I was invited to put work forward for an exhibition called Zéro Euro which was within the Détissages section of a Festival of Linen in Saint-Thélo, Brittany. My piece, Rêver de la paix: se promener sans peur (To Dream of Peace: to Walk without Fear) went before a juried committee and was selected for the exhibition, along with a number of others, from among a number of entries.
This image shows a detail from the hanging which is over a metre long and is stitched entirely by hand onto linen. The ethos of the exhibition was to demonstrate that artwork can be created without spending large amounts of money, so, in this spirit, I gave my cousin, Mel Cairns, two of my Limited Edition prints of his choice for the lovely linen which he gave to me. The contemplative figure is from a sketch I did many years ago of a friend sitting on rocks by the sea. I had always liked the little sketch and was very pleased to include it on this work.
Another detail from the hanging is this little landscape, the original of which is a pencil sketch in colour of the Mourne Mountains seen from Strangford Lough. I inkjet printed the sketch onto silk then stitched over this in silk and cotton threads. All the stitch for this piece was carried out using threads inherited from another embroiderer, Marion Jones. I came into possession of these threads because, after Marion's death, her husband, Vernon, saw my work in an exhibition in Aberystwyth and contacted me to ask if I would like to have Marion's threads, as he was keen to pass them on to another artist working in stitch whose work he felt had a sympathy with that of his late wife. I was, of course, delighted to inherit these lovely threads many of which I have now used in my work, including in this one for Détissages.
These two images show the full hanging in its position in the gallery in Saint-Thélo.
The idea behind the piece came about through thinking about my contemplative figure in conjunction with receiving little 'foot' shapes inside new footwear for myself and my husband, Arthur. These shoe shapes in card came free, so were ideal to use within the exhibition's ethos and I covered them with material from a dress I no longer wore. The feet 'walk' down the work and are accompanied by words from a favourite French author of mine, Antoine de St Exupéry. His beautiful use of words and kind philosophy of life are always a joy to read whether in the ultimately tragic but at the same time life-affirming novel Vol de Nuit (Night Flight) or in another of his very well-known works Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince).
We all have dreams about our lives and one of the things he says is to make your life a dream and turn a dream into a reality -
fais de ta vie un rêve et d'un rêve une réalité.
This is, of course not easily done, if at all, but there are times when we want to reach out for something beautiful, to attain a goal and when you want to accomplish something in your life, his advice is that you do this this gradually, by taking a step and then another and it is always the same step that you begin with, again and again, in his words -
c'est de faire un pas, encore un pas et c'est toujours le même pas que l'on recommence
I visualised this concept of the steps through the appliquéd feet which are embroidered after being stitched to the linen. They are also surrounded by silk-painted organza shapes and, in addition to those of the author, I stitched just a few words of my own which take the idea of the dreams and the steps and say -
rêver de la paix, se promener sans peur - to dream of peace, to walk without fear -
These words are stitched on the piece - a dream perhaps, if only they could come true for more than a few moments.
All the words on the piece are in French and English.
A detail from my hanging which shows the feet, words, willow wands . . .
Arthur, Juls and Ed are standing near the buildings that housed the artwork - beautiful weather and a lovely place! In the 18th and 19th centuries, what is now the little village of Saint-Thélo near the town of Loudéac, was a thriving centre of the linen industry in Brittany and is now on what is called the 'Route du Lin' (Linen Route). There is also a museum here that has a really good shop and space where various exhibitions of textiles, including linen, of course, are held.
On the left is my good friend, Anne Guibert-Lassalle with artists taking part in 'Zéro Euro'. After the exhibition in Saint-Thélo, the exhibition moved to Anne's studio in Ploumanac'h and it attracted lots of attention here. She lives in a beautiful part of the coast by the famous pink granite rocks and I was delighted when the press became interested in my work in both locations! I was mentioned in two different French newspapers and these are the links to them:-
It was wonderful exhibiting in France and this isn't the end of the story . . .!