'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Alice Kettle

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 ...

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