A little bit about my two new art works – The Angel and the Astronaut – created for Sherwood Art Week 2022.
I’ve been taking part in Sherwood Art Week “Art in Shops” since I started my business back in 2016. It’s a great opportunity to make something purely for the joy of it, without worrying about whether it’s going to be commercial or not.
Over the last two pandemic years, Art in Shops became Art in Homes and I didn’t take part – mostly because I live a little way out of Sherwood, and I didn’t think people would really want to walk that far as part of the trail. This year, however, we’re back in the shops, and my work will be hanging in the window of Mencap, at 601 Mansfield Road. It feels like an appropriate venue. I have bought plenty of items of clothing from the shop – to deconstruct and re-use in both my cushions and pin cushions.
I took my inspiration from a print hanging in our bathroom – John Duncan’s “St Bride“ and decided I would try making an angel – it’s something that’s been on my list of “things to have a go at” for several years.
Here’s my initial design.
She proved relatively straightforward to translate into fabric – I chose colours and textures that reminded me of stained glass windows and touches of gold and other metallics to echo the richness of religious icons. I found I had some vintage Collier-Campbell curtain fabric that worked beautifully as an ornate frame, and obviously I couldn’t resist adding a ladybird as well.
Originally I was just intending to make one new piece, but as I worked on the angel’s halo, I realised that it was reminding me of something else – an astronaut’s helmet… and that got me thinking about the connection between angels and astronauts, and I decided that I needed to make a pair of pictures.
I re-traced the angel design, swapping her halo for a helmet, and her wings for a spaceship, and there she was – Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space – a real-life angel. Perfect!
Or not so perfect… I quickly learned that – since her ground-breaking flight – Valentina Tereshkova has moved into Russian politics and is quite heavily involved with the Putin regime, supporting the war in Ukraine – which makes celebrating her earlier achievements somewhat problematic. A fallen angel, if you like, but not one that I wanted to recreate in appliqué.
So I had a rethink, removing the Russian insignia from her helmet, and replacing Vostok 6 with the earth. I referred to photos of past astronauts for space suit details, eventually using Helen Sharman – the first Briton in space – as the basis for my design. Somewhere along the way, I decided to replace the earth with the moon – it just worked better with the colours of the fabrics I was using, and buttons make great moon craters! I also had fun inventing a “mission patch” for the front of her spacesuit (ladybirds in space!)
Fast forward through many hours of fabric selection, cutting out, arranging and stitching, and the two pieces are now complete.
Here are some pictures of them. They will be on display in the windows of Mencap – at 601 Mansfield Road – from 25th June until 3 July for Sherwood Art Week 2022.
Find out more about Sherwood Art Week here