Quilting at Tate Britain

Tate Britain, London.JPG

Now before anyone reading this gets over-excited, I need to declare from the beginning that it was me quilting at Tate Britain, rather than Tate Britain exhibiting some quilt art. (I look forward to the day, however!)  For overseas readers I should explain that Tate Britain is one of a group of four art galleries in the UK. This one is in London, at Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG, right by the river Thames. The others are: Tate Modern (also in London), Tate Liverpool (in the city of Liverpool) and Tate St Ives (at St Ives in Cornwall).

I was in London for a family occasion, and after a wonderful breakfast on the Sunday at the Greenhouse in Deptford (click here for more), we were free for the rest of the day. Our top choice was to see the David Hockney exhibition at Tate Modern.

David Hockney poster, Tate Britain.JPG

Before moving to Durham we lived in Leeds, near the Leeds/Bradford border, just up the road from the marvellous Salt’s Mill (click here for more) where Hockney’s work is always on display. There I learned to love David Hockney’s work, especially his pencil and coloured pencil drawings.

On arrival at the gallery about eleven-thirty-ish, whilst waiting in the queue to pay for tickets, the timed entry sign was switched from 3.30 to 5pm.  Our train back to Durham was 6.27pm and in addition, it was the day of the London marathon and we were unsure how much this would affect public transport.  Still, we really wanted to see the exhibition.

So it was, during the waiting period, that I found myself seated outside Tate Britain on a bench situated just behind the hedge in the photo at the top of the post. I happened to have a quilt with me. When you have six hours of train journey within a 24 hour period and the binding of a big quilt to complete, it seems entirely reasonable to pack it in a bag and take it with you on a flying visit to London. Carrying it in London is another matter, but sewing a quilt binding outdoors in these circumstances was enjoyable. The day was sunny, there were children playing ‘Grandmother’s footsteps’ on the grass and the many visitors going to and from the gallery passed by in front of us. At a certain point we moved indoors to the Djangoly cafe inside the gallery, where I continued to stitch.

Quilting at Tate Britain.JPG

Then suddenly, one of those nice quilting moments happened when another visitor to the gallery stopped and said ‘Oh, so you’re a quilter too!’ and I met Brigitte from who is a quilt-maker, long-arm quilter and teacher.

When the magic hour arrived, the exhibition itself was wonderful, and worth the wait and even worth the shortness of our forty-minute visit. The vibrancy of the colours is breathtaking, and the recent ipad drawings (which are seen appearing stroke by stroke) are mesmerising. You can see some of the pictures from the exhibition, plus other works by Hockney, by clicking hereThe very first picture shown is of a sewing machine!

David Hockney, 'Woman with a Sewing Machine' 1954
Woman with a Sewing Machine 1954 by David Hockney, Tate   (c) David Hockney

And speaking of sewing machines, it was good to see a photo of my friend Lydia at her sewing machine (below right) in a Sunday Times ‘Style’ magazine feature entitled ‘A Handmade Tale’.

Lydia Higginson feature in the Sunday Times 'Style' magazine.JPG

You can find Lydia at http://www.mademywardrobe.com and in these posts on my blog, click here and here.

I am just about to send out a calendar sheet for May to any reader of this blog who would like one. The A4 page, which includes a pretty design from my textile design collection will come to you as a PDF for you to print out. All you need to do is to fill in the contact form below and I will send you the May calendar page and you will also receive one for each of the remaining months of this year.

A restaurant at mima and a lace shop on Burano

Earlier this year, I made a couple of visits to mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art). For more information about mima click here. I wanted to see two video installations by Jane and Louise Wilson Undead Sun, We Put the World Before You (2016) click here for more information, and separately, I wanted to see paintings by Winifred Nicholson in an exhibition entitled Liberation of Colour. I particularly like Winifred Nicholson’s paintings of flowers in vases and pots, like this one, which is entitled ‘Polyanthus and Cinararia’ :


The exhibition was co-curated by Jovan Nicholson, and it looked at ‘the major periods of the artist’s creativity’, including landscape, still life, portraits and abstraction. I enjoyed the whole show, but the floral pieces remain my favourite. The exhibition has finished now at mima, but it continues to Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham, 4 March – 4 June 2017 and Falmouth Art Gallery, 24 June – 16 September 2017.

Part of the pleasure of visiting mima is The Smeltery, the excellent cafe/restaurant on the ground floor. The food there is tasty – and unusual. I discovered that the person behind it is Luke Harding, who ran The Waiting Room in Eaglescliffe where I had previously enjoyed lovely vegetarian food. The food at The Smeltery includes meat.

The Smeltery, mima.JPG

The furniture and furnishings are intriguing and unusual. The floor looks like this:

the floor at the Smeltery, mima.JPG

It was a while before I realised that this must be recycled wood from a gymnasium floor – so inventive!

A number of the chairs had clearly been recycled too.

recycled chair at the Smeltery, mima (3)


Further investigation revealed that before the opening of the cafe in Autumn 2015,an interesting ‘Localism’ project had been run by artist/designer Adam Clarke, which encouraged creation of recycled furniture. Adam Clarke is the initiator of New Boosbeck Industries. This references a local 1930s initiative: ‘a response to unemployment through creativity’. Find out more here: www.newboosbeck.com.

Other furniture in the restaurant is made by Artisan, a company based in Bosnia. Click here to see more about them.  You can just see one of their beautifully-shaped chairs (with a green seat) from The Smeltery in the photo below.

Chairs and the table at The Smeltery, mima

And as a postscript, the well-stocked museum shop sells fabric patches by Jennie Maizels, which I love! I bought an anchor here and a bird at the Flo-Jo Boutique fabric shop in Bristol (click here for more about that). Click here for Jennie Maizels’ website.  I now have both patches on the back of my denim jacket, where they are joined by a lace butterfly from Burano, Italy.

my denim jacket.JPG

The butterfly was a gift – and a souvenir of an amazing trip. Here is a lace-maker working in one of the lace shops on the island.

lace-maker on Burano, Italy.JPG


And finally, some examples of other examples of the intricate lace products they produce.

lace products on Burano, Italy