Memories in Black and White (referencing Dennis Smith and Henry Moore)

30 December 2014

I'm just about to wrap this up as a Christmas present.

But I don't think I ever showed you the finished article. So before I wrap it up I thought I should share it with you.

This has been a long time in the making. I am sure you know how it is. You start something full of good intentions to progress quickly, but then stuff happens! Work (Paid employment!), life, more art, other ideas - you know, just stuff (and lack of discipline!) So those good intentions fell by the wayside.

This began a good couple of years ago. There was a prompt to enter journal quilts into an exhibition (I forget where and who was running it) and the theme was Memories in Black and White.

I was fiddling about with an image from my childhood.

My father was a very good amateur artist.  Had he come from a more middle class background I am sure he would have gone to art school, but for his generation and someone from his background, that was never going to happen.

So a bit later on, when we lived in Leicester in the early 1960s he went to evening school.  I remember lots of pots and jugs very much in the style of the day, but his major piece is a large sculpture we lovingly called 'Fred and Mabel', but I have no idea why.

It hangs on my parents garden wall to this day, peeping out from behind the ivy.

It was a technically challenging piece to make.  He had to make a clay sculpture first, I think (I never saw that), from which he cast a concrete mold (like an enormous jelly mold) which was huge and heavy.  From that he made the final piece, layering up fiberglass with a resin 'glue'.  Once set the concrete was broken away and the final, and very light, piece was revealed.  

It was initially painted quite a bright bronze, but now it has faded to a more metallic brownish colour.  And the fibre glass does need some repairs too.  It is coming up to 50 years old.  I think he finished it in about 1965 or 1966 (we cannot ask him now as he is suffering from dementia and must be in the final stages I think). 

You can see the Henry Moore influence I think.  Dad was a huge fan. 

So, having started this piece a while ago, but never really finishing it, I got cracking this year and with a bit of an effort managed it in time for Christmas.  I gave it to Mum and Dad as a Christmas Present. I am not sure if Mum appreciated it really (Dad certainly didn't - or not obviously) but as an image it means a great deal to me.  So I hope they can enjoy it. 

The technique was quite simple.  The background is tissue bonded to calico with a PVA water mix, and while still wet sprinkled with black Brusho Powdered inks .

Although 'back' the powder is a mix of colours and the effect when spinkled dry onto wet is just lovely.  There's a good tutorial here.

Silver highlights were added with foil and bondaweb. 

The actual image was mono printed onto lutrador (the finest weave) and then stitched onto the background and the ivy leaves are painted nylon (just acrylic paint in green and yellow) and then stitched with water soluble film so hold them in place while stitching.  The leaves were then in part stitched and stuck onto the back ground. 

I played about with a few ideas before settling on the lutrador.  I chose this because it is very subtle and I wanted to convey the concept of faded memories really. 

I love this piece, both the technique and the subject matter.  I have other ideas running around in my head, but oh so little time!!  

(ps that while line in the picture is a reflection on the blooming glass. I really need to learn how to take decent photos!)


  1. Lovely. and obvious it came from your heart and memories.
    Sandy in Bracknell
    Memories in Black and White was a Grosvenor Journal Quilt theme 2 years ago I think.

    1. Sandy - you're right!! It was from Grosvenor. I gad forgotten that.

  2. did that comment publish? I have no idea!
    This is lovely, very poignant and a beautiful finished simple quality. See you soon x

  3. What a lovely piece of work, Hilary. Fabulous.

  4. Thanks Iz. I like the concept. One to work on a bit more I think. If all goes to plan the mono print gear might come out later today. Whippet X to walk first,

  5. Such a fantastic story behind your lovely piece of work and hope you and your family have the patience and courage to help your father with his dementia - best wishes for 2015, Gilli @ Tasty Textiles by Textile Cottage

  6. So interesting to hear your father's story, the process for the sculpture and then your process for the piece it inspired. I do really like that spray of green leaves.

    My brothers, who are much older than me, remember my father drawing a lot, things like horses, and in their estimation being quite good at it. One brother described our father as a frustrated artist. He wasn't drawing anymore once I got old enough to be remembering, but he did confide in me one time that he wanted to be an architect and even applied to architect school but was turned down because he didn't have a high school diploma. The great depression sealed his fate to remain in a position where he could not afford to better himself with formal schooling, although I understand he took correspondence courses when he was in the CCCs (Civilian Conservation Corps). He was a hardworking blue collar man til the day he died, smart and inventive and one has to wonder what he would have done with all that talent had fate not intervened.

    I'm wondering if your dad is secretly praising your gift behind your back. My dad did that a lot, putting on a gruff face to me, then bragging to all his friends!


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