18 November 2012

Spurn news

Do keep an eye on the new Spurn Artists in Residence blog for news of up-coming events in the lighthouse.  The next one is in a weeks time when there is an exhibition by the Hull University Social Sciences dept.  This is an opportunity to see inside the lighthouse as well as learn about the work of the department.  There is also a lovely film on there about embracing change in coastal landscapes and creative projects related to it.

16 October 2012


I returned to Spurn last week to collect the two large Spurn Cloths from the lighthouse.  I was actually a bit nervous about going back: this really was the end of my official time here.  Out on the dunes autumn is evident.

Inside the lighthouse Spurn Cloth #2 was beautifully lit in the autumn sunshine.

and up in the lamp room Cloth #1 still looked quite at home.  I wonder how the colours have faded with almost a month in direct sunlight.  There must have been some change; a mellowing.   But the strong prints look much the same.  Any change that there has been is just part of the life of these pieces. 

I took the cloths down, packed them away and left the lighthouse as I'd found it 6 months ago.

4 October 2012

South Square

The first venue on the gallery tour for Textures of Spurn is South Square, Thornton, near Bradford.  I put up my work in the Meeting Room Gallery there earlier this week, ready for the exhibition to open on Friday evening.  It is such a different space to the lighthouse but the prints and concertina books look great in a light airy room.  Because of the size of the gallery there wasn't space to bring the two large Spurn Cloths and they have stayed up in the lighthouse for a little longer so that they can be seen as part of the Nature Tourism Conference that Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are running this week.  I have made three small Spurn Cloths, which are representing the textile element of the project at this venue.

The preview at South Square is from 7-9pm on Friday (do come along if you are local) and then the gallery is open 12-3pm Tuesday - Sunday with the exhibition there until Sunday 28th October.


28 September 2012

textures of spurn

You can now see on Youtube the film that Phil Legard made for me using my images and diary extracts.  This film was projected on the first floor of the lighthouse and it now has sound added; sounds that Nigel Morgan recorded at Spurn and in the lighthouse.  This film will be shown at the various galleries on the tour and helps set the scene for the rest of the work.  The sound element helps to imagine what it is like in the lighthouse, transporting you from the gallery to the place that the work has come from.

(Image by Phil Ratcliffe)

saying goodbye

It has taken me all week to recover from last weekend - I've been in a bit of a daze.  The exhibition weekend went so well and exceeded expectations on various levels.  We had 700 visitors over the three days, which was fantastic.  Many had traveled quite a distance to see the work.  Family and friends came from London, Cheshire, Bolton, Grimsby, Bradford, Leeds and elsewhere.  People I don't know came from Peterborough, Boston, Buxton... and many from south of the Humber and from York.  It was really quite overwelming to find so many people had made such an effort to get there.  There were also many who were just visiting Spurn anyway and came in to see the lighthouse.  Hopefully some of these were pleasantly surprised at what they found inside.

The space worked really well and I'm so glad that I used each level in different ways.  It made for a journey of discovery as you climbed up all those steps.  It is only when people actually start to come into the space do you find whether it has been successful and whether people will react how you've imagined they might.

There were many lovely comments about my work and it confirmed for me that I'd managed to capture something of the place in what I produced.  The book was a big hit.  This is available directly from me at £10 (+ £3 p&p).  Just send me an email to request one. 

Of course this isn't the end.  Although I've handed back the key to the lighthouse and my residency is over the project continues for another year with the work traveling to various galleries in the region.  The first of these is South Square next week (link on the right).

So as well as recovering and unpacking and generally adjusting to the real world again I've been preparing for the next exhibition.  Each venue will be different and will show a different selection of the work.  The lighthouse is unique and was such a special (as well as challenging) space to show it in.  It belongs there.  However, I am looking forward to seeing it elsewhere.  There isn't space for the two big Spurn Cloths at South Square so in order to represent these large textile works in the smaller venue I have made three small Spurn Cloths.  I'll show images of these later.

So this blog will continue as the work travels and develops. Don't go away...   

23 September 2012

before the visitors arrive

I took a few photos yesterday before the visitors started arriving (they were waiting to get in when we opened the doors at 11am yesterday and kept coming all day).  The light keeps changing in the lighthouse spaces, governed by the weather outside.  We've had a range of weather so far!  Yesterday was a stunning day: beautiful sunshine and clear views and perfect for people to visit Spurn and see it at its best.  Today looks promising too...

21 September 2012

all set

Everything is in place and ready for the exhibition opening today.  We're open from 11 to 5 today, Saturday and Sunday. 

19 September 2012


Let me take you on a tour of the lighthouse now that it is freshly swept and empty and before it gets filled with new things tomorrow...

This is the ground floor, looking down as we walk up the curved stairs...

The first floor is completely black, perfect for a projection...

The second floor is also black and this is the room I've used as a studio when I'm here...

Up to the third floor: a really tall space where the very long Spurn Cloth #2 will hang...

Then we get to the landing below the lamp room.  This is well lit and perfect for some more subtle pieces to be situated...

The stairs up to the lamp room are more of a ladder really... 

And once in the lamp room you can walk round to get up onto the platform where you can see the amazing view.

There are 149 steps in all but it is worth the climb, especially on a bright day like today.

18 September 2012

autumnal tint

I arrived on Spurn yesterday and have the next few days to prepare for the exhibition.  It's amazing how quickly things change.  When I was last here, only three weeks ago, there was a hint of autumn in the colours of vegetation.  This week it feels decidedly autumnal.  There are wonderful bright berries on the sea buckthorn as well as on hawthorn and lovely hips on the various roses.  An evening walk was full of warm light on the grasses and seed heads along the estuary and clear views coupled with a spectacular sunset.

There are particularly high tides early this week and therefore there is the threat of a wash-over on the road.  So far the weather looks to be such that this may not happen as the wind, although strong, is south westerly.  There are lots of white horses on the Humber but the sea level isn't affected enough to wash right over, at least it didn't yesterday.

I had a session with a photographer yesterday for a press article and then some time with Gavin, a film maker who will be the next artist in residence at Spurn. He is making a film about the different people that come to Spurn.  It's lovely to have a little involvement in the next project to happen here.

This morning I had the task of cleaning the lighthouse.  I started at the top and swept all the way to the bottom, six floors in all (I keep meaning to count those steps - there are a lot!).  It was a dirty job and I needed a good shower afterwards.  It isn't exactly clean and I probably raised as much dust as I collected but at least all the loose stuff that accumulates has been cleared up.  I can start setting things up tomorrow, once the dust has settled.



14 September 2012

open studio

Alongside the exhibition on 21st-23rd at the lighthouse Ruth Brown of Stone Creek Silks will be opening her studio to visitors.  Therefore there is a chance to take in more than one event in the area at the same time.

Ruth teaches a range of taster sessions plus one, two and five day workshops on a variety of textile subjects as well as exciting, new, City & Guilds courses in Textile Decoration (Art cloth) and Creative Computing. 

She will be opening her studio, Stone Creek Barn, to coincide with my exhibition, so you can have a look at the Studio and see her demonstrating some of the techniques you can learn. The Barn will be open from 10am to 4pm on the 21-23 September. You will also be able to meet her friend Jane White, who is a brilliant couture dressmaking and pattern cutting tutor. 
Ruth is multi-talented and has helped me publish the book I've put together to document my residency. 

count down

The countdown continues with just a week to go now before the residency exhibition.  I've spent most of this week quietly stitching away on Spurn Cloth #1 in my studio at home.  This 4.7 metre long piece is a patchwork of rust-dyed silk and I've used stitch to add further texture to the marks already there.  Some parts I've left without stitches: this space is important.  The stitches confirm the creases in the cloth giving movement, like ripples on the ever-moving water out there, or the ripples set in the sand each time the tide comes in and then out again. 

In the lamp room this will be hung in a curved form so you can't ever see all of the piece at once.  The visitor will walk round it on their way to the platform to look at the view.  This piece quietly reflects that view, with a horizon of sorts along the whole length of it.  Soon it will be time to roll it up in my studio ready to go back to the lighthouse.

6 September 2012


There are just two weeks to go now until my exhibition at Spurn.  Please consider yourself cordially invited to join me at the old lighthouse, whether the road is in action that week or not!

5 September 2012

Spurn on TV

The BBC Look North feature on my exhibition aired last night.  Here it is on iplayer.  Scroll through to about 23 minutes.

It will be replaced by this evening's programme later today so catch it quick.

2 September 2012


Time marches on and deadlines are getting tighter.  The little book I'm publishing to document my residency is almost ready for the printers thanks to the wonderful Ruth.  In between entertaining holidaying children I've managed to get a batch of rust prints over-printed with collagraphs that will hopefully dry in time to get to the framers...

Meanwhile, I'm waiting to hear when the BBC Look North feature will be aired (in the eastern part of the region I understand) and when the article in the Journal Magazine (a publication in Hull) will be out...

26 August 2012

under my feet

The sea-sculpted sand was striking in this morning's light.

Only by walking over the ridges do you really understand their solidity.

Under my feet: 

crunch of pebbles

swoosh of sand

flick of marram grass


I never tire of the coastline because it's never the same twice.  
The tides change its physical shape, and they bring different things to look at. 
 There's always something new.

Jean Sprackland, Strands

The views from the top of the lighthhouse yesterday were amazing - not as clear as sometimes but the air was still so it didn't feel as precarious as sometimes up there, especially on the balcony.

When the tide is down things are particularly interesting and yesterday I was very aware of changes since I last looked at this view.

The distribution of pebbles on the beach has markedly changed.  Of course things are always different here and the detail in particular changes with every tide. From so high up I can see patterns that wouldn't be so obvious down on the beach itself.

25 August 2012


With less than a month to go before the residency exhibition things are coming together.  I've spent today testing out how things look in the different spaces in the lighthouse.  As an exhibition space it is pretty challenging: there are low light levels in most rooms; floors and surfaces are dirty; and there are a lot of steps!  By exhibiting work at the top of the building (where the light is better) you are expecting visitors to invest in the effort required to walk up all those steps.  Hopefully the promise of the view from the top is enough to encourage people to make that investment!  Lower down, where it is gloomy, even on a bright day, there is a risk that work will just not have an impact at all.  There is a lot to consider in trying to create an exhibition that will be successful for the viewer.

I was also interviewed today for BBC Look North, which was fun.  We recorded sequences on the top of the dunes, in the lighthouse and up on the balcony at the top.  The feature should go out sometime next week in the eastern part of the region.  The weather was good to us, with bright sunshine while the crew were there.  

Later things got very hazy and strange light joined rumbles of thunder before some rain.

24 August 2012

I'm back at Spurn for the weekend after quite a time away.  I've brought with me the two large pieces I've been working on to get an idea of how they will look in the Lighthouse.  

Driving over here there was a heavy sky and I arrived in the dark: the evenings are noticeably drawing in.

The Humber Bridge, which I pass on the way here, is the sixth longest single span suspension bridge in the world. I can remember when it was the longest, so finding it is now the sixth longest makes me feel old!  After passing under the end of the bridge there is a point where the road is suddenly almost next to the estuary and this evening is was quite breath taking.  There was an expanse of almost silver water and grey-silver sky, two almost uniform elemental slabs.  It was just a glimpse as my eyes were on the road, but the kind of snapshot that stays with you for a long time.

17 August 2012

step back

I've been away to other shores than Spurn's.  The school holidays always disrupt the normal work pattern and things have to be fitted in differently or put aside for a while.  Since my week at Farfield I've put Spurn things aside and I realise I haven't posted anything here.  It doesn't mean that I'm not thinking about it all though: I carry it with me wherever I go.

I want to take a step back and show a little of what happened to Cloth #2 before I started constructing it at Farfield.

Back in June when I was unwrapping rust bundles and discovering the marks that had been made on cloth by the rusty groynes, the base cloth for cloth #2 had its first experience of Spurn.

This long piece of linen (actually several pieces joined together) is long enough to hang in the tall lighthouse room half way up the building: approximately an 8 or 10 metre drop.  Although this piece of cloth forms the base to bring together the marked and dyed fabrics I wanted it to take on something of the place itself.  I wanted it to get salty and sandy and to experience the place in the way that the fabric that had spent time wrapped and submerged by the tides had.  

I laid it out on the beach and allowed it to get wet in the waves.  The water pushed it about and slowly it took on the shape of the leading edge of the waves in the way that the sand and debris is moved around and left wet in a curved line.

This long and seemingly large piece of fabric was suddenly dwarfed by the scale of the beach but its length and width seemed right in proportion to each other: a long thin strip being quite appropriate to this drawn out fragment of land with its strips of land/sea interface.

27 July 2012

to the point

I had a very enthusiastic audience for my talk 'To the point' this afternoon.  We just managed to squeeze everyone into my studio here amongst all the fabric and samples.  It was lovely to meet some new people (and see some familiar faces) and share what I'm doing with such an appreciative bunch.  There was even a 'Blue Peter' moment where I unwrapped a bundle of silk wrapped round a piece of rusty metal, accompanied by suitable expressions of delight at the marks that were being revealed.

26 July 2012

spurn cloth #2

I started constructing Spurn Cloth #2 today.  Again, this was a case of laying things out along the floor of the studio and playing about with things until they looked right.

It was good finally to be able to see how all the textures and patterns I've been collecting on these pieces of linen will work together and how they relate to cloth #1.

Joining all these strips together is a quicker process as I'm using the machine for this one.  This cloth will hang in a very tall space in the lighthouse where the light levels are relatively low, therefore the detail isn't as important on this one.  I've concentrated on creating a cloth with bands of texture that will give an overall effect rather than be viewed up close.  There will be time to add more detail before it is shown elsewhere (with better lighting!) after the show at Spurn if needed.

 It's been a quieter day at the Mill today with fewer visitors.  The weather is still damp and grey, but there was an hour or two of sunshine this afternoon to throw some good light into my studio.  I'm also preparing for my talk here tomorrow afternoon, picking out the key images to tell the story of my project.