Sunday, 31 May 2015

Fellowship Flag Potion

I think two blog posts in one day is virtually unprecedented; I don't remember doing this (other than for brief announcements) since I posted daily during my final year of university. But I digress.

This week's #secretsofselfpreservation potion is quite a personal one (as if the entire project wasn't personal enough already!) I have been settling into my new job and trying to do the right, responsible, grown-up thing(s) and make the right choice(s). But after a particularly gruelling day this week I went out for burgers and to dance to a Blues Brothers tribute band some mates are in, and it reminded me that it's important to make the most of being young while I still am, too.

That is why this week's potion reads "Adult, but don't carry the weight of the world on your shoulders". That's "adult" as in the verb; "to adult". It's a very Web 2.0 term.

This week I handed in an entry to an art competition organised by Uniting Friends some of the young people I work with created. The theme of this year's competition was "Dear Prime Minister", and the young people made a double sided "flag" celebrating what they love about our centre, the legacy of William Morris in our community and building, and showing the way we feel about the cuts and the new government. So it made perfect sense to use snippets left over from the flag as the "potion ingredients" this week. There are offcuts of the fabrics the young people used as a patchwork representation of the centre's logo, including several William Morris prints, and a headline proclaiming "Young adults let down on basic skills"; something we try to reverse, in some very small way, through our work.

Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Stitch For Survival: My E17 Art Trail 2015 Exhibition

Once again the yearly E17 Art Trail has rolled around. I am going to do the grand tour next weekend; I set up my exhibition earlier today; well, my "installation technician" (my mother) did most of the hard graft.

For last year's Trail I showed work as part of the Zoology exhibition at E17 Art House, which has since moved to bigger premises on Hoe Street and has some very intriguing exhibitions and events on for the Trail this year.

This time around, applying was a bit of a last minute affair, so I decided to exhibit in the bay window of my parents' house as I did in 2011 and 2012.

This year we decided to ditch the slightly "primary school" blue baize display board we'd used previously, and used white frame boards to display the embroideries on instead.

A wide variety of embroideries are on display, from pages and pocket contents from my artist's books On Being SoftBig Teeth and Milk Thistle, to embroideries from the zine I recently sold at DIY Cultures, Treasures For Your Troubles. My favourite of the #secretsofselfpreservations stitched thus far are exhibited too.

The theme this year seems to be whimsy; the exhibition is less in your face provocative than it has been in the past; more gently subversive, gently parodying the Romantic movement and its romanticisation of mental illness (particularly the Milk Thistle pages and pocket contents). I have really amassed work since 2011, and I feel the exhibition is far more cohesive and well presented than it has been in the past.

If you're local/in the area, please do pop by - the exhibition can be viewed from the front garden from today, Sunday 31st May, until Sunday 14th June, from 10am - 8pm daily.

Next Saturday 6th June I will be holding a #secretsofselfpreservation workshop stitching self care potions from 4pm in the living room; the workshop is limited to ten places, so please email to book your place.

The details of my exhibition and workshop can be found here. I do hope you'll visit.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


I am trying to draw/collage in my visual diary more. Partially this involves continuing to design labels for #secretsofselfpreservation, but I have also included sketches from the Daily Life Ltd Expert Advisory Day, below:

Pip and I have taken a shine to a pink-boothed greasy spoon down the market, and I have visited with my dear friend Ruth a couple of times, most recently on Monday. The cherry pie is particularly special.

My friend Rohanne gave me a "complimentary" ticket she'd stashed from working in the box office. I love the simple, bright design, and wanted to surround it with the sorts of compliments I like to give and receive.

We all went to see Belle and Sebastian play in Westminster a couple of weeks ago. It felt like we were the only people dancing in the venue. The fox paw prints are to signify Fox In The Snow, and my general love of foxes. The sketch of the pram is very very old from when I was first taking antidepressants and thought it was hilarious that they were called citalopram. I've always liked its metaphorically and literally sketchy quality.

Last but not least is the label to accompany my I need art like I need God potion. I have recently got myself a fancy sketchbook and sketching pencils, and will be getting back to more "trad art" soon.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

DIY Cultures the Third

I'm currently experiencing a bit of a come-down from the weekend. Not for any chemical reasons, but because on Sunday DIY Cultures happened. It was the third DIY Cultures at Rich Mix and my third year there, but it was my first time with my own table, although I was the next door neighbour of the radiant Hanecdote. Here we are all set up:

This year was particularly frenetic, with over four thousand people attending. Unfortunately the busyness made it difficult to focus on the talks, which were on everything from arts education cuts to gender and technology. But the conversations I had with passersby, customers, and interested parties were equally as fascinating.

I spoke to the founder of an online publishing house and to a woman who hand stitches protest banners, to name but a few. And I sold out of Treasures For Your Troubles zine! I will be making it available to print-by-order online in the next few weeks.

There was a wonderful atmosphere at DIY Cultures; relaxed, and genuinely friendly, with none of the reserve one typically associates with the British. It was a summery day, and visitors had dressed accordingly; Hannah and I kept commenting to each other how gorgeous everyone looked.

I spoke to the lady presiding over Alternative Press's stall, where their project A Room of One's Own was features. AROOO, as it is abbreviated, focuses on "social housing, not social cleansing", and the effects of gentrification and "regeneration" on local working class and low income families and single parents. On the importance, which Virginia Woolf recognised, of having your own space for creativity. I will be following the project's development with interest.

A lovely woman bought my last fox brooch and immediately pinned it to her bag. We had quite a chat about the beauty of foxes.

Last but not least we met the man we referred to simply as Zine Man. He was, as you might have guessed, covered in zines; he swapped his own for ones for sale at the fair, and pinned them to his clothes and hat.

I couldn't stop smiling all day; here's to another three years of DIY Cultures. Long may it live.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Participate Potion

Yesterday at DIY Cultures I had so many fascinating conversations with fellow creatives. I also made a bit of cash! It reminded me of the importance of participation and networking. And so, this week, I have simply stitched the phrase "Turn up" (because decisions are made by those who do!) for #secretsofselfpreservation. I accompanied the words with the last Stitch Witch badge left over from the fair, as a memento of the perfect end to my week.

Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.