Sunday, 27 July 2008

Quilted shadows

My blog is a bit late this time as I have been struggling with how to proceed with the latest pieces of work.

Last year I revisited Durham University botanical gardens to retake photographs of some figure sculptures in the gardens. I had decided to use these sculptures for a series of quilted art pieces. There are six of these sculptures arranged in a circle. Each one is a wooden carving of a leading figure who had a great influence on the area in the Durham Wier valley. They were carved from elm trees which had been felled because of Dutch elm disease. Three of these figures were of men who had influence many centuries ago and the other three who had great industrial influence in the area. Each was given what the sculptor called a 'shadow' which is what I was most interested in. These shadows were made of metal and a fretwork cut into them depicting a scene which related to the influence they left behind - like a shadow. You needed to stand in the centre of the circle to see what the scenes were. I chose the shadows of the three oldest influences.

This is the 'shadow' of William of St Calais who was a Prince Bishop from 1081 - 1096. He began the construction of Durham Cathedral which is depicted in his shadow. He was also involved in the compiling of the Doomsday book.

This is the 'shadow' of John Cosin who was Prince Bishop 1594 - 1672. He had a great influence on architectural styles and built Aukland Castle which became the official seat of the Bishop of Durham.

Both of these men were very powerful and advisors to the kings which is why they were called Prince Bishops.

This is the 'shadow' of Ralph Lord Neville of Raby Castle. He was given prominence after he helped defeat the invaders from the North at the battle of Neville's cross in 1346.

Once I had decided on the three shadows, the images were isolated and changed to black and white then into lined drawings using Photoshop. These drawings were sized to be about 60cm high and printed out to use as patterns.

These patterns were then traced onto white satin using a soft pencil. Then they were backed with 2oz batting and cotton. I free machined each of the shadows using a dark grey rayon thread.

Here is where I started to struggle. I had thought that I would quilt the backgrounds with a white thread and an all over fill such a vermicelli but at this stage I had second thoughts. I asked for input from Lynda and Sharon who gave suggestions - many thanks to them - and so I went onto the computer to simulate some ideas.

Here is one of them :

I wasn't happy with any of the simulations and finally decided to cut the shadows out and apply them to another background. I simulated this and liked it. So this is how I am going to present them.

The text will be stitched up the side of the quilted shadow on the background fabric.

I had some dark grey fabric which was just the right colour but not enough to do all three shadows. I will have to go and buy some - hopefully I can find a similar fabric. hard to believe I didn't have what I needed in stock given the huge stash I have!!!

I have had my grandson staying for a couple of days so we went out to the local park to do some photography. He sees pictures in everything and is developing all the attributes of a good photographer. He took in excess of 100 photos. here are just three of them.

Isn't he doing well for an eight year old!!

I have begun a new piece and will get on with it when I have finished the ironing!!!!!! Uggg

Cheers for now.


Shirley Anne Sherris said...

Comments transferred from other blog:


The shadow sculptures are stunning, I love how your interpretation is developing, look forward to watching its progress.

sharon young

Hi Shirley
Great idea to use the dark BG it’s the perfect foil to the white and really makes the piece jump, brilliant!! Well worth taking your time to find the right solution.
Your GS really does have a good eye.
Ironing?? What’s that LOL


I like the effect on a darker background - looks like it will work well.
The sculptures are really inspirational - what a great starting point

hippopip said...

What beautiful sculptures,I must try and see them Shirley is right the dark background shows the lovely stitching off a treat

Purple Missus said...

Oh, now these do look stunning. What a difference the dark background makes. So pleased you found the answer. Look forward to seeing all the pieces together.