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Newsletter – February 2021

February Update

Its always good to feel we are starting to get close to Spring, lighter nights and warmer weather. However there is beauty to be found in the harsher months of January and February. The appearance of the sun for even a short hour lifts my spirits and energy levels. I have been out in the workshop far more over the last few weeks, fire blazing and lots of hot drinks consumed. The sale of my mums house completes on Monday and there will be a huge sense of relief and closure following that day.

After my early hand stitching experiments with the Wren I showed last month I have started hand stitching the lapwing below. I have quite different plans for this piece in terms of style and technique. I am understanding the joy of hand stitching and its quiet thoughtful process. I am quite limited by the colour range of embroidery threads I have, especially when I start to stitch the body. I may need to wait until I can visit my local craft shop to select just the right colour for some of these areas.

Marsh Harrier WIP

Almost every time we visit one of the Somerset Levels reserves we see a Marsh Harrier. They are a wonderful sight and its been on my list of birds to make for my solo exhibition at Ace Arts in the Autumn for months. It is inspired by a fabulous photograph of a female taken by David Newby. David has kindly given me permission to base a piece on this photograph and I’m very excited to have finally started. I have pieced and layered the fabrics for the background and started to paint small details as a guide ready for machine stitching.

Threads are chosen and ready to go…..

Book of the Month

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Joe Harkness’s book Bird Therapy last month. He writes so beautifully about how nature and specifically bird watching has helped him recover from mental illness He encourages us to stop and really look, hear and feel the nature around us. I think I ‘look’ but I don’t really, I walk at a fast pace only seeing the big things, having a walk because I should rather than enjoying the walk because I can! One of the features on the BBC’s Winter Watch described a common lichen and a beautiful photograph showed these perfect little trumpet like forms – I scoffed about having never seen one so they couldn’t be that common only for Murray to spot some on a fence post we pass everyday on our circular walk!!!

In terms of bird watching we have followed Joe’s advice and started really looking at Little brown birds, sometimes referred to as little brown jobs or LBJs for short’, these birds don’t generally catch my eye. I have never stopped and looked at how much they vary and how beautiful their markings are. The simple beauty of a Dunnock is something we see on every walk and now appreciate.

I bought and read Chris Packham’s autobiography ‘Fingers in the sparkle Jar’ a long time ago but whilst working in the studio I have been listening to Chris read it on Audible. What a fabulous listen its been, such enthusiasm and passion for the natural world. I cannot help but admire and marvel at his life and the challenges he has faced.

This was going to be my February read/listen but thanks to my increased hours in the studio I have already finished and have now started to listen to Kate Humble reading her new book ‘A Year of Living Simply’ I look forward to hearing more.

Heron WIP

I started this piece back in the summer of last year, writing a brief blog about it in October. I have finally started selecting threads ready for machine stitching. As with so many birds when you look closely there are far more colours within the feathers than at first glance. Its been months since I have worked at the machine, you always worry you will have forgotten how to do it! First step taken….