Saturday 7 October 2017

Xenotopia at the Knitting & Stitch Show

I'm very pleased that my Atacama Salt Flat pieces will be exhibited in the HUE gallery at the Knitting & Stitch Shows this year. I dyed a lot of fabric in my quest to get the effect that I was looking for and there were many, many times when I thought I wasn't going to get the results I wanted but I'm so glad that I didn't give up. 

This piece is called Xenotopia I and if all goes to plan it will be joined by Xenotopia II and III in the exhibition. Each piece is approximately 1 metre square. You can see some of my original design ideas here.

Across the horizon is a bright red line but the impact is lost somewhat in this photograph. Thinking about the salt in the Atacama, one of my early experiments was to pour strong salt solution on cloth and wait for the water to evaporate, revealing the square-ish shape of the salt crystals. I printed this shape on the fabric and used it to inspire the rocky elements in the foreground. In my other two pieces I have also used square stitches to add rocky elements but more of those in another post. 
Xenotopia I - detail
The work in the HUE exhibition has been made after we all read Robert McFarlane's book 'The Old Ways' and we have all responded to the book very differently. The book is about walks in the landscape which I was pleased about as most of my work is inspired by landscapes. In his book Robert says that we need a word to describe....

'somewhere we feel and think significantly to describe the lands that are found beyond these frontiers?  ‘Xenotopias’, perhaps meaning ‘foreign places’ or ‘out of place places’, a term to complement the terms utopias and dystopias'.   

Xenotopia seemed to describe my experience of the Salt Flats. It was like nowhere I'd been before and I certainly felt differently when I was there and almost three years on and it is still inspiring me.

For some time I've been thinking about getting fabric printed with an image of my piece and making a top to wear when I was stewarding but have been put off by the cost of digital printing, particularly as there was a risk that I would make a mistake and not align the image to the pattern pieces correctly. Fortunately though I recently came across Fashion Formula who had more favourable prices.

The colours of the top are more olivey than my artwork and more olivey than this picture shows but overall I'm very pleased with it. It's gone from design to coat hanger in less than a week, which is just as well because the exhibition opens next week. Maybe it's just me but I think it will be wearable on other occasions too.

If you're going to the show I hope you enjoy it and if you're on Saturday 14th, you'll know how to spot me!


  1. I'll be sorry not to see you on Saturday (love the top) but will look out for your work when I am there on Wednesday xx

  2. I'll be there on Thursday. Look forward to seeing your work. What a great theme for an exhibition.


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