In July 1980 the first five were exhibited with the studies at the L.Y.C. Gallery. For this exhibition I wrote:
The Art of the Feltmaker showed me that to make felt in its most basic form only the interlocking property of the fibres themselves are used to form the fabric; and that as the fibres have been previously dyed, the colour is part of the body and not applied to the surface. This idea of colour in depth interested me and I was keen to keep the purity of the method, and not use appliquéd areas of felt. I liken the method more too handmade paper than to textile; vegetable or animal what odds.
I found that my natural scale of working in this medium was larger than I had required hitherto.
Felt 2 Felt hanging 1980 183cm x 183cm
The medium is unable to stand the fussiness of drawing but can stand delicacy of colour. The sky subject matter reinforces the need for a large scale, although in choosing sky as partner to this medium I have not yet explored felt’s potential for strong colour.
The medium being new to me prevents preconceptions, allowing a sabbatical from previous subject matter and aims. I am not in a position, just seven months after the commencement of these felts, to judge them in the context of my work; but as an exercise, the commitment to looking at fast-changing skies and the freer approach of the medium combined with the cruel necessity of accepting the result once the felting process has been completed are toughening disciplines for one who normally allows to evolve over a period of many months.
Felt 20 Felt hanging 1981 at the Whitworth Manchester 183cm x183cm
All my felts have a JC felted into the their backs. With exception felt one, early felts 2 to 29 are also numbered on their backs.
Felt 17 Felt hanging 1983 6ft x 6ft
“Sky Felts”For the past two years I have been involved with felts and skies, which, for me, is a dialogue between a new medium and a new subject. He desire to work in the medium came first; to look at skies second. Excitement with looking at skies became foremost; their integration with felt became natural.
Trees: The varying relationship between trees and sky, affected by changes of weather, seasons, light and position, is my present pre-occupation. Studies in various drawing and colour media are first put down as direct experiences. The felts which follow are interpretations. A simple statement, a drawing, interpreted in a more complex language, a painting or felt, grows as it assimilates other meanings, relationships, even misunderstandings and corrections, on the way. A lengthy conversation occurs between me and the developing felt.(1988)
Felt 27 (Construction) 1983 76cm x 90cm
Light and Lustres: In this exhibition the works are interpretations in felt of five different patches of light: - on concrete floor, carpet, and coloured papers. Firstly an appropriate palette has to be created: the wool is dyed, and from these colours further adjustments and variety are achieved by carding together in different proportions, or overlaying semi¬transparent “tissues” of coloured felt, as in the “Patch of Light on Carpet”. The special felting characteristic of the wool fibre allows a homogeneous image to emerge from parts which are in quite differing stages of felting: loose fibres; partially felted shapes of varying thickness floating on or among the loose fibres; partially felted adjacent areas joined to sharpen a line, etc.; all means at my disposal to produce the desired visual objective. (1987)
Opposite you can see (from top to bottom):
Absracts: There is also a group of abstract felts; I have often found the need to balance my observational work with completely abstract work, developing it alongside. Some of these began as small samples or demonstration pieces and later became integrated into an abstract composition, many being cut into, reorganised and felted again.
Pebbles: These are pebbles and sea-rubbed fragments of pottery picked up at Allonby, our nearest bit of Solway coast. Each “pebble” was translated into felt in a way which echoed its own “making”-the layering of sandstone, or the soft and hard intrusions making a gully or a ridge cutting through the stone. When each was individually made, several were composed together and then felted finally. (1987)
About to Fall felt 1988
The Felt poster, One Family in Five”, sparked off by a poster for Mencap, is about the unreality of Statistics. The original showed five stylised figures, four black and one red, or four red and one black- it hardly matters. What seemed to matter was that, though statistics are correct, they hardly reflect the reality, that we are all affected in different degrees and in different ways, and that statistics mean nothing of any help to the Family that has to cope. It seemed much more relevant to show the figures, not in black or red, but in as many combinations and shades between the two as possible.
“Figures’ is a development of the One Family in Five” idea, but also incorporates the “footmark” -footmark positive, the imprint; and footmark negative, lifting the surface to reveal other things underlying. A layering of generations, families, societies, social groupings and hierarchies.
Glass in Landscape felt 1989 64cm x 93cm
One Family in 5 felt 1986 71cm x 59cm
Click here works from this decade that are still available for sale.