Tuesday, 24 January 2017

All At Sea

I've been indulging in a little creative embroidery lately as our church embroidery group is due to meet tomorrow.  Embroidery isn't a skill I've been formally taught, yet, in the company of the church ladies, I really enjoy a bit of stitching and find being in the group increases my confidence in my own abilities.

Alison, hiding behind the flowers on the left, is our leader.  As well as being a very talented textile artist and patient teacher, she's also our minister.  It's a few years since the group made these pulpit falls - the burning bush for Pentecost, an autumn wreath and one to celebrate a past flower festival.

These were collaborative projects where we all worked together on the same piece but Alison now has in mind a much bigger project - one in which each of us will work on separate scenes from the same story.

We will be depicting the life of St Nathalan, thought to be the founder of our own church, here in North East Scotland at Bethelnie, near the village of Oldmeldrum.

According to legend one very rainy summer, the saint, in a moment's weakeness, cursed the rain which was hindering the harvest.  In penitence, Nathalan padlocked his right arm to his right leg, tossed the key into the River Dee and set off to walk to Rome to seek forgiveness.  Upon reaching Rome, he bought a fish at a market for his supper but when the fish was cut open, he found the very key he'd thrown into the Dee many months earlier.  It is also believed that Nathalan saved the village people of Oldmeldrum from a plague later in his life by praying on his knees all round the settlement boundary.  He perished at the end of his traverse and where his staff was struck into the ground, it is said an ash tree grew.  A tree has grown on this site ever since and is known locally as The Parcock Tree.

Scenes from Nathalan's eventful life will be portrayed in our textile artworks using this gorgeous hand dyed felt and these beautiful silk threads produced by 21st Century Yarns.

We spent some time last year practising so we could all become familiar with these materials and the stitches we're going to use.  Here are the practice pieces I made.

First of all we created a tree and then we had a go at a landscape featuring another tree.  Finally we stitched a person.

The last time the group met was November and we decided who would create each scene.  Hence the reason I'm all at sea!  I opted for the stormy seascape as Nathalan returns to Britain following his pilgrimage and is almost shipwrecked in sight of the White Cliffs.  No trees - a tiny bit of cliff landscape and maybe some distant figures in a boat.  I needed more practise!

So I've been trying to create a turbulent sea in felt and thread, taking inspiration from this lovely book - Life Journey by Mary Fleeson, a writer and artist who lives on Holy Island (Lindisfarne).  I'm not sure what the group will think - but I'm going to find out soon!


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