I spent much of last winter wandering the shorelines of Sutherland and the Isle of Harris, learning about the life forms that inhabit the rocky coves, marvelling at the patterns and textures of the sea, sand and shore and absorbing the subtleties of the colours as they change with the movement of the weather conditions. Since then I have been busy translating these experiences and observations into a series of new, large panels on the theme of the sea, all of which are now on exhibition at the Ceilidh Place, Ullapool, from 20th September until the 5th November 2016. To see some of the work, please have a look at the Marine gallery. For this exhibition I am joined by Glasgow mural artist and illustrator Chelsea Frew, who has produced a series of charming studies of the north west coast landscape.
And the year will end with the usual Christmas exhibition of smaller work at the Macphail Centre, Ullapool when, once again, I will be sharing the space with David Young, who makes beautiful organic furniture - small and large - from the windblown trees from his garden on the shores of Lochbroom. This year's title is 'Arbour'.
A New Adventure into Print
All of my textile work and my writing is in response to the environment in which I live. Over the last few years, some distinct themes have started to emerge and so it has been possible to group the works together under titles such as Assynt Sutras, which is the title of the exhibition of large panels I exhibited last year at the Ceilidh Place, Ullapool. And so I have decided to celebrate each theme by publishing short runs of high-quality books, complete with photographs of my work by Ricky Frew and with text written by myself.
Some of you may remember that I had planned to start this process last winter, but I did not quite manage to get the material collected together in time. However, I have set aside a good block of time this winter to make the first book happen and it should be ready by the spring. This is an exciting development for me, moving into print, and involves learning a whole new set of skills. So, I suspect my usual winter hobbies of rag-rugging and patchwork will take second place this year.
If any of you are interested in purchasing a copy (I am hoping to sell it at £10, including P&P) please let me know and I will give you advance notice of the release date.
A Sea of Stitches 2017
The 2016 run of workshops started on a high note, with the tremendous success of the Sea of Stitches course, held in Gairloch, Wester Ross, at the end of April. Inspired by the rugged seaside location, the participants produced stunning work. Everyone left tired but happy, carrying a huge bundle of work, and determined to carry on with this expressive form of textile art. To see a selection of the work made, visit the Sea of Stitches web page.
I had a good number of early enquiries for 2017 from those who have already seen this year's Sea of Stitches work. So, I decided to run it twice in 2017, in June and in September, in order to cope with the huge interest. The September 2017 course is now full and there is only one place left for the June 2017 course. So, better book now, if you are keen! To find out the exact dates and details, go to the Course Calendar page. And if you have missed your chance to join me for A Sea of Sttiches in 2017, it will be repeated in 2018, when it will be joined by two new courses - A Forest of Stitches and A Land of Stitches!
I am re-visiting the theme of the sea later this year, with a demonstration of some of the techniques used in my recent work at a Meet Your Maker event (sponsored by Craft Scotland) at Ceard, Ullapool, on December 3rd. On that day, a small area of the gallery will become my mini workshop, and I will enjoy explaining the work in process as I talk to the pre-Christmas shoppers who turn up on a mission to buy Scottish art and crafts.
Jan's Studio in Elphin is open to visitors between 11.00 am and 5.00 pm on the following days:
Spring: Every day during April
Summer: Every day during August
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Farewell Visit to Tanera Mor, Sept 2016
After ten years of taking small groups of adventurers to the delightful little island of Tanera Mor, one of the Summer Isles, the island is likely to change hands and with that will come the end of an era.
However, I am happy to say that this September, accompanied by artist Chelsea Frew, I ran one last course on the island of Tanera - a gentle mix of meandering shoreline walks, dips into poetry, hand-making paper and a few other playful art-related activities which, when combined together, made for a hand-bound journal full of memories of our visit to this tranquil and utterly natural haven.
We had a happy time, with good weather and good company aiding the creative process. To see some images of our time there, jave a look at the See Sound, Sea Shore page.