Journeys is the latest exhibition by the long-established Hertfordshire-based group New Horizons. The group was formed in 1993 by textile enthusiasts who had recently completed their City & Guilds Patchwork and Quilting courses with tutor Barbara Weeks. Keen to take their work further, the founder members decided to create a group to support and encourage each other’s development. Inevitably, members have come and gone, but a few of the original group still attend and many have been members for several years. But new blood ensures the group remains invigorated and continues to move forward.
In twice-monthly meetings members come together to share ideas and to critique each other’s work. They also hold workshops to improve skills and to keep up to date with new methods and materials. From the outset it was the intention that the group would be an exhibiting one and they aim to show new work every two or three years. For cohesion each exhibition has a theme, but with varied interpretations and wide-ranging styles and techniques the shows offer an exciting display of textile work.
Not surprisingly, some of the pieces for Journeys were inspired by travels. Stephanie Pettengell’s design for Temples, Temples, Temples takes the shapes and decorations of Thailand’s beautiful temples both for the motif and stitched patterns. In similar hues, My Dubai Sunset by Cheryl Jackson is also based on buildings. A frequent visitor to Dubai, Cheryl has always been fascinated by the iconic ultra-modern skyscrapers of this global Middle Eastern city. In her quilt, bold silhouettes stand out against the rich warm colours of the background.
From one of the world's most expensive cities to one of its least developed countries, Barbara Corbett was inspired by her recent visit to Malawi, where she grew up. This small landlocked African country is defined by its Great Rift Valley and the enormous Lake Malawi, which runs almost its entire length. Using hand-dyed cottons and scrims applied in strips, Malawi – Land of the Lake transports viewers to a peaceful lakeside fishing village.
Barbara returned from Malawi with fabrics to present a challenge to the group. Each member was given three pieces of colourful African wax prints with instructions to design and make a three-dimensional item. The resulting objects are on show as part of the exhibition and it’s an impressive and diverse collection, including a jacket, slippers, bags, a cake stand, a Mobius loop and accessories.
Some of the journeys considered are personal ones. In the last few years Jackie Ketley has lost both of her parents and she now has a large number of textiles, photographs, maps and other items which she’s using to explore and reflect their lives. With maps laminated onto silk organza and layered over an old family tablecloth onto which family photographs have been printed, Ways Through Life captures and records places that were important them.
Pauline Lindsey has focused on her journey experimenting with what she calls ‘new-to-me techniques’. Of her cheerful and colourful piece Grasses, she says, ‘I’d never used soy wax before but the grasses just “grew on the fabric” as I painted on the wax.’
More symbolic in her interpretation of the theme is Janice Dent. In a series of mixed-media works Journey examines the earth, sky and water – elements through which physical journeys are made. She says, ‘I have only just started to explore three of the classical elements … so far I have barely scratched the surface.’ And this is also the case for a short exhibition review, so if you find yourself within striking distance of Letchworth or Thaxted do try to make the journey to discover New Horizons’ latest inspiring show.
Journeys is on show at the following venues:
- Until 16 April 2016:Letchworth Community Museum, 12–14 The Arcade, Letchworth, Hertfordshire SG6 3ES
- 2–5 June 2016: Thaxted Guild Hall, Watling Street, Thaxted, Essex CM6 2PH