Tapestry accepted for Cordis Prize exhibition

Cordis Prize Shortlist Announced!

Visual Arts Scotland is delighted to announce that the following artists have been shortlisted for the inaugural VAS Cordis Trust Prize for Woven Tapestry:

Anne Jackson – The Great European Witch Hunt
Anne Naustdal – Arid Landscape
Carmen Groza – Poussieres d’etoiles
Jo McDonald – Tales of the Unexpected
Kirsten Saeterdal – The Melancholy of Departure
Patricia Taylor – Artemis
Rental Rozsivalova – Hell
Sara Brennan – Hill Forest
Unn Sonju – Blood Cannot Be Washed Out With Blood
Valerie Kirk – The Brian Schmidt Tapestry

The selected tapestries hail from as far afield as Norway, Belgium, and Australia, as well as a number of home grown talents, and they will all be brought together for VAS;T 2015, Visual Arts Scotland’s Annual Exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh from 7 – 28 February.

I am delighted to have my work included in the exhibition. It feels like a kind of home-coming.

Creative Fibre NZ Masterclasses – September 2014

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Drawing on my Place
Design and tapestry workshops developing personal explorations and working together on group designs.

Thankyou to everyone who participated in the 3 classes. Design and tapestry are both challenging, but there was such a good group dynamic in each of the classes that meant there was positive energy and encouragement to experiment, reflect and let the work develop. Truly inspiring.

Throw, Bounce, Spatter – experimental drawings

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Repeated gesture in drawing makes an accumulated pattern of movement which articulates a space between the artist drawing tool and paper. Gestures show and create connections between our internal world and the external one. In creating a collaborative work, we came to see that gestures shared between people made representations which occupied an ambiguous field between image and space. This can be seen as a co-authored place making process.

Valerie Kirk and Amanda Ravetz

Jurassic Fossils – drawings

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Ink and white pencil on mdf board. 40 x 40 cm each x 2

In 2010 I visited the Age of Fishes museum at Canowindra and was fascinated by the fossiliferous rock slabs preserving the Devonian aquatic life. The drawing alludes to the life in the water, the hidden and discovered, described and measured.

These drawings have been selected for the M16 Drawing Prize exhibition.


Tapestry on the loom


Traditional Woven Fan Making in Laos

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Elephant Riding in Laos


Tcheu Siong – the spirit of H’Mong Embroidery

Tcheu Siong “The Genie Behind the Scissors” Exhibition at Project Space, Luang Prabang, 2010

Tcheu Siong is a H’Mong woman who grew up two hours north of Luang Prabang in a traditional village. There she learned all the traditional cross stitch and applique techniques from her mother. In 1996 her family was removed from their country and brought to Luang Prabang as part of the government integration program. The following year in 1997 she began to sell her handmade textiles in the market and then from 2002 sold textiles to tourists with other H’Mong women in the night market.
Although she can embroider, she prefers applique as a way of working – cutting different colours of cloth and stitching onto a background. From 2007 she decided to work on large panels, leaving behind the traditional motifs and working from her imagination. Her husband, a shaman, identifies characters, their names and motifs and her daughter helps with cutting out the shapes.
Paper patterns are made for the figures and these are placed on folded fabric to cut multiples. These can be separated or used as mirror images in the work and they have smaller images and embroidered motifs added. The composition is worked out by arranging all the pieces on the base cloth. Small straight stitches, sometimes couching down a coloured yarn outline the cut-out shapes and attach them to the background fabric. From 2009 borders were added with repeat patterns of people/stars/triangles and backing fabric was sewn on.
Large textile pieces have been made as bedspreads and wall hangings by many H’Mong women to sell in the market. They usually follow traditional geometric patterns in applique or they are figurative embroidered narratives. Tcheu Siong’s work is distinctly different and she says that the characters come from dreams and visions. Working with her husband she describes a spirit world in fabric, now displayed as art on white gallery walls – a legacy of ancient culture and beliefs she hopes to pass on to her daughter.

Catalogue Text Michele-baj strobel

Nithakhong Somsanith – Gold Embroiderer

Nithakhong Somsanith was born in Laos in 1959 and as a member of the Lao Royal family he learned the courtly tradition of gold and silver thread embroidery , Silapa pak dinh from his grandmother. Sumptuous costumes were woven and embroidered for the royal family: invested symbols of status, power and spiritual meaning.

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After the abolition of royalty the courtly crafts declined as they were seen to be ostentatious and irrelevant to the ideals of the new government.
In 1985 Somsanith went to study in France but returned to Laos to promote traditional arts and continue embroidery. Between 2004 and 2008 Nith participated in a contemporary art project “The Quiet in the Land”, collaborating with Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Le insert e acute. Together they produced a series of work exploring issues around tradition and modernisation in Luang Prabang. Le made a series of computer aided drawings focussing on continuing culture and introduced technologies. Somsanith worked on translating the images into fabric and thread, dealing with challenges of scale and interpretation of non-traditional motifs. “The Banners of Luang Prabang”, 2005 has over 40 funeral banners embroidered in silver and gold evoking the death of traditions. “Inner Self and Outer World”, 2005 focuses on meditation huts and contrasts with a mass of satellite dishes mounted on tall poles. The work represents the quiet reflection of monks and the influx of information about the outside world through tv. In the third work “The Blessing of the Land”, 2006 the traditional hang lin vessel used to sprinkle holy water in ceremonies has a profusion of water raining down on the community expressing the struggle with tradition and modernity. This project moved the traditional embroidery into a contemporary art context.



In addition, new markets are opening up for wedding and special occasion attire, objects used in Buddhist rituals and tourist products. The metallic thread work although no longer associated with royalty continues to mark ceremonial occasions and is symbolic of wealth and status.
Also part of The Quiet in the Land’s 3rd project was the collaboration between artist Janine Antoni and H’Mong embroiderers Mo Ly and Xia Song resulting in the dialogue in fabric and stitch “To Ply”, 2006.
Antoni showed H’Mong minority women in the Luang Prabang market needlework that her grandmother had made and instantly formed a connection through their mutual interest in textiles. She spent time learning H’Mong stitching and telling stories with the women in the market and later exchanged and responded to each other’s work. The resulting pieces of textiles encompass both western contemporary embroidery and the conventions of H’Mong embroidery, applique and story cloths. The work sits within a contemporary art framework, far removed from the work the women sell in the market to tourists.

The Quiet in the Land. A project by France Morin. Catalogue edited by France Morin and John Alan Farmer.
Published by The Quiet in the Land Inc. NY NY 2009 see page 213 artist travellers order for library.

Botanical Art in Luang Prabang

Following my interest in botanical art, I decided to draw in the gardens of Ock Pop Tok Living Craft Centre on the banks of the Mekong. From a piece of land that was a blank canvas the gardens have been developed to provide a lush backdrop to the textile activities, but they also inform visitors about plants used for natural dying. The Sappan gives pink, red and purple; fresh indigo – green and processed indigo a range of blues; the Indian trumpet produces olives and many more plants add to the palette. As the gardener waters the plants at the end of the afternoon, I appreciate the tranquillity and dedication required to create the beautiful space.

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