Artistic expression when done well tells a story.
'What Lies Beneath' is an exhibition taking place from the 25th of August to the 4th of October at the Gallery at the Guild in Chipping Campden. The artists in this exhibition have strived to create something that is beautiful and appealing, but also complex and deeply layered. Their goals were to maintain a synchronicity between the surface and what lies beneath, careful to honour both in their final creations. The headline artists are Hilary LaForce, Louisiana Chapman, Wendy Chapman, and Bridget Steel-Jessop.
About this time last year, Wendy Chapman showed some of her Cyanotypes at the Gallery at the Guild. There was something about them that reminded me of my own work, the subject matter, plants and leaves, the muted colours, and the fabulous pattern. I felt there was a real synchronicity in the way we were working. I am not sure who suggested it, but we decided that the next headline exhibition was a real opportunity to see if we could produce some work together.
Wendy brought some work to my studio, and I began to experiment. The cyanotypes were already beautiful artworks. It took a great deal of courage to begin cutting out and stitching on my own additions. There was some fast learning, firstly you cannot unpick when stitching on paper and you must be very careful how close the stitches are, or it all falls apart in your hands. I had to restrain myself, just doing enough to add to or compliment the piece rather than obliterate it. What I wanted to do came easily, there was such a connection between what Wendy had made and how I worked.
What I learned from this was about the importance of “what lies beneath”. My normal practice is to stretch a piece of fabric, often any old fabric, and start covering that with stitches. I would consider the tightness of the weave and the colour but that would be about it.
Working on our collaboration meant that when it came to creating my own work to hang alongside our joint pieces, I went into it with a new approach. I placed real importance to the background and used a variety of methods. The most fun was flour and water paste batik, using the colours of Wendy's cyanotypes. I also used translucent ribbons, needle lace stripes, and simple cut out leaves. Then as I worked, I tried to apply that same consideration to what was underneath my stitches.
I have really enjoyed this process and would love to collaborate again. I am already thinking a ceramicist, if I can persuade one!
For all images of Bridget's work and her collaboration with Wendy Chapman, see Gallery. If you want the chance to meet Bridget and the other headline artists, the Gallery at the Guild is hosting a 'Meet the Makers' event on Saturday the 2nd of September from 2-4pm.
If you have any questions or would like to enquire about a commission with Bridget, contact her using the form below: