Whenever I talk to quilters about making a metre long piece they laugh at me because, of course, they make much bigger pieces all the time. But last night we went to a talk by Alice Kettle about this:
which is at 16 metres by 3 is tad bigger than most quilts!
Alice is a local professional machine embroiderer who was commissioned to produce the hanging for the Winchester 'Discovery Centre' [a.k.a. the library]. She and her small team worked on it all last year in Winchester Guildhall, in public - not something I would fancy.
Last night she talked about her sources of inspiration generally, and specifically for this piece, which is full of local references.
She is a diffident but good speaker - she avoids 'artspeak' - and, as always, when someone talks about their work, you look at it with new eyes.
Alice is a real artist. I am ambivalent about the use of the word 'artist' when applied to artisans. I think it is often misused these days, especially applied to what a friend of mine calls 'crap crafts'. The misuse devalues both 'artist' and 'artisan'.
I am proud to call myself an artisan - but Alice is a real artist. She happens to have chosen to work with textiles because of the unique qualities they bring to her work. Her embroidery could have been a painting - it would probably have been much easier for her to produce a canvas that size if she hadn't had to wrestle it through a sewing machine - but all the surface qualities of a heavily embroidered textile would have been missing. It gleams, it has texture, it is tactile in a way no painting I have ever seen is.
Worth a visit if you can get there - and it is right next to the coffee shop ...