By jane2012, Nov 1 2020 12:56PM

Hi,


Two blog posts in one week, what the actual??!!


In my last post I talked about creating for the sake of creating and this little personal project is an example of that.


I live in a small town called Wolverton in Milton Keynes. It was the country's first purpose built 'railway town' housing the Wolverton Railway Works from the late 1800s to the present day. It's a Victorian town consisting of streets of red brick Victorian terraced housing and is, I suppose one of those towns that with the right investment could be seen as up and coming. It is directly on the rail route to Euston, London which is 50 miles down the track, so for commuters (is there such a thing any more?) it's ideal.


I grew up in Wolverton, having moved here with my family in 1974 and have moved away and come back again as life circumstances have changed. In the late 70s we were subject to the whims of a new approach in architecture; a sort of futuristic view which unfortunately did not take kindly to the old fashioned Victorian aesthetic. So we were 'gifted' a building called The Agora from a new group of architects who thought that what the town needed was modernist building plonked right in the middle of the town, effectively cutting it in half. It housed an indoor market, a roller skating rink and various other shops and businesses including a cafe, pub and arcade machines. Sounds great eh?


The Agora split opinion from the start, as so much in our modern world does. Some loved it, particulary the town's younger generation who hung around the rink and corridors, smoking and playing the pinball machines. Personally I always felt intimidated by all the big kids! But noise levels increased with the Friday and Saturday night discos and eventually businesses in the Square died as natural traffic flow was cut off.


When I returned to Wolverton in 2008 the Agora had diminished to the point that the only businesses were tat marts, and bong shops. Roller skating had long gone, although there was a move to revive it temporarily by a group of people who had skated there back in the day. The owners had neglected it to the point where insurers wouldn't insure anyone and eventully it was closed up. There have been moves to demolish it and redesign the area in consultation with the local community, which is more than we got the first time round, so it's not all doom and gloom. However, with Covid happening things seems to have stalled somewhat.


I digress. Back in the heady days of 2019bc (Before Covid) the demolition of the site was imminent and there was much excitement. Funding was granted for a community project to celebrate the Agora's passing and so local artists, including yours truly were granted some money to decorate the outside of the building. I came up with some large banners that in part were dyed by local children. 2 have long since disappeared, but I did another four to coincide with the Wolverton Lantern Festival in December. These have now been up a year and are so faded and sad (not to mention covered in bird crap) that I felt depressed everytime I walked past them!


So I decided I would just make some more to brighten up the rusty old railing the old ones were tied to. Over the late summer I created three new banners, all bright floral designs and this past Halloween weekend I finally got them up. Just in time for our lockdown winter! Hopefully they will brighten up this little corner for a time as we navigate the next weird twist to this already strange year. I still have some material left so I may well add to them at some point.


Creativity is what we humans are best at, whatever form that takes. Doing this makes me feel good. It's pretty much all I can do as an artist. It's not much but a snowball starts with one flake right? Who knows, maybe it might encourage others to add some colour to this faded monolith!


Anyway, that's all for now, hope you like the banners :)

By jane2012, Oct 29 2020 12:48PM

I am relieved to announce that I have finally finished this beast of a batik! This batik has been over a year in the making and my most ambitious project to date. I started it in July 2019 and added the final bead on 4th August 2020! It contains approximately 19.5k beads and more than twice as many stitches, all done by hand, no machine has touched this! I truly do not know why I do it to myself; it must be love - either that or I am just a glutton for punishment!


I've always loved mandalas; their beauty, intricacy, colour and symbolism of course and have wanted to create one in batik for a while. I knew that if I could get the intensity of colour and the detail that it would look great as a batik and with the hand stitching as well it had the potential to be a stunning piece of art.

I love the finished article and I hope you do too, but I have to say there were points during the past year when I wondered if I would ever finish it and part of me never wants to look at it again!


As my artistic practice has developed over the years I have found that I feel bereft of an evening if I don't have something to stitch while I watch the latest drama on TV. It has become my comfort as much as anything to always have a project on the go, regardless of size.


I have a confession to make - I rarely sell my work. I've done the odd commission, but I could never make a living from it. I don't have the time or energy to be constantly on social media promoting myself and my art, I always miss the boat on applying to take part in local craft and vintage shows and as for galleries, well to get a body of work together would take years at the rate I am able to stitch, by which time I've moved on to the next project! Not that I wouldn't welcome the opportunity to show my work; I have participated in several group exhibitions over the years, which is always fun. I suppose what I am trying to say is that selling the work is not a priority to me. It's nice when it happens but it's not why I make it. It's my bliss. This is a phrase I heard in a long forgotten TV show years ago and it's stuck with me.


It's my bliss.


I'm so grateful to have it as an outlet and I make it because i want to and because I can. Isn't that what creativity is all about? It's not the end product that matters, it's the process that fulfills. At least for me.


Love to you

J x



By jane2012, Aug 28 2020 03:59PM

Hello! How are you? Feeling good and well I hope despite all the turmoil in the world. As a little respite to "all that" I wondered if you might be interested in a little behind the scenes glimpse into how I produce my mirror frames.


I have noticed that some people who have seen the finished frames immediately assume that they have just been painted, which I suppose is an easy mistake to make. Batik is not a common or particularly popular art form here so batik on wood is not likely to be something most people have come across or would even recognise. So, I thought I would enlighten you!


The frames are produced using the same basic technique that I use when making my textile batiks in that I use colour and wax as a resist to build up the design, but instead of using dye, I use chalk paint. I've posted some images of frames I have produced to show you what they look like mid-way through production. I think the image that shows mostly clearly the wax application is probably the yellow 'Sunflower' mirror picture. With the way the light falls on the frame you can see the raised areas where the wax is under the top coat.


To begin with I apply a couple of coats of the base coat and once this is dry I sketch out the design using the amazing Frixion pens. The pen marks disappear when heat is applied which means I'm not left with lots of pencil marks at the end! Once this is done I apply the hot wax, drawing out the design. After that I paint over a coat of the top colour. Finally, once this is dry I begin the painstaking process of scraping back the waxed areas to reveal the base coat.


I've included a link here to my YouTube channel which has a short video demonstrating the scraping back technique. It looks quite brutal while it's being done but if you visit my Batik on Wood Gallery page you can see the finished results.


Hope you like! Let me know if there is anything you'd like to see in upcoming posts!


Love to you all

Jane x


August 2020

By jane2012, Apr 27 2020 11:12AM

Hello! It's been a while since my last post and the world has gone through tumultuous change over the past few months. It's now April 2020 and here in the UK we are still in the midst of partial lockdown, sheltering in place and working from home where we can.


I am one of the lucky ones; I am a non-essential key worker and can work at home for the most part. My 19 year old lives with me and managed to get back from Spain on the last rescue flight at the end of March. We are safe. This is good. We have been blessed with clear blue skies and sunshine for weeks, the birds are singing, chicks are hatching, the stars (and satellites!) are visible. All is good.


Every day I feel such gratitude for this and the time this situation has given me to be reflective and creative. And despite the restrictions there has been an opportunity to work on a project. My lovely friend Hizze Fletcher, co-owner of the small gallery, Brush Brighton has put on a virtual exhibition this month featuring work from several artists. The title of the exhibition is 'Bloom' and 10% of sales will go towards supporting the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. In this time of uncertainty it isa great way for artists and galleries to work together to support themselves and give something back, particularly to our amazing NHS. Visit the website here to see the amazing variety and quality of work on display:


http://www.brushbrighton.co.uk


My piece is a small hand painted, hand stitched batik called 'Covid Spring' mounted in an embroidery hoop. It's a reflection on the strange times we find ourselves in and is a reminder of the beauty blooming around us.


You can see the images on the Textile Batik gallery page. If you want to buy it, you can do so through Brush, Brighton's website.


That's all for now, see you on the other side!

By jane2012, Jul 12 2019 11:53AM

Hello!


'Self Portrait as Ophelia' is finally finished and mounted! Huzzah!! It's taken a while but I got there in the end! As with most pieces I produce there are elements I love but there are also mistakes that I can't unsee! Oh well, that is the lot of the creator I suppose! Overall I love it though and am pleased that the design has turned out pretty damn close to how I imagined it would. I've posted more images in my gallery than are here if you're interested!


Unfortunately due to my back issues I was unable to complete her in time for the MK Open Arts Exhibition running at Westbury Arts Centre over this weekend (13 and 14th July) so she will be given a spot in my house for now! I have instead put in another piece called Landscape No. 3. Pics of this will be posted after the event :)