Lockdown Art: 2020 – 2021
In March 2020, all my colleagues and I were sent home from our work in Cupar library, to start the strangest period of our lives. I had been getting ready for Open Studios North Fife, planned for May, and suddenly found myself with far more time to sew, but nothing to sew for. I set up my work-from-home office in my studio, and wondered what to do next.
My first piece was rather a joke. I had made some small framed versions of “Circles”, a Kandinsky-inspired work. It suddenly occurred to me that they were far too close together, so I made a new one, “Circles at a (Social) Distance”, to go with the renamed “Circles behaving Irresponsibly”.
My first Lockdown series: “Travel Without Leaving Home”, consisted of six pieces inspired by photos taken in Scotland, America and Australia. This took me up to September 2020, but Lockdown didn't finish there, and neither did I. I moved on to a new theme - based on photos taken during my exercise walks. I'm calling this series "Views from Home", and the first piece comes from my fervent desire for coffee!
Views from Home One - Over the Howe and Far away.
I live in Auchtermuchty and there is a community shop in the next village, Dunshalt, that does a great take-away latte. I got into the habit of walking over once a week, across the fields and back along the road. That's about 3 miles and I felt I earned my coffee and cake. There are great views over the Howe of Fife towards the Lomond Hills, and I took a photo in October 2020 of waterlogged fields.
This is the result; the three birds are Pink-Footed Geese which we see in their multitudes at this time of year. The water on the field is a stitched sheer fabric.
Views from Home Two - Winter on Birnie Loch
One of my favourite walks is around Birnie and Gaddon Lochs, near Collessie. They are nature reserves, full of birds, animals and plants, and I love watching the changing seasons reflected in the surroundings. Early in January this year (2021), the lochs had frozen over and it made a magical scene.
Much of my work features water - seas, oceans, lakes and even flooded fields, but I had never tried to stitch ice. I used layers of sheer fabrics and silks to give it a shiny look. The background trees are all stitched, as is the grass/reeds.
There are two swan families here, one on each loch. They are so graceful on the water, but look a bit strange on land, or ice. I took a photo of one on a previous cold day, and it seemed appropriate to use it for my signature bird in this piece.
Views from Home Three - Pylons in the Mist
My go-to walk from my house is over Auchtermuchty Common and back. It's two miles, uphill on the way out, and a downhill stroll home.
I've seen the countryside in all seasons and all weathers. The inspiration for this piece was a photo I took on a very foggy day in November 2020, with mist filling the valley. Appearing out of the mist, and striding off into the distance, were these pylons. They looked like alien machines, something from Mars perhaps. The colour palate of this is very restricted, all blues. It's not my usual style, and I had to resist the urge to add in a complementary colour, but I achieved the effect I was looking for - almost Impressionist.
The signature stitched bird is here, although sometimes I think it's really a far-away dragon!
Views From Home Four - Fields of Yellow
A longer walk, when I have a free day, is a continuation of the one above. I carry on over the common; along the burn; up a steep slope into Pitmedden Forest; out at The Clink and down the narrow road back into Auchtermuchty and home. It's about 4 miles, with enough gradient to make me feel I've had a good walk. The source photo for this piece was taken in May 2021, looking west from the forest. I know oilseed rape is not to everyone's taste, but I love the way it brightens up the countryside. The old drystane dyke in the foreground is so full of texture, I knew it would be an interesting challenge to recreate in fabric and stitch.
One of the things I enjoy is transforming a flat surface into one that looks 3D. In this piece I've used the tractor lines to trick the eye into seeing folds and dips in the field.
There are about fourteen different colours of thread in this work, half of those in the dyke alone.
I often see buzzards while I'm walking - I hear the cry first and then search the sky for one or more birds. One has made an appearance here, silhouetted against the blue sky.
Views From Home Five - Thistle in the Barley
This is my latest piece, a small framed picture of a thistle. I saw it growing next to a field of barley on one of my walks. The quilting on the background fabric is based on a barley awn motif. It feels slightly cliched, but I have made sure the thistle is suitably jaggy.