Thursday, 19 April 2018

Since Last Week...

My weekend away teaching went well and it was good to be back at Missenden Abbey again. I miss being there on a regular basis but the new School of Creative Arts seems to be going well and there were lots of people and a good variety of classes on offer.

I arrived on Saturday morning to beautiful sunshine and it was actually warm enough to sit outside with a cuppa before teaching began. Not a bad place to be going to work!

I had seven very enthusiastic ladies in my class who all worked hard to translate their landscape inspirations into textured textile pieces. Despite a wide range of experience from beginner up, they all produced a picture of which to be proud. Most are not quite finished but still looking good, every single one.

Back home I've struggled with headaches, blurry vision and queasiness all week, something I get about three or four times a year, usually lasting several days at a time. Never bad enough to incapacitate me (although I had to lie down this morning for a while) but enough to make me feel less than 100%. I think they are probably a migraine and the sensible thing would be to stay away from the screen and sewing machine etc and rest, but then sensible was never my strong point - too much to do, too little time.

The cupboard clearing has been limited to the airing cupboard, prompted by our shower pump (housed in the airing cupboard) packing up. As it is the original pump we assumed it had died but it turned out to be a blown fuse. At least the bed linens and towels were sorted out. I won't embarrass myself by telling you how many duvet sets are going to the charity shop, but lets just say it's been a long time since anyone had Mickey Mouse bed linen in this house!

Finally this week winter seems to have left us and we have by-passed spring and launched straight  into summer. It won't last I'm sure, but it was a good excuse to do some much needed work in the garden yesterday, plus it was a break from the sewing machine and screens. My head felt slightly better as a result although I walked over to book club last night and it although it was a fun evening, there was so much noise and laughter, my head was pounding again by the time I walked the mile home. Our book was The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, a fictional diary of an 83 year old in a care home, which was met with mixed reviews. Some people found it really sad and depressing whilst others thought it was hilarious. I found it a mix of the two but enjoyed it nevertheless. The idea of having an "Old but Not Dead" club for a select group of the care home residents really appealed to me... old people going out having fun and eating and drinking. My sort of club!

I had one portrait left to do for my 'critical mass', each one stitched on a normal domestic sewing machine I might add. I don't have an embroidery machine! I had hoped I might get to twenty five but sixteen will have to do. I managed to finish it yesterday morning but it was a struggle with my funny eyes and flashing lights. I wasn't sure it was as good as some of the others as a result but the family recognised Johnny Cash... can you spot him?

And my exciting news is that next week these will all be on display at Art Van Go in Knebworth - probably the closest I'll ever get to having a solo exhibition. I might sneak that one in as a sixty by sixty! I won't bore you with sixteen individual photographs but here they all are...

They are all fairly random choices based on their distinctive characteristics if I'm honest. The whole point is that they are recognisable. The first one came about because I was researching tattoos for something else entirely. I found a picture of a Amy Winehouse tattoo complete with roses which fitted the bill, so stitched that. But when it was complete I abandoned my original idea and mounted the embroidery in a hoop instead, which I quite liked.

Then David Bowie died and as a long time fan I decided to stitch him, closely followed by Prince. At this point Stewart named them my 'Dead Singers' so Freddie Mercury followed but was never finished. The roses stuck as a sort of signature.

They were then abandoned for eighteen months but at the beginning of this year in an effort to finish things off I got Freddie finished and just carried on making them. I'm not superstitious but it was with a bit of trepidation that I stitched my first couple of portraits of people still living. As far as I know they are still well! Have you got a favourite... I'd love to know?

So that's my week since last time really. Still no more waistcoats done but they are on the list for next week. I would like to be out in the garden again today but I need to accompany my Mum to hospital this afternoon. This evening we are off to see Westwood at our local Picture Palace and then tomorrow morning I am off to Coventry for another weekend of teaching. I'm hoping the head feels better by then.
I hope you've had a good week!


  1. Those portraits are a triumph. Each one captures something of the character being portrayed and is easily recognisable.
    I hate to suggest this as I think you might be a coffee drinker, but I got rid of horrendous migraines by giving it up. Maybe it would help just to cut down a bit, though your headaches could be due to the intensive concentration you have put into your work recently. Look after yourself.x

  2. Amazeballs - as my children would say. That is for both your students' work and your own. Love them all. I hope your headaches are easing off, I can't imagine anything worse (rarely suffer from headaches, phew). I quite fancy and old folks club, old age can be quite lonely. Take care and enjoy the movies and teaching next weekend x

  3. What a productive week despite the headaches. Hopefully now improved. The Missenden textile work looks stunning as do your realistic portraits. I’m sure they will be very popular. B x

    1. Thanks Barbara. Feeling better this morning ready for my drive to Coventry x

  4. I get the flashing lights headache queezy thing. The flashing lights is an optical migraine, sometimes accompanying a proper migraine. I have learned you have to stop to get rid of it. Soldiering on only makes it worse. Quiet, dark room.
    It is dreadful to have it when you have to teach or drive, so I hope you have time to sit a bit before you go running around.

    1. No coffee here (but I do get tea withdrawal headaches)
      And very rarely optical migraines. Under extreme stress. My body saying enough now. Rest or else!

  5. Your embroideries are amazing Gina, the likenesses are stunning!! I can't pick a favourite as they are all brilliant!
    Hope you feel better soon.

  6. Please tell me where this week has gone Gina- it doesn't seem a week ago that you were telling us about the weekend in prospect and now you are onto another teaching foray! I hope you are feeling so much better. Love reading your posts and I ought to get my act together to write something. Hope the weekend goes well and hope that Mickey Mouse quilt cover finds a good home! x

  7. They’re all fabulous but I think my favourite is Ms Hepburn’s Holly Golightly. I sometimes have a big headache and vertigo and it’s when I’ve not been mindful of my posture whilst sewing and trapped a nerve in my neck. My Sports Massage Practitioner found and sorted it. I hope whatever yours is sorts itself soon.

  8. I am very late in replying to this - buy I think your students' work is amazing, but nothing compared to your incredible portraits. they are absolutely stunning and I imagine created a sensation at Art Van Go. I love them all but Audrey Hepburn is my favourite.
    I hope the headaches have vanished by ow and that you are still enjoying summer, not back to winter again! Cheers


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