March 17, 2014

Small Shoes, Big Idea.

I recently posted on an artist, Bobby Britnell, and her interest and work with Ugandan bark cloth. I gave you all a hint as to an upcoming project of hers with collaborator, Janet Middelton, a shoe designer in the UK with Star Child Shoes.

These two amazing artists are rethinking how to support their efforts to promote Ugandan bark cloth and the communities it can change - through a project called Barkcloth to Artcloth. Check out the link.

"The exquisitely stitched and beautifully embellished barkcloth contributions, from well over 100 people, and all made up by Janet Middleton into fabulous baby shoes, fits perfectly with this strap line, ONE TINY STEP TO A BRIGHTER FUTURE . This is because they have all been made in support of 'Hands up for Uganda' and building awareness of this charity in such a creative way, will lead to brighter futures for so many children and all community members of Kisaabwa." Bobby Britnell.

Each pair of shoes is made from a piece of barkcloth that has been transformed by artists from all over the world. They will be exhibited at the following venues in England with more to follow!

Creative Stitches, NEC Birmingham          20th to 23rd March 2014   
Creative Stitches, EXCEL London            3rd to 5th April 2014

Since I began researching barkcloth in 2005, I was always asked if I ever used it in my artwork, and the answer was always no. I think that from the first time I spied it in Wakiso in a small stall, I never felt like a participant, but an observer. Even after learning about the incredible opportunities to manipulate the surface, transform the material into 2 and 3 dimensional objects, I did not incorporate it into my studio practice. Until....
Bobby asked that I and a fellow artist, Amie Adelman, participate in Barkcloth to Artcloth, and I have fallen in love with the material in a new way. It was wonderful to hold the material and think about how I wanted to leave my mark on it. I don't foresee a new body of work as of yet, but it was great to find a new way to relate to the material. Here are images of my cloth and Jane Middleton made shoes!


September 19, 2013

A new project out of the UK

I recently had the wonderful chance to meet through Skype, Bobby Britnell, a textile artist from Shropshire  in the United Kingdom. A quick look at her website shows her interest in textiles revolves around creating beautiful surfaces in her own work while opening her home for students to take workshops on the art of embroidery and stitch.
New Lines of EnquiryNew Lines of Enquiry, 2008

So how does this fit into my blog on bark cloth.....

Bobby has taken her interest in textiles with her as she travels to and works in Uganda. She  and her husband work with the local community to run a small organization in the town of Kisaabwa, Hands up for Uganda, focusing on the traditional crafts of basketry and woven mats. As a textile artist herself, Bobby is passionate about engaging with the women in Kisaabwa and learning about their materials and crafts.

Bark Cloth which grows readily in this part of Uganda is being used as part of an exciting collaborative project between 'Hands up for Uganda', Bobby Britnell and Janet Middleton from Star-Child Shoes.
Surfaces on bark cloth
"We aim to engage textiles artists from the UK and further afield in its conception. We require artists to decorate and embellish a piece of bark cloth in any way that they like and these pieces will be made up into 'ART SHOES' by Janet as a part of two exhibitions in 2014, in Birmingham and London. This exhibition will not only exhibit dozens of 'Art Shoes' but also the craftwork from the women of Kisaabwa."

Amie Adelman and I will both be a part of this project - so more updates will follow!

As a wonderful side note -  on the organization's farm in Kisaabwa ,100 Mutuba trees have been planted!