You can view an image gallery for my new work "Repaired Earth" HERE
When I'd finished Contours of the Century back in February I wasn't sure where to go next. My plan had been to produce a series of pieces throughout the year on the theme of the Planet's destruction and imagined repair but I had found Contours really hard going. I wasn't happy with the finished piece and found the subject matter exhausting. I literally couldn't wait for it to leave my hands and when I saw it displayed on the bar as part of the exhibition I couldn't help but smirk. There it was, in front of the pumps in all of its pale,depressing, naive glory.
I work hard and stress hard to be a good earthling: I reduce, I recycle, I ecobrick, I manage a team of household vegans, I sign, donate, share and tweet, I march, shout and chant, I discuss, argue and protest. I am a hot mess of anxiety and guilt about every grimy particle of my carbon footprint and there it all was in my stitching, on the bar! Contours shows every self indulgent worry I worked through to make the darn thing and says way more about me than the planet I think.
Don't get me wrong there are some great samples in it and stitch-wise I learned a lot of new stuff and I think I executed it pretty well but there's just too much of it. It's overthought, overstitched, overdone. I look at the pictures of it and I'm not sure I even want it back if I'm honest!
The next piece was meant to be in response to the prompt "Re-Imagined" for the Regional Day Challenge Cup on 8th June. It was originally meant to move on to the "Repair" aspect of my grand plan, similar to what I done for my travelling book. But by 5th June I'd done nothing, not a stitch.
I'd made some sketches a few weeks before and ripped them up. I was still overthinking and I'd had enough, I wasn't going to enter, there's no law that says I have to and anyway - I didn't want to. I resigned myself to settle down and make pincushions and watch documentaries on iplayer. Well, one of the docs I watched was called "Earth from Space"...yes, I know, I ask for all I get don't I? There it was, all of my research for Contours in glorious and depressing technicolour ...except it wasn't all depressing
In Chennai, India there's a bloke called Sekar who has been feeding rice to parakeets on his roof since 2006. He started off with a couple and now spends over half his income on food for over 2000 parakeets. The zoom-out-to-space-shot showed how small Sekar is in the world but what an awesome thing he's doing, Sekar made my day.
On Thursday 6th June the sun came out, Sekar and his birds had made me happy and I felt like making something new. I printed a map of the globe onto a piece of indigo dyed crepe from my stash and burned out the design with a tea light and a piece of smouldering bamboo (no I don't own a soldering iron!) I dunked a couple of pieces of patchwork I'd made ages ago into some exhausted indigo and onion skin dyes and pegged them out in the sun. I was happy in my work.
By the time the fam came home from work and school I'd put the burned planet and the dyed patchwork together in a hoop and was happily stitching away, it was all going swimmingly. I announced to my husband that I planned to submit this new piece for The Challenge Cup and would therefore be unavailable for anything social or domestic until Saturday evening. He asked if I was mad but already knew the answer to that and left me to it.
All day Friday I stitched and stitched, I updated my sketchbook, framed and labelled the work and by 9.30pm there it was, "Repaired Earth" in an 8" hoop. Stitched and stitched again in + and x in shades of parakeet green
On Saturday morning I strolled out with my planet and my sketchbook to travel to Regional Day with my fellow branch members Susie and Denise. Susie was the only other person apart from my family who knew what I'd done to this point so I had no idea how it was going to be received. I had sent Susie a photo the night before and she'd made a swear with a typo when she saw it ...so I was fairly sure I'd made a good thing but you never know!
When we arrived, Shirley who was setting up the competitions, directed me to sign in the work, take a number and display the piece on the designated table. Over the next hour my little piece became flanked with EPIC pieces of work, I thought back to that bar and smirked. The stitched work in the competitions was amazing but I was still very happy with my piece. We were all having a great day, lots of people talked to me about the work, my fellow branch members were happy for me that I had decided to enter after all and all was well in the Land of Embroidery,
When it was time for the presentations I took my seat and waited. One by one the winners were announced and my name wasn't amongst them. I wasn't surprised, the standard of work was amazing. I genuinely and enthusiastically applauded the winners and started thinking about getting ready for the raffle.
But then our Regional Chair Pauline picked up a trophy from the table. I looked at the program again, there were no more awards left, what was this?
Then she said
"I am delighted to present the Jo Quinn Award for Creativity to Paula Perrins of Airedale Branch"
Someone whooped - it was Denise!
Wait, What? Did I hear that right?
(I must have done because I was already up and making my way to the front to accept the award while my brain took several seconds to register what was happening).
I make a piece of work in two days and it wins an award for creativity? I've been going about this all wrong!
Apparently I was wearing a cheesy grin from ear to ear and I'm not surprised, I am so thrilled and proud to have won this I really am!
Jo Quinn was a member and former Chair of Nidderdale Branch who sadly passed away in 2014. I was interested to learn more about Jo and the wonderful award named after her so I asked people to share their memories in our regional group. Jo is remembered as a talented, creative and generous artist as well as a committed member of the Guild and a wonderful friend. Members remember Nidderdale coming close to leaving the Guild but Jo worked hard to convince the branch to keep going. I'm sure she would be delighted to see how the branch is thriving in 2019 thanks in part to her determination.
I discovered this tribute to Jo on Nidderdale's blog and see that she was indeed the Talented Lady she is referred to on the trophy. Items of her work in the exhibitions date back to her City and Guilds in the 1960s and show her to be a diverse, imaginative and highly skilled artist. I'm sure that her inspiration is missed very much by her branch. You can see in the comments on this post that her daughter Kate asks the ladies of Nidderdale to "Take that baton and run!", which they most definitely have.
The trophy itself was designed by Lisa Norton and will be very much admired and cared for by me for the next year. The previous winners are : A collaborative entry from Scunthorpe Branch, Anne Brooke, Margaret Walton, Claire Ketteman and ME!
So what next? I'm going to remember that people in tiny places can do massive things that can inspire others to do the same so I should stop overthinking things. Also I'm going to remember to love what I do or else it will be rubbish!