Like many in the arts and crafts world, makers from the Suffolk Craft Society have had many weeks now to contemplate their craft but not to show it or generally sell it. It’s been a time of reflection and creative renewal for some. Stimulated by weeks of good weather, walks, cycle rides, gardening or just time freed up when almost everything in the diary has had a line put through it. Read on to find out how this is feeding into the creativity of our makers.
Elisabeth Rutt's story
"As a previous award winner at the Chaiya Art Awards in 2018 I was approached early on in lockdown with the opportunity to make work for a new exhibition, ‘Impact’ that Chaiya will be hosting online later this summer. The organisation is keen to give artists a place to exhibit work about the pandemic with sales being shared between relevant charities and the artist, Chaiya are taking no commission.
I have made a piece that focuses on the breath of individuals and the world, about the microscopic virus and its enormous effect on the planet. I have darned motifs of the virus on to a piece of felt fabric that I had made but not used while I was suffering from whooping cough a few years ago… it seemed somewhat ironic that it was made while I was struggling with my lungs and breath. I always knew it would come in useful for a piece of work at some time!
I have called my piece ‘inhale/exhale’, and it is in a circular format which is new for me. Stylised lungs appear within the blue circle as continents seen on a satellite image of the Earth. The bronchioles are reminiscent of roots, rivers, roads and communication networks with the stitched pale patterns in the lungs indicating the presence of Covid-19. I wanted to include some of the new vocabulary we have all become familiar with, the words have a deliberate light touch giving a ‘Corona’ of colour with a nod to the appearance of infographics in the data we are being presented with.
I had pangs of guilt in making this piece which completely absorbed me for a few weeks; making something to be aesthetically pleasing out of such a terrible world event, seemed wrong in some ways but as I stitched it helped me think through a lot of the issues we have all had to confront.
Thankfully, my family and I have remained safe and I can think about making my next piece. I do not know yet if ‘inhale/exhale’ will be selected for ‘Impact’ but that almost doesn’t matter, I am grateful to Chaiya as without the invitation to submit work I would not have worked in this way and have learnt things that I will use again."
Clare Gaylard who sculpts in glass reports “ During lockdown we celebrated World Bee Day, and I had the time to revisit to a sculptural, lamp-work glass totem ‘Queen Bee’ a goddess figure and tribute to our wonderful but endangered pollinators.
Lamp-work involves sculpting molten glass in an intense flame. My totems are vertical
stacks of wearable, jewellery elements. I revisited Queen Bee by encasing goldstone to
make my own complex, twisted glass cane, and created the additional bee element in the
middle. I think this gives the totem a sense of punctuation and movement.
Having commissioned stands from a local woodturner at the end of 2019, I had a little extra height to play with and included other elements below the ‘crown’ ring. I feel she looks properly regal now.”
Weaver Ruth Holt returned home from Orkney in March where she had a solo show at the
Loft Gallery. Lockdown began almost immediately and the show had to close.
In the wake of this she wrote, “Presently I feel a mixture of emotions; fear of coronavirus
and its effects, grief and horror at the loss of so many lives, frustration and pain at the
apparent failures in management. But then Suffolk has never been more beautiful; summer
heat, the greens of spring and summer, lambs, almost deafening birdsong; all insisting on
future expectations. Freed of my usual round of commitments I have been given two precious commodities, time and peace. This is an earth changing time and I have been focussed on developing work that is a response to the pandemic. I have knitted to develop tactile comforters for the NHS, loss of touch being a profound one. I have woven work that is centred on the contrast of feelings. The red of coronavirus graphics - deep, intense and startling - and the greens of spring are dominating my colour palettes. Adding other shades offers unpredictable outcomes, the unexpected becoming a constant. Using images that reflect the now, I search for other media, colour mixes and textures that reflect our altered lives . The possibilities truly are endless.”
Sue Bruce, a ceramicist and printmaker, says “ I was lucky enough to do my daily exercise by cycling round our local country lanes near Woodbridge. I chose to do this early every morning, in order to avoid people, and this plan worked well. I was noticing how nature was just doing its own thing and crops were starting to grow and there was hope. I saw lots of wildlife in these trips, foxes, hares, owls , and best of all a small herd of fallow deer crossed the road in front of me one morning, only to disappear into the woods nearby. However a very young deer stopped and watched me intently as I cycled past. What a moment to treasure! Being in my studio has kept me sane, and I am so thankful I’ve been able to immerse myself in my work during this time. I’ve been trawling through my sketchbooks and have produced a number of ceramic tiles based on designs that I originally Intended as prints. They are awaiting their final firing. However I’ve just discovered a fault with my kiln!! Happy Days !! “