconnectedness of all things at Bruton School for Girls 

The girls worked so beautifully hard and enthusiastically to produce a fabulous collaborative installation.

Three days, 80 plus students and a handful of staff produced a whole host of British bees which are now hanging in the gallery at the Bruton School for Girls.


‘Taught by Lydia Needle, Bruton School for Girls students will sculpt tiny, lifesize British bees in wool, representing just a few of the 260 varieties left in theUK. 

The bees become artworks as part of a whole school installation in the school’s gallery. To follow up this work, the students will research the habitats and ecosystems, the flora and fauna that rely on bees, to create companion artworks. Our objective is to raise awareness of the diversity of bees in Britain and to spread the story – using art as a medium – as far as possible.’ SAW guide 2017. 

Watch out – long post from a very full day, fab! 

Yesterday was a day in three amazing parts.

The first part involved doing needlefelt landscape experiments with residents at Wessex House Care home – just love these pieces.

Great British tones in great British Wool.

I’d like to include this as Seam Collective #SeptTextileLove prompt for today which is ‘happy accidents’ because I’m a very keen exponent of the idea of experimentation, play, accidental discovery and making mistakes – this is how we learn.

What’s the expression….”A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” —- so true.

So let’s play, I say!!!

Then I met up with Donna Vale and we trundled off to Frome’s Black Swan Art to see the exhibitions there but first lunch and surprise meet up with David Smith – much talking and laughing.

Then onto the ‘Hinterland’ exhibition by Gladys Paulus.

It’s pretty hard to get across what an amazing exhibition this is. On a purely craft level, Gladys’ work is second to none – the pieces are truly beautifully made; as a felter, I am always amazed.

But this exhibition is so much more. It is so, so moving – the pieces have a real presence and I know I will HAVE to go back for another look, or two. The pictures don’t do it justice but I’ll share a few more.
Such presence,

So moving,

And resonance.

If you have a chance – get there.

And the final part of my day was at @tmac_taunton with an Arts and Health Speed Networking event!!! Whooohooo!

There I met a whole host of people and ‘networked’, oh yes I did. We talked and learnt about a whole range of arts and health providers and the links that are being made between them.

I also talked FIFTY BEES to a few people too!

The name: blackdogandgingercat?

Those of you that have been following my work for a while will probably know the origin of my business’ name, ‘blackdogandgingercat’. For those of you that don’t, I’ll explain.

Back at the end of 2012, I went to a needle felt class taught by the very talented Jennifer Barnett – I was in heaven and immediately hooked.

This class took place just weeks before I left my beloved teaching job due to on-going, repetitive, really boring and exasperating clinical depression.

I was devastated – I had been convinced that I’d be teaching until retirement so having to leave was a major blow and certainly didn’t help my mental health improve, at the beginning.

And this is where the ‘black dog’ of the title came from.

As for the ginger cat, well that’s my darling Jack – it’s well know that just by stroking, sitting next to or playing with a pet can help one relax and calm and that was Jack’s role in my improving mental health.

After I left teaching, I continued to needle felt because I found it to be so calming on my brain, but also, I’d really found ‘my thing’ – finally.

Eventually, as I did more and more, family, friends and then even strangers became interested in my work and wanted to learn to needle felt too.

And so began the business, with classes and kits.

One of the kits I make now is the black dog, seen here in the first picture, with 10% of profits going to the charity SANE.

Today, things are still changing. I still use needle felt, it’s still my main thing and I am so grateful that I found it because it’s taken me to places I could never have imagined.

Just lately, though I’ve felt tiny stirrings of the black dog’s attempted return, he’s nipping at my heels.

Because I know the naughty little pup quite well, I can recognise when he’s trying to creep back and why.  Anyone else?

My mum, a very wise woman, says I probably need a little ‘fallow time’, to rest my brain after the adrenaline and creative rush of the last few months. And I think she’s right. This is the card I sent her this week ’cause I thought it was perfect (although I this black dog seems quite lovely).



So, just for now, I’m practicing a little bit of self-care: resting, walking, reading and not much else. What about the rest of you; I know mine is certainly not an uncommon story.

I wonder, what do the rest of you do for self-care?