There have been some positive things about the last couple of years and some negative. One of the positive has been the use of Zoom to enable us to link with speakers who live a long way away. For our February meeting, Textile Artist – Jo Gallant spoke to us from her studio in Scotland.
Jo started her talk by explaining that she did a BA in Fashion & Textiles specialising in woven textiles at Birmingham Polytechnic. Starting out by using found fabrics from jumble sales to make appliqued cushions and other items, she then moved to Balnakeil Craft Village in the far north of Scotland and set up her workshop there. It was so interesting to hear and see where Jo got her inspiration from. Dry stone walls, open hill side, flying crows looking like black plastic bags in the wind and even her cats were all used in hangings made from dyed natural fabrics.
In 1992 Jo moved south to Kirkcudbright and again in 2014 to Galloway where it was more wooded and she would sketch ideas as she drove round the countryside. Recently Jo’s work has become more abstract and she- has used varying proportions of sky and grass in one of her designs.
Jo found she had collected a number of coloured zips over the years and they became an important in the creation of cushions with zips as features – beaks, twigs, horizons etc . She has a wonderful variety for sale on her website (see link below).
Over the years Jo has been commissioned by different organisations and private clients to make various hangings and she showed us images of a bicycle ride, a letter box, individual awards for the Arts & Business organisation, a church window in Norfolk and a hospital stairway. These three hangings represented the sea, land and air and were displayed on different floors but had similar items to link them. Jo created abstract hangings inspired by light and water, being the necessities of life, for a multi faith chapel and this showed a rainbow effect of the water looking through the light.
Jo talked about a 22ft wide local community project she led with 6 different patchwork and embroidery groups and a 2 day project in a school where pupils created a 9ft tall hanging. In the last couple of years, as she has not been able to hold courses, Jo has been moving her sewing machine around her house and creating 8” squares to show the view through the windows. During her talk Jo generously answered several questions about the use of the dyes she uses and her techniques and showed us images of her sketchbooks.
We all really enjoyed hearing Jo’s story and seeing the exciting, inspirational and vibrant colours used in her hangings and cushions.
Thank you Jo!
Report by Ros
Photos thanks to Jo Gallant, Vernice C and Ros
If you would like to find out more about Jo, look on her website where she has lots more photos of her work and the opportunity of buying one of those wonderful cushions! There is also details of an online landscape dyeing course. http://www.jogallant.co.uk/